Montecito Magazine 2020

areas, rolling ink on the surface, placing the paper on top and feeding it through the press. Only the areas on the surface are printed, and this creates a woodcut. Karen does reduction woodcuts, which means that she uses only one block of wood — after each color is printed, that area is carved away. Careful planning is essential. Karen jots down her ideas in a sketchbook each day, and for her, turning each idea into an image is the most creative part of the artistic process. “When I do something creative, I give all my focus to it. I become what I am doing, and other things drop away,” she says. Despite her passion for printmaking, Karen took a hiatus from the art form after college. She earned a master’s degree in education and put away her printmaking materials to focus on trav- eling, teaching and raising her family. For more than 30 years, she taught elementary school in Santa Barbara. “Teaching has always been an important part of my life,” she says. “I had art in my class all the time, so that was my way to con- tinue being creative.” Karen also discovered that art could be a kind of therapy for children, a way for them to express their feelings and a powerful tool to boost their self-esteem. Says Karen, “When I taught children, I found that some kids who struggled with aca- demics flourished in the arts.” After Karen retired, a strange twist of fate steered her back to printmaking after a 35-year break. “When I retired, I started taking adult education classes,” Karen recalls. In an art class, the teacher commented that her paintings looked like prints, and that comment sparked a connection that would rekindle Karen’s passion for the art form. Siu Zimmerman, a talented artist who taught the adult education printmaking class, invited Karen to take her class. “I consider her my mentor,” says Karen. “For years, I took her printmaking class, and everything came back. It was like I found something I lost. I was in heaven.” Trees are a common theme in Karen’s art. Her early travels took her, her biologist husband Don and daughter Wren to Mexico, Central America, New Zealand, Australia and later to South Africa, places where the natural beauty and fascinating indigenous cultures inspired her work. Karen also traveled to national parks in the US, and these experiences, camping in deserts and for- ests and exploring Native American arts and the totems of Seattle, also shine through in her art. Karen is currently working on a new series of prints on environmental issues. She collaborated with another printmaker, Sara Woodburn, to create a very large woodcut, Climate Change: We Are a Part of It (84” x 96”), which is on view at Oil Paintings by Allison Gobbell Title – A Wing and A Prayer, 36” x 36”. ©Allison Gobbell 805.967.7779 CL #814674 Mastering theArt & Science of Tree Care • KAREN CHRISTMAN Certified Arborist/QAL LOU CHRISTMAN Certified Arborist, Certified Tree Risk Assessor 49