An Exclusive Interview with Artist Karen Bezuidenhout
It’s no secret that we love horses and the outdoors, so when our founder Elizabeth Welborn discovered Karen Bezuidenhout paintings, it was love at first sight. Karen’s life journey, passion for adventure and global travel are a source of inspiration and reflected in her stunning and prolific artwork.
Born and raised in the wine country of South Africa, Karen's deep love of nature, horse back riding and a sense of adventure began amidst the vibrant and diverse landscapes of her homeland. Having relocated to Santa Barbara in 1999, her art is rooted in an earthy palette from Africa but seamlessly intertwines with the vibrant hues of California. Her work encompasses a diverse range of subjects, reflecting her experiences and imagination and has been celebrated around the world.
We recently had the privilege to sit down with Karen to gain insight into the creative mind behind her distinctive and beautiful artwork.
What inspired your very first piece of art and how would you describe your evolution as an artist?
My first desire to paint began when I attended a local art exhibition in my home town of Stellenbosch, South Africa. I immediately wanted to paint, and joined the art school the next day. The first painting I did was in powder paint, on cardboard, of a beautiful indigenous woman carrying a baby on her back. The photograph was in a National Geographic magazine.
Given that each piece is an original, how do you consistently generate new content as you approach a blank canvas?
Each painting is completely unique (even if I have painted the image before). The inspiration is different every time, and comes from everywhere: images I see or are surrounded by on travels or at home, the light and colors in nature or even the lyrics to a song… it's a never ending source that is within me.
What is your favorite subject to paint and your preferred color hues when it is time to source acrylics?
I think that my most favourite subject to paint are horses. They are majestic, magical creatures — I love their energy and their shape so much. I love all colors, but my favourites are the earth tones, as well as blues. At other times, I might do all white, but there are always many layers of color underneath the white.
Looking back at the most important and influential art movements leading to today, what is your favorite and why?
I was very inspired by American artist, Bill Woolway, who was a dear friend, and who encouraged me to paint horses. I loved his primitive style and his use of color. Also, I am a huge fan of Milton Avery — I love his simplistic style and use of color. Matisse is also my favourite artist — I love his sense of color and how he used color and shapes to depict a feeling in his painting. That is exactly what I strive to do.
It's clear that Karen’s work is truly a testament to the profound connection she embodies between art and nature. This unwavering bond to the natural world, coupled with her passion for horses and a deep appreciation for simplicity and color, illuminates her canvas in a way that resonates with those who have the privilege of experiencing her paintings. And needless to say, we're beyond thrilled to have commissioned Karen to paint these six beautiful pieces for our beloved Stick & Ball community.