Thursday, May 2, 2013

Some current thoughts on my artistic journey.......

It's been a while since I've written here. Facebook has taken over the blogoshpere for's so much easier to write to a captive audience and get instant response. Here, not so much. But I like it for when I feel a ramble coming on, so though it is dusty and neglected, I have yet to abandon my bloglette.

I've gone through some intense artistic shifts in the last few years: the commitment to leave Graphic/Web Design behind and focus on Fine Art (you can read about that HERE); taking courses in Icon Writing both in Seattle and Italy; doing two extremely personal groups of work, one about the loss of my father and one about the loss of my "way" (you can see those works HERE and HERE); and getting the chance to experience being part of a Gallery Setting. So now it is pretty well into 2013 and I am doing more internal work than putting paint to surface, but I feel something BIG coming on. BIG people, PRETTY DARN BIG.

It started with something someone said to me while in Italy attending aforementioned Icon Writing Workshop, after she had viewed my artwork on my portfolio site. She said I painted the Divine Feminine. "BONG" went an internal bell. I paint what?

See, I've always predominantly drawn/painted/depicted the female form (other than a brief detour into pet portraits). And I realized that I've always been a little embarrassed by that. I never really dug around as to WHY I would be; it's not like women haven't been the main subject of artists since, you know, FOREVER. This is what I've come up with: I was embarrassed because I didn't really know why and I didn't know how people would judge this - that either they'd think a) I was a lesbian or b) I was contributing to the objectification of women or c) that a woman painting women was "girly art" and not "serious" or "high" art. (disclaimer: I have no prejudice against lesbians, nor would it have been horrible to have gone down that road. It's just not my road, and the negative feelings I had about that possible judgement was that my art would be written off as "lesbian" art rather than just "art" - same problem women have making work and having it be judged as "feminist" or "female" art rather than, uh, just art.)

The truth is I just have always painted women because they are beautiful to me and that has what has come out when I make art. Also I think all artwork is really about the artist or the artist is in there somewhere, and I'm a woman so to tell my stories there is going to be a woman there. And now there is a different new special sacred reason. I REVEAL THE DIVINE FEMININE.

Ok try to follow me here - this part gets tricky - painting about myself, consciously or unconsciously, is revealing what it's like to be me, a woman, in my life journey. I am an expression of the Divine Feminine - by, you know, being a woman. What is the Divine Feminine, exactly? Well, the sacredness of God that is a Girl, and is reflected in all of us, men and women, but carried more exclusively MOSTLY by souls in the female container/body. Goddesses, the Divine Femme revealed in myth and stories, carry the archetypes of this long neglected aspect of God.

Once I started thinking more deeply about this, and researching this, I decided I wanted to be more conscious about my work and the Divine Feminine. I have 3 groups of work in my head right now at this moment, jostling to get out, but not quite ready to be born. But when they are, oh girl. They are going to be POWERFUL. And this gets even juicier (uck I hate that word. hmm. can't think of a good enough synonym). I believe, as many do, that the world is waking up to the fact that until the Divine Feminine takes Her rightful place next the Divine Masculine, we will perish. And that it is primarily the work of WOMEN to restore Her - by waking up themselves. In order to wake up, we need to dig in the dirt, confront our demons, shed our addictions, gather together, empower ourselves: so that we can tap into our special gifts and give them back to the world - and in the process of healing ourselves, heal our planet.

What do you think of dem apples, Eve?

Keith Howard, "Angry Eve" oil painting on canvas 24" x 96" (detail)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shoulda woulda coulda

So today I was going to introduce a picture of a new piece of artwork that I am really excited about. I still am going to post aforementioned super cool inspired amazing piece of art, but instead I am going to post about my current status. The status of me. My friend Lisa and I call this state "poopy pants".  It came from that diaper commercial from years ago that had toddlers with sad expressions and the tagline "do you have saggy diapers that leak?". So it started with when one of us looked bummed us asking the other if they had saggy diapers that leaked. Which evolved into poopy pants. It covers everything from serious depression, just feeling blah, or self esteem in the toilet because the fat jeans are tight.

I have no real concrete reason to feel poopy pants. But once you feel poopy pants, attempting any sort of important taskoid or interacting with you darling spawn or really anything can send you into the spiral of doom. So let me explain the "spiral of doom". It's when you start with "shit. I forgot to buy 1/2 and 1/2 and now my coffee is WORTHLESS!" to "I can't believe I forgot that. I knew that my memory was going. I can't even remember stuff when I write it down on my to-do list. Which is only a fraction completed even after a week and a half. I am such a failure. I suck as a home-manager. And as a mother, because now I just snapped at my daughter and all I want her to do is go watch tv and leave me alone. And now she is going to become a worthless drone from watching too much tv. And I'm fat (my spiral of doom always ends with 'and I'm fat')."

