One Day in a Studio: Karen Jeffrey

Posted by Elizaveta Zhurkovskaya on

Karen Jeffrey is an abstract artist working in acrylic, and cold wax, and oil. She is an OCAD U graduate in Advertising/Design and an accomplished Pastry Chef. Actually, her two favorite tools for painting are her pastry palette knife and her plastic bowl scraper. At this moment, her body of work is largely reflective and overshadowed by intuition and the profound feeling of mystery and joy that a painting has the potential to provide. The cold wax and oil medium involves moving through multiple layers to get to the essence of the piece and that's where the final painting remains. We interviewed Karen to learn more about her practice, inspirations, and what she is working on today.

1. How does your creative day look like and what inspires you to make art? Has your creative day changed due to Covid-19?

For the most part, I’m inspired by the people around me, my travels, nature, the ever-changing clouds around me. So many things have changed since Covid-19, no travels, and only one artist in the studio. It can get very lonely, but funnily enough, although we are painting alone, we noticed, we were still being subconsciously inspired by others chosen colours. It was quite interesting to see that appear.

2. Tell us more about your art studio.

Gosh, I feel so grateful to have a studio to go to. My space is in Toronto located at Art Alchemy East in Leaside. My space faces south toward the CN Tower, I get to see all the clouds rolling in during the day! There are 5 other artists on the floor and it’s been a dream to be around emerging and experienced artists to engage with, learn from, share ideas and laugh a bloody lot! Covid -19 has changed this a wee bit, as I mentioned above, but this to will pass.

3. How did you first get interested in your medium/s?

I used to work in Encaustic and one weekend a took a course at The Hive Studio in Alton Mills with cold wax and oil artist, Laurie Skantzos, and that was it for me, I was hooked! I love mixing the cold wax with the oil paints, it reminds me of buttercream, takes me back to my pastry days.

4. Describe your style in one sentence.

My style, I’m not sure I have one? I work within a few different series and they are always evolving.

5. Has your style changed over time?

I have changed mediums over time and play around with mark-making using different materials, which that ultimately changes my look and/or feel of my paintings. I don’t feel I have a style just yet, where someone might see a painting of mine and say, “that’s a Karen Jeffrey”.

6. What are your main artistic tools?

My pallet knife and my rubble bowl scraper from when I was a working Pastry Chef.

7. Do you ever experience creativity blocks and how do you stay positive and inspired?

When I feel really blocked, I go and play! I’ll turn up the tunes, get my paper out, tape it off, and just start laying some colours down and let the painting do its own thing.

8.What artists - either contemporary or from history - have had an impact on you and your art practice?

Hmmm… I’d have to give credit to Ann Shier, Laurie Skantzos, Louise Fletcher, Alice Sheridan, and my studio mates at Art Alchemy East to name a few. The first few artists, I took courses with, each one very different in their teaching and each one helped move my art forward. My studio mates, especially Kate Taylor and Lisa Hickey, have taught me a lot about the business and have given honest constructive feedback when asked.

9. Do you think the art world has changed or will be changing due to the pandemic? If yes, how?

Absolutely it changed. Many artists, galleries, event organizers of shows had to learn very quickly to pivot online and not just on Instagram and Facebook. Organizers of outdoor events/fairs had to move online and create virtual mini-sites for their juried shows. This is probably one of the positive things that the pandemic has given us. It’s forced many of us to learn another language, and it has created a reach beyond any in-person show would provide. I believe, going forward, that the online aspect will be included as part of the outdoor juried shows. Some shows are already offering choices, Online Only or Live, within their applications. A nice choice for someone like me, whose mobility is poor.

10. What project are you working on right now? What would you like to do next?

I’m working on moving my cloud series forward. I feel it is evolving constantly right now and it is exciting to see. I’d really like to do some residencies and teach when the world starts to open up again.

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