Saturday, January 17, 2015

2015: Wow

So 2014 has set the stage, and now big things are happening work-wise....

For a long time now I've dreamed of creating some sort of "gathering space": for a while it was a spa/health center, then some sort of antique/import store/gallery/cafe, then an art retreat space - also along side this was dual desires: to share some studio space with other cool artists and also collaborate on some amazing creative project.

All of this has come together over the past year.

First it was consciously pursuing shared studio space. I met an amazing fellow artist, Sara Saltee, at the same time I came across a building that wasn't being used and worked out an arrangement for at least just me to work there. But then with Sara and other friends we saw a bigger vision: making it a larger shared studio. And the artists came. (Lauren Atkinson! Tammi Sloan! Melissa Koch! Alicia Lomne! Kim Hodges! and Joe Menth and Anne Waterman who were instrumental in getting us started....)

There was also room - specifically, one BIG room, that could be used for classes. Originally it was going to be just for the artists that rented studio space there....but then all of my previous dreams asserted themselves and I created something a bit grander in scope.

blueschool arts: classes + studios.

And as it started to take shape, I realized I had to apply something that I had learned through CAbi (see previous post HERE) - specifically, from a class I took from Syd Ryan, one of the founders of CAbi - she spoke about time management and "ruthless prioritizing". Ironically, I realized I had to ruthless prioritize out of CAbi in order to make room for blueschool. CAbi had served it's purpose in supporting my art career, but I found I couldn't develop both a part time CAbi Consultant Business AND start a whole new creative entrepreneurial endeavor AND ever see my family something had to fall away. So big breath, let CAbi go, even though I thought I'd at least give it 5 seasons...but I'm so happy that I took that leap and tried something so out of my "wheelhouse". It fed my current dreams in ways I couldn't have anticipated. So fond farewell, CAbi, I still think that it is an amazing career choice for women.

So what is blueschool arts? For me it was developing a magical space (that I couldn't find out there) for creating and showing my own work, as well as a place for other amazing creatives to gather-share-learn-teach. I also wanted the environment to feel like a piece of artwork in it's own right, so when you walk in you are instantly inspired. Kind of like what Anthropologie does. Or McMenamins. Except my influences are more Victorian/Gothic Salon or Drawing Room (which, in fact, is the name of our big classroom! Which also has a smaller attached room called Le Petite Salon!).

So the GRAND OPENING GALA and GALLERY SHOW is to be March 21st, 5-8PM, and I can barely believe it! How exciting this year is going to be!

Monday, August 25, 2014


Last night I saw on Netflix that FINALLY the last two episodes of Dr. Who from last season were available to watch (maybe it had been there for awhile, but it was new to me, so yee!). Oh happiness! Oh joy! So I settled myself in to some good ole' tv watchin'. I knew that it was the end of actor Matt Smith's run and that a new incarnation of Dr. Who was on the way, as well as being able to see some former Dr. Who personas (my personal fave: David Tennant.)

I didn't anticipate, however, the heart wrenching sobs as Matt Smith's Dr. Who said goodbye, as he felt his new persona emerge. It's not like it was my favorite season or even that I really liked this particular version of Dr. Who. Matt was kind of, well, a spaz. But as he dropped his bow tie and said goodbye to his long lost friend Amelia ("Goodbye, Raggedy Man") as well as his current dear friend Clara, big deep dark sad emerged up through my heart and out.

Even now, this morning, while exercising I've found tears running down my face and a big hole feeling in my chest.

Well for heaven's sake. It's just tv.

But this is not the first time this has happened. Certain shows, movies, books, and current events (yes, the recent loss of Robin Williams kicked my ass too) will trigger this excessive outpouring of what I can only describe as grief.

So what is this "grief"? Why is it there? Well, obviously, I've spent enough time on this planet that in my mid-lifetime I've experienced some loss. I've lost some pets. I've lost some friends to time and changes. I've lost lovers (phew dodged some bullets there). I've lost my parents. I've lost someone close to suicide. I've lost my mind, briefly. (Not full on cray cray, my nervous system just suffered an extremely painful short circuit). And as I grow older, there's doors that have closed on opportunities just simply because there isn't enough time anymore, and not every road is open to me as I make new choices (no, I will never be a famous ballet dancer as I one time dreamed as a child.). Not to mention my body simply cannot do everything it used to. Now I'm not THAT old but still. The changes are a'happenin'.