So then I feel in my body imminent weepiness and heart heaviness. Which leads me to step 2 in my poopy pants/spiral of doom cycle: call my friend Lisa or my husband to confirm that I am not actually a waste of space on this planet. Which compounds my spiral of doom, because being the self analytical PSYCHOTIC that I am, I can see clearly that my ego requires an outside opinion to confirm my self worth. So by reaching out to escape my uncomfortable poop-in-my-pants feeling, I am also proving that          I am not particularily self actualized. At all. Spiral continues downward.

And if I cannot reach these particular people (or anyone else) to relieve me of these extremely uncomfortable feelings, I head to step 3, which varies. It can include foodstuffs, trashy tv or books, nap, or maybe a bath. If I'm alone. If I am not alone, I might resort to at least resolving feeling unattractive by dressing in different clothes or applying makeup. Tried that this morning. Instead of making me feel better, I felt worse, because it was the same poop in the pants middle aged gal, but with make up. I looked like a clown.        


Luckily, Lisa texted at the nick of time. I texted back, and happened to look up at the mirror as I finished texting my woes (which was very short because I have a dumb phone which does not text easily). The expression on my face was EXACTLY like those babies on the "saggy diapers/leak" commercial. So I started to laugh. And Lisa called and I told her and she laughed too. And then we laughed about the train ride to the self esteem desert full of the cactii of self flagellation I had taken. And now I'm ok. But I'm going to go wipe this stupid makeup off.                                                                                            

Same Show! Home for the Holidays at the Rob Schouten Gallery!

Just a reminder! Three pieces of mine are up at the Rob Schouten Gallery in Greenbank, WA on Whidbey Island until Jan 1. 

This Friday, Dec 7, there is a Holiday opening reception with the artists... who have created a whole passel of amazing stuff, much of which is highly affordable! The reception is 5PM to 8PM.

The artwork I have up are two chine colle linoleum prints and one painting. The woman in the red dress with the cat, entitled "Red Skirt" (and beautifully framed by Chris Dennis of the Handsome Framer in Bayview), is $275. The smaller print of the cat entitled "Unraveled" is $200. The original painting, entitled "Home is Where the Hound is" is priced at $725.

Happy Holidays!!!
(oh, Ps, I threw in a pic of my piece entitled "Dreaming" which is currently hanging between the Wine Bar and Whidbey Pies in Bayview. If you do come by, get some pie. Seriously. BEST PIE EVER. Or, you know, buy some of my art! :-)

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Show! Nov 2nd - Jan 1st, The Rob Schouten Gallery, Greenbank WA

Rob Schouten Gallery Proudly Presents

Home for the Holidays

      Twenty-Four Artists 
Create Hundreds of Affordable Original Gift Items!

November 2 - January 1
In conjunction with 
The Farm's First Friday Art & Wine Walk

Friday, November 2
5 to 8 PM

Please Join us!
Meet the Artists, 
enjoy refreshments and live music. 


From November 2 through January 1, the Rob Schouten Gallery will feature the work of 24 gallery artists who are "Home for the Holidays" We offer a fine selection of each of our artist's work in an affordable price range, as well as a wide selection of original works of art to enhance your home for the holidays. How better to celebrate the beauty and joy of the holiday season then by discovering the perfect original and handmade gifts to share with loved ones. This year our talented artists have outdone themselves creating treasures for every budget. 

For instance, for under $50 we offer handmade jewelry, glass flowers, starfish and ornaments, hand made ceramic vases with gorgeous crystalline glazes, silk brooches, fine art cards and handmade journals. For just a few dollars more the choice expands to include handblown glass votives, vases and bowls, handwoven silk scarves, encaustics and fine art prints. For the mid and higher range budget the choice includes original paintings and stone and bronze sculptures, large handblown glass and hand-thrown and glazed ceramics, and a selection of exquisite statement piece jewelry. 

The participating artists are among the finest in our region, including glass artists Robert Adamson and Janis Swalwell, painters Anne Belov, Karin Bolstad, Kathleen Fruge-Brown, Annette Hanna, David Iles, Pete Jordan, Lim Lee, Stacey Neumiller, Rob Schouten, Mark Skullerud, Doe Won, and Mark Van Wickler. Sculptors represented include Dan Freeman, Sharon Spencer, and Lloyd Whannell. Jewelers Barbara Mundell and Tammi Sloan will have new work, as will encaustic and willow artist Kathleen Otley, textile artist Cyndi Wolfe, ceramic artists Maryon Attwood and Dan Ishler and handmade book artist Sandra Whiting.

