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Sonoma County Gazette
Burst by Kari DeSaulnier
Burst by Kari DeSaulnier

Kari DeSaulnier: Exhilarating Freedom

Mar 28, 2017
by Sharon Feissel


“I usually start with a blank canvas but with no plan.” Painter Kari DeSaulnier smiles, then continues. “I approach the canvas as if we are having a conversation or forming a relationship. I see the work as very much a collaboration between me and the painting.” But with no plan, how to begin? “I start with maybe a wash or just put some color down, and then I start making marks. I have a diverse assortment of mark-making tools—whatever I find that will make an interesting mark. Anything goes at this stage, and it is one of exhilarating freedom. 

“Then the time comes to wait for a response from the painting,” she says. “Does it want bolder marks here? Does it want to quiet down there? Is an image trying to emerge? What is the painting trying to say? What does it want? I try to make the widest variety of marks I can with whatever colors draw my attention. My intention is to watch and listen and see where the painting is going to go.” 

In a non-specific way, Kari’s abstracts do draw on life. “I am intrigued by how much of life seems like chance and yet an order emerges out of what appears like chaos. I like to use this in my artistic process to further inform the work. I find music, nature, and the natural order of things very intriguing, inspiring, and informative. I used to be a music teacher and a classical clarinetist. I always saw colors and images when I was playing music. Likewise, I hear the swirling sounds the colors and marks make together.”

Kari continues, “I'm fascinated by how many parts come together in cooperation to make a whole. So, I attempt to place myself in the natural order of what is emerging on the canvas and go with it. It can feel uncomfortable, frustrating, and even scary. I find that my process requires faith, courage, and trust that something will eventually emerge and reveal itself. In the middle of the painting, I often wonder if this is the one that is not going to work out! But somehow, it always does. My work lately has been becoming even more abstract. It seems there is no language or even images for what is wanting to come out--as if I am speechless and yet am full of response.”

Uncharacteristically, Kari did not begin as a landscape painter, but as a painter of 3-D objects and ceramics in 1989, moving into mixed media in 2008, and subsequently adding abstract painting. Usually producing works from 8x8 to 30x30, Kari admits to having a longing to go bigger! Some of Kari’s color and texture come from her own handmade papers, as well as her skill in exploring the textural qualities of acrylic paints. Kari’s unique works can be seen at Riverfront Art Gallery, 132 Petaluma Blvd. North in Petaluma.




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