Karen Leigh has been painting most of her life. This retrospective exhibit encompasses more than 40 years of painting in watercolor and also includes her sketchbooks and painting memorabilia. Although she has exhibited as part of many group exhibitions here at the Hockaday Museum, this is Karen’s first, long overdue, individual show. Most of her works are done in transparent watercolor on paper. She finds this medium so seductive because of its mystery, the delicate balance of freedom and control, and its luminous washes and layers of color.
Karen has been an adjunct professor at Flathead Valley Community College longer than any other professor to date. She has taught beginners as well as professionals in nearly every corner of the Flathead Valley and beyond. Karen believes that she and her students form a “tribe”. There is a comfort level in learning together, bringing different views, experiences and expertise to the table. She loves teaching and learns as much from her students as they do from her. “As a teacher as well as a painter, I owe much to the many masters of the medium with whom I have studied over the years and am honored to pass on that knowledge to my students. Becoming visually aware is, I think, the most important lesson of all.”
The sketchbooks presented in this exhibit include many places that Karen has sketched all over the world, from cafes and junk yards to Monet's Gardens and the canals of Venice. She believes art journaling is extremely important because it is a wonderful way to learn to see. Observation is essential. When artists spend time drawing something, they remember it. They slow down to observe color, light, pattern and the subtleties of their subject. A quick snapshot or these days, a tweet or Facebook post is often quickly forgotten. “I want to share what watercolor can do. The viewer should be reminded of their own experiences and what the painting says to them. I hope they find beauty, even in unexpected places!”
Select works in this exhibition are offered for sale with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Hockaday’s community learning programs and Museum exhibitions.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website