Fresh Paint
Artists & Illustrators|August 2021
Inspiring new artworks, straight off the easel

KAREN’S TOP TIP

“Cheaper brushes can be better when it comes to creating different textures in watercolour

Karen Mai The magic of a still life is it can reveal new ways of looking at ordinary objects. Cue the work of Hong Kong-based watercolourist Karen Mai, whose recent painting In the Sun was selected for this year’s Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours’ Exhibition.

Intelligently plotted marks in luscious orange hues bring to life the juicy, plump, good-enough-to-eat clementine segments, while subtle strokes hint at the texture of the shadowy inner peel. It’s a painting that forces us to re-evaluate the beauty of a subject usually destined for consumption or, in the case of the peel, the rubbish bin.

However, elevating the everyday is not Karen’s only aim. “Still life is usually not considered the most difficult [subject],” she says, “but they’re actually difficult to do well… I think it’s a very good subject for you to challenge yourself and experiment with new ways of doing things,”

From architecture, interiors and industrial scenes to landscapes, gardens and figures, Karen’s rich array of subjects proves her versality. Becoming something of a signature, however, is her clever incorporation of the white of the paper into the composition.

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