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Karen Owsley

I approach the natural world in much the same way as a naturalist. Instead of words, I use paint. Through concentrated observation of the surroundings, I deepen my understanding of nature as a whole. My paintings are an act of witness. The formal premise of my artwork is the investigation of what happens at the edge created where two colors meet. In this exhibit of two related but differing bodies of work, Lake Superior is the perfect subject with its endlessly shifting colors, forms, and textures.

These two distinct styles allow me to create distant horizons with minimalist color fields along with naturalistically depicted multi-faceted waves coming ashore. I develop them both with multiple layers of paint. The sculptural horizons are built up with several layers of oil paint applied with painting knives. Each layer responds to the one preceding it.

Similarly, the wave paintings are created from several layers of transparent oil glazes. The darks are made up of multiple differently colored glazes, the lighter colors, and the whites have the glazes polished back down to the white ground. I apply the paint with a rag on the end of my finger or use the cloth as a “puff” for polishing; this allows the action of my hand to be similar to the motion of the water.

Karen Owsley Nease is a lifelong painter with a concurrent interest in design. Originally from the Kansas City area, she moved to Duluth in 2013 to be near Lake Superior. She earned a BFA in Painting/Printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute, and two Architectural degrees from the University of Kansas. Her work is in corporate, museum, and private collections