Karen Elzinga Artist Bio

What are the unique attributes of your art?

I think that the colours l use definitely add a statement to my work, l only use professional artist acrylic paints that have an opaque finish. Most people think l use oils paints because of the richness in my colour finish, but l paint each colour twice sometimes three times till l get the desired opaque finish. The intricacy l place in my work takes people on a journey of discovery with many stating they still find new bits and pieces within the work weeks after purchase. I enjoys hiding things throughout the painting, people are amazed at how much l can cram into one painting. I enjoy extra large scale painting, l think if you have even one statement piece in your large room it is better than 3 small ones. A large original painting is an investment, so why not make one that no one can miss!

Where have you previously lived and where do you currently live?

I have only ever lived in Australia, l was born and bred in a country town called Cobram on the border of Victoria and NSW. There l lived for 19 years until l moved to Sydney's Northern Beaches (Manly). Later l moved to the Sunshine Coast, where l still now reside. 

When, where, and/or why did you begin to take interest in art?

When l was living in Sydney around 19 years old, l worked as a pharmacy assistant in Mona Vale, the pharmacy was owned by artist painter Janet Palmer who turned half of her pharmacy into selling art supplies. One day l saw a magazine containing a picture l just loved, so l decided to give it a crack, and it wasn't to bad for a 19 year old's first real painting attempt outside of high school. This is the painting below.

From there l just continued to find art l enjoyed and l used my eye to transfer it onto fabric, then l would copy it, l wasn't selling anything at this stage, it was just for my own wall. This one below was my 3rd painting l ever did around 20 yrs old.

Did you study art in school, or were you self-taught?

It was a bit of both really, l did creative art in year 12 at high school, but didn't go into formal training till l was close on 39 years old, by then l had collected numerous styles of working including abstract where l played around with material investigations, line marking and dimension. So l guess in that sense l learnt by trial and error in a self taught fashion and extended on that through professional art training at Curtin university where l completed a Bachelor of Art with double major (Fine Art & Visual Culture). I have also done numerous units in graphic design. 

Did you receive any press coverage?

Yes one of my paintings was on the front and inside the British Psychologist April 2012 Journal see below: 

What exhibitions did you participate in?

I don't do many exhibitions, for the reason that my art is so big it's difficult to transport when l don't have a transit van, l have done a few group exhibitions, and art festivals including:

Williamstown Gallery (By Invitation)

Eumundie Art Festival

Emanuel Lutheran Art Show

Noosa Maze Festival (By Invitation)

Phresh Gallery Caloundra (By invitation)

Mostly l exhibit online, l am a feature artist on Bluethumb Gallery because l sell a large volume of art so they use my art for their extensive advertising across the net. I am also represented by curated galleries 'State of the art' and 'Art lovers', and finally my art is also seen on Fine Art America and of course my own website www.elzingacollective.com.au

What do you enjoy about creating art?

I cannot go a day without doing art, l get really cranky, its so relaxing and sets the mind at peace, it really is fantastic for the mind and body. I build all my own frames and l mount my work after l have painted it, as l like gallery wrapped finishes (painting is the same on the sides as the front). l believe a painting has six sides, and all six are finished in a strict professional finish, that includes the back. Making frames though is not my favorite, so any frame makers that would like some experience get in contact!! I'll teach you how and you can make them for me haha. 

What's the hardest thing about being an artist today?

Exhibiting work and finding galleries to represent your work, l think is the hardest part, often it's very expensive to exhibit in council galleries and private galleries generally source their own art or stick with what or who they know, it's a funny industry and not easy to get your foot in the door. But stick with it, there are plenty of online galleries willing to let you in if you have quality work.

How long does it take you to complete a painting?

It depends largely on the size, my really big ones take anywhere from 4-6 weeks of pretty solid painting, so it's definitely a labour of love and dedication.

Which new trends or Australian artists do you find inspiring at the moment?

I enjoy the work of Del Kathryn Barton, her line work is amazing and l like that her work idea is so unique and original, when you see a work you know exactly that it is her work. I did my theme at university on the humble art of 'doodling' so l can really appreciate that doodle aspect within her work.

Which Australian deceased artist do you most admire and why?

I did a lot of university essays on Pro Hart, so l would have to say him, l enjoyed his process as well as the humour in his finished works. I loved the fact that dropped paint cans onto his canvas from a plane, and that he used to blow things up with dynamite, then put them back together in a more interesting way. I like that he liked to experiment, l can really relate to that! But l love how he is now called the peoples painter, he was ostracized from some of the most major Australian galleries and l'm glad that didn't stop him from becoming such an influential painter for everyday people. Just goes to show you that quality work will always shine through no matter what.

Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?

It was one at GOMA in Brisbane, it was no one person, but the work that was there at the time was sensational, thought provoking and definitely amazing. It was just very diverse, from glass bubble coated deer's, to a room filled with finches flying around, to a huge room installation of brightly coloured life sized donkeys, to massive mirror mosaics. Collectively it was the most impressive time l have ever been there.

Where do you get your inspiration for your work?

I actually try really hard not to be inspired by other artist work, my inspiration comes from my own previous work. I call it the migration effect, l take the best from previous work then add it to current ideas to get future work, so my paintings slowly continue to evolve. I have no trouble generating ideas, they flow in faster than l can think sometimes.

Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?

Yes...I'm messy..haha when l'm creating all concept of clean and orderly goes out the window, some artists are so clean and tidy, but not me!

I paint flat on a table when l do my beach art, so l guess my ritual is that fact and that l don't look at the finished painting upright until it is mounted.

What do you like most about being an artist?

Freedom of expression, and taking a blank canvas and filling it with something enjoyable. I have to create everyday or l get cranky, even if it's just for an hour. I think there's a definite calmness about painting. l enjoy listening to music, so l get lost in the songs and before l know it 3-4 hours has past.

How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?

I don't really get artist block, l have more ideas generated everyday than l know what to do with, sometimes that's frustrating because l can only paint so fast, so l can't do them all.

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?

Every time l get a sale, big or small or a commission, l still get a buzz, l think wow l have done something that someone else deems special enough to place in their home, l feel very honoured. I was also honoured by having my art feature on the front cover of the British Psychologist April 2012 Journal, my mother especially loved showing that one off to her bingo buddies haha.

Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?

Through the use of colour l hope to bring happiness, through the use of design l hope to take people back to their childhoods to that favourite beach holiday feeling and memory, l hope through both my work brings a smile and a conversation.

What are your plans for the coming year?

I plan to paint more abstracts, whilst also continuing to do my beach scenes and achieve more gallery representation.


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