Academic art students have a long tradition of starting their training drawing simple-but complex subjects like drapery (often a bed sheet arranged over an object like a chair) or paper bags that have been folded or crumpled and then unfolded. These are easy to come by subjects that both sit still and have lots of shapes and variations in tone to challenge the young artist’s eye and hand.
From there the ernest young art students would move to cast drawing, using plaster casts of classical sculpture as a subject, and finally move to drawing the figure from life, rarely looking back at the earlier training subjects they have “graduated” from.
Atlanta based artist Karen Hollingsworth takes these humble subjects of sheets and paper bags and raises them to high forms of interior painting and still life.
Her paintings of interiors with sheet covered chairs, usually arranged in front of windows that are spilling light over them and behind them, making the sheets glowingly translucent, are luminous wonderlands of light and shadow. Her paintings of paper shopping bags, which I just love, are feats of transmogrification. In her hands, the humble paper objects come alive as if flowers of a mythical bag tree.
Her oils of unmade beds, their sheets rippled with valleys and crests of light and shadow rendered with subtle variations in color, are landscapes more than interiors, and her still life paintings of fruit and vegetables (occasionally arranged with drapery and, yes, paper bags) are remarkable excursions into light and dark, which seem to chase each other around the forms.
And, as if this weren’t enough, Hollingsworth is an accomplished portrait artist. Her portrait paintings are beautiful and marvelously done, but my one thought is how wonderful it would be if she brought to them more of that same sensibility of light cascading over forms that she lavishes on her other subjects (a very difficult challenge, I know, but wow).
Hollingsworth is married to artist Neil Hollingsworth, also a wonderful painter, who is sure to be the topic of a future post.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my sketchbook and draw some paper bags.
Link courtesy of Karin Jurick.