Rob Schouten Gallery, a premier showcase for Whidbey Island and Northwest artists, is located at historic Greenbank Farm on scenic Whidbey Island amidst rolling hills and forests offering breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the Olympic and Cascade mountains. Winter Hours are 10 to 5 on weekends, 11 to 4 weekdays, and closed on Tuesdays except by appointment. For further information call 360.222.3070 or

Rob & Victory Schouten

Rob Schouten Gallery
Connection  Inspiration  Beauty

765 Wonn Road, #C-103
Greenbank, WA 98253

Winter Hours:
Weekdays: 11 to 4
Saturday & Sunday: 10 to 5
Closed Tuesdays


“Autumn is a second spring when 
  every leaf is a flower.” 
― Albert Camus 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Has Thrilled me to the very CORE

Just watched a video that has resonated on so many levels I may have to watch daily to get it all in. It is so inspirational that I am now posting it on every platform I tend to in the hopes I can share the inspiration with you. Mastin Kipp is my new hero. How can someone be so wise at age 28?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Ramble

Hello again World!
 One of my friends on Facebook just recently asked the question "how many of you still journal after using Facebook?"

 Boy that was thought provoking.

 I definitely haven't blogged as much. It's pretty easy to recognize why: on Facebook I get instant feedback. On my blog, it's as if I'm writing to myself, and I may or may not get a response. Which never bothered me, but it is seductive to post bits and pieces of yourself on a platform where instantly you get a response. As for journaling, I tend to journal more during hard times than during easier times, and of course, there is no one I'm writing to but myself. So I don't blame Facebook for my lack of writing there.... But both Facebook and blogging are really the same, except for a few differences: the one I mentioned (instant captured audience), and that with a blog I can write more content. The similarities: I am writing and sharing with the public.

And why do we do this? Oh, there has been so much analysis on this subject that I shan't chime in. Why do I do this? Originally it was to share a bit about myself as an artist and events in that realm, another way to promote my art and myself as an artist - but soon branched out to my other interests. I just enjoy it and after much self analysis about whether it's "healthy" or not I just decided to stick with I to. I like to write about myself and thoughts I have and I like to share it with an audience. What can I say, apparently I have an exhibitionist side. Well, I am an artist. And I show my art. That is just another iteration of the same thing, innit?

So today I am dusting off my blog because it is dark outside, and the season is shifting to Autumn, the entrance into introversion, hibernation, darkness. The storing up of energy to get through until Spring. Though, I find in Fall that I actually become more creative, have more energy, and it feels more like a beginning than Spring does for me. I think this is because we were all raised starting school in the Fall - so it does represent a beginning of a new year, albeit a SCHOOL year, and I haven't been in school for a long time. Unless you count the "school of life" or the "school of hard knocks".

I wonder if I have a point to this post. I've just had moments lately of feeling - un-centered. Un-grounded. It's so easy to be pulled from day to day by your to-do list, the daily tasks that propel the day, as well as being dragged along by either your constant mind chatter or emotions or even your physical self: whether it's hormones or injury or body chemistry or something you ate. The going going going and where in the heck am I going?

But it's so so hard to STOP. To be still. To just be. Because with all that doing - which simply seems like reactions to mind, body, heart and environment, I wonder about do I even have free will, or am I just a bouncy ball, bouncing off of one of those aforementioned "things". And is there even a point to stopping and being, really? What does that accomplish? Other than for maybe just for a moment I don't feel dragged along by something - other. Oh, I've read so many books about "be-ing" and tools to do this - walks in nature, doing art (any form), dancing, meditation -all things that separate us from the zombie like constant reacting to life, rather than somehow being the captain of your ship.

I'd like to be the captain, sailing the seas, rather than just reacting to the weather and the waves, barely staying afloat... It sounds like I'm not happy, which is untrue. Just simply pensive I guess. Contemplative. As we enter into Fall. How to balance "bouncy ball syndrome" and "be-ing". I probably should go do some art! Ciao for now.....soon I will be in Italy, and I hope to write some travel posts while I'm there!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Show: Rob Schouten Gallery August 3rd - August 29th

Hello People!
Normally I don't give this much forewarning of an impending show, but this is my first Solo Show in a Gallery. Well, not ENTIRELY solo, I'll be sharing the space with Dan Freeman, a most excellent sculptor/artist that if I had gobs of money to throw at art his work would enrich my personal environment. I'd collect so much I'd be tripping over it.

"The Harvest"
copyright Dan Freeman
aluminum, corokia cotoneaster, tree root
42” x 24” x 15”

So I want you to save the date: Friday, August 3rd, 5PM-8PM, The Rob Schouten Gallery in Greenbank Washington on Whidbey Island. Light refreshments provided, as well as visual candy. My OPENING NIGHT folks! (And Dan too.)

I am going to post images of the first 6 of the 7 paintings here and give you a detailed explanation (extremely detailed. And long. So if you can stick with it, good on 'ya) of the show. So STOP NOW if you'd rather just come and see them in person. Or keep reading and STILL come and see them in person.

Still Reading? Ok then, here we go.

