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Meet Ken Karlic

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ken Karlic.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My earliest memories were of drawing. As time passed, my interests sharpened to buildings as a subject, and I pursued a career as an architect, studying at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. After realizing my interest in buildings was in drawing rather than designing them, I shifted briefly to painting and ultimately to graphic design, receiving my B.F.A. in graphic design. After relocating to Maryland, I briefly worked designing graphics for a couple of small studios and in-house at a science museum, until finally starting my own design practice. 27 years later I’m now one of two partners in a firm called Splice Design Group, where we design identity, interactive, print and exhibition graphics primarily for cultural institutions and museums including the Guggenheim Foundation and Smithsonian Institution.

Over the course of my graphic design career, I continued to draw and paint and challenge myself to sharpen my skills and point of view, ultimately focusing on watercolors as my medium of choice. I began doing plein air events approximately eight years ago, traveling to various locations and painting on-location. Gallery exhibitions grew out of the events, and I now am represented by six galleries in three states. I’ve recently been recognized for my painting in several publications including The Art of Watercolour, Plein Air Magazine, Plein Air Today and Fine Art Today. In addition, in 2017 I became a Featured Artist for Daniel Smith Watercolors, and wrote an article titled, “Sophisticated Chaos with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors, Step by Step Painting Large Scale” which was distributed worldwide. I continue to balance my creative careers in painting and graphics as well as teach workshops nationally.

Please tell us about your art.
I refer to my watercolors as sophisticated chaos, where a structured drawing gives way to an expressive painting to create a beautiful mess. I’m drawn to scenes of complex forms, finding beauty in the streets, scaffolding and grit of everyday life. I strive to express how something feels as much as how it looks, and to capture the physicality of a subject with bold brushwork and rich textures. My paintings have a basis in the representational but often dissolve into varying levels of abstraction. My approach is as much a part of the work as the subject, with marks, scratches, drips and splatters all becoming part of the final piece, creating a very physical presence.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
The best advice I can suggest is to be true to yourself, paint what engages you, don’t give up and embrace the process which isn’t necessarily a straight line, but one with plenty of bumps along the way. I’ve once heard that the first 500 paintings you do are trash—I think more than anything that says that there’s no short cut to doing the work, and lots of it, and be willing to try things. The job of an artist is to entertain and engage. With the primary audience being yourself, start by doing what engages you and the rest will take care of itself.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?

South Street Art Gallery / Easton MD

F.A.N. Gallery / Philadelphia PA

McBride Gallery / Annapolis MD

Y: ART / Baltimore MD

Red Raven Art Company / Lancaster PA

William Ris Gallery / Jamesport NY

July 2017 / Red Raven Art Company / Lancaster PA
July 2017 / F.A.N. Gallery / Philadelphia PA
Sept 2017 / Two Person Show / Duke Gallery / Wallingford Art Center / Wallingford PA

Nov/Dec 2017 / Merion Gallery / Saint Joseph’s University / Philadelphia PA

July 15-22, 2017 / Plein Air Easton / Easton MD
Oct 7-14, 2017 / Cape Ann Plein Air Festival / Cape Ann MA

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Renovation, 20 x 24 in, watercolor, 2018
Industrial Revelation, 27 x 54 in, watercolor, 2017
Wacker, 10 x 14 in, watercolor, 2018
Northern Liberties, 10 x 29 in, watercolor, 2017
Engulfed, 28 x 20 in, watercolor, 2017
Water Wharfed, 6.5 x 21 in, watercolor, 2018

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