I recently had the good fortune to visit artist Karen Savage at her lovely studio in St. Adolphe d’Howard in the Laurentians. I have admired her work at various shows for several years and I finally had the opportunity to meet this “Artiste Extraordinaire”.
Karen and her husband Stephen moved to St. Adolphe in 1986. They truly embrace country living; its relaxed pace and the mix of truly unique individuals.
Savage is inspired by northern landscapes which in turn, inspire every painting. Her landscapes are spectacular and unique and come in many different sizes. Her smallest work is 5” x 5” and her largest is 8’ x 6’. Savage “uses her emotion to create and abstraction is an idea.” She states “winter is the king of all seasons in the Laurentians due to the weather intensity; be it a soft snowfall, a blustery ice storm, a gentle winter moon or a brisk winter evening.”
Savage is completely at ease whether using a paint brush or palette knife. Her palette knives range in size from 1” to 18” and her brushes vary in size from miniscule to very large. She says there are a few traits/skills that comprise a good painter which includes an artist who:
- works on how the viewer enters a painting.
- paints work that captures and holds your attention.
- paints work that continues to surprise its viewer.
Savage was passionate about art as a child. However, it was the paint-by-number sets that fascinated her. Savage took her first art class at Westmount Visual Arts in 1982 and was immediately hooked. She also studied sculpture at Saidye Bronfman Center and continued Fine Arts at Concordia. When Savage moved to St. Adolphe, she acquired her first studio with potter Robin Hutchinson in Val David and only considered becoming an artist at age 32.
Some of Savage’s favorite artists who inspire and continue to inspire her are Tom Thomson (Group of Seven fame) and Leopold Plotek. She also truly enjoys art pieces completed by other members of the Group of Seven.
Savage paints in oil and acrylic, but prefers acrylic as it allows her more freedom to paint quickly and enjoy fast results. She is a spontaneous painter, specializing in expressionist landscapes, but there is always logic to the construction of her work. Her paintings are based on light and the effect light has on landscape. Savage explains “an expressionist gives freedom to express with brush work and colour what she wants to say about the subject matter.” Savage carries many images in her mind, so there’s never a shortage of images to paint. She works in an eclectic fashion, going where the wind blows her and always follows the pathway to her heart.
Savage served as Vice-President, Artistic Director of Arts Morin Heights for 7 years. Her work is enjoyed by clients worldwide as her paintings are appreciated by several age groups.
Her current studio is at Lac St, Joseph, St. Adolphe where she appreciates a breath-taking view of the lake and mountains, but her inspiration always comes from within. Savage is known as a colourist to critics as she works in a diverse range of colours; her current favorite being napthol red. Amusingly, Savage claims that each piece she completes becomes her favourite, then moves on to the next piece.
Savage also teaches art and counsels her professional and amateur students not to use photographs as they limit originality. She says “first students need to learn to draw and paint… then listen to their inner voice.”
Savage also writes poetry when she feels reflective or is moved emotionally. Whether it is a painting or a poem, she expresses herself daily. I find it truly astonishing that she paints wonderful new colourful canvases each and every day.
Karen Savage currently shows her work at Galerie Créations Côté, Mont-Tremblant (cotecreations.com) or you can enjoy her work at artsmorinheights.com Studio visits by appointment – firstname.lastname@example.org