Australian oil painter Karen Bloomfield captures both the natural and manmade worlds in her fascinating portfolio. Visit her website to see more.
I was discouraged from pursuing art as a child, but found other ways to express my creativity through my career—window dressing, ticketing, magazine publishing, fashion illustration–the list goes on. I trained in industrial design, fashion design, horticulture and business. None of it fulfilled me. At forty I turned my life inside-out and finally studied fine art.
I discovered in my first year of study that my memory is colour-blind (it identifies green as red and vice-versa). Drawing came naturally to me. Charcoal became my first great love. It was a challenge for me to master colour-mixing and I harboured doubts that my painting skills would ever match my drawing. But during my third year of study, something just clicked and painting became my great joy.
Having spent many years in the house-building industry, I found great pleasure in playing with the strong, solid shapes and colours found in architecture and industry. I grew up near airports and shipping ports, and the “feel” of those memories imbued me with such joy and longing that I began to understand the importance and value of nostalgic art.
After being given the opportunity to reference one of the major stevedore ports at Botany, Sydney, my love of industrial painting was cemented. Many of the paintings produced were featured in major Art Prizes as finalists including the Paddington and Gosford Art Prizes. I am a regular finalist at the Maritime Art Prize.
Concurrent with the large industrial oil paintings, I experimented with and honed my charcoal art. My subject matter was Australian wild birds and animals, because it felt important to me to portray their individual personalities. After discovering that not everyone identified animals as having emotions and a right to live their lives, I offered amusing stories to “humanize” my subjects. I never want to force my opinion, but instead show a different perspective through humour.
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Over the last two years I have managed to meld my subjects and styles—bright, industrial-inspired compositions featuring animal subjects in oil paint. The resulting artworks have been very popular. I now offer them in limited edition giclee print runs.
I recognise that my subject matter is Jekyll and Hyde, male and female, yin and yang. This is who I am and I love both of my edges!
I am currently the President of the Australian Society of Marine Artists. Next year the Society will be involved in its first international exhibition alongside our counterparts in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and France.
I teach charcoal workshops, sharing my unique “charcoal painting” method. I’m also involved with several artist-run initiatives. Life as a full-time artist is busy and unpredictable, but I love it so much!
With each piece I aim to share my joy of creation and humour. I create work that I hope will uplift the viewer and give them the opportunity to see something from a different point of view.
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