Karin Bolstad
The Dark Forest: A Fable

This group of 7 paintings illustrates how challenges are growth opportunities, using the archetypal Hero(in)e’s Journey and Dante’s Classic “The Divine Comedy” as the framework, and fueled by my own personal experiences.
The Hero(in)e’s Journey (or "Monomyth"), coined by Mythologist Joseph Campbell, is a traditional pattern found in narratives around the world. Reduced to its most basic components, it follows three parts: Departure, Initiation, and Return. From Wikipedia:

“In a monomyth, the hero begins in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unknown world of strange powers and events. The hero who accepts the call to enter this strange world must face tasks and trials, either alone or with assistance. In the most intense versions of the narrative, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help. If the hero survives, he may achieve a great gift or “boon.” The hero must then decide whether to return to the ordinary world with this boon. If the hero does decide to return, he or she often faces challenges on the return journey. If the hero returns successfully, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world.”

The paintings also use quotes from Dante Alighieri “The Divine Comedy”, which is an allegorical story about the soul’s journey to God.

The 7 paintings revolve around the first Canto in Alighieri Inferno: “In the middle of he journey of our life, I found myself within a dark woods, where the straight way was lost.” For Dante, this refers to his loss of Grace with God, for myself similarly it was my loss of hope in my life.

A quick word on influences on my style and technique: Greek Orthodox Icon Writing, Celtic Illumination, and two of my favorite illustrators, Kay Nielsen and Mercer Mayer.

Icon Writing is not an art form per se, but a “channeling” from God through the “Icon Writer” in order to create representations of Saints and Jesus. The result is not a depiction of these Enlightened ones, but rather a window in which a person may pray to and through to reach the ears of the particular Saint, who then has the ear of God. The “writing” of Icons is an intensely spiritual one, with very defined steps, each one of which has a correlating spiritual meaning. I am not an Icon Writer, but using symbols and having my artwork be a spiritual practice has been fed and refined by learning the ways of the Iconographer.

"Mary Magdalene"
Icon "written" by Karin Bolstad

Kay Nielsen was a Danish Illustrator from the turn of the century, who has been an inspiration for me since I was a child and first received his gloriously illustrated “East of the Sun West of the Moon”. His stylistic and elaborately designed artwork has been a great teacher for me, as has Mercer Mayer’s lush and beautiful work in his classic children’s books “Sleeping Beauty”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “East of the Sun West of the Moon”, and “Sibumi and the Kite Maker” to name just a few.

"At Rest in the Dark Wood"
by Kay Nielsen, East of the Sun West of the Moon

"Beauty and the Beast"
by Mercer Mayer, from "Beauty and the Beast"

Now for my own work. Last chance to keep it a Ok!

"Call to Enter"
18" X 24" Mixed Media Acrylic Painting
copyright Karin Bolstad 2012
(click to enlarge)

The first painting in the series (“Departure” from Campbell’s Monomyth), entitled “Call to Enter”, shows a young woman racing away from something not seen by the viewer, into a dark and stormy forest, filled with thorny vines. She is also leaving behind her home, seen on the hill in the top right corner. The horse is a traditional symbol for the soul or spirit, and I had dreamt of a horse before starting the series. The horse (or her “soul” “spirit” “Higher Self”) is her constant companion through the whole series.

The forest traditionally symbolizes the realm of the psyche and a place of testing and initiation, of unknown danger and darkness. From J.C. Cooper in An Illustrated Encyclopaedia Of Traditional Symbols:

“Entering the Dark Forest or the Enchanted Forest is a threshold symbol; the soul entering the perils of the unknown; the realm of death; the secrets of nature, or the spiritual world which man must penetrate to find the meaning.”.... “Retreat into the forest is symbolic death before initiatory rebirth.” (Source: John Fraim, In Dante’s Inferno, the forest symbolizes the poet’s confusion and fear. The thorns, for me, symbolize fear and anxiety. And Fear is what spurs the girl to run. Fear, or Anxiety, was my own personal demon that inspired this piece (and series).

Inscribed at the top of the painting is a quote from Dante’s Inferno: “intrai per lo cammino alto e silvestro” translating to “I entered the dark and thorny way” (Inferno: Dante Alighieri, Canto II)

"Seeking Solace"
28" X 36" Mixed Media Acrylic Painting
copyright Karin Bolstad 2012
(click to enlarge)

The second painting, entitled “Seeking Solace”, shows the girl senseless upon her horse, during Winter, facing over a frozen Lake, with a lone building behind it. The girl has run terrified to the point of exhaustion, and her horse has taken her to find refuge. “Winter” symbolizes death, absence of hope, frozen feelings, regret and isolation – to name just a few. At this stage of the girl’s journey, Fear has driven her to give up; break down, and thus is forced to receive help (Or her “Horse” forces her to). Over the Lake – symbolizing the unconscious (which is frozen), there is seen a building or refuge. The title, Over the Lake, is my personal play on words for Overlake Hospital, where my own broken self was forced to retreat.

