Lena (Head Study), 10"x10", oil on panel
Name: Karen Offutt
Current City: Austin, Texas
1) When and how did you first become seriously interested in Art?
I've been drawing and painting all my life. Every job along the way, has always been art related one way or another. Such as painting custom tile work, designing for a needlepoint company, and painting fantasy furniture. But I had a strong pull towards fine art painting.
2) What is your training, and what medium(s) / subject matter do you work in?
While knowing how to draw and also paint with acrylics, I wanted to learn oil painting. I took classes through Austin Fine Arts Classes, over 15 years ago, to learn that medium and to fine tune my drawing skills. From there I took various workshops from well know national artists.
3) What do you try to express in your work?
I am a realism painter. I love to explore different ways in creating an emotion and a sense of place. But I'm especially drawn to painting people. Whether it's a portrait, a figurative piece or a landscape, for me, that's my personal connection.
4) What artists/professionals have been your biggest influences?
It's almost too difficult to narrow down my influences. I love Anders Zorn for example. He's in the same circle, to me as Sargent and Sorolla, but because I have a lot of family in Sweden, I get to see that work in person more often than not. But I love their approach to the beautiful paint application and how deliberate and calculating they are. But then I also love Lucien Freud's work in that it digs deeper into a personal psychology. There are many more who I admire and also my contemporaries.
5) What do you do to gain new inspiration for your work?
I love to travel and get out of my cave so that I can open myself up to new ideas. Getting out and seeing new gallery or museum shows help tremendously. Sometimes when I get in a rut, I will do something creative for our house, like build a coat rack, paint some walls, do some sort of home project that's creative yet lets my mind free from the pressure. Then something will click during that project and I'll have a reinvigorated vision of what I want to paint next.
6) What would you like to be doing with your art ?
Things can really change over time. It has for me from ten years ago to now. The way I see the world, my approaches to my technique and how they have evolved, my outlook and inspirations, etc. So, I suspect that things may change. But I have no clue as to how and what that will look like. It's an evolutionary process and that to me is exciting. So I'll have to say, to be continued........
7) Do you set goals for yourself concerning the making of your art?
Well, I made a deal with myself. If I don't have any deadlines and I've got some time that I'm not filling up with big, finished work, I will make small scale studies or paintings everyday so that I'm always connected to my art.
8) Are you happy with your job choice as an artist? Do you have any regrets in this career choice or things you would have done differently?
I love to draw and paint so there is always a pull towards it. I never see it as a "job", I see it as an opportunity. Sometimes in the day to day grind, it can be challenging to get into the studio and do the work. But, frankly, it feeds my soul. I'm sure I'm not alone with this idea, but, I can't stop thinking about it. It's something that I have to do. It's very therapeutic!
9) Any fun or interesting facts about yourself that you'd like to share?
I am pretty active in that I go to the gym as much as possible and power walk. I find it to be helpful in flushing out a lot of the traffic in the brain and it helps me to be more focused. Travel has and always be part of my life and now as my young kids are getting older, I want them to have that same experience and wonder about our world. And since my mom is from Sweden and most of my family lives there, I want them to have that connection to those relatives and their heritage.
10) Best piece of advice for other artists?
Always listen to your inner voice, in your art and in the business side of art. And never stop learning=)