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Marks and Shadows: The Art Portfolio of Karen Smith

An abstracted painting of a landscapeAbstracted Landscape (Long Lake), oil and graphite on cradled birch panel

Karen Smith is an artist based in Westminster, Colorado. In her practice, Karen creates sparse abstractions based on a range of subjects including landscapes, people, and objects. Occasionally, the artist also veers into the figurative realm, building up recognizable objects out of carefully placed marks and shadows.

A painting of a shadowy landscape at sunsetGlory, oil on panel

I really enjoy the works in the artist’s Play gallery. These pieces are built up out of a range of mixed media, including graphite, acrylic paint, and crayon, and made on both paper and linen. The emphasis on negative space in these pieces creates a look and feel that’s quiet and contemplative, but at the same time playful -- as the name of the series would suggest.

A screen capture of Karen Smith's art websiteThe front page of Karen's art website


In her Things and People galleries, Karen takes a similar approach to building images, adding lines and shadows that elevate patches of negative space into clear volumes -- faces, bodies, and objects. In Things, the slight diffuse effect of gouache on paper creates a dreamlike, impressionist appearance.

A painting of a plate and forkLight

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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