Karen Davis Alexander



Scroll down to learn more about Karen,

her unique techniques and for a glimpse into her studio


Q. Have you always had such a distinct style of painting?

I have not always painted on a grid. Over the years, I have used most mediums and explored many styles. I spent some significant time with watercolor.

Q. How did your signature grid style develop?

I developed this particular style by translating some photos I had taken into grid form for craft-work. There is a long tradition of women's craft-work in my family, including needlework and quilting. These crafts use optic blending as a tool. When creating a painting, I am always imagining how it would translate into these other forms. I suppose this is my interpretation of traditional "women's work".

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Q. How do you decide upon your subject matter?

Personal preference. I delight in the natural world, so I paint botanical and landscapes. I am very drawn to succulents because of their unusual color ranges and their surfaces reflect light so beautifully. When doing a botanical study, I like to come in real close to examine shapes and the spaces between them.

Q. Do you paint from photographs, memory or real life?

With the style I am using now, I use photographs. Sometimes, I change things up a bit for better composition.

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Left: Hens, Right: Wave

Q. Tell us about yourself. Does your personal life inform your work at all?

I didn't get serious about producing artwork until my kids went to college. I felt I could never make the time to spend hours at the easel with the busy life of a family to manage. For several years, I worked as an architectural draftsman and that work was very detailed. I find the same pleasure and escape in this current style of painting.

Q. Are there any artists that you admire and that influence your work?

Well, obviously, I am a huge fan of Chuck Close! I think he is a color genius. To me, he is a modern interpretation of someone like Seurat. I also love Georgia O'Keeffe. Her botanical paintings inspire me to look closer at the natural world.

Q. What techniques and processes are involved in creating a single piece?

I start by putting a grid on a stretched canvas and the photograph I am using. Using acrylic washes, I put the basic colors of the subject on the canvas. Next, I decide on and apply the dominant color in each square, "pixelating" the entire canvas. Once that is complete, I go back in and define the shape, light and shadow of the subject. The final step is optic blending. I put different colors next to and on top of each other to create the illusion. Finished!

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Before/After - "Canyon"

Q. Outside of painting, what are your interests?

I am rabid book reader and can't be without a few on my night stand! I also love the mountains and high deserts of New Mexico and Colorado and travel there as much as possible.

Q. Do you have any shows on the horizon? Where can we see more work?

I am going to participate in Women & Their Work 21st annual Red Dot Art Spree on September 8th. Also, I will be showing my work in my home studio again this year during EAST. My website is kjdaworks.com or check me out on facebook: KJDA Works.

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"Fog of Fitzhugh"