About Karen McLean
I did my first oil painting at the age of 5 sitting next to my grandfather (a professor of music) on a hillside outside of Middlebury, Vermont. Since then, Art in various forms has continued to be a central focus of my life.
I received a BFA form Cornell University and continued to develop my skills primarily in various Drawing and Painting media with a focus on subject matter I found in Nature.
My interest in photography was fully developed on a 1989 trip to Czechoslovakia. In 1993, I was asked by Wine & Spirits Magazine to photograph a cover story on Chardonnay. This was the first of many subsequent assignments. In addition
to my photography of food and wine, I also focus on classical sculpture, gardens, and especially flowers and trees.
I was simultaneously “sketching” natural subjects with my camera, and documenting travels in the U.S. and in Europe.
In 1993 the Owner and Editor of “Wine &Spirits” magazine saw my work and asked me to do a cover for the magazine. For the next 15 years or so, much of my time and energy and travel ( mostly to Italy!) were spent on editorial and some commercial photography.
Light in all its forms and manifestations became a passion. I began doing the printing experimenting of my personal photographic work on heavy German watercolor paper which allowed for a more painterly image, saturated colors, and a surface I found I could draw and paint on.
I have visited museums all my life and found myself both inspired and influenced by a combination of early icon painting, medieval illuminated manuscripts, 16th century Flemish painting, and details of Japanese screens from the Edo period.
Using subjects found and photographed in Nature, I first make archival prints on heavy Watercolor paper, later working individually on the prints with a mixture of pastels and metallic acrylic paints, especially gold and copper. The original photograph provides the naturalistic, realistic detail I am seeking to contrast with the abstract space created by the surrounding painted gold ground.
Gradually I abandoned Photography as a starting point and have returned to Drawing on Paper and natural primed Linen using a combination of charcoal, pastel and pastel pencil, oil pastel and oil paint.