Now I grieved all these personal things in my life as they occurred. So why be sad - and I mean more sad then these 'tv triggers' warrant? One time a Reiki friend of mine told me I held a lot of grief. Part of me was like well, that's an easy thing to say, don't we all. And another part said, no I don't. I've grieved and I've healed. But that's not true. I know it's there. It's a dark subterranean lake in a very deep cave located somewhere between my gut and my heart, and mostly it's still and quiet and really does not affect me on a daily basis. But then something happens - like Finn/Cory Monteith dying - and a fissure opens up under that lake and all the grief of all the things that have happened in my life - or maybe just particular losses, I'm not sure - come up to join in with the mourning of whatever current event, real or fictional, is happening.

And then I have to mask the gut wrenching throat scraping anguish from my family by hiding in the  bathroom with the shower running or on a walk in the woods (normally no one else is there, except one particularly embarrassing time: sorry tourist couple), because I don't want to freak my poor daughter and husband out. Because this isn't a few precious tears running down my cheeks; no this is full blown curl in fetal position back ache grief.

Perhaps you are thinking, dear armchair therapist reader, this gal has depression. Go see someone, get some meds. First of all: been there (still going there) doing that. And this isn't depression. Depression is quieter, grayer, more debilitating. It flattens you, sits on your chest, and you are unable to feel joy. The chemicals are just not firing in that direction. This is not depression.

I think this might just be life.

Now I know not everyone experiences this to the level I do. I'm sensitive, always have been. I cried at after school specials and kleenex commercials as a child before the weight of years and experiences had a chance to take their toll. My mother was a cryer as well, and we spent some good quality time sharing tear-jerker books and watching Anne of Green Gables or even Figure Skating during the Olympics and bawling. It's just now things are more poignant, and have more weight to them, because I know all this beauty and joy is transient. That my life is finite as this persona (and the many versions of this persona).  So RIP, Dr. Who # 12.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Current Show! Prima Bistro, Langley, July-September 2014

Here my most current pieces (currently hanging at Prima Bistro through Sept). They are based on my high school obsession with Zebra Gothic Romance Novels, all which had a cover depicting a woman running in terror from some sort of foreboding structure that had one light on. Here's my own fun take on that. But my ladies are not so much terrified as kind of terrifying in their own right.....
Photos taken by Joe Menth of Fine Balance Imaging

"Dark Mistress of Stormhaven"
24 X 36 Mixed Media Acrylic Painting on Cradled Panel
copyright Karin Bolstad 2014

"Sapphire Gown of Bogwyllen"
24 X 36 Mixed Media Acrylic Painting on Cradled Panel
copyright Karin Bolstad 2014

"Silent Witness of Witch-Fire Manor"
24 X 36 Mixed Media Acrylic Painting on Cradled Panel
copyright Karin Bolstad 2014

"The Girl from the Grey House"
24 X 36 Mixed Media Acrylic Painting on Cradled Panel
copyright Karin Bolstad 2014

"Last Duchess of Ash-Rose Hall"
24 X 36 Mixed Media Acrylic Painting on Cradled Panel
copyright Karin Bolstad 2014

"Daughter of the Yellow Rose"
24 X 36 Mixed Media Acrylic Painting on Cradled Panel
copyright Karin Bolstad 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why (Why? Why? Why?) I work for CAbi Now

So what the heck am I doing selling clothes?

To make it clearer for myself I've created a list so on days when I have cancellations of parties, or have to call people and try to book shows (a BIG hurdle for me. Not a phone gal.), or have to drive off island when I'd REALLY rather not I can come back to this post. And for those of you who are kind of wondering what I'm doing, if you are wondering, now you will get some clarity and closure as well. You're welcome.

