Instructor Profile

Karen Williams-Smith

Mediums: Ceramics, Mixed Media

Karen  Williams-Smith profile picture

Ever since I was a child I’ve had a special love and connection with rocks.  I often carried them in my pockets. They sat on my bedroom windowsill.  I even used them as play things.   I love nature in general and spent a lot of time camping with my family.  Nature has always healed me and touched my spirit.  It seemed a natural progression that I chose to include rocks and twigs in my artwork.

I have a deep love for mixed media artwork.  I find mixing different textures and materials touches me in some unexplained inspirational way.  To me it is like having a chocolate sundae with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top.  Plain ice cream just isn’t as much fun as a chocolate sundae with all the fixings.  My mixed media artwork is the same.  I love the freedom abstract or semi-representational art gives me to express my feelings, ideas, or movement.  It gives me the opportunity to fly beyond what is known or real.  The addition of rocks and twigs help ground my work.  I collect rocks from around the world on my travels and from my local Southern California beaches.  I also have many international friends who send me rocks from other countries.  They also send me rocks they collect on vacations they take to interesting places.  The sticks I use in my artwork are almost exclusively from the Eucalyptus trees that I collect from the hill behind my home and studio in Oceanside, California.

I start each new painting with the main rocks in hand.  I literally hold the rocks to get inspiration.  Sometimes where the rocks came from determines my new painting.  Other times as I hold the rocks I see a picture of a new piece in my head and that gives me the direction for the painting. Many times it is a micro photo of the main mineral I plan to use in the painting that inspires me.  Close up slides of minerals are often incredibly beautiful.  I also get inspired by the metaphysical meaning of stones. I have become so connected to stones that from time to time I actually hear words in my head.  Odd and as unbelievable as that sounds rocks occasionally speak to me.  Thank goodness they all don’t talk to me!

After I have determined the rocks and the idea for a new painting I choose the twigs I will use.  I lay both rocks and twigs on the canvas to get them into their basic spots for the concept.  Then off they come because I texturize the canvas before painting.  The texture can take up to a week to dry depending on the depth of the texture.  When it has fully dried I usually glue on the twigs.  Gluing on the twigs is done in steps because they need to be weighted down while they dry.  I cut the canvas and glue in the major rocks.  When that has dried it is time to paint.  When the painting is dry I add and glue on additional stones to make the painting more interesting.  The last step is a flat sealer and a sprinkling of crystal that sparkles when the light touches the canvas.  That sparkle is a nod of thanks to the first rock I fell in love with when I was 7.  Cracking open that little geode started my love of stones.

I love sharing with collectors how stones have touched my life.  It makes me happy to know that humble rocks and twigs beautify homes and offices.   Nature is comforting.  Nature can heal.  I deeply believe that and it is why I create my artwork.  I often mix in a bit of history for depth and interest.  I share my love of stone and nature with my collectors and they take home Nature’s healing power and a greater love for our world in general.

Williams Smith has always thought of herself as an old soul.  Even in early grammar school she questioned the meaning of life and how things worked.  With limitless imagination, creative energy, and a strong drive to accomplish her goals she has explored a wide variety of artistic mediums and styles which includes fabrics, porcelain, polymer clay, acrylics, bronze, resin, mosaic, ceramics, and landscape design.  The one common thread throughout her artistic career has been three-dimensionality.

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