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Karen Schmitz, Resisting “The New Normal”

The New Normal, monotype, by Karen Schmitz. Winner of the Marshall Award for Best in Show.

Karen Schmitz’s first best-in-show award at The Art League — after nearly 30 years — is also her biggest monotype: The New Normal. We took this opportunity to ask this long-time member about her creative process, what she’s working on now, and what the monotype means to her.

The New Normal (detail) by Karen Schmitz. The artwork is composed of three plates printed simultaneously.

‘Why don’t you just paint?’

That wasn’t one of our questions, but it’s one Schmitz said she’s asked often. That’s because of how monotypes are made: the artist paints with ink on a plate, then transfers the ink to paper by running it through a printing press.

There’s a simple answer to that question: there are techniques possible with the monotype process. For instance, in The New Normal and other monotypes, she uses oily ink to repel water-based ink, applied with a brayer.

1% Oxygen, acrylic on canvas, by Karen Schmitz

In and out of the studio

That said, Schmitz doesn’t consider herself a printmaker. She’s more of an experimental artist, she says, working with found objects and collage as well.

Currently, she’s taking advantage of the outdoors to work on some large, abstract canvases. Some incorporate monotype techniques, printed on before the canvas is stretched.

“I can really make a mess out in the backyard,” she said.

Monotypes do offer one advantage: instant gratification. “I conjure up what’s going on in my world,” Schmitz says, calling works created in this way “images of the moment.”

Guessing Blank, collage, by Karen Schmitz

The cliche

For the artist, the phrase “the new normal” is a cliche that conflicts with her optimism. So titling her award-winning monotype The New Normal was an ironic argument against complacency.

“It’s about resistance, a little bit of anarchy,” Schmitz said.

The feeling of resistance comes through in the dark color scheme, which she noted isn’t absolute.

“It’s dark, but there is some light in it.”

You can view this monotype and the April Open Exhibit through Sunday, April 29.

Static, monotype, by Karen Schmitz


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