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Karen Usborne: On How She Defines Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Art Paintings

Karen Usborne is one of the contemporary artists exploring Abstract Expressionism. Being a writer and an author, she bared out her creativity through her writing and paintings. As an artist, she only got interested in abstract expressionism recently.

abstract art

Her discovery of her fascination in the abstract didn’t happen overnight. While this style was still in vogue, she resisted the trend as she considered herself as being in the minority. However, her newly found passion with abstract expressionism unleashed the inner artist in her all the more as she expressed art according to how she perceived it. For her, the artistic expression of an artist must transcend from sensory awareness. Her arts are representations of her fondness for contrasts and playing with vision.

Who is Karen Usborne?

Karen Usborne is an American artist born in 1941. She studied at Cranborne Chase sister school of Bryanston and studied Art and History at Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, London. She married twice, first with Geoffrey Roughton and next with Mel Calman, who then died in 1994. She had two beautiful daughters: Ashley and Susanna. She worked together with Mel Calman for the Sunday Times. He was a well-known cartoonist and together they established the Cartoonist’s Gallery in Bloomsbury.

Karen Usborne started painting as soon as she started holding crayons. Art was her means of expression as a coping mechanism against dyslexia. She admired the works of Picasso and started mirroring his style. However, identifying with his works was unsuccessful.

She started The Workshop Gallery in Lambs Conduit St in London together with Mel Calman. They sold a lot of their works during that time. She had the first exhibition of her artworks at the Royal Academy during the 1980s, which included all her collections from all over the world. In her artistic pursuit, her interest in abstract expressionism grew through the years. Until now, her arts are expressions of her own version abstract.

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism is an art form developed by several artists during the 1940s and 1950s that started in New York. The art is mostly inspired by themes that are surreal. It also explores the unconscious minds integrated with the emotional expressions of artists. Most of these arts are characterized by mark-making, random brush strokes, and spontaneity.

Abstract expressionism does not just encompass the process of artists filling their canvasses with abstract forms and random colors. Rather, there is an element of vigorous gestural expressionism involved in it. Artists following this technique are all committed to making art as self-expression borne out of their innermost emotions and thoughts. Several themes commonly adapted by artists include traumas, anxieties, and other surreal aspects.

The emergence of abstract expressionism changed the conventional art-making into new routes. Where artists in the past strive to make replicas of nature, today, artists are more focused on the mining of the unconscious aspects of life. They are encouraged to explore deeper ideas, and things that are unseen. They try to reveal them on their arts. The paintings are the output of the artist’s common struggle between the chaotic subconscious and self-expression.

Abstract Expressionism as Defined by Karen Usborne

Karen Usborne was highly passionate about abstract works since childhood. Having admired works like Picasso’s, she tried to imitate his style. However, she failed to capture the technique Picasso was famous for. In her early years of being an artist, she did not really adapt the abstract technique in her paintings.  As a female painter based in London, she was more known as one of the Bloomsbury artists.

When abstract expressionism was in the hype, Karen Usborne did not necessarily follow the trend. She considered herself as a minority in the area where several artists showcase their ability to create individuality through their creations. Despite this thinking, Karen Usborne emerged to gain individuality as a painter as she finds solace and freedom in abstract expressionism in the later years of her career as an artist.

Painting for Karen Usborne has always been a part of herself. She describes her drive for art as a limb on her body. She feels as if it is an essential part of her which gives a deeper purpose for her life. She simply enjoys doing art without implicating meaning to. Her paintings are mere expressions of her joy and love for what she is doing. This act of responding to what is merely inside of her is her definition of abstract expressionism. There are no rules that govern her and no limitations to what she can do.

The Representations of Karen Usborne’s Art

As a contemporary artist, Karen Usborne transcends her passion for art in her oil paintings. Her arts reveal that she loves the idea of contrast. She explores opposing themes of black and white, lines and curves, high and low and other disparities. She combines them in the most unusual, unique yet balanced composition.

She was not successful in imitating other artist’s works. Instead, she is meant to have her own sense of style that sets her apart from all the other artists out there. Her paintings exude a certain mood which does not necessarily have to do with what she is feeling. The playful use of colorful hues, random figures, and disconnected objects together in one painting, she allows viewers to create their own set of perspectives of what her art might mean.
Karen Usborne’s works represent freedom in art. There are no rules that dictate how forms should be made. There is spontaneity in her works that goes with emotional and spiritual aspects. For her, her arts are revelations of her deep passion for art, great love for her children, and victory over her circumstances in life. Art started out as her means to cope with dyslexia. Now, being in her ripe age, art for her is her life. Having them printed on canvass is her means to share her life with others. Particularly to her daughters.

Feel free to contact me to arrange a viewing, commission a piece of artwork or with any general enquiry.

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