Karyn Crisis, Eclectix Interview 24

Eclectix first became aqquainted with Karyn a couple of years ago, when she came into the gallery, hair swinging, toting some killer leather works – gothic purses and cuffs. They were obviously crafted by someone with an artist’s eye and a gypsy soul – offbeat, with beautiful quality and embracing the darkness of life. Karyn has a huge energy about her, a quick intelligence and the creative verve to let her freak flag fly.  A self-taught artist, she shared some of her paintings and professed that she wanted to concentrate more on them in the future. Luckily, she has been able to, cranking out some powerful Tarot works in her beloved oils, just this past year.
Karyn’s solo show “The Major Arcana” opens October 1st at SR2 Gallery in Berkeley, CA. ( thru Oct. 31st)
(Eclectix note: Many of the “Major Arcana” images below may not be the final image as Karyn was busy putting finishing touches on them. The “Major Arcana” pieces all have an MA after the title)
Could you give us a little about your background?  I’ve always felt out of time and place on this planet. I’ve been able to see and communicate with spirits since I was young- but  it scared me then and I’m able to embrace it now. I feel as if all my past lives are being remembered in this lifetime.  I don’t look back often, but when I do, I realize just how much I’ve done so far. Having left my touring metal band of 13 years (Crisis) in 2005, I started over as a painter, shaman, Reiki Master Teacher, clairvoyant. My favorite chapter of my life is the current one, with my creative and talented husband and our cat. Music and a Tuscan witch brought us together and keep us moving forward in a creative, magical lifestyle. I made a living selling my paintings and custom leather work a few years ago, until my husband gifted me an art studio and the time to paint for painting’s sake – to get my technical skills where I want them, and to decide what I want to paint without worrying about selling my work. My work now  is devoted to Witchcraft culture (European shamanism, healing modalities, and rituals).
Can you tell us a little about your creative process?  I visualize a painting and the most important thing is to capture an action and decide the purpose of the painting. I see it in my mind’s eye, complete. I create her face, decide who she is, what her tools and colors will be and what exactly her intent or action is, then I draw it out with as much detail as possible. I then take a photo of myself for lighting reference and lines of hands, etc. From there, I often refer to fashion magazines or my favorite jewelry designers to use their clothing and jewelry pieces as inspiration. I also use a lot of my own ritual tools (changing them just a bit) and clothing. Then for the oil painting process, I build the canvas, draw the painting on, beginning with a burnt-sienna underpainting. From there, I paint the drawing in burnt umber, adding some shadows. Then I build with layers of greens, blacks and whites… it’s a bastardization of the Verdaccio technique. Throughout the process I get feedback from my husband. He knows what I’m trying to do without my having to say a word, and he’s got a talent for objectivity.  I can get overambitious or not know when to stop painting and he reels me back in.
My favorite art memory from my childhood is… floating, out of my body, above my mother and myself. I was sick, lying in bed in my favorite corduroy navy and flowered overalls. Another memory is making potions in our backyard with plants and dirt.
My interest in art/painting started … I was little, watching my mom paint. I was always drawing. Always. And dreaming. She took my sister and I into Chicago often to the museums and galleries. The modern art wing was very dark, art-wise, it was very serious and it scared me. I was hooked.
I am often inspired and motivated by…  my struggles. My frustrations with myself become quite a force for transformation. I am my own worst enemy, and when I’m stuck or overrun by an emotion, I’m inspired to use energywork to undertand, to listen, to learn. These modalities give me almost more to see and experience than my waking eyes. And one of my spirit guides and I work together on visualizing my painting concepts.
If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be… Anselm Kiefer (below)   And we would…  make his giant tar books together.
The tip or art technique (a specific tidbit of craft, advice or mechanical expertise) that has helped me the most is …. ”verdaccio”. An artist described this technique in a magazine interview and it changed my understanding of painting dramatically. Also, while painting, I find myself asking “what do you see” constantly, looking more intently at my reference photo, and with each layer redefining my lightest and darkest points.
(Eclectix note:  ”Verdaccio” is an underpainting technique which came from the Italian fresco painters of the early Renaissance. Created traditionally from a mixture of Mars Black and Yellow Ochre pigments, Verdaccio was used to establish tonal values in fresco painting quickly, creating a soft greenish-gray for the shadows of flesh tones.)
If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …I’ve never been one to covet “things“. I don’t put alot of energy towards having “things”, but maybe I should! I’m more about wanting to create, to do, to accomplish, and to experience. BUT, if I had the money, I’d pay a good amount of it for some antique Strega Grimoires. ( A book describing magical beliefs and practices, for a female witch)
My favorite piece of my own art is… Witch’s Wands (above)  because… I still can’t believe I painted it. In fact, my newer paintings feel like they paint themselves.
My ultimate project or fantasy is …  to have my art in museums along with witchy installations, and to tour with my husband. The more we learn about legacies like Egypt, the Maya, etc, we learn all our ancestors had a spiritual system that helped them accomplish great things that they couldn’t have learned just on their own as a human. Call it religion, spirituality, shamanism, witchcraft, they’re culturally relevant systems deserve a visual voice.

The last song I choose to listen to was…  a new one Davide is writing for Ephel Duath, and a new one for my solo album.

The last book I couldn’t put down was …. The Cauldron of Memory by Raven Grimassi.
Karyn Crisis
My favorite word is… molto, fuck (you can use it in so many ways!)
I can’t live without …my husband
It’s not hip, but I really love …  to study pigments and their properties. I will research the history of pigments, what their updated versions are made of and what they do. I love to study systems of all sorts. I had a photography teacher who gave me some great advice while reeling in my experimental photography efforts: “learn how to do things properly and well, then you can do whatever you want with it.”
I’ve been someone to whom things “happen”…I want to paint and “poof”, it happens. I want to do something else and “poof” it comes easy. It’s getting the outcome to present itself with my standard of quality and intensity that is difficult. Being able to recreate that first intuitive magic had also been difficult, until I learned that there’s more to an experience than the “happening” of it, the “being”…which is the technique behind. Learn the technique, or the system, and you can navigate better. I used to think, to demand, that my expression should come naturally, that “poof” I should be able to create a perfect painting each time, and I snubbed my nose at learning technique. Now I’ve found that learning a technique, that I can understand, gives me the freedom to let the painting happen by getting my own bad habits out of the way!
My favorite motto is…  you must be certain of your power.
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