Artist Karen Nelson’s work, much of which is inspired by cityscapes, is featured in the Fall 2016 issue of Acrylic Artist. However she also loves to explore and depict the countryside landscapes and waterfronts. Nelson masterfully captures those spaces that appear between the light and the shadow. While many of us are drawn to the warmth of the sun, Nelson finds safety and protection in the shadows where the sun, to which she is allergic, can do her no harm.
Acrylic Artist: In Mission Point Lighthouse #1 we see your expert play of shadow and light. Why is the light restricted to two small fields—the sides of the structure—and the remaining scene is bathed in shadows?
Karin Nelson: The decision to use an exaggerated, warm sun on the lighthouse was made after the entire painting was completed. As soon as I amped up the sun’s effect with strong yellowish white, it pulled down the ‘cool’ sunlight I had previously painted. This scene was late in the afternoon, on a December day, in northern Michigan. All of those factors added up to a cooler sun, and not much of it. I find that the sun’s scarcity can make its presence sweeter and stronger. For the most part, though, I favor the neutralized hues of winter, when nature has become dormant and the earth has taken on a soft beauty and mystery.
AA: How did you use brushstrokes to create water and a shoreline full of energy and a rough, ominous feeling?
KN: “Intentional, yet restrained” describes my goal for each painting. By keeping the details down to a minimum, my strokes, displayed with emotional, raw energy, and borne out of my deep connection to the scene, can then have the ability to touch a different emotional chord in each viewer. I find it interesting that we can all have an instant connection to a deeply embedded memory as soon as we lay our eyes on a photo or painting. That’s what happened to me with this scene, which was a photo from my friend and talented designer Pam Sheridan of WaterLeaf Design.