Artist of the Month

Karen Brungardt displays some scratchboard works in her SaddleBrooke studio.

Conquer fear by beginning with the basics

LaVerne Kyriss

When suggesting neighbors, friends and acquaintances try their hand at painting, drawing or any kind of art, Karen Brungardt encourages people to “step out of fear into fun.” She says that many people have an interest in exploring creative endeavors, but are unsure of how to develop that interest and are afraid of making mistakes and not “being good enough.”

To help SaddleBrooke neighbors learn some of the art fundamentals, she periodically teaches beginner classes through the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild. “I taught a watercolor basics class this fall and am offering Part 2 in February. In the first sessions, we begin with the very basics, how to use the brushes, some points about watercolor paper and paints and over four weeks, we create something.”

The second session focuses on developing some skills, building on the foundations laid in the first classes. “Students learn to build a landscape step by step,” she explained. “We cover skies, perspective, focal points, values and introduce a few tips and tricks. These classes are definitely for the beginner, someone with little to no knowledge about watercolor and the dabbler. We have other classes available for people with more advanced skills.”

“I teach introductory classes because we all need a starting point so we can understand what might be involved,” Brungardt said. “These are designed to give people the basics and a few tools so they can begin to explore if this is an area where they want to learn more. My goal isn’t to teach people how to create their own style of painting. I can only show them how I do it. Once they learn the basics, they can begin to develop their own approach. That’s art,” she smiled.

Brungardt is also a believer in periodic classes, even for long-time artists. “I recently took a class on color theory. The focus was on painting with primary colors, using a limited palette of three colors and mixing them to get all the cool and warm colors you need. I was also challenged to up my drawing skills. Often, when we become comfortable with our skills, we get lazy and take shortcuts. Sometimes that’s okay, but it made me pay more attention to elements like defining a focal point and the play of warm and cool colors to create light and dark areas.”

Brungardt noted that she’s always trying new things. Today, she’s working on a variety of scratchboard pieces and plans to have a selection available for the Guild’s spring art show, set for March 15 and 16 at the MountainView Clubhouse. “With scratchboard, you begin by taking away the dark layer, leaving a white underlayer. Then you use brushes and felt tip pens with watercolors to fill in the light areas. You can also use a variety of tools to add texture as you’re working. An Exacto knife, sandpaper and steel wool are all part of your tool kit,” she explained.

“Art provides me a way to leave a bit of my soul on paper,” she summed up.