28 x 19 in., watercolor on paper
Available through South Street Art Gallery, Easton MD
Watercolor is often thought to be a translucent liquid medium which resists manipulation once applied. If so, what possibilities do those challenges present a painter? For watercolor artist Ken Karlic the opportunities are many. Ken refers to his style as “Sophisticated Chaos,” seeing and capitalizing on the unpredictable nature of watercolor. “No two paintings develop in the same way. Marks, scratches, drips, and splatters all become part of the final piece. Each work, whether I am painting in the studio or plein air, begins with an accurate drawing, typically of an urban or industrial landscape,” says Ken, a Chicago native and longtime Baltimore resident. His main subject matter is highways and traffic, railroads, refineries, docks, factories—in every kind of light. Ken’s paintings have a basis in the representational but often dissolve into varying levels of abstraction, and he creates effects in any way possible with any means necessary.
“Typically, a watercolorist’s approach is the opposite of an oil painter’s, but Ken upends the conventions that prize translucence and transparency. His watercolors have active surfaces and an allover quality, are saturated in every way—with color and pencil marks,” says Johanna Halford-MacLeod, Executive Director, Franz and Virginia Bader Fund. “Not for him the reservation of white areas and the application of light washes before dark ones. He attacks the sheet with the energy of an action painter, paint dripping everywhere, adding and subtracting, a water-filled spray bottle in constant use. Ken’s methods are driven by the requirements of each painting: he may work from dark to light, opaque to transparent in one picture, while in another he may suffuse an area with the feeling of transparent silvery or golden iridescence before adding darks to another spot on the same sheet. In his fluency, fearlessness, and ease, and in the skill with which he avoids muddiness, Ken seems unaware of his medium’s supposed challenges.”
Learn more about Ken Karlic and view additional paintings online.
Watch Ken painting: Ken Karlic / Sophisticated Chaos with Daniel Smith Watercolors.