Cheap and Cheerful at Open StudiosBuy

I love making art. So that is what I do. Then i try to get people including editors and art directors to buy it. So I can make more. This Open Studios I did an experiment with a portfolio full of images that i was tired of looking at and wouldn’t miss.The pile was labeled “Cheap and Cheerful” (everything around 50 bucks) and waited to see what would happen. We humans love a sale. We buy things we may not even want or need because he perceive it to be a good deal. I sold a lot of cheap and cheerful stuff. The experiment worked. And I hope all of us are happy, me the artist and the buyers too. It leaves me wondering what would happen if next year i make another pile and call it “Expensive and Elegant” with all prices still 50 bucks. I might try it. By the way, I just put new art in my online shop and it’s pretty cheerful and pretty cheap too. Cheers.

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Public Art for the Alameda County Hall of Justice

One Cat, Eight Dogs, a handful of birds and a family of Polar Bears.

It started out with 600 of us Bay Area artists competing for a spot to display our art in this new public building. And early this year the handful of us who made it to the finish line delivered our work the the Alameda Arts Commission. Here is my work. I am so happy to be included.

One cat and 8 Dogs

One cat and 8 Dogs

Polar Bears Wishing for Snow

Polar Bears Wishing for Snow


Public Art! Possibly??

I'm super excited to be in the final interview process for a public art project in Alameda county. 

The East County Hall of Justice in Dublin, California is ready to hang art on its walls and I pitched myself as an artist during a Call for Artists (with no expectations at all.) Now here I am preparing for an interview next week to see if my work will grace the walls and cheer the folks who pass through and work inside the building. Those people include the District Attorney and staff, the Public Defender and staff, people who visit either office and, of course, all the folks who keep the building running. It's a huge honor for me to be considered. 

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My idea is to do what I currently love to do: paint dogs and cats that I have met. Why? Because the crazier the world gets, the saner and more comforting these creatures seem to me. Dogs are always happy to see us, they are in a good mood, they have hope, they are in the moment, they are enjoying being alive. (And they might enjoy it more if we throw the ball again.) Spending time with a dog is like therapy. Cats can do the same thing, if they choose to. They can comfort, calm and reassure us that all is well in the moment. Cats have a quiet serenity that I admire. I try to be like them, but mostly I'm more like a dog.  

This is Bandit and he is good, loving and loyal.  

This is Bandit and he is good, loving and loyal.  

This Doodle is always thrilled to make a new friend. And we are all her friends. 

This Doodle is always thrilled to make a new friend. And we are all her friends. 

My hope is that my art will someday be hanging in the new East County Hall of Justice making people smile and feel good. Can't think of a better purpose for my images. Wish me luck, baby! 

Heartfull Art

Heart prints by my Little Geniuses aged 5-7 years

Nothing fills my heart faster and more completely that making art with kids.  Little kids who are in the moment, acting out their pure joy with complete un-selfconsciousness abandon. Here is what we did today in preparation for Valentines for their families. 

Charlie's Wild Heart

Charlie's Wild Heart

Sophie's Full Heart

Sophie's Full Heart

Baby, It's Cold Outside! Well...sort of...

Baby, it's cold outside.

I have frost on my windshield and my butt is so cold in the seat of my car that it goes numb until the seat heater fires up. Okay, it's not like being on Kilimanjaro at 19,000 ft.  That's another story of cold that I'm trying to forget.

Out in the dog parks of America and abroad, it's the fashion parade of cold weather gear for dogs.  This guy actually had little booties too.  I'm going with bare paws. The clown/party hat is my addition to his ensemble. 

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Mother Daughter Art Time

A good way to start a new year, don't you think?



Making art for me can be a very solitary experience.  Hours alone in my messy studio...which is how I like it. I also enjoy being around other art makers and experiencing their process. Yes, there is lots of mess and maybe a little chaos. I find that refreshing and energizing. THEREFORE...I teach or at least facilitate these super fun "art camps".  And every time I get to witness each artist's personal journey facing doubt, fear and apprehension (or not) and finding her way to a happy artful ending. 

