Karen Scarlett grew up fifth generation on the family farm west of Innisfail, Alberta; the prairies of Canada. Her love affair with the world of art and design started at a young age.
Karen’s artistic life has been inspired by her father, mother and grandmother. Her dad’s creativity and skill with all things hand made instilled a comfort with creating. He would say …(cont. below)
… ”practice building castles in the sky so you know how to do it when you get the chance on the ground”. Karen has a true love of power tools because of spending hours building with her dad. Karen’s mom was a home economics teacher and expert knitter and seamstress. Karen’s mom always followed a pattern and if the project she was working on wasn’t perfect, it would be ripped out and started over. Karen appreciates the skill and expertise her mom provided and feels it was imperative to knowing how to break the rules in the “right” way. Grandma, on the other hand, was driven by making “stuff” she had multiple projects on the go and appreciation for all things handmade. She never needed to create things perfectly, she just needed to create and she expected her grandchildren to join in. Looking back, her home was like a secret garden of wonder. A magical spot.
Karen is a western landscape artist. She often has multiple items in the works and considers herself a multi-disciplinary artist. Karen’s current favorites are fibre and painting, especially the mixed media work she is immersed in presently.
Growing up on the prairies has created a lifelong imprint of the fields surrounding Karen’s childhood home on the farm. The horizon is favorite content as well as the magical time of year surrounding the harvest.
Her mixed media work is a combination of photographs, paintings, technology, found objects and aged wood. She has developed her own unique process by combining disciplines and media. She begins by finding, harvesting and building old wood frames and after applying numerous layers of media to the aged wood, finishes the process by sealing the steps together. You will notice a hint of a tissue layer showing through, leaving a large “dots per inch” or DPI *feel* to the images. This is purposeful and provides an obvious contrast. Karen is interested in marrying today’s technology with the weathered history – a feel of a prairie fossil and a hidden story provided by our rugged environment – that the matured planks provide.
Karen lives in Calgary with Doug and their cat, Starsky.
Karen has been featured in numerous press articles including Calgary Magazines prestigious “Top 40 Under 40” and has also been nominated for The Globe and Mail’s “Top 40 Under 40” for Canada.
Karen now spends her time in Calgary with Doug & their cat – Starsky.
I recently participated in a retreat through the Calgary Stampede called the Artist Ranch Project (ARP). It prompted me to reflect on my experience of growing up on the family farm. Being with people who were asking so many questions about living a rural lifestyle – which I have always taken for granted – was an eye opening experience for me. I have always had a true love for the land and the magic it provides us and I became keenly aware of my upbringing and my agricultural roots and how they have shaped my world view. I miss the countryside and taking part in the ARP gave me a true understanding of what I celebrate most in life.
As I left the retreat I was struck by the fact that not only am I a modern artist but I am an Alberta Western Artist. My best work always seems to be inspired by my childhood surroundings and the connection I have had with the land since my youth.
I was surprised by how emotional the ARP weekend was for me. It literally changed my view of myself as an artist and how I would like to create and how I would like to be remembered. The work I am creating for the ARP is a collection called *Land of Gold*. It is my representation of growing up on a Canadian farm and the wealth that that experience brings. I celebrate my family, my heritage and the lessons and wealth that the land continues to bring to me.