Warrior In Paradise

The base image used to create Bird O'Paradise by Karen Hochman Brown.

I meditate on Bird OParadise when I am in need of powerful inspiration. There is nothing shy about this piece. The structure and boldness of the Bird of Paradise flower is apparent in the artwork.

Bird O’Paradise from Karen Hochman Brown on Vimeo.

The dominant motif is the vibrant orange square. Its double fortified walls are suspended from a blue perimeter above a featureless green field. Inside another blue boundary is a dynamic sun. The orb’s horned aggression is held in check, trapped inside crystal.

Base image (center) and two "foundlings" for "Bird O'Paradise

Base image (center) and two “foundlings” for “Bird O’Paradise.”

When creating this piece, I struggled with the warrior forms that were advancing. The orange is fierce and somewhat aggressive. It is from the “head” part of the bloom. The edges are hard and there are dangerously sharp points. But nature has balance. The flower itself provided relief from the forceful orange with its indigo petals that happen to be fused into the shape of a heart.

Blue is the complementary color of orange. They reside across each other in the color wheel. Nothing that is in orange is in blue and vice versa. Mix them together and you get mud. Keep them separate and they create tension. The hot orange does not overpower the cool blue, nor does the blue subdue the orange.

bird-oparadise_merch

Subscribe to my mailing list

* indicates required




Finding Focus in the Calm Places

It was January of 2011 and I was struggling with where I wanted to take my art and my art career. I had been making Judaic artwork using some powerful graphic synthesizer programs. The goal was to print images to silk to make prayer shawls. The technology was new and expensive, and over the course of a year and a half, I found the whole process too frustrating to continue.

 

So now I find myself lost and unfocused. I am at the end of that journey. I’m out of a job, a job that I invented. I feel betrayed by the very thing that feeds my soul and gives me great comfort. For many months, I tinkered with various software programs looking for something new to do. I revisited prior projects to see if new insight would advance them to the front.

 

Base image (center) and two "foundlings" for "Erythrina On Fire."
Base image (center) and two “foundlings” for “Erythrina On Fire.”

One day, I made the inspirational leap to use photographs with the math-based software that landed me in a place where I was able to regain my focus. So much so, that I have been concentrating on this series for almost six years, creating more than one hundred, forty pieces.

In the artwork Erythrina On Fire, I have constructed a large swath of smooth cream color against the very busy orange structure of the reflected flower. You can see in the animation of the piece how I altered the colors to give the viewer a place to rest comfortably in a calm place amid the surrounding chaos.

 

erythrina-on-fire_merch

Cochlear Calla Lily Spin

It has long been a goal of mine to make my artworks move. I get a chance to go deeper into the trance-inducing nature of my kaleidoscopes. I also have the opportunity to show the audience how my work is constructed.

Cochlear Calla Lily is constructed in very few parts. I was taken by the simplicity in form of the subject blossom and wanted to reflect that feeling in the work. There is a simple background layer and a central hub. There is a large wreath-like motif and four corner doodads.

Base image (center) and two “foundlings” for Cochlear Calla Lily

The most complex part of the piece is that main motif—a twelve-layered repetition of a single image. When I give my artwork movement, I can show how these distorted and reflected calla blossom dances into place around the wheel.

cochlear-calla-lily_merch

Connect with Karen Hochman Brown

* indicates required




Hidden Jewels

I live in the lovely bedroom community of Altadena, California. We are nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, just north of Pasadena (think Rose Bowl/Parade). The area used to be fruit orchards, mainly citrus. But many other fruits were grown and hybridized here at the turn of the last century. In 1908, the land I live on was subdivided into the Historic Highlands Tract and sold as housing plots. The area now hosts many Craftsman houses, one of which I am fortunate to live in.

When we moved in, the yard was a mess. There were still several large citrus trees, many varieties left over from the orchard’s glory days. In addition, we inherited a most magnificent pomegranate tree. We didn’t know how special it was at first because it was so overgrown. When we cleaned up the brush and gave our trees a good pruning, we discovered the most amazing gnarled trunk imaginable.

My wonderful old pomegranate tree.
My wonderful old pomegranate tree.

Concentrating on the outward appearance of things can shield us from hidden beauty inside. This once ugly treasure of a tree is now in full fruit. We share the harvest with our friends, as well as assorted squirrels and insects.

Adorn Your World With Pomegranate

Connect with Karen Hochman Brown

* indicates required




Collaboration

“The heart of this celestial game board has the power to set the wheel in wildly flamboyant motion. Implosive and explosive in one movement, the resultant green waves cool the player’s fevered brow. The sentinels call out, “Place your bets!” There is no winning, there is no losing, there is only the Game.”