But I'm not an ARTIST, you say?

When an adult or young adult says that to me, I always ask, "What happened?"  There is almost always a story. Something negative was said or done (I hate to say it, but usually by an "old fashioned" art teacher). Some trauma that resulted in the decision that it is safer to say "I'm not good at art. I can't draw a straight line. I'm not an ARTIST." Sad I say because we are all born artists. If you don't believe me come into my classroom with 5 and 6 years olds.  Art making is a native talent that gets killed off through the process of growing up and becoming adults.  If you hang around with me or with kids you get to try being a native artist again. Picasso actually said that he spent most of his time trying to get back to his 5 year old self again. Dude, I totally get it. 

Gorgeous women artists with their creations. 

To Commission or Not To Commission?? that is the Question.

Greta for Laurie

Greta for Laurie

I love painting the dogs and cats that I meet (and try to meet). Commissions is another animal. And not what I ever intended to do.  

It's a little bit more intense and a touch less fun. Why? Expectation. Making images for the sake of doing it is the most nourishing to me. When other people's expectations come into play, a little of the joy floats away and is replaced by dread.  That's when I have to sit myself down and have "the talk."  

Joy for Susan

Joy for Susan

Here is how the talk goes.  "C'mon Karen. Don't worry. Lose the fear. They'll love it."  Uh huh.  "And if they don't love it, so what? Do another one."  Yah, ok.  And that is how I end up doing 3,4,5 images of the same dog for every commission.  To lose the fear and enjoy the work.  But what is the fear really about I wonder.  I think it's about looking good and pleasing other people. Sad, huh? But so human.  Sometimes (a lot of times) I wish I were a dog.  woof. 

Arting Around at the Holidays without Fear

When I feel a little blue, I know what to do. I throw a Holiday Art Camp in my house and invite KIDS!  The place is small, extremely messy and not set up to have groups, but OH WELL....we did it. And now I have a little bit of my holiday happiness back. And so do they I hear.  

All girls, all day, making art without worry.  Fear makes your art ugly I say. Lose the fear and go forward. It will all be OKAY.  And if it not, you learn something. I know it's true about art. I hope it's true on a larger scale too.  

Happy New Year everyone.  Let's do what we can to make it a good one. 

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Have a Fearless 2017.

Since Tuesday November 8,

 I've been in a negative space

 along with a lot of people here in my Northern California bubble.  In fact, the following afternoon I taught my after school art class with 20 kids between the ages of 4 and 7 all about negative space (of course never mentioning the "T" word.) So what is negative space in the visual world? Not an easy concept to understand for kids and some adults, it's the space AROUND something. The space that is NOT that thing.

We started with the first letter of their first names.  Here is what they did:

1. Each child artist drew her letter with small white soap onto black paper.  That letter is the "Positive Space."

2. She identified the spaces around the letter. Those spaces are the "Negative Space."

3. Using oil pastels, each artist filled the negative spaces with color and pattern, whatever she wanted to do, as long as the negative space was completely filled. 

4. The final step was to quickly wash the soap off the art work revealing the letter, the positive space.


So what is so important about seeing the space between things? The negative space? 

Seeing the space between letters, the space between front teeth, the space between people is a skill we all need to practice.


Five years old is the perfect time to start...

because we're all connected. 

I felt so much better after spending my afternoon with 20 five and six year old artists who see the negative space as a possibility for color and pattern and complete joy.  I love these guys.  Thanks kids

I met a great dog today

I met a great dog in front of Peet's Coffee in Oakland. I think he's a regular. His name is Mitty which his owners shortened from Mittens when they adopted him from the Milo Foundation. Good move. Mittens is not a cool name for a party animal. 

Mitty's friend is a neighborhood regular who I call Fanny even though I haven't yet made her actual acquaintance. Most cats give me a lot of space since I am usually accompanied by the devastatingly handsome and bilingual Javier Jorge Juan de Valencia, my Jack Russell terrier who has a very high prey drive.