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.


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The Repose of Autumn

My husband and I are members of a Community Theater company and we have been rehearsing feverishly to put on our first drama, Twelve Angry Jurors. We opened this weekend and close the next. I play the role of the Foreman. It is my job to keep the jury room in order, to take and tally votes and, so it would seem, tell a lot of people to calm down and sit down, including my husband. The opening went well. Whew! When we got home from the performances we sat down to watch the Second Presidential Debate. I am hit with how relevant the highly charged characters in this 1950s play reflect what I see on my TV today.

LateAutumnLeaves_animation from Karen Hochman Brown on Vimeo.

More than being a courtroom drama, this play shows us the dynamics of a small group of individuals and how they come to be of a like mind. In this drama, and hopefully in real life, those who speak their mind in the name of truth do influence the way others act. Poisonous diatribe is stopped while sane and rational discourse has a chance to triumph.

Base image (center) and two “foundling” images for “Late Autumn Leaves.”

I chose Late Autumn Leaves to share this week because I just need to calm down after opening night jitters and the social politics of 2016. This work reminds me the days are getting longer and time is slowing down as we head into Fall. Green leaves are turning color. The sky is bright blue and can be seen peeking through arched cathedral windows near the center of the piece.



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.



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.


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Yummy Vegetables

It’s been a little over half a year since I have started eating only plant based foods. Yes, that means I’m vegan. Most of my meals now start with fresh vegetables. So these pea pods were probably about to be be combined with some mushrooms for a tasty stir fry.

Base image for Sliced Pea Pods
Base image for Sliced Pea Pods

Look carefully and you will see my favorite santoku knife in the upper right corner. These snap peas were too beautiful to just eat, I wanted to make them into art too. So before they made it into the pan, they made it into my camera. Of course, from there, I spun them kaleidoscopically!

Sliced Pea Pod_animation from Karen Hochman Brown on Vimeo.

Click on this image for more information on Sliced Pea Pods and how to purchase.


Naming A Piece

In the Court of the Crimson Queen

When I go to a gallery or museum, I first scan the piece for its visual impact. I might look at composition and color or acknowledge the artist’s cleverness. I then go in close to look at the details and technique. And before I take a step back to review and enjoy the art, I will glance at the title. This can give me an additional glimpse into the artist’s thoughts and expand my understanding of the work. In some cases, the title is the only thing remaining in an artwork, as in Lawrence Weiner’s 1969 conceptual piece A wall pitted by a single air rifle shot.

In The Court Of The Crimson Queen art & base
In The Court Of The Crimson Queen art & base

I find that naming art draws upon my creativity just as much as making it. I want to give my viewers a hint to what they are looking at. In most cases, I will use the botanical or common name of the plant that is my subject matter. But rather than leaving it at an identification, I try to spice it up with a bit of wit. This piece could have easily been titled Pink Rose No. 1; that would help people look for things like rose petals and structure. But using the title In the Court of the Crimson Queen adds even another dimension.

King and the Color Crimson
King and the Color Crimson

The title of this artwork is taken from the seminal Progressive Rock number “In the Court of the Crimson King” (King Crimson)—with a gender change. The piece was not created with that in mind. While working with this rose image, I found shapes that reminded me of very feminine slippers and of a fierce guard, maybe from the palace. Without the yellow dot embellishment, this piece is almost monochromatic in the red and pink area. I’m thinking that the word “red” isn’t very feminine or fierce. A quick trip to the Thesaurus gives me “Crimson.” The regal slippers and royal guard say “Queen.” A quick flash to my rock-n-roll past gets me to my very clever title!

Crimson Queen merchandise
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A Passion for Passion Flowers

What fun to work with a flower that already looks like it’s been spun around in a kaleidoscope. I have loved the passion flower since childhood. My grandparents had a large slab with a roof that they called the Summer House. The pillars that supported the roof were covered with passion flower vines. My younger me didn’t really remember the flowers. I was fascinated by the strange fruit that the flower produced. I recall them first looking like an egg, then aging into something akin in texture to a stale marshmallow. I called them Easter Egg Flowers.

Base image for Passiflora Indulgence
Base image for Passiflora Indulgence

I was reminded of the beauty and sensuality of the flower when I decided to grow the vine in my home garden. We had a large fence that would benefit from a clinging vine. The blooms as well as the spiraling tendrils have become subject to several of my artworks. Others include Passion On Grass, New Passion and Passion Tendril Vessel.

Passiflora Indulgence
Passiflora Indulgence

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Beach Walks

I grew up in Santa Barbara. There are many popular beaches with vast stretches of white sand. But I prefer to stay away from the crowd and find the stretches that are a more moody and desolate. The scene here is a small walk north from the lifeguard station at Arroyo Burro State Beach.  I figure the surrounding cliffs have collapse and left these sheets of layered rock down at sea level. Time has worn the edges. Oil seepage from deposits in the Santa Barbara channel give the scene a luminescence, even on an overcast day.

Base image for Rock-N-Surf


The resulting artwork is the first piece I created that wasn’t based on flowers. I had been working on this project for two years and had produced about 30 layered kaleidoscopes. It was my birthday and I was feeling like working on something different. The base image seemed to fit my mood for the day and I ended up with this dark yet glowing altered seascape.


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A More Literal Translation

Base image for The Forecast Is Fern

The photograph shown here was taken in the spectacular gardens of the Spalding House, which is part of the Honolulu Museum of Art. Unlike the lush surrounding gardens, this scene is a moss covered branch with some rather ordinary ferns. They are part of some plantings at the base of a building, not really exotic at all, at least not in comparison with the rest of the grounds. The composition of the photo is not spectacular either. But I liked the crisp focus of the fern and thought it was worth playing around with it in my workspace.

The Forecast Is Fern

In much of my work, the subject matter is not always readily apparent. Not so in this piece. Rather than blending and bending the base image beyond recognition, I chose to keep the structure of the fern’s leaves as the highlight the piece. I wanted a feeling of dense tropical jungle created by the fingered leaves of the plant. The central motifs are more typical of the majority of my kaleidoscopes. The base is detectable, but more obscured by various manipulations. But as you move outward, the structure of the fern is readily apparent and at the border, the piece is very literal. As a balance, I warped the center into a heavily distorted glass bubble, a crystal ball if you will. Look in to the sphere to see if there is fern in your forecast.


Inspiration in the sky

I love spending time with the sky. That’s where the sunsets live. It’s where the stars are. I am always fascinated by rainbows and will stop in my tracks to marvel at their beauty. I sometimes find them in clouds when there is no rain. I even see them circling a slightly misty full moon.

In Surf And Rainbow Clouds, Arching And Uplifting Five I made reflections from a wispy sky and lined them up in formation. I had the sky breach the horizon line here, adding an extra bit of surrealism to the seascape and its rainbow overlay.

Surf and Rainbow Clouds – Arching and Uplifting Five_artwork




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