Local Spotlight

The Horne Fine Art Gallery/Studio

Local artist Karen Horne gets her inspiration from the ballroom.


Karen Horne creates art from art. Dancers float in soft pastel colors. She often listens to music while she paints. When she did a big waltz painting, she put on waltz music to help her feel the speed and whirling action. As Karen talks about her artwork, big band music plays in the background of her studio.

Karen, standing in front of her painting "Enchanted Evening at the Viennese Ball"
Karen, standing in front of her painting “Enchanted Evening at the Viennese Ball”

While speaking, Karen gestures gracefully, as if dancing. In fact, she took eight years of ballet and goes ballroom dancing with her husband. She likes ballroom dancing because it gives a range of emotions: swing is happy, the Argentine Tango more dramatic. The rumba’s more sensual, the waltz more romantic. Karen pushes more high key and high intensity colors to convey feeling. For example, she emphasizes black and red in a tango piece to make it more severe.

She turned to ballroom dancing in her art because she danced and watched others perform. Being a dancer helps her paint dancers because she understands the posture, footwork, and tension in a particular move. “The act of painting already is a dance,” she says. Karen uses long sweeps of her arm to travel across the canvas and make the marks fluid.

She works mainly with pastels but also likes the luscious quality of oils. Pastels make for more improvisational drawing, and pastel sandpaper holds color and adds texture. “There’s a breeziness in the medium,” she says, yet it’s hard to do a really big pastel because it has to be under glass, and pastel papers come in smaller sizes. She does her larger pieces on canvas, which gives stronger support. Oil has more body. You can layer more, add more dimension. “It’s a toss up,” she says. “What I’m trying to do is get more of the transparency and immediacy of the pastels into the oil paintings.”

To view Karen’s Romance of Dance collection, visit Horne Fine Art Gallery/Studio at 800 South and 142 East and her website www.hornefineart.com.  801-910-2088

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