Karl’s mother was a primary teacher and from the time he was a small child she encouraged creativity in their home. In the afternoons after school she would often have Karl and his siblings work on art projects from drawing to candle making. Karl’s father was a working man and he encouraged Karl to find a trade. Since Karl idolized his father what else was he to do except follow his father’s guidance. Karl received his AA in Machine Shop Technology in the early 1980’s and began a 25 year career at the same company working in a large machine shop. He spent those years finding out what he really wanted to do and they are an integral part of who he is and how he was able to transition to his second career called ‘artist’.
Karl and his wife began to travel to Europe in the early 1990’s. This is when he picked up the camera again years after his photography classes in high school. During this time, his focus was largely black and white photography, much of it cityscapes. The historic European cities with their intricate, old architecture and cobblestone streets were hard to resist. He came home from that first trip and started earnestly pursuing photography in his spare time. To this day, he uses his camera (digital now of course) every day to inform his work. He is inspired by his surroundings and usually walks every day to capture nature and the world around him. These walks are an important part of his creative process and where most of his ideas begin to take form. Trees, texture in nature, reflections in water, sunrise, sunset, flower petals, dew drops; these all influence his work.
During one trip to Europe Karl visited his Aunt who lives in Germany and is a painter and sculptor herself. She opened up a whole new world of opportunity for Karl in the way he looked at his creativity. She lives it every day of her life, whether it is simply drawing while she is sitting having coffee, or sculpting or painting almost every day, or even journaling. She has been Karl’s primary mentor and he visits her often for inspiration. It was after that first visit that he returned home and started taking art classes at the local community college. He took evening and weekend drawing and painting classes for a number of years, building his skills, finding his own artistic voice and developing his network of artistic collaborators.
In 2006 he met Linda Robertson, a talented local encaustic artist who also teaches the medium. Karl took Linda’s intro to encaustic class and he has never looked back. He walked away from that class and immediately went and bought all the supplies he needed to get started in encaustic painting. It was truly life changing for him.
In the last few years he has developed a technique that creates an illusion of depth with the wax. It transforms the artwork into a three-dimensional space. This technique consists of layers of color applied one on top of another and then scraping back the sides to reveal lines of color. Typically this means 50 to 100 layers of color. This piece is then embedded on its side into a wax platform of any number of color themes, overlaid with clear wax and then heated with a torch to bring out specific qualities that sometimes take shape as clouds, waves, trees or other nature inspired concepts. He captures the play of light and motion he sees while he works with the wax. He allows the hot wax to find its own path. His intent is to create landscapes with differing vitalities, vibrancies and moods. His goal for the viewer is to evoke a time in place that is familiar but not easily identified or a memory that sits just outside of the periphery. To transport the viewer away from the distracted present and draw their focus inward to a place of peace and reflection.
Even more recently, Karl has gone back to acrylic painting and is using the same premise of his encaustic technique of layering and carving. He is excited to explore this new avenue with its own unique challenges and possibilities.
He is currently represented by Portland Rental Sales Gallery in Portland, Oregon. His work is also in private collections throughout the United States and in Mexico, Canada and Germany.