Colour in Your Life featured artist Karen Bloomfield appeared on Colour In Your Life Season Twenty One (21).
Read a little bit about the artist here, and support our site by joining and watching the episode below.
Karen Bloomfield currently lives on the beautiful NSW Central Coast of Australia, and works from a tiny rented studio in the bayside suburb of Killcare. Having completed her Diploma of Fine Art from the Newcastle Art School at the end of 2014, it is hard to believe this prolific artist began learning her trade at 40.
When asked about her artistic predilections, Bloomfield recalls early memories “of being 3 or 4 years old and drawing my surrounds in a doctors waiting room. I guess at a time when the other children were doing stick figures, it may have been an oddity to be drawing graphical representations of internal architecture!”
“My mother wanted to funnel my creativity into pragmatic pursuits – like architecture – and insisted that I study technical drawing & engineering science.” For her compulsory school work experience, Karen Bloomfield worked in the offices of the esteemed architect Harry Seidler. “Whilst I enjoyed the impressive offices (overlooking Sydney Harbour & Luna Park) and the corporate world of high profile Mr. Seidler, I spent two weeks making photocopies and drawing toilet blocks! I hated it.”
Two children, several businesses, a ‘tree-change’, and another foray into corporate life, and finally the penny dropped. “I was about to turn 40, the age my mother was when she died, and I just lost the plot. I had done nothing for myself. I put everything on the line and so, along with 90 other hopefuls attended a mass interview for 18 positions in a Cert III Fine Art course. I secured a spot and never looked back.”
Five years later, the art that Karen Bloomfield makes is clearly infused with her life experiences. Her signature charcoal portraits are a fusion of emotion and draughting skill. Many of Bloomfield’s works explore the shadows and angles of urban cityscapes, the architecture of humanity and our place amongst it.
‘I draw upon and about truth. So much of my life, both as a child and adult was lived in a veil of half-truths, and so I am mostly inspired by and interested in the truth of my subject regardless of whether that is pretty or not.’
Typically, Karen Bloomfield’s art student years were lean, but this led to the adoption of her signature material: plywood. “I was preparing for my first exhibition and couldn’t afford canvas nor large sheets of paper (to say nothing of framing!). I was rooting around in our shed and came across some weathered and damaged plywood. My husband was a carpenter and tended to hoard materials. I discovered that the solid substrate allowed me to really connect with the charcoal and work it as hard as I needed to to resolve the work.”
So whilst charcoal & plywood are a staple, Bloomfield’s close cropped, intimate oil paintings have given us the opportunity to see through a very different perspective. ‘I see beauty in so many mundane things. Street lights, prostitutes, an airport tarmac, the legs of a child or glinting lights of a ship out to sea: these are the expressions of humanity without words to cloud or misrepresent their meaning.’
Looking back over her solo shows a pattern has emerged. Karen Bloomfield creates each carefully cropped image to be far more than a ‘pretty picture’. There is a little bit of melancholy, architecture and truth in each piece. Her exhibitions are a story of self-discovery, and story-telling filled with the humor and pathos of struggle and experience.
And the future for Bloomfield? ‘It is a dream come true to be able to bring my many different skills and experiences to something that I derive absolute pleasure from. I have won some accolades to date and feel utterly grateful to be awarded for expressing my journey and myself. I feel that I am just now finishing my apprenticeship and know that this is my path. Bring it on.’
Bloomfield has received awards in domestic & international competitions. Her work is collected internationally and she is sought for commissions of portraiture, animals and cityscapes. Her portrait of Fr. Jim Boland, completed for the 2013 Archibald Prize, hangs on permanent display at the NSW Police HQ in Parramatta & two of her works were purchased by and hang in the Australian Consulate in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“I believe that my role as an artist is to capture & preserve society in this very moment & to garnish this captured moment with my own filters, wit, emotions & beliefs.
It is in this way I share my vision of how I perceive that simple, mundane, ugly & unexpected things may be viewed to be beautiful or, at the very least, engaging. It is my desire to encourage the growth that comes from seeing more than one viewpoint – in everything.
To me, an emotional response from my audience, be it nostalgia, love, discomfort or joy, is my benchmark for how successfully I have empathised with & represented my subject.”
You can contact Karen about her art tips or art techniques directly via her website at karenbloomfieldart.com
Original Air Date: 24th January 2020