Hello, I’m MK (Karen). I’m a painter and printmaker living, teaching and making art in Connecticut. My works have been exhibited in regional, national and international juried shows and exhibits in North America, Europe and Asia. Together with my partner, I own and run Verdigris Gallery and Printmaking Studio in Essex, CT. There, I run printmaking classes, we host various events & workshops, showcase our own art and that of other artists whose work we enjoy, and engage in the mysterious, often magical and occasionally maddening process of Making Art.
I offer small group classes and individual instruction in printmaking. If you’re curious about printmaking, email me or just come by the Gallery & Studio (click here for directions). I’d love to show you around and discuss the fascinating world of printmaking.
My art explores the themes that most fascinate me: Life and growth in all its many forms, things seen and things unseen, landscapes real and fantastical, physical and psychological. These interests reflect my lifelong exploration of the human quest for understanding and our search for place and belonging — both as individuals living our own particular lives, and collectively as one species among many on this rich and fraught planet. Some of my artwork is abstract; this too stems from my deep interest in how the mind responds - emotionally, and in creating meaning - given even minimal input.
Before exploring these issues through art, I studied them with science: I built a career of decades investigating how babies make sense of the world, absent the interpretive lenses of language and culture (you can find my scientist website here). We humans (wee humans), it turns out, have highly rich and complex mental lives, from the get-go. My research gave me a deep appreciation for how we all, at all ages, are engaged in the fundamental struggle to construct our understanding of our world, seeking our own meaning and belonging within it.
I was born in Texas, raised on the Canadian prairies, and have lived at different points of my life in Montreal, Boston, London, New York, Seoul, Beijing, Singapore; in the haunting deserts of the American Southwest in Tucson; and now in the gentle green hills of New England along the Connecticut shoreline, where I've raised my two sons now grown. (They're the young lads in the boat you may see on one of my gallery pages.)
About my paintings
I most often paint in oil, sometimes watercolor or acrylic. I may in some works add in pastel, colored pencil, or charcoal components. Different scenes and moods call for different materials, and each material has its own unique properties and effects. I love the freshness and immediacy of painting. Some of my paintings are done outside en plein air, some come from memory or imagination, still others are painted in whole or in part based on photographs I've taken on my many travels. Many are a combination of these approaches.
All my painting materials are lightfast and archival.
About my printmaking: my monotypes, etchings, and relief prints
Painting is immediate reward and a lot of control - you see the result of each stroke as you make it, and the painting unfolds before your eyes. Printmaking is a surprise! You don't know quite what it will look like until the moment you pull the paper off the plate.
Printmaking involves three basic components: (1) inks or paints, (2) a surface (the 'plate') you apply the inks to, and (3) some paper (or fabric) to transfer the inks onto (e.g. by running paper and inked-up plate through an etching press).
Most people are familiar with Relief printmaking, in which a picture or design is carved into a block of wood or linoleum (or into the cut face of a potato, for a quick & easy art project with the kids). The surface is coated with ink, which covers the areas not carved away. Multiple, identical prints can be made from a single carved block (or potato) - one has only to re-ink it and apply it anew to another sheet of paper to get more prints identical to the first.
What is a Monotype?
Monotypes are, in essence, paintings made using a printing process - an artist paints a picture onto a smooth plate, then transfers this painting to paper (by, e.g., running plate & paper through a printing press). Most of the ink is transferred to the paper - so the plate no longer contains the painting. Thus, there's no way to make another identical print. Every print, for this reason, is a unique, one-of-a-kind work of art (this is what puts the 'mono' in 'monotype'). There's usually a thin layer of ink remaining on the plate, and the artist can pull a 'ghost' print from it if they choose, which will look quite different (much paler and fainter) than the original. Or, she or he could add more ink on top of the remaining faint layer of ink to create a new print that's related, but not identical to, the first. Two, three, or more plates can be printed onto a single piece of paper, to achieve a final image with a beautifully rich dimensionality resulting from overlapping layers of transparent color glowing through each other.
Intaglio is the inverse of a relief print. Lines & patterns are carved or scratched into a plate, and ink is applied to the plate by wiping it into the lines & depressions while the surface of the plate is wiped clean. (Think of deep scratches in a wooden cutting board; when flour is sprinkled onto the board, wiping it away with your hand clears the flour off the surface but leaves it behind down in the scratches.) A piece of paper is dampened and then it's run through the press with the plate. The paper fibers, softened by the water, are pushed deep into the recessed areas by the pressure of the press (this is why it's called a "press", after all), and pick up the ink lying within them.
An Etching is made from a metal plate, often copper, that has had a pattern etched into it by a corrosive salt or acid that eats into the plate, leaving lines and other depressions that catch and hold ink. There are many ways to etch patterns into a metal plate by selectively protecting some areas of the plate, leaving other areas partially or fully exposed (resulting in a light or a stronger etching-away of the plate that will collect less or more ink).
Drypoint is another intaglio process; it involves scratching & carving lines and texture into a plate by hand, using a scribe or other tool.
Carborundum is an extremely hard substance that when ground up and mixed with a glue medium, can be applied to a plate (e.g. with fingers, a paintbrush, etc.) and built up to create surface textural marks. It dries, maintaining the textures brushed or imprinted into it during its application.
All these (and many other) ways of creating variations in line and texture influence how the ink lies on the plate, and will show up in the final print. And all of the different techniques can be combined with each other - so a given print can have multiple processes behind its creation. One of the things that makes printmaking so exciting!
Bachelor of Arts, McGill University
PhD in Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor Emerita, Yale University