Karen Blair’s paintings and works on paper convey the exuberance of seeing the world anew. While her subject matter— landscapes surrounding her home in central Virginia—has remained the same over the years, her recent work has veered more and more towards expressionistic abstraction. The paintings thrum with layers of ecstatic mark-making and color, each one transporting us to familiar settings around Virginia. While many artists choose to orient landscapes horizontally, Blair upends this tradition with vertical and square paintings that create a sense of energetic movement within the scenes. Her work reveals both the macro and the micro of her world, with larger paintings that encompass rolling Blue Ridge Mountains and ambling fields. Some recent new large paintings and smaller works on paper zoom in on a single element—an animated study of geraniums, and other plants. While the paintings make clear Blair’s excitement to share her view of the world, she writes that her motto is to “trust the audience to fill in the blanks in the carefully edited paintings,” letting viewers “bring their own knowledge of wind, light, season, and time of day into play.” It is perhaps this dialogue between painter and viewer that makes the paintings so tangible and engaging.
Karen Blair received her BFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a recipient of a Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship and Vermont Studio Center residency. Her work is included in numerous public and private collections.