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  • Writer's pictureKaren Lembo

Blown Away (2024)

In the first of five mixed media paintings in the "Hearts Set Free" series, I revisited the memory of the farm field painted previously in "After the Storm." I wanted to move further away from the literal nature of my landscape paintings, so I worked to capture my feelings on that day by painting from memory.

I've been continuing to experiment with the effects of layering "semi-realistic" acrylic paintings over collaged papers. In this case, I blended journal paper, Korean Hanji paper, sewing patterns and tissue paper. It's a struggle to keep the balance between the painting on top and the collage under the surface, but I like how that symbolizes the impression we try to "keep on the surface" with what's going on just beneath, that sometimes is visible and sometimes isn't.

After painting the landscape, the work just didn't seem complete. I reached for some scraps of Hanji (similar to Mulberry) paper that had some little hearts scattered within it. I added a few little floating hearts, at first considering them my children and granddaughter, little bits of my heart that have been scattered to the wind. Just like dandelion seeds blown by the breeze at maturation, I have raised up my children to fly from home and create new families, hopefully serving God in new and unique ways wherever He leads them. I didn't anticipate how far they would fly from home, nor the feelings such transitions would bring.

I also realized that this somewhat melancholy image represents the wilderness I've traversed in the past several years, that, while wistful and a bit lonely, also conveys its own unique beauty. (The wonderful thing about art is that it can represent more than one idea at a time!)

As this series developed, I decided to keep the hearts as the element, besides texture and subject, tying the work together. The images are ordinary scenes around Delmarva that have struck me with their beauty. I've collected many on my phone's camera, often pulling over to snap a picture before the image is gone. ("I'm sorry officer, I was staring at clouds!") I am intrigued by the momentary glimpses of Glory God offers us each day, in the midst of the ordinary, in whatever circumstances we're facing, if we just make space in our lives to see them.

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