In the early 60s, something amazing happened to a young early twenty something woman that drew her to the United States of America from Norway. Up until that time, her claim is that self esteem was lacking and that she never felt special. Born just two years prior to the Nazi occupation of Norway and ending three days shy of her 7th birthday, Mom’s world as a very young girl was filled with fear. She lived through air raids and their requisit black curtains, sheltering in the basement laundry room of her apartment with the other tenants, Nazi soldiers pacing the hallways of her kindergarten with their german shepherds, the strict rules of forbidden music and radios and then there is the celebration parades that followed once Norway was liberated. From the time she was this young girl – she loved America. America saved everyone- in her view. In today’s world, where controversy exists on whether America should be the world’s big brother, Mom’s response is that the world forgets. And, she feels that younger generations that have not lived through an actual war or occupation, have no idea what they are talking about- they are arrogant in their naivete. Easy to judge. The truth is, in her view, that we (since she is now an American Citizen) must be involved- when we are not, things fall apart. Of course, intelligence and pragmatism must be employed- but in some fashion, yes- we must be involved.
The plan for Mom was to come for one year. She was sponsored by family members who had gone before her to the “Great Land”, and she initially lived with those relatives in Wisconsin. She eventually made her way to the Twin Cities, and met Dad at a social gathering of friends that were acquainted through a local Ski Club. It was an after work party and Dad was in from out of town on business- a regular occurance as Minnesota was part of his territory back then. Through mutual friends, they connected at an after work cocktail hour. And, the rest is history. They fell in love, Mom couldn’t imagine life without Jack and Jack supported Karin in her pursuits- one of which was becoming an accomplished artist. From the beginning, Dad saw her talent for what it was- amazing. Truly- her abilities were aparant in those early days.
After their wedding, she settled into life with Jack in Michigan- his home at the time. After a couple of years, they moved to Washington DC for another job transfer; it was here that both of their chlidren were born. Dad set Mom up with her own atelier right from the beginning- usually an unused area of the laundry room. She spent hours each day dabbling in oils in between laundry, cooking and caring for her family. She took art very seriously; since childhood she had always had a passion for drawing and painting. Her small florals were beautiful- delicate pansies were a favorite. This passion grew over the year, and during the family’s period living in France- she took classes from accomplished teachers. She learned many vital techniques employed by the masters and she developed her own style in portraiture. John Singer Sargent a favorite of hers, many of her portraits have the same elegance and the glazing techniques that bring skin tone, fabrics and light to a realistic conclusion. One of her frequent exercises was copying a master – it’s what they did as well. The only way to really learn is to copy a master- she would say. So in our home, one could find an amazing likeness of Corot, Bougeraux, Renoir or John Singer Sargent hanging on the walls.
The likeness she renders is breathtaking and I always have a gallery page of her work on my iPhone to show- my brag book. Over the years, she has gifted many a piece to friends and family- and has sold a number on consignment; however, she has never had her own show and her focus has never been on the business side of things. Rather, painting for her has been her solace, her meditation and what has kept her grounded. Everyone must have a passion- something that gives her purpose. For Karin, it is painting masterpieces (my words, not hers). Mom is for the most part humble with her art. As is comomon with many artists, she is not ever truly satisfied and she is not generally confident enough to show off her work. Still, it gives her pleasure. Lately, with Dad’s illnesses and her own aging- her canvases, brushes and oils have sat idle. She often says she will take it up again, perhaps when it gets colder out again. I truly hope so because when she puts brush to canvas- magic happens.