Ask the Expert…Karin Jurick

Question: I’ve never painted a themed series before and I’d like to try, what should I keep in mind before I begin? 

 
Starting a series is more of a self-imposed exercise – for me personally, I like and need direction to keep me painting. Choosing a series of sorts revs me up. I start by browsing through the multitudes of photos I’ve taken through the years, picking out what is relevant, then narrowing it down to what I desire to paint. It makes it fun, and I need fun.
 
My most-current series ArtistZ has been a great learning experience. I started by making a list of my favorite painters from A to Z, and when I had several for a letter, I dove into learning more about each artist and finding ‘the one’ image that I loved most. With a few letters, I had no idea who to choose, like Q or X, so I spent a good amount of time researching artists I’d never heard of.
Klimt
Klimt
Matisse
Matisse
My ongoing series BUST-ED came about when I was browsing through a free app called Arrested. The faces inspired me to paint a subject that I really never had. It was a learning experience in that I had to transform a drab, nearly-colorless photo into something more vivid, which lead to experimenting with different color grounds. I’m still working on more as I have the time, and it’s just a great exercise in general.
Busted
BUST-ED
BUST-ED
BUST-ED
I did a series titled ‘ATL to NYC & Back’ from a road trip taken a few years back.  I particularly loved working on that series because it included landscapes and city scenes, a travel diary of sorts translated into a visual collection – and much of the same challenge as the BUST-ED series, to take a drab, quick reference photo and transform it into a painting.
Shower Stall
Shower Stall
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows

My selection process for an image to paint generally is finding a photo that stirs something inside of me.  I can pass by a photo for months or years and pay no attention, but one day it’ll speak to me.  Sometimes I see another artist’s painting and see something I’ve never seen before in the style or subject and go back and find a photo that I can work with in a way I dismissed before. Photos don’t have to be great to achieve a good painting. I have to remember, I’m painting a painting, not a photo.  The goal is to find the right composition, the part of the shot that interested me in the first place and embellish on that.  I think it’s all about ‘seeing’ the world in a more colorful, rich way.

An example of my original photo of the finished paintings above –
KJ photo collage

I try hard to balance freehand painting with no pre-sketching or measuring to keep loose and exercise that skill – versus being more precise with the composition and sketching the outline before I begin painting.  Take for instance, the BUST-ED portraits – I never sketch before I paint, I just jump right in and let it happen.  Landscapes or still life are usually done the same way.  I love to paint that way.

Example:
Lincoln Highway, Dusk in Iowa
For the larger pieces, those that involve more details,  I will carefully map out the areas first.  I have a habit of starting all paintings start from the top left and finishing at the bottom right – it keeps it clean and smudge-free.
Example:
The Bigger Picture

Most paintings are done in a long day, some more complicated are done in several days. I like to start a painting and finish before I start another one. My span of attention is short, I need to keep working when I’m interested in that image or I’ll abandon it all together. I’ve done that maybe three times in ten years, but eventually I went back and finished those pieces. Whatever I’m avid about on any given day is what I paint.

In all the series I’ve done, with an exception of BUST-ED, I’ve mapped out the series from beginning to end with my photos. That gives me the direction I long for, with a goal in mind. Knowing when a painting is done is a whole other thing. I’ve finished many and wiped the whole panel clean because it wasn’t what I envisioned or it was just boring.  Any painter knows the peril of over-working a painting, that’s the tough part.  I try very hard to have a balance of loose and slightly tight if it lends itself to the subject.  I do a good bit of pre-planning with my image, so there’s rarely reworking the composition or color choices, which makes it easier to know when it’s done.

Don’t dismiss painting from photos, and of course, use your own photos unless you have permission to use someone elses.  Paint what you are interested in, explore painting what you’re not experienced with and always hone your drawing skills whenever you can.

To see more of Karin’s inspiring works, please visit her website.

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5 thoughts on “Ask the Expert…Karin Jurick

  1. Karin, thx for your insights into “series”. It’s fabulous how our brains work…freely jumping from one idea to another and bingo! the magic happens and a series is born! And it always makes me jealous to hear that oil painters can finish a painting so quickly. I layer my watercolors and it can take me weeks and months to finish a 30×40 (I often paint big). Your work is inspiring. Thx for sharing.

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  2. I love working in a series and have several ongoing. I tend to leave them open to keep adding. I love the A to Z idea and of course love all your work. the way you transform a photo and make it your own in amazing. thanks for all the good info!

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