Orchids-In-Play
Orchids In Play

My best friend, Robin Panzarella, wrote these words about Orchids In Play. It was one of twelve poems she penned that were inspired by  the first twelve pieces of my continuing series of photograph-based kaleidoscopic artworks. I published these poems alongside my artwork as a  calendar. I had expected we would be a team for longer, but it wasn’t to be. These twelve poems, unpublished a the time of her passing, continue to fuel my exploration into this form.

The artwork always came first and was completed before Robin wrote the poetry. In this particular piece, however, Robin’s poem inspired me to update my work and embellish the background with an array of dots, like a giant game board.

Orchids In Play base image
Orchids In Play base image

Check out this image on my online store!

Matilija Inspiration

MatilijaPrairieInstallation_baseThe matilija poppy is a sun-loving native of Southern California. It’s large crepe paper blossom with a showy yellow puffball of stamens in its center give it the nickname of “fried egg plant.” The photograph that inspired “Matilija Prairie Installation” presents the delicate flower and furry seed pod against a brilliant blue sky.

MatilahaPoppywithSky800webI never go into my work with specific intentions. Each component is created on the fly, based on what I feel is needed for the current artwork. I find a photograph I love and then work within my process to find the pieces to assemble. This means taking the photograph into a software environment (U&I Software’s ArtMatic Designer) that I use to make the various reflections. I don’t know what the results will be when I begin to explore the parameters of the reflections. I find faces and insects; there might be seductive openings. I keep changing setting, looking more images that please me.

In this piece, I found an intriguing structure created by reflecting the seed pod. I thought it looked like the turn-key in an old windup toy or maybe nautical cleats. The white square structure felt like a stretched canvas, slightly bowed in at the edges, now held down by these cleats. Also holding down the canvas is the bottom layer that breaches the bounds of the white layer on top. The petal layers have a celebratory air, particularly when festooned with dots. They almost seem to jump of the surface. In the heart of the piece, the blue sky is used to balance with color and dimension.

Check out this image on my online store!

Shake Your Tail Feathers

Pumped-Up Peacock_base2
Peacock at the LA Arboretum

My term as Artist-In-Residence at the Los Angeles County Arboretum was during prime peafowl mating season. When I hung the show, the males had yet to grow in their signature tail feathers. They still had their striking blue neck and head feathers to easily distinguish themselves from the less flamboyant females–but the trains were yet to come.

By the time I began creating art onsite at the Arboretum, the transformation occurred; mating season had begun. And so had the unrelenting mating call, reminiscent of a small child in distress. Of course, the highlight of the ritual is the display of the colorful tail feathers, spread out like so many iridescent eyes. I began to notice hearing a rattling sound when a female was around. It seems the peacock is able to vibrate his train in such a way that the long hair-like feathers attached to the main quill flutter while the eyes stay pretty much in place. This must be very attractive and mesmerizing for the peahen. It was for me!

Pumped-Up Peacock

Quite fittingly for the surroundings, the subject of my first piece at the Arboretum was “Pumped-up Peacock,” a celebration of very showy fertility.

Here’s an interesting article about peacock “train rattling.”

 

 

 

http://www.arboretum.org/library-spotlight-peacocks-at-the-arboretum/

Check out this image on my online store!

Recap of 1st Arboretum event

RITG-AIR live 1
Karen Hochman Brown (r), Artist-In-Residence @LA Arboretum

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of sharing my art-making process at The Gallery at the Arboretum Library, (Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden). I started at 11:00 in the morning by setting up my computer station. I am using a MacBook Pro with an external monitor. This enables me to mirror my screen and be able to talk face-to-face with people; they can see what I am doing without standing behind me.

Peacock Art with foundlings
Pumped-up Peacock with components. Click the image to see enlargement.

The next step was to take photographs to use for base images. I found some lovely bird of paradise and some gorgeous cacti. But I honed in on a peacock strutting his stuff. Many peacocks live at the Arboretum in Arcadia, CA, and in fact, peacocks are the official “city bird.”

Once I decided on the image, I began creating layers of kaleidoscopic reflections. The program I use for this is ArtMatic Designer. It gives me some very powerful tools to change the shape of the mirrors. In a normal session, I will render out at least a dozen layers to select from. Click on the image of Pumped-Up Peacock for an enlarged version to see the layers and base images that were used to make the artwork.

For the remainder of the work I use Photoshop. The layers are cut apart, stacked and shaded until I decide the piece is done. This is the first time that I have created an entire artwork outside of my studio at home. I wasn’t sure I could do it considering the time constraints. I did it! I was able to finish the piece in five hours.

Next Artitist-In-Residence event:
April 16, from 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.

The gallery show continues through June 30, 2016.
Check the Arboretum website for hours.

 

Reflections In The Garden at the LA County Arboretum

I am very happy to announce that I am to be the inaugural artist of the newly renovated Library at the Arboretum. The interior space has been designed with the intent to show local artists whose work complements its surrounding botanical collection. I am installing my kaleidoscopic artwork in early January with the show running through the end of June.
Reflections In The Garden notice