Karen Stark

AOS Artist Directory |

Karen Stark

Karen Stark

Mosaics, watercolor pencil, pencil

Location @ AOS:

Arlington Community Center (27 Maple St), 1st Floor

Driven by the isolation of the pandemic, I began to work in new media after previous decades
capturing the beauty of nature and landscape with a camera. Mosaic art constrains the level of detail
and utilizes challenging materials but has rewards in its unique ability to refract and reflect light and showcase the great beauty of specialty glass. Pencil and watercolor pencils have also expanded my repertoire as an artist, learning not just to see and capture beauty, but to re-create it directly on paper.

My work in these new media captures the contemplation of nature and the close observation of its details. Color and texture can be shown using pate de verre, a smooth glass created from powdered glass and natural mineral colorants, and Mexican or Italian smalti, specialty glass crafted by artisans using traditional methods. Italian smalti provides uniform color throughout, while Mexican "tortillas" produce glass that has color variation in layers. Both fracture and reflect light in serendipitous ways producing a rougher surface.

A typical 8 by 8-inch mosaic may contain over 500 pieces, each cut specifically for their location in the
image and the flow of these pieces across the object and the background creates its shape. One of my favorite styles, the undulating opus vermiculatum – literally ‘wormlike’ - dates back to ancient Greece over two thousand years ago.

Watercolor pencil combines two techniques – drawing and painting. While seemingly quite different
from mosaics the creative process for both combines skill with serendipity. Whether the surprise of how water flows over paper or glass fractures, they elicit combining intention with discovery. For watercolor pencil, I typically use three layers. The first layer utilizes water generously to produce the overall shape and color of the subject and background. The second layer is usually activated with less water after being drawn to convey the shading and three-dimensional shape. The third and final layer adds fine details and is not activated with water.