The Art of Karl Franklin

original paintings & limited edition prints

If a piece of art speaks to you,
think about why,
you could learn something.


  I spent the first 36 years of my life not painting, fighting an overwhelming urge to try, because I didn't know how. In 1994 I came across a coupon for paints and brushes and figured I'd give this painting thing a try.
  I bought a 'starter' set of acrylics, and started to mess around a bit, pushing some paint around on a canvas. It was weird that something I've never done before could seem so familiar. After a few months I bought some oils......and I found what felt like an old friend. I never had art again in school after the 7th grade, so colors, and the mixing thereof, weren't given much thought. But when I started painting, the weird thing was, I always knew how to mix what I wanted, it just came.
  The whole painting thing has been quite the experience, one day never having stood foot in an art gallery or museum, and the next day, living and breathing paint like it was my lifeblood.
  In 1995 I quit a career 'corporate' job, as it was sucking the life out of me. I moved back to my native southern California, to figure out a career change. To make a long story short, I ended up working at an art gallery 3 days per week, framing art/designing frames, and painting the rest of the time. Money was real tight, but this was a great time of my life.
  When I first began painting, I pondered for the longest time....what shall I paint? Pondered is the wrong word, more like struggled. When I would think of something to paint, I'd ask myself, 'would anybody think that was worth painting?'. After about 3 months of that, it finally dawned on me, if I thought it was worth painting, it was worth painting. What did I care what other people thought? I didn't. So to me, that was step one, almost like gaining the confidence to do what I wanted.
  Throughout my working career, confidence is not something I lacked. I'm a walking billboard for an argument in favor of the powers of positive thinking.
  So once I found my 'natural' confidence in painting, I never hesitated in painting what I felt like painting. Never. If you are new to painting, or old, and you hesitate in painting something, or have the evil 'creative block', get back to basics, to what's important to you, period, after all that's why you paint, right? Right?
  Many of my paintings have some sort of social context to them, whether blatant or masked. Some of my paintings deal with that human thing, emotions. Most of my work is optimistic in nature, I believe, as it reflects my outlook. Never say die! Then there are some of my paintings that are images that I saw in my mind and just had to get down on canvas.
  One of the coolest things about art is that it is so subjective. I have one meaning. One person see's it. Another see's something else. Yet another doesn't see a thing except for some screwed up picture. I've never been offended by someone if they didn't like my work, the truth of the matter is, I didn't paint it for them anyway. By contrast, I feel drawn to those that do truly 'see' what I'm saying. Almost like a kindred spirit. I might be wrong, but I feel if someone can see a message I'm conveying, because truthfully most don't, we are somehow connected in a similar thought pattern. And since I know mine is genuine, I feel that the person that I've connected with is, as well. Might by naive, but I don't think so. This is real stuff. Hope. Love. Optimism. Stuff we all need more of.
  We all have idiosyncrasies, and I'm no different. I like forks, not spoons. Odd numbers, not even. I won't eat a pickle that has a defect. I am obsessed with the shapes of anvils and Fender Stratocaster guitars. I don't particularly care to touch food with my hands. If you've been eating fried chicken, keep those shiny, greasy fingers away! One issue that I've tried to stop, but can't, is painting with tiny brushes. If a brush doesn't have at least 2 zeros in it, it's too big. So consequently, I paint really slow. My painting 'Hope', at 22" x 40", took me a year and half to paint. I'll pick up a larger brush, one that some would think appropriate for the job, but by the time I can ash my cigarette, I have a '000' brush in my hand, without even knowing it.
  In 1995, when I moved to southern California, working 3 days a week at the gallery, was my most productive time spent painting. At the urging of friends and relatives, I entered an art show here and there, and always did really well. In 1998 I was fortunate enough to have been included in an exhibit at the Laguna Art Museum, which was the first time my art was 'exposed' to a more than local art show going crowd. Within a week I had offers from 2 galleries, to represent me and my work. I met with them to see what the deal was. By this time I was 40 years old and was in a good place, poor, but good. Both galleries required some sort of 'creative input', not for all art, but for some. Basically it came down to producing art to match the latest fad in colors for peoples couches. I don't have anything against people wanting to match art with their couch, whatever turns you on, but there was no way I was going to paint pictures in mauve because it was a hot color. Don't care. So I decided then, two things: 1. I haven't met the gallery that was right for me. And 2., maybe selling through galleries was not the way for me. Either way, I was only going to paint what I felt like painting. I don't care if I'm guaranteed a stipend, blah, blah, blah. If painting becomes work, I have no interest in it. This is when I built my first web site.
  I did numerous shows from 1995 to 2000 and had more meetings with other galleries, but never found the 'one'. When I would meet with a gallery to show my work, every single one, before even looking at my art, first wanted to know where I received my degree from. I always assumed that most galleries were owned by degreed artists that found it hard to make a living with their art, so there was no way some Gomer off the street was going to do better than them. Then again, maybe not. So I never had a real good taste in my mouth about galleries, and of course that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of good ones out there. Art Angles Gallery in Orange, CA, was the best gallery I've ever dealt with.
  In 2000, a guy from Scottsdale, that owned a couple of galleries, came across my work in searching the web. He wired me the bucks for 2 paintings and about 8 prints, it was awesome. He was a member of the Phoenix Art Museum board, and never once said anything about matching the current trend in interior decorating colors or
where I received a piece of paper stating that I was an artist. I thought I found the 'one' I was looking for. He had some big plans. Then one day, he just disappeared. His galleries closed and I never heard from him again.
  It's 2013. Where did the last decade go? It's just a blur. For whatever reason I seem to have an inability to be able to balance painting and working full time, to me the two don't mix. I am all or nothing when it comes to anything that means anything, so whether it be work or art, I am all in, period. So it has become apparent that when working full time there just isn't much left, especially creatively speaking. I generally paint about things associated with work, or the social meaning, so for me it just seems impossible to comment at that time, because I'm observing a future painting.
  It's May 2013, the time has come to take my place in front of my easel again. I quit my job, gulp, and am going for the gusto, painting and trying to make a living at home.
  In celebration, I've put up 7 of my 'personal' paintings for sale, all 7 I have kept since creating them, resisting offers of temptation to part with them, because of the meaning they had to me, but the time is now to let them go, so please take a look at this page for these 7 special paintings, well special to me.
  Thank you for your interest. I have a head bursting full of visions, so please......stay tuned!
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1995-2013 Karl Franklin. All rights reserved.