Inspired People – Karin Zeller
Artists are inspired people. But what makes them create what they create? What lights the fire that produces such wonderful work? Here are a few questions that will hopefully inspire some answers.
This week I am excited to feature Karin Zeller. I stumbled across Karin’s work a few months back and instantly fell in love with her use of colour and vibrant subjects. I was stunned at both her skill in realism and abstract, and everything in between. Her work is a must see, so I’m really happy to have her here today. Thankyou for sharing your inspirations, Karin!
I’ve loved to draw, ever since I started school, while still living in Germany. My mother always encouraged me by saving any scrap of paper for me to draw on. Early drawings were inspired by fairytales, nature and imagination.
I grew up in a large family (7 kids), and when I was 11, my family moved to Ontario, Canada, where we lived on a farm for many years. At 20, I met Karl, who later became my husband. We had two children, a boy and a girl. In 1993 we decided to move to Melbourne, Australia, where Karl’s three sisters and their families live.
I’ve always wanted to be an artist. In 1990, while still living in Canada, I started my own portrait business. In the beginning I found it hard to believe that people would be willing to pay me for my drawings , but over time, and after doing hundreds of portrait commissions, I felt confident about calling myself an artist.
Although creating portraits for people was rewarding, eventually I felt there was still something missing. The joy I had always felt when drawing as a child, just wasn’t there. It was still my dream to earn a living doing what I loved, although I wasn’t quite sure what that was at the time.
I’ve recently completed a small business course at RMIT, through the NEIS program. I learned how to turn my skill and experience as an artist into a business venture, earning an income through exhibitions, commissions and teaching art workshops and weekly classes.
I experiment with a variety of styles and subjects, but especially enjoy painting colourful abstracts, in particular cats and other animals. I regularly participate in art workshops and life drawing in the hope of improving my artistic skills, and I’m very much enjoying the journey.
I work in watercolour and acrylics as well as mixed media, and love to experiment with different techniques, media and styles. I also enjoy sharing with my students, by teaching weekly classes and hope to do many all day workshops throughout the year.
Where are you from, where do you live, and how does your location influence your art?
I was born and lived in Germany for my first 11 years, then lived in Ontario, Canada for 25 years. I’ve lived in Melbourne, Australia for the past 18 years. I live near the beach, and there is plenty of parkland nearby. I live in the western suburbs, close to the city.
I love living here. It is very stimulating to live here. Living near the water is lovely, and I think that over time I want to paint more local scenes, as well as urban life. Melbourne is very modern and we are very fortunate that there is a lovely mix of the old traditional as well as the modern. This is reflected in the people, the architecture and the art scene.
Were you ever distracted away from your art and creating by the need to make a living? Have you ever stopped creating?
Yes, of course, there was a time I felt I just wasn’t good enough to make a living with my art. Art was just a hobby, and it was low on the priority list. Family and work took priority.
I dabbled in many other things as well. There were times when I struggled with a lot of depression, where I lost my motivation to create. Probably the most profound example of that was when my mother died, after suffering from Alzheimer’s for many years. She died a couple of months after September 11. It took me a long time to recover from that.
What do you create? Do you have a niche or do you spread your creativity across several disciplines? Do you have a preferred subject?
I paint, I draw, I paint big or small. I don’t stick with just one thing. For instance, I have found that a lot of people loved my cats, so naturally I would paint more cats. Of course if I didn’t like painting cats, I would not force it. I fell in love with Laurel Burch cats, and after that I was intrigued by the idea that cats can be colourful and creative, so they cropped up in many of my works. Sometimes a playful experiment can also turn into something worthwhile. I love drawing and painting mandalas, and fish, but also cats. I like doodling, and often my doodles of stylized women can turn into ideas for painting. I like abstract art, but the subject always has to be recognisable.
What inspires you to create? Do you have any techniques to find inspiration?
Early inspirations were Picasso, Paul Klee ( fish on a platter) , Henry Rousseau, and other artists.
I love flower close-ups, such as were painted by Georgia O’Keeffe. I get inspired by drawing. I agree with Picasso’s statement, “Inspiration comes, but it must find you working…”
Music inspires me, especially classical or new age. I especially find inspiration by the work of other artists.
How often do you create? Do you procrastinate? How do you balance between the things that have to be done versus the things you want to do?
I have something artsy planned for most days. For instance, I teach art on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and go to watercolour classes on Wednesday, Life drawing on Saturdays. Most days in between I will do some painting in the studio.
Yes, I do procrastinate occasionally.
Art now has priority over other things, such as housework for instance. As a result, I get lots of artwork done, but my house is usually a mess, lol. It doesn’t worry me. When company comes, I usually make an effort to clean up. I try to get my husband to help more with housework.
Where do you create?
I have a studio in my back yard. We had it built about 10 years ago. It has everything I need, even a toilet, and lots of table space, music, good lighting. It’s away from the house. I also teach my classes in there. It is a great studio, but at times I wish it was bigger, especially for teaching classes. It would be nice to have more storage space, more room for classes, and perhaps a kitchen area. But I still love it and think I’m very lucky to have a studio.
I try to get out of the studio, when I go to watercolour class and live drawing. We sometimes paint out doors (en plein air).
What do you enjoy doing the most?
I enjoy variety in my life. For instance I love to paint on my own, but also need to paint and be with other artists. I love to get out and about. I go to exhibitions. I love going out for lunch with my husband or friends. I love good coffee and good food.
I love the simple things, like an early morning walk on the beach…or watching the sun set. I enjoy life drawing, and drawing/painting directly from life.
As an art tutor, I’m always sharing what I’ve learned with my students. I tell them not to give up. Draw every day, paint every day if you can. Use quality materials. Just have fun!
Do you have any questions for other artists?
I love to read about other artists, and what inspires them to paint. There is one particular artist, Del Katherine Barton, whose work really amazes me. I would love to know how she creates her amazing paintings.
Where can you and your art be found?