I was in my James Island studio late one night, after painting all day and was finishing up for the evening. I had cleaned up my palette and taken off my painter’s apron and had my hand on the doorknob when I glanced back to the worktable beside my easel. I had a feeling that I should paint this. This painting literally “fell off the brush” (That’s what artists call it when a muse steps in, takes over and it feels like they actually paint the painting for you). Muses are real, you know. This painting was inspired by a 3-foot-tall plaster bust that belonged to the beloved Charleston Artist, John Carroll Doyle. This was one of several busts that John kept in his King Street studio. He used it others in many of his paintings. I always admired it when I visited his studio and was gifted it by his gallery director Angela Stump after John passed away in 2014. Ever since, I have kept it within eyesight in my studio. It’s always there.
John was a mentor and friend to me and literally turned on all the lights in my painting world as I was learning to paint. I wouldn’t be painting today if he had not taken the time to help me. He was generous with his time and advice on painting and on life. I have so many fond memories of our visits discussing almost everything. Moving into this space at 125 Church (where John kept his gallery for over a decade) is a bit like coming home or coming full circle. I feel his presence here and hear his words in my ear.
And I am grateful. - Karen
PS: In the months of preparation as we were getting ready to open at 125 Church, I started 3 new large poppy paintings. I knew I only had room for one to "go to the show" and I chose the one to the left, "Coming Home, Italian Poppies". Then I started trying to create 2 small companion works to go with it. And they just wouldn't appear to me. I went through all my available works and just couldn't make the selection. All of a sudden I came acros "For My Friend John" in my studio and knew this was the right pairing.