Artist Karen Merkin’s fascination with color, subtlety of light and shadow, and the patterns created by light reflections come together in her paintings. Visit her website to see more of her art.
As a child growing up at the New Jersey shore, art was always an important part of my life. When given the opportunity to choose anything in a toy store, my choice was always a new box of 64 crayons and a coloring book. In school, I loved to copy detailed illustrations from books.
When it came time to apply to college, my parents told me not to major in art because I wouldn’t be able to earn a living. So I became an elementary teacher—my second choice. But art was never far from my mind. After I got married, my husband introduced me to oil painting, and I was hooked.
When I started painting forty-five years ago, I used oils but disliked the toxic chemicals needed. So I tried acrylics but disliked how quickly they dried. For the past several years I’ve been using water-mixable oils and find them the best of both worlds. They stay wet for a decent amount of time and are easy to clean up.
Having no formal art training, I felt I had much to learn. So during the last few years I have been taking weekly classes and intense workshops to improve my skills and elevate the quality of my art. I enjoy being able to paint every day in my home studio.
My painting style is photorealistic. My most challenging and rewarding subjects to paint are my grandchildren—not only to create a likeness, but to also convey their personalities.
I am drawn to the colors around me, especially the play of light and shadow on those colors. I particularly like to focus on the details of everyday objects. I sometimes work from still lifes that I set up in my studio.
But more often I prefer to observe a scene while wandering along a city street or a farmers market or a new town or even a store window display. I take several photos to use for a painting when I return to my studio.
Recently I’ve been enjoying painting images of classic cars which have been restored to their original beauty.
My love of cars started when I was a teenager and has continued throughout my adult life. My husband and I enjoy going to car shows and taking plenty of photos which I use as a reference for my paintings. I particularly like to capture the reflections of light on the glass and chrome.
The highest praise comes when someone tells me an image in my painting looks so real they feel they can reach out and touch it.
Artist Karen Merkin invites you to follow her on Facebook.