karen pittaway

Welcome to my blog


Artist, specialising in oil paintings of towns, historic buildings, human activity. Grew up in Cambridge, went to London University, moved to Kenilworth in 1984

By karen, Nov 21 2017 08:19AM

Earlier this year I was asked to do a large piece based on an old stone wall. It was suggested the image should be abstract in nature. I liked this commission and was excited to start.

To avoid being too literal in my preliminary sketches I worked in oil pastel. For an oil painter oil pastel has similar properties, there is a solidity about it and you can scrape into it and create textures. I enjoy this kind of sketching, it is physical and absorbing.

The results were pleasing although I only used them as a way into the subject matter. They have been sold to the same client and will be framed and hung as works of art in their own right. I was reluctant to let them go if I'm honest.

The final work, an oil painting I have called 'Wall', came about after further sketching and experimenting. It was a lot of fun to paint, with layering, splattering, dripping and palette knife tecniques all being employed.

The painting is now hanging in the client's house. It was an enjoyable and challenging change of style from my usual commissions and I relished the opportunity to try something different.

Ivy 2
Ivy 2

By karen, Jul 10 2017 02:31PM

This is a recent commission, a present for a Clare College alumni. My aim was to capture a memory of the happy, carefree days which follow end of year exams. A week of parties and May Balls commonly known as May Week in Cambridge (and therefore always falling in June!).

I have been to such balls in my youth and was able to plunder my own memories as well as work with ideas provided by the client. Personal memories help enormously when working out my imaginary scenarios within their rather stylised settings. The setting is always a representation of place, which is faithful in essence but is taken from a rather unusual perspective... composition and the overall tapestry of form and colour being of greater importance than any attempt at photographic accuracy.

By karen, Nov 12 2016 10:41AM

Senate House Passage is the subject of my new Cambridge painting, available from The Lawson Gallery on King's Parade in Cambridge. This passage is a short cut from the town centre through to Garret Hostel bridge over the river Cam. It is therefore used by students, tourists and towns people alike. It was also the location for a recent episode of 'Grantchester' and I couldn't resist making a small reference to this fact, look for the vicar and the detective. The Senate House is where the graduation ceremonies take place. On the roof is a ghostly image of a car, a reference to a famous story I remember from my youth where students were able to place a car on top of the Senate House roof during the night, and it was only years later it was discovered how they achieved this amazing feat. The rope over Caius wall near The Gate of Honour refers to the days when students had to be back inside the college before the gates were locked at night. No one wanted to recieve the wrath of a disgruntled porter by knocking on the locked gate. So the only way in was to scale the wall, the very high wall, often in a slightly inebriated state!

By karen, May 24 2016 11:52AM

Seven years ago I started to paint a portrait of Faye, our fox red labrador. My intention was to give it to my husband for his 50th birthday. She is a fully trained working dog, picking up pheasants throughout the shooting season, and she is the love of his life... beats me by a country mile!

However, for one reason or another, the painting never got completed. So, with the renewed creative energy I have discovered working in my new studio, I decided to give it another go... and, only seven years late, I think it is finally finished.

The painting shows Faye standing in front of Agglestone Rock near Studland, my husbands favourite place in Dorset. She is older now than depicted, greying and less finely tuned (I'm talking about the dog remember!), but she still dutifully follows her masters instruction (still talking about the dog... he he he!).

She's a rather serious dog, unlike our black labrador (Spoof) who is more typical of the breed and therefore rather more comical. Spoof will probably be my next animal portrait project and if I am to capture her faithfully she will be lying on her back with her legs akimbo!

By karen, May 20 2016 06:48AM

So I have decided to show off my new work space by taking part of the Warwickshire Open Studios. It seemed like a good idea at the time of entry. However, with four weeks to go and very little work accomplished I am now beginning to panic!

I am best known for my 'Lowryesque' style of painting but as these paintings take weeks to complete and also because I wanted to show I can do other things, I am busy painting all manner of different subjects, using different techniques... mostly quick painting with a pallet knife and lots of paint. It's fun. I am enjoying myself. But I'm not sure what my followers will think of this departure from the norm.

Here are a couple of examples which will be on show in my studio from the 18th June - 3rd July.

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