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 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.

By karen, May 20 2016 06:27AM

Major surgery required!

The joiners have arrived to fix up my studio... yippee! At least that was my first reaction, now I am feeling anxious as the rotten timbers are cut away and the extent of the decay is revealed (along with some small worms and some truly enormous slugs!). One corner is being propped up to stop the building collapsing completely whilst the essential repairs are undertaken. I am trying to keep the faith but my studio no longer looks the lovely inviting space it did only yesterday, it now looks like what it really is... a sadly neglected building requiring a lot more than some cosmetic tweaking from me.

I have asked my very nice joiners to perform life saving surgery and they have promised to try, although I think I may also have promised to do a dog portrait for one of them in a blatant attempt at bribery and coercion... I have very limited funds to work with!

To add to my troubles the weather forecast this week is for heavy showers and thunderstorms! I am beginning to regret my rather hasty decision to install a new carpet prior to the work being completed... never ask an artist to project manage anything! Imaginative flair and hopeless optimism are not the kind of practical qualities that will guarantee success in a building project it seems.

I wrote this entry in a state of high anxiety and forgot to publish it. But I am glad to say my studio is looking nice again. A bit patched up and 'shabby chic' but mostly water tight and solid enough not to worry about the roof collapsing in on me!

By karen, Apr 9 2016 06:53AM

The Studio

About a month ago I took on the lease of a rather sad looking conservatory situated at the rear of a commercial building very close to my house. The situation of the building for a working studio was perfect, the building itself was not! Read any article on how to build the perfect artist studio and you'll find light is the prime consideration. The general idea being that you want plenty of natural light but definitely no direct sunlight. I have plenty of light in my new studio and ALL of it is direct sunlight!

So the first challenge (after relocating about a million spiders... sorry spiders, had to be done!) was to devise clever, and essentially cheap ways to block out some of the light. I can't afford fancy blinds so, after some headscratching, I came up with some cunning ideas!

About 10 years ago I did a job for a hotel in the north which ran into financial difficulties, leaving me in pocession of about six large marine ply boards, fully painted with tropical beach scenes... these have been clogging up our cellar ever since, awaiting some useful purpose. And now they have their purpose... they are my sunscreens around the south facing side of the conservatory, and can be moved or removed easily... perfect! Makes me feel like I'm on holiday when I enter the place, which is, after all, what we all want when entering our place of work. The next problem was the ceiling... also glass of course... SO much glass! My current solution is about 10 paper parasols with hooks which I hook onto other hooks in the woodwork of the ceiling (bit fiddly but also quite fun, like that kids game when you have to hook a fish), again I can move the parasols to where the light is causing a problem. It's all a bit 'Heath Robinson' but I like it.

The studio is a 'work in progress' so I will continue to blog about it. There is a small kitchen and toilet at the back and these need some attention too. Also the outside woodwork is rotten in places and is going to be made good, hopefully quite soon.

There was a small tree growing on the roof of the toilet! The building was empty for nearly 15 years so needs some serious TLC... I intend to give it plenty.

Still much to do but I'm enjoying the process... love having my own space.

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