Artist Karlene Francois presents a remarkable collection of paintings that capture life in the West Indies and other travel destinations. Enjoy more by visiting her website.
I grew up on the island of Trinidad in the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago. One envisions a life which entails endless encounters with gently crashing beach waves, countless days playing in the sunshine, and picturesque scenes emboldened by an abundance of sun or the seasonal downpours of rain.
That was part of life on my island. But my childhood was also defined by finding incredible comfort in the solitude of recreating images that I found rummaging through books in our library. I attempted crafty projects and DIY decorations for birthday parties for my cousins and special occasions. And I served as a junior, albeit highly opinionated, creative consultant for my family.
In my teen years at school, the subject of History ignited more of my creative ambitions. Learning about the various art movements (in particular the Renaissance) I was convinced that I could do the same.
This source of inspiration would be revisited in my early thirties as I traversed the Vatican Museum. The space surreptitiously seemed to reconnect all the dots for me. I knew that I was meant to be an artist.
As I tried to find my fit into the art world, I pursued courses in Concept Art and Graphic Design. I even got a couple of jobs freelancing with the latter. There were aspects of both that appealed to me, such as the use of typography and textures and the conveniences of digital painting. But I always gravitated to traditional painting in watercolour.
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The fluidity of watercolours excite the eye. They evoke movement, reflect the interplay between light and shadow and, when mastered, can either subtly reveal a subject through loose strokes or clearly demarcate it through layering and control. Its transparency similarly illuminates subjects while creating depth.
Currently, my work focuses on themes of abandonment, decay and heritage. This stems in part from my travels through Peru and countries in Europe. In particular, I observed how much they see the value in preserving and monetising their heritage sites.
My inclination towards realism enables me to have a greater sense of control in creating the final outcome. I’ve attempted looser styles of watercolour and they’ve left me feeling slightly dissatisfied. I probably need to practice more. I deeply admire others who have mastered it.
Starting to paint again after sixteen years makes me feel like I need to catch up on the lost years. As I continue to paint, there’s so much I want to explore in what feels like a short time.
My short-term goals include more portrait work. In the medium term, I intend to experiment with different mediums such as oils and sculpture to execute some ideas that have been sitting somewhat impatiently in my head.
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