1. I LOVELOVELOVELOVELOVELOVELOVELOVELOVE the clothes. They're unique, stylish, fit well, made well, and make me feel pretty. They have helped me get over the hump of turning 40 and once again having to re-assess who I am, and how that person presents herself to the world. They make me feel confident. Clothes are not just some vanity - they are another creative reflection of who YOU are in the moment: how you feel, how you feel about yourself. Just like decorating your home. Just like telling a story with art.

2. I get to share that with other women. I hate feeling fat and ugly and invisible. I have felt all of these things far too often in my life. So when I discover something inside myself (or outside myself) that helps deal with that limiting belief crapola that keeps me from shining, I want to sing it from the roof tops because I know there's a lot of other women who fight that fight as much as I do. CAbi Clothes do that. It's kind of magical.

3. The company. Carol Anderson, when she was making a decision what to study in clothes, it was either going to be fashion design or something to do with women empowerment. She managed to create a business that combined both those things. Women are empowered when they feel confident and don't have to waste time worrying about their appearance (because CAbi takes care of that). Women are empowered when they get to start their own business but get ALL THE TOOLS and support they need to do it. Women are empowered when they get to start a business that can be part time or full time and can be scheduled around what's truly important: their family, friends, life events and adventures. Women are empowered when they get to make a decent wage. And even a more than decent wage, if they put the time in.

4. Heart of CAbi. CAbi created a foundation that has given away $37,000,000 in clothing as well as 2,400 small business loans through Opportunity International. I love that.

5. I grew up as a shy person. Not just a shy person, but a shy person with a blushing issue. Not a pretty blush, but full on tomato red can't ignore it blush that could come on any time, any place, and for any/no reason at all. Because of this, I learned it was best to hide myself as much as possible. Don't speak. And DEFINITELY don't publicly speak. So imagine my surprise when I started doing presentations on Fashion. And people tell me I'M GOOD AT IT. It is so, so so weird. And so, so, so awesome. I get to tap into a girl who has repressed an inner stand up comedian, an inner fashionista, and an inner public speaker. I didn't even know she existed or could exist.

6. My workday is going to a party and playing dress up. 4 times a month.

7. I have my own money. And this money is supporting art studio rent, art supplies, art classes, and starting an art center. In time I plan on funding travel and house projects. Until my creative work makes lots and lots of money.

The title of this post sounds like I might be trying to pitch something to you. In fact, it's a little foray on my part into really delving into WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING I'M SO BUSY AND WHAT ARE MY PRIORITIES AND AM I SPENDING MY TIME AUTHENTICALLY, PRODUCTIVELY,   AND PRACTICALLY I'M AN ARTIST AND I NEED TO BE DOING ART, ART, ART!!!

So here's the thing! I've been conflicted about becoming and working as a CAbi Consultant. (Don't know what that is? Visit There, I said it. I have a plus and minus sheet, and I've always said if you have to make a plus and minus sheet than really it's something you need to let go. So should I let go? Should I stop this thing I started a year ago?

And yet, here I am, in my 3rd Season, loading my car up with pretty clothes and presenting them to groups of women over vino, chocolate and cheese.

How does THIS line up with/fit into my "purpose/passion/limited time on this planet" stuff?

A while back I had a revelation that I truly did not want to do graphic/web design or illustration. (That is what I have my BA in). I wanted to create art. I was too scared to call myself an "artist" (you can read all about that HERE and HERE), but at least some priorities had FINALLY fallen into place. I'm not a career woman. I'm not soley a mother person either. I want to create.
Since then it's gelled into a more detailed "mission statement" if you will: I want to work creatively with other people on amazing projects.

I had to write this because just like I used to have a problem telling people I was an "artist", I have had a hard time telling them I am a CAbi Consultant. My ego would jump in and say, oh well isn't that precious, you're selling clothes, that's world changing, good for you (heavy on the sarcasm). So I've downplayed it. Well, you know what? I totally dig this. It's fun and it has been life changing and I get paid for it. So poo on you for your judge-y thoughts. I can be lots of things: Wife, Mother, Artist, Home Owner, Pet Mama, Writer, Athlete,  CAbi Rep etc etc and they (so far!) fall in line with who I am and what I want to do with my life. Now if I can just get an ASSISTANT.....

Serious Face Me.

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.