"Comfort, Companionship and Counsel"
18" X 24" Mixed Media Acrylic Painting
Dedicated to Sheila Mohn, Saidee Whitehorn, and Katja Fritzche
copyright Karin Bolstad 2012
(click to enlarge)

The third painting in the series, “Comfort, Companionship, and Counsel”, the girl is still lost in the “Forest” and encounters three mystical women who offer the gifts named in the title (remember the assistance mentioned in the Monomyth pattern?). Though the girl is still lost, and entangled in thorny vines (anxiety), she is given aid freely to help her on her journey. The women represent dear people in my own life that did just that.

18" X 24" Mixed Media Acrylic Painting
copyright Karin Bolstad 2012
(click to enlarge)

The fourth painting, “Lost”, is the axis the other paintings revolve around. Here the girl huddles resting with her horse for comfort, weeping, as she finds her self still in the middle of the wood, no closer to finding her way home.

In Joseph Campbell’s “Hero(in)es Journey”, this stage is the center point of the journey, the “Initiation”. It has many components, but for this girl here it represents a stage of reflection and rest, called “Apotheosis” – as well as where she must confront her demons, which in this story is Fear and Anxiety, called “Atonement with the Father” (Father representing what holds ultimate power in the character’s life).

Sadly and coincidentally, while painting this, I lost my faithful and dear companion, my Irish Wolfhound, Oskar. The Pieta-like pose of the girl holding her horse bears a striking resemblance to our last moments together, and I have felt Oskar whenever I have painted the horse.

Quoted on the frame of the painting is the first line of Dante’s Inferno:

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,

ché la diritta via era smarrita.

“In the middle of he journey of our life,

I found myself within a dark woods,

where the straight way was lost.”

This quote illustrated exactly how I had been feeling: in the middle of my life (just turned 40), I was lost in the woods (didn’t know who I was anymore), and the straight way was lost (didn’t know how to heal or move forward).

18" X 24" Mixed Media Acrylic Painting
copyright Karin Bolstad 2012
(click to enlarge)

The fifth painting, “Dreaming”, shows the girl asleep with her horse, with a vision of her family behind her in the trees. Again, this symbolizes the assistance given on the girl’s journey, this time from her family. Without the love and support of my husband and daughter, as well as my extended family, I could not have found my way back to them.

28" X 36" Mixed Media Acrylic Painting
copyright Karin Bolstad 2012
Dedicated to Ragnvald August Bolstad, 10/16/43 - 2/24/11
(click to enlarge)

The sixth painting, “Transformation”, you see the girl and her horse on a stormy coast, watching a Viking ship sail away, surrounded by seagulls and one lone salmon, leaping in farewell. Aboard the ship is a shadowed figure.

On February 24th, 2011, my father suddenly passed away. This painting is dedicated to him, and expresses my sorrow in having to say goodbye. My father was Norwegian, hence the Viking ship, and grew up in Norway on the water and amongst fishermen. When finding an image of seagulls to paint, I randomly chose from google images a photograph, which, in a beautiful synchronistical way, were seagulls photographed in the Lofoten Islands, where my father had spent much time as a young man with his Grandfather.

Though it is not written on this painting, a quote from Dante (Purgatory, Canto IV) is associated with this work:

Io era lasso, quando cominciai:

«O dolce padre, volgiti, e rimira

io rimango sol, se non restai».

“I was exhausted when I began: “Oh sweet father, turn around, and look I shall be left behind if you do not stop.”

Part of the “Initiation” portion of the Hero(in)es Journey is the “Road of Trials”. From Wikipedia:

“The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation.”

In the human adventure, this is the most inevitable of ordeals: the loss of a loved one.

"Returning Home"
18" X 24" Mixed Media Acrylic Painting
copyright Karin Bolstad 2012
(click to enlarge)
The seventh, and final painting, “Returning Home”, you see the girl upon her horse, exiting a now summer filled forest over a bridge, back to her house on the hill, where her family is there to greet her. We have come to the “Return” portion of the Journey.

Components of the “Return” part of the Hero’s Journey include “Rescue from Without”, “Crossing the Return Threshold”, and “Master of the Two Worlds”

From Wikipedia:

“Rescue from Without

Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, oftentimes he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.”

Here the figure returns home, her family waiting to greet her – my personal rescuers!

“Crossing the Return Threshold

The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.”

This, I think, is both my own ultimate challenge, and the challenge of all of us, when we face difficult or paintful periods in our life.

Around the edge of the painting are four words in Italian: amore, fiducia, gracie, and acceptazzione: Love, Faith, Grace, and Acceptance. These are the gifts I brought back with me from this particular Journey, as I cross the “threshold” or in this case, a bridge.

On the bridge is the line: “fuor se’ de l’erte vie, fuor se’ de l’arte”. (Canto XXVII, Purgatory, Dante Alighieri). This translates to “Beyond the steep ways and the narrow art thou.”

