A contemporary eye
This story was featured in the February 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Powerful, mysterious, and majestic are all words Karen Roehl uses to describe her subject matter of choice: the horse. The Colorado artist paints the four-legged creatures expressively but with an intimate knowledge and appreciation of their anatomies. “Horses have this beautiful infrastructure of bone and muscle that is visible through the drape of skin that binds everything together,” Roehl says. “It makes for such interesting shadow and light shapes, which, when assembled all together, create an elegant structure.”
For the second consecutive year Roehl has participated in the annual Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale in Denver, an invitational show. She is known for bringing a contemporary flourish to her depictions of man’s trusty steed, blending her love of abstraction and realism. Her works are characterized by energetic lines that evoke movement, capturing horses as they run, rear, gallop, and kick up dust. It comes as no surprise that Roehl lists everyone from traditional Dutch masters like Rembrandt to abstract expressionists such as Franz Kline as artistic influences.
Roehl says she has drawn or painted “from the time I could hold a crayon.” Eventually she earned a fine-arts degree from the University of Colorado Denver and also studied at the Art Students League of Denver. Her interest in horses as subject matter began in 2011 when a close friend asked her to paint one. Prior to that Roehl had been working exclusively on abstract works. But when she rendered that first horse, she discovered how much she enjoyed drawing again.
Today she still creates abstract works, but in painting horses, she finds a synthesis of her inner and outer worlds. “Sensations, those experienced through seeing, mingle with those that exist in cryptic form and line the recesses of my interior,” Roehl says. “The result is an inspired amalgamation that I earnestly attempt to translate onto canvas in hopes that viewers may capture a glimpse of this experience for themselves.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Evergreen Fine Art, Evergreen, CO.
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