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Photorealistic oil paintings by Karen Woods

Look twice, these are not photographs, no, these are photorealistic oil paintings by Karen Woods. The acclaimed artist from Seattle describes her works as follows: ‘For some time now I have chronicled my journey by painting what I experience while driving around the city. I paint—in the realist tradition—from photographs taken at intersections and on the road, when I’ve been struck by the beauty in the ordinariness of my commute. For myself, the reward lies in capturing and expanding the space, time, and movement of a moment in everyday life, and to reveal its accompanying emotional weight: its anticipation, reflection, isolation, longing, and transcendence’.

UPDATE: We interviewed Karen Woods! Here’s an excerpt from what was said.

At what age did you start painting, and how long did it take you to achieve the photorealistic images you make now?

I didn’t really start painting until I enrolled at California College of the Arts (CCA). Before that I studied architecture. After a couple of years I realized I wasn’t cut out for it. I made the switch to fine art knowing full well I may never make a living as a painter, but with the strong desire to learn all I could.

I went to art school at a time when realism was considered less valuable–at least less cool–than abstraction, or painting from memory, etc. Trying to fit in, I closeted my impulses and painted loose, ethereal, abstracted landscapes.

About ten years ago I began using my own snapshots for source material. I loved the detail and immediacy of photographs. Rather than inhibiting my palette, painting style, and subject matter, they freed me from the constraints of direct observation. It was quite the opposite of what I expected and what I had been taught. My studio practice became more intense, demanding and rewarding. It seems silly now, to have wasted so much time ignoring my own instincts.

Click here for the full interview.


About the author

Nini is a self-proclaimed Social Media Whore, living and working in Germany. Her main profession lies in the conventional corporate media world, but she’s certainly come around, having worked for several online music mags, with a number of photographers, and for record labels such as the iconic LA-based Southern Lord Records.