Artist Karen Keough uses the unpredictability of watercolor to capture ethereal impressions of florals and landscapes. See more of her work by visiting her website.
My love of watercolors started in 1957 on a snowy, stormy Saturday morning in January. My mother told me we were going to Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts. She packed the car with watercolor supplies and two stools.
Being 9 years old, I complained, but there was no changing her mind. She wanted me to experience watercolors “en plein air” in the middle of a New England snowstorm.
We went. The snowflakes designed their own masterpiece on our watercolor paper. I learned the lesson she wanted me to learn—to expect the unexpected. On our way home she said, “Someday, you’ll be so glad we did this together.” That day was the “someday” it all began for me.
My mother truly was the catalyst for my passion for all things art. She introduced me to drawing, sketching, painting and ceramics. She gave me a foundation to explore.
As the years have gone by, my art has developed, all from the notion to expect the unexpected. I try to embody that lesson in my work. I follow where the painting leads me.
My adoration of watercolors stems specifically from the unexpected element that no other medium can replicate. Watercolor requires a tremendous amount of trust.
My painting process always includes a loose technique called wet on wet, where I allow space for the painting to develop. The technique achieves a soft, spontaneous effect that I love.
I capture an impression, or essence of a scene, instead of a literal photorealistic depiction. Each painting is an exercise in trusting the unpredictability of the medium. There is a beauty in accepting the painting as it progresses. Watercolor provides me a vehicle to explore, encourage and accept what I feel. It is its own form of mindfulness.
I’ve taught art courses since my retirement from The Boston Globe in 2003. Currently I teach watercolor classes from my studio in Ipswich, Massachusetts, as well as seasonally at Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School. I also run en plein air watercolor courses for adults in Naples, Florida, during the winter months. We paint Florida’s lush tropical botanicals and seascapes.
As I move forward in my journey as an artist, I would love to license my artwork for use on home decor, athleisure wear, beachwear and lifestyle accessories. It has always been a dream to see my artwork on items that people enjoy every day.