Sunday, September 13, 2015

Interview with American-artist Karen Rankin

Tell us a bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from? 

Karen Rankin
I was born in Ft. Myers, Florida into a rather adventurous family.  
In 1954 my family and I (then only 6 years old), sailed on a freighter to South Africa where we spent over a year, and to which I attribute my love of travel, photography and wildlife. My mother was an artist who worked for Walt Disney during the days of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Mickey Mouse the Magician.
My father, a director, started the Little Theater in Ft. Myers and Daytona Beach, Florida.

While surrounded by art growing up, I leaned more toward adventure and photography.  I got married and my husband and I settled into a very establishment life, two cars in the garage, a home in the suburbs and good jobs. One day, I called my husband and asked him: "What ever happened to our dream of sailing around the world??"
To make a long story short, we saved up for a sailboat, quit our jobs and set sail on a 35 foot sailboat to Europe, spending a couple of years cruising the Med.
We ended up in St. Thomas in the Caribbean, where we discovered that one could actually make money doing what we loved and so a new career was born.  We ended up running large private motor yachts for almost 30 years going all over the world. We retired recently and moved to Marietta, Georgia where 
a new adventure was about to begin... The wonderful world of painting . 

"What ever happened to our dream of sailing around the world??"

What got you interested in art?  Have you taken any art classes?
Last summer we were visiting my older brother who had always dabbled in art.  It was the first time I saw him complete a painting from start to finish.
A light lit and I suddenly decided that I wanted to try to paint. At this point, I had never picked up a paintbrush, having been too busy gallivanting 
around the world.  I had no idea where to start, so I turned to YouTube to get the basics.  This is where I found Cinnamon Cooney, the art sherpa and subsequently her mother Ginger Cook. Through their YouTube-tutorials, I started painting in acrylic.
YouTube is a wealth of information for any and all mediums. I also have subscribed to and have taken a number of their courses.

What medium do you prefer to use?
Having started in Acrylic, I find it the easiest to use, although oil has its own pros and cons. While I love the look of watercolor, and have given it a try, it is not my medium of choice.

What is, in your opinion, the hardest thing in creating a “masterpiece”?
The hardest thing about a painting is knowing when to stop painting and call it finished.

Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and discovered a whole new genre of art?  How did it go for you, and would you recommend others to try it?

After almost a year of painting in acrylic, I recently got the courage up to try oil.  I was amazed at what I was able to create and am so glad that I took the plunge and while I have much to learn it has definitely expanded my creativity. I would recommend trying all mediums to find what suits you best.

Do you remember one of the first things you created? What made it so memorable?
My first original painting was from a photograph that I took of an old woman in black walking along the street in a sleepy little town of Skradin, Croatia.  It was the first time that I felt that I had captured a moment of time on canvas.

Where/How do you gather inspiration for your works?
I look everywhere for inspiration but mostly from my travels and the thousands of photographs that I have taken over the years. But truly, once you start painting you see everything differently and all one has to do is open your eyes and you can find inspiration from everyday life all around you.

Do you have a favorite artist/s?  If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?
Since I can remember I have been a fan of Henri Rousseau and really enjoy his jungle paintings. My favorite of his works is "The Sleeping Gypsy".
I am also a fan of
Salvador Dali. While I admire his surrealistic style,"The persistence of Memory", being one of the most famous, I am drawn to one of his first portraits, "Portrait of Lucia", in which I love the colors and depth that he captured even though he was only 14 when he painted it.

When in Mexico, I was fortunate to see a collection of Leonora Carrington who created the most fantastic dreamlike 
surrealistic paintings.  Of course, I love the old masters especially the early Flemish painters.  I take something from every artist that I see but really when one starts painting, you develop a style all your own. 

Ever had a commission that was really memorable or special to you?
I surprised a couple who had previously purchased a painting with a portrait of their King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. They were absolutely delighted and it made my day to see their reaction.

Where else can we find you in Social Medias?

ast and final – this is a great opportunity to share your 3 most special pieces and tell a bit more about them.

Cecil the Lion

I painted this as a memorial to Cecil the Lion who was killed by a Big Game Hunter in July 2015.  I created the accompanying video for a YouTube hashtag event featuring a group of YouTube-artists called the Creative Arts Collaboration .
This was a very emotional painting to paint as well as putting together the video.
This is an acrylic on a 24x30 canvas.

Watch on YouTube:

La Mujer Elegante
This Black and White acrylic painting is on a 16x20 canvas.  I created this as a tribute to the matriarch of my Colombian side of the family. 

Watch on YouTube:

The Boat

The inspiration for this painting came from spending months cruising the Greek Islands and seeing many of these wonderful fishing boats in the harbors.
Acrylic painting on a 16x20 canvas

Inspired by the Greek fishing boats in Mykonos, Greece. 
Watch on YouTube:

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