“Master of the Two Worlds

For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.”

In this painting, the figure on the horse is “between two worlds” as she crosses the bridge. The forest she leaves can be seen as the spiritual and inner world, and the return home to the material world, and her loved ones.

And here I am. And here we all are, at different periods of our lives. The ultimate challenge is to view every “story” in our life as a sacred opportunity to be “broken open”.

In the novel “Waterland” by Graham Swift, there is a quote about stories and life:

Children, only animals live entirely in the Here and Now. Only nature knows neither memory nor history. But man - let me offer you a definition - is the story-telling animal. Wherever he goes he wants to leave behind not a chaotic wake, not an empty space, but the comforting marker-buoys and trail-signs of stories. He has to go on telling stories, he has to keep on making them up. As long as there's a story, it's all right. Even in his last moments, it's said, in the split second of a fatal fall - or when he's about to drown - he sees, passing rapidly before him, the story of his whole life."

And what does it mean, to be “broken open” rather than “broken”?

In the words of Elizabeth Lesser, author of “Broken Open: How Difficult Times Help Us Grow”:

“….(Elizabeth Kubler-Ross) says “You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.” The only thing we can really ask for when we pray is the ability to trust in that greater purpose. We pray to have our hearts opened and our purpose revealed. We pray for gratitude when our life is good and for faith when it is not so good. We pray to trust that our pain is a gift with “a very, very specific purpose”.

A few people I'd like to thank who have supported me both on my journey and in creating this body of work:

My family: Scott Schorn, Lulu Bolstad-Schorn, Carl Bolstad, Karina Miller, Bill and Mary Schorn, Gudbrand and Kjerste Bolstad, Ann Helene Bolstad, Ingeborg Bolstad and Ola, Jane Ave'Lallemant, Cathy Ave'Lallemant, Mary Ave'Lallemant, and posthumously Ragnvald Bolstad and Dorothy Ave'Lallemant Bolstad for being the best parents a daughter could have - and all my dear cousins.

My friends and healers: Sheila Mohn, Saidee Whitehorn, Katja Fritzche, Marin Younker, Kristen Nelson, Alison Brownrigg, Lisa Lamoreaux, and oh boy this list could be miles long. You know who you are.

A special thank you to: Rob and Victory Schouten, who believe in my artwork; and Joe and Nancy of Fine Balance Imaging who also believe in my work and take beautiful photos of the work; and Chris Dennis of Island Framery, who is going to frame these suckers; and Jane Richlovsky & Irene Perez-Omer, teachers extraordinaire, who without I could not have made a quantum leap in my style and technique.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Preview of my New Work!

18" X 24" Acrylic Painting
4th in new series "The Dark Forest: A Fable"
Work in Progress
(click to enlarge)

As you may or may not know, a wonderful awesome super cool gallery is showing my work....well right NOW in a group show "Birds + Nests: The Art of Spring" but also in August I get to share a show with sculptor Dan Freeman at the Rob Schouten Gallery.
I am REALLY excited about the work I am doing so I wanted to share what I've been working on and talk a little about the inspiration for this group of work.

About two years ago, I was going through a rough patch (understatement) and reading a book called "Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow" by Elizabeth Lesser. Towards the end of the book, she relates a personal experience that resonated with me so much I immediately started to weep. I'll share that bit (page 254):

"On the back route to the hospital, which twists through a state forest preserve, the moon was so bright that it illuminated stands of gnarly old oak and maple trees. Quite suddenly, as if falling from a tree, Dante's lines landed on my tongue, and I recited them aloud: "In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself within a dark woods, where the straight way was lost." And then I understood what had been happening to me. Of course! I was in the middle again, in the darkness, in the woods. The straight way was lost; there was no going back; the new way would reveal itself when it was good and ready, when I had learned some new lessons, when I had surrendered to change and transformation.
I pulled the car over to the side of the road and shook my head. "Where have I been all these months?" I said aloud. "Why have I been fighting against change?" And just by asking the questions, I felt a veil lifting. I felt a thin shaft of hope break through the woods of my weariness. In all of those long months.....I had been fighting the inevitability of change, what some would call the will of God.
Like an animal drinking fresh water after a drought, I dropped my head and began to pray. "Thy will be done, not mine." I whispered into the night."

That line from Dante - "In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself within a dark woods, where the straight way was lost." - that line was how I felt. I'd lost my bearings; I didn't know where I was; I was terrified; I didn't know who I was.

After coming through those "dark woods" I wanted to share my experience with my artwork, and I decided I wanted to do it using that quote as the "polestar" or "axis" that the story would rotate around and radiate from, and tell a fable about a young woman who gets lost in the woods and how she finds her way back home.

