How did you get started and then develop your career?
Karen Ann Hitt: Ironically, I got started by growing up very tall and very skinny and having to learn to sew at 12 years old to make clothes that fit my rare size. All of that led to my learning Advanced Technical Fashion Design in college level vo-tech high school courses while working for a better dress maker and earning a partial scholarship by designing a wedding dress.
Culminating from all things Art consuming my attentions, towards the end of high school I asked my Fashion Design teacher where I should go to college. She only named one school: Parsons School of Design in New York. Therefore, I applied, all on my own, and resolved that if I did not get in, I would just go to Miami Dade Community College until they accepted me. Well, I was accepted first try, and off I went! A classmate and friend dropped me off on her way back to New Hampshire from Ft. Lauderdale, and there I was — sight unseen — in NYC. When we arrived and were standing in front of the building of my new dorm, my friend said, “I can’t leave you here!” I replied, “you have to, this is my home now.”
The Foundation year at Parsons introduced me to a whole world I never even knew existed. One of our classrooms for costume drawing class was in the basement of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we were blessed to literally draw Louis XIV clothing in the archives. While in the basement, I saw a layout drawing by Leonardo da Vinci on display that he used to transfer onto a fresco by making pin holes along the lines and chalk; pieces of history like these forever changed me. A priceless education, that grew from the fashion.
A funny tale, in my first painting class the teacher recommended that I paint a “Sargent.” Little did I know she meant a Master Painter — being from a military family I sought out reference for a Sergeant! Back in the classroom I shared with her that it is much easier to find reference for Generals than Sergeants. Yes, she fell out of her chair, and yes, I had a LOT to learn! For that utter embarrassment I am forever thankful, and to this day the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art remains one of my favorite places on earth.
Studying all original Master Painters’ paintings turned into a lifetime pursuit that still burns in me to this day. Realizing my true passion, I changed my major from Fashion Illustration and Design to General Illustration and Fine Art. The brand “An Original Hitt” was originally for the dress shop I thought I would open one day… now it’s just who I am.
How do you describe success?
Having the opportunity to fully utilize aesthetic abilities in an environment allowing for growth and the continual development of its potential. I love the Michelangelo quote: “I am still learning” spoken at 87. I am honored that the Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande, Florida, beginning its 21st season, is hosting my solo exhibit that opens 1 March 2021, marking my 60th year.
How do you find inspiration?
Inspiration rises from the emotion that causes an ‘at that moment…’ pause, and then the deep desire to capture it — reflecting those influential daily moments that occur in all our lives. Completely unable to ignore what many may pass on by, unnoticed.
What is the best thing about being an artist?
Simply how I am blessed with how I see the world, making a gift of weakness (distractions) and turning it into strength (work). Hopefully making for an opportunity to awaken viewers’ observations into their own lives, turning on their own ‘light bulbs’ — in a way, their own up out of a basement, too?
Who do you collect?
Kevin Courter, Jane Chapin, Stephanie Birdsall, Tony D’Amico, Katie Dobson Cundiff, Melissa Hefferlin, Hodges Soileau on hand. JMW Turner, Edgar Payne, Emil Emerson, John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Fetchin, Degas, Cassette, Maxfield Parrish, Hudson River, some that influence, study always, collecting their books and referencing everything able to see…
To see more of Karen Ann’s work, visit: www.anoriginalhitt.com