‘I wasn’t born artistic, I was born into an artistic
family.’ –– Karen Cooper
By GAIL PARSONS
Attendees will have one last opportunity to view the work of several young Abilene Artists. But a look behind the drawings and paintings reveals another artist – one who is dedicated to the ideals that have made the summer classes possible.
“Chaffee and Bradshaw were two women who wanted to make sure kids who are artistically inclined had a class and an instructor,” said Karen Cooper, who guided the students through the experimentation of many different mediums this summer.
Her goal was to teach them the basics of observation so they could learn how to draw what they see, not what they think they see. It is easy to simply draw the way the mind tells us, but an artist needs to see the textures, the lines, the shadows, and color variations in the world around us in order to bring life and vitality to their painting or drawing. It’s necessary regardless of the medium or genre the artist is working in.
The Arts Council of Dickinson County will close its Chaffee-
Bradshaw Youth Art Exhibit at the Eisenhower President Library & Museum during its annual Reception and Cocktail Buffet from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight,
To put that concept into practice, Cooper introduced the students to several mediums “so every child could find what lights them up,” she said.
After the first week of basic instruction, she changed up her lesson plans from previous years because she bores easy, she said. She also didn’t want to return students to be bored. She left it open for them to choose what they wanted to do for their final masterpieces, the ones that are on exhibit.
Although the summer classes are over for the year, Cooper will continue teaching art to children, but now at the Salina Christian Academy.
“I love my job teaching - art is my happy place,” she said.
Her ability to foster a love of the arts in children has been passed down to her from her parents.
“I wasn’t born artistic, I was born into an artistic family,” she said.
She recalled as a child, she was given coloring books, she was given a newspaper end roll, a box of 64 crayons, a roll of masking tape and the freedom to decorate the basement anyway she wanted.
Today, her mediums of choice are graphite and color pencils, but she is also trying to learn new things
“I am teaching myself to paint,” she said. Her medium of choice in paints is liquid acrylic “They don’t infuriate me like watercolors do. Watercolors are unforgiving and I am not patient.”
As an artist, she gets her inspiration from the people she meets and the stories she hears.
“When I meet someone who is unique and interesting I want to draw them,” she said.
The hardest part – is the reveal, when the person she has drawn sees, for the first time, her drawing of them. Simply drawing the facial features isn’t what she’s after; she wants her portraits to accurately portray that person’s personality and uniqueness.
Somewhere in her future, she hopes her art will take her to displaying at festivals, and she wants to do a large-scale painting.
“A mural – I would love to do a mural, I want to do something real big” she said.
This is one in a series of articles featuring Abilene artists, musicians, performing artists, and craftsmen. If you would like to recommend an artist to be featured please e-mail Gail Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen with large painting: Karen Cooper poses with one of the large paintings that did. Karen’s passion for art has led her to teach children to explore their creativity.