There will be seven pieces, of which the first, fourth and seventh will comprise a triptych (entering the forest, in the middle of the forest, leaving the forest). Flanking the center (4th) piece, which illustrates Dante's quote (which is the first stanza of the "Inferno"), will be two pieces honoring the "helpers" the young woman has through her journey. The 2nd and 6th pieces will depict pivotal and defining moments within this particular odyssey. It is the heroine's journey, it is a depiction of dealing with the challenging moments that crop up in our life and honoring them as spiritual teachings, it is me and my personal story.

It has been so far an amazing experience painting these works - to express my emotions, share my story, and on a more mundane level (but not any less important) watching my technique improve through each painting. I am so excited to show these works - the opening will be on August 3rd. I hope you can make it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Coming Home

I'm turning 40 this year. I always thought that 40 would be traumatic. Turned out the few years preceding 40 ended up being explosive in their trauma, drama, and life altering aspects. So as I near June 25th, I feel no trepidation, no upcoming mid life crisis, no real emotional reaction at all really. It is just another landmark on the rocky up and down changing terrain of my path, a pile of stones that now count 40.
It does, however, make me look back over my life, the increasing decades, the different chapters, the changing epochs - and I am now at an age where childhood is quite far away when it really seemed not long ago that I was emerging from it.
I think about what I was like at 10, 20, and 30 - and what advice I would give those different girls/women. I wonder what advice I will want to give my 40 year old self when I am 60.
One thing I'm in awe about is the present. I am sitting here - right where I want to be. How often can you say that about your life. I say it sans smugness or pride or even excitement, more like....huh. Isn't this interesting.
Today I painted both artwork for an upcoming show I am going to be in, as well as painted the walls in our new living room.
The artwork will go up in a lovely gallery called the Rob Schouten Gallery. Their tagline is "connection, inspiration, and beauty" and I feel quite comfortable hanging my work among the other Schouten artists (Rob included) - who are incredibly talented, which humbles me and inspires me. Two years ago I made a commitment to art and gave up design, when I realized that with my daughter I only had time for ONE other thing, and when I dug around inside of me what I wanted that thing to be it was to paint. Not just to paint, but to get really really good at it. To take what talent I had inherited and see how far I could go with it, or where it would take me. Still curious about that.
As for the painting of the living room, it is located in a farmhouse my little family purchased last November. It is a mere 20 years old but with all the old timey, quirky, sweet aspects I craved in a home for such a long time that I'm amazed the house exists! It sits on the outskirts of a small village on an island, on a hill overlooking a farm and water and another island and a string of lavender snow capped mountains. We have 6 acres - a nice sized yard (ok a freakin huge yard, we had to buy a RIDING LAWNMOWER. Big deal for city folk) and forest with trails. We have a country lane that is shaded by a giant maple tree, and when you drive up over the lane's numerous 3rd world like pot holes (It's on the to do list) deer, rabbits, quail, and a variety of other random birds scatter like teenagers caught at a kegger. I hope at some point they'll feel comfortable enough to invite us.

Our house! Soon it will be all white and sans the bright blue trim. So it won't be so nautical- like. As it is, I kinda want to decorate with rope, buoys and maybe some rigging and sail cloth. Ahoy!

The view from our house

The view from the kitchen

Scott and Lulu on the big rig. Luckily, our neighbors are farmers and could help us take the big crate o' lawnmower up our pot hole filled country lane the delivery man could not. I gave them jam. It seemed a the country/neighborly thing to do.

After much agonizing over color chips and friend's advice, I came upon a color palette idea that fit the house: it would retain the bright and open feeling of the house, but still have the color I crave - chicken egg. Yes that's my palette. The delicate neutrals of chicken eggs. For your information, there's quite a few hues, if you are not up on your poultry husbandry knowledge. (I just googled images myself.) Thank you J. Otte Photography for taking such a beautiful photo!

