ARTIST PROFILE : KAREN TOOTH

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Karen Tooth is a practising artist in the Central Western N.S.W. town of Condobolin.
After teaching high school students visual arts for 25 years, I’m now relishing the freedom to practise my own art. The impact of art teaching has lead to a diverse art practice that includes various drawing mediums, printmaking; photography; oil and acrylic painting; soft sculpture; welded sculpture; decorative, sculptural and functional ceramics. I believe in the therapeutic powers of art and have watched the shift in angry teenagers into more mature, calmer and self respecting beings – the creative arts versus the destruction of self, others and property – the dark acts. 

As a result of aiming to enthuse teenagers about art, I have developed a broad range of artistic and personal themes. These include: explorations of personal, social and working relationships; human personality traits and their impact; the inland landscape and environmental issues; questions on spirituality and the direction of life; the sensuality, form and potential wicked humour of fruit and flowers; the use of colour to describe form. 

To avoid boredom (or perhaps an impatience to create), I can have up to 10 different works going at the same time – exploring different themes and media. I am stimulated by many things – interviews poetry; images torn from magazines; dreams; excerpts from novels; quotations; humour; puns; and the art of others.

The artists I admire are an eclectic mix including: the Renaissance men for their draughtsmanship and diversity (eg. Da Vinci; Michelangelo); Constable; Turner; the Impressionists; Dali; the Dutch Masters for their detail and polish; traditional Japanese art for linear simplicity; Picasso: Modigliani; Chris O’Doherty … the list is endless.

My passion for art stems from my culturally aware upbringing in coastal NSW, and a mixed ethnic heritage ranging from Europe to China. Overseas travel and an admiration for the cleverness of the world’s creators be they sculptors, architects or painters, have fed my love of art, the need to learn, experiment and create. 

When people look at my work, I want them to be lost in the layers of meaning and then come out the other side. As Braque once said, “The spectator who looks at a painting goes over the same path as the artist, and since the path counts more than the thing itself, the journey is what interests us most.”

A recent project for Karen has been the completion of the Dame Edna Looute at the outdoor gallery located near Ootha N.S.W. See website: utesinthepaddock.com.au ‘Utes in the Paddock’ involved artists such as Peter Mortimore, John Murray, Eris Fleming, Peter Browne, Shane Gehlert, Bill O’Shea, Stephen Coburn, Lewis Burns, Belinda Williams, Michael Jones and Greg Brennan to name a few.
One highlight of the ‘Utes in the Paddock’ project was the successful group exhibition held at The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba in November 2009.