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Conversations with Ken Karlic

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

Ken, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I grew up on the southwest side of Chicago. Drawing was something I always remembered doing. I puttered for years, experimenting with various media until in college, I sharpened my focus and began to study architecture, painting, and graphic design, areas that remain my passion until now. Graphics became my day job for over 30 years, and I worked with some of the world’s premier cultural organizations, including the Smithsonian and the Guggenheim Museum.

In addition, I continued to paint and draw, albeit sporadically, until about ten years ago when I began doing plein air events and to exhibit my work regularly. I work primarily in watercolor and enjoy creating large pieces that engulf the viewer with the lushness of paint. Painting is my sole focus now, and I continue to experiment and explore it as if through the eyes of a child.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Oftentimes, I am my worst obstacle. I believe it to be true that many artists feel this way, but I experience moments and periods that I doubt myself. Managing that darkness to varying degrees can be a challenge.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I think the work that distinguishes me most is my larger watercolors. Varying in sizes from 22x30in up to 36x72in, my paintings are extremely expressive and are built out of thin and thick applications, with most areas drippy and often textured. I refer to my work as Sophisticated Chaos, where an accurate drawing gives way to an expressive painting to create a beautiful mess. I primarily explore cityscape and landscape themes, but I continue to be curious and willing to try new things.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
I have a few artist friends that I stay in close contact with, and we ask for feedback of each other regularly. To the extent my friends are “mentors,” it is because of the deep trust we have in each other that makes our feedback more than valuable.

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