So how did I arrive here? For many years I have felt not quite right about where I lived. I never knew if the discomfort was simply existential angst or I truly was not living where "Karins" thrive. I did know, after spending my college years in a smaller and extremely beautiful town, that I am not a city girl. I think I knew that my whole life but what are you to do, a country mouse raised in the city? And once my 4 years in my beloved college town ended, I had to return to the big city for work - and to be with my brother and father. The pull of my family of origin was strong. The three of us were extremely close after the death of my mother, when I was 18. And it seemed I could not pull away from them - because I didn't want to. Yes, they both moved away from Seattle for brief periods of time but eventually we always gravitated back to each other.
So the years kept going forward. My "career" never really "took" so I went from job to job, boyfriend to boyfriend, rental to rental. Then I met my best friend and now husband, and everything changed.
We bought a house. We got a dog. We got married. We had a baby. We had everything. Why did I still feel unsettled? Why was I addicted to stories about "the Ten Most Livable Towns" in Sunset Magazine and cruising Redfin and Windermere like they were porn?
Finally we took the plunge and moved to an island near where my husband worked to see if those "unsettled" feelings would go away. They did - and didn't. I met "my people" - a group of social, interesting, beautiful families to become my friends and friends to my daughter. I was amongst quiet and near water. We could afford (when we chose to buy) a house with a lot more amenities than we could afford in the city. But then the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan (see previous post HERE ), and my life became consumed with just surviving. And I was noticing how freakin' dark and rainy and non- summery it had become - two years of feeling chilly all year round! I started to wonder if I was in completely the wrong REGION. But, I really didn't know where to go. And my husband has his job, which we like, etc etc....
And then came this house. And it was one of those, well, yup. Let's make an offer. And everything flowed like it hadn't in a while. And that squirming uncomfortable questioning seeking wondering part of me quieted down and I said "I am here."
This lovely house. It is full of projects (mostly aesthetic) that will last us quite a bit of time, and I'm looking forward to all of them. My dear friend of the canine persuasion got to spend 21 days living here before succumbing to cancer and we had to say goodbye, but he liked the house and it was nice to know his last month on the planet was at such a nice place - we could walk to town and he could get the admiration he had been missing since we had moved from the city (we joked that Oskar would go to the pub when we were not around, because when we would go for walks people would slow there cars and greet Oskar and we had NO IDEA who they were).

The last photo of Oskar: surveying the property in the light of the rising sun

So I guess I'm home. And so here I am. Almost 40. I'm not striving or pursuing, I don't feel any empty parts of me, other than the souls I've had to let go of so far on my travels in this meat suit (that particular description of body always kinda grossed me out, don't know why I'm using it). I have a sense of place, which has been a long time coming, and with this foundation, and the love of my husband and daughter, my brother and my friends, I feel both at peace and energized. Where will my path twist next, I wonder? (uh oh, just jinxed myself. Those are famous last words if I ever read them).

Me and Lulu in our new living room on Mother's Day

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Show: Birds + Nests: The Art of Spring, May 2012

"Greetings from Spring"
18" x 24" Mixed Media Acrylic Painting on reversed cradled art board
copyright Karin Bolstad 2012
$1052 (contact the Rob Schouten Gallery for purchasing)

I have the honor of participating in a group show at the Rob Schouten Gallery in Greenbank, Whidbey Island - and the artist reception is Friday, May 4 at 5PM - 8PM. Come visit! 
Here is the press release:

"The Rob Schouten Gallery Celebrates its Fourth Anniversary with

Birds + Nests - the Art of Spring
A Group Show of Gallery Artists

May 4 - 30

Friday, May 4
5 to 8 PM

Meet the Artists, and enjoy the music of
"The Muse + Eye"

Refreshments will be served.

As the Rob Schouten Gallery celebrates its four year anniversary, Spring is in the air. It seems the perfect time to have a group show featuring our very fine gallery artists, and introducing some artists new to the gallery in an exhibition, Birds + Nests - The Art of Spring. The exhibition will be a rich and diverse selection of fine art interpreting this theme.  

We will be featuring bronze and natural fiber nests by Sharon Spencer, welded steel sculpture by Dan Freeman, handblown glass by Robert Adamson and Janis Swalwell, handmade jewelry by Barbara Mundell and Tammi Sloan, encaustics by Kathleen Otley, paintings and prints by Linnann Armstrong, Anne Belov, Karin Bolstad, David Iles, Craig Johnson, Pete Jordan, Jacob Kohn, Stacey Neumiller, Jonni Reed, Rob Schouten, Wendy Wees, and Mark Van Wickler, as well as handwoven silk by Cyndi Wolfe, and ceramics by Maryon Atwood and Dan Ishler. New to the gallery are artists Linann Armstrong, Maryon Atwood, Karin Bolstad, Dan Ishler, Craig Johnson, Tammi Sloan and Wendy Wees.

A special feature of this exhibition will be a collaboration between artists Robert Adamson, Dan Freeman, Rob Schouten and Sharon Spencer. The artists will create a four-foot diameter nest which will cradle handblown glass eggs. This will be on display just outside of the gallery throughout the month of May. 

"It was initially Rob's idea to have four artists create an installation to celebrate the gallery's fourth anniversary. Once Dan, Sharon and Robert became involved the idea really took off," says co-owner Victory Schouten. "They are all committed to having fun and creating something lighthearted, beautiful and magical. The planning, collecting materials, and creating pieces is well underway. The four artists will come together on May 1st to put it all together into a glorious celebration of life's ongoing cycle of new beginnings."

The Birds + Nests - The Art of Spring exhibition will run through May, and will open with an reception for the artists on Friday, May 4. Rob Schouten Gallery, a premier showcase for Whidbey Island and Northwest artists, is located at historic Greenbank Farm on scenic Whidbey Island amidst rolling hills and forests offering breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the Olympic and Cascade mountains. The gallery is open 10 to 5 daily. For further information call 360.222.3070 or"