Karen Gelardi

Certainly a big simple pleasure for me here in Portland is hanging out with my friends. We do a lot of trips to the beer garden, dinner parties and long walks. My friend Karen Gelardi is a great walker. We’ll meet, walk and break down what’s on our mind concerning our artwork and balancing time in the studio with the rest of life.

Recently she told me about the drawing groups she attends and how she gets together with artists once every few weeks and just draws. How simple! I was in her studio last week taking some photographs and she showed me a few of the beautiful pieces she and her friends have created. These pieces were not created to sell or for a gallery show, they were just created as an exercise for the brain, heart and hand. And I really appreciated how they were made on scrap paper with pen or pencil. We talked about using materials you have on hand and just going out and drawing from nature. How even giving yourself an hour on a weekend to sit alone or with friends and draw is the best kind of simple gift to yourself. I asked Karen to reflect a bit on our discussion and here are here thoughts:

When I think about the word simple in terms of being in the studio, I definitely think of drawing. Recently I have been drawing sticks, branches, and buds. Oh— I think I rediscover this subject matter every year around this time. They are still so mysterious!

This is also the time of year when I find myself going through the entire house and studio gathering up all my drawing tools and sorting them out—ball point pens, sharpies, pencils, ink, brushes, paper, recycled chip board I have saved from cereal boxes, post-it notes, graph paper from my grandparents’ office, whatever I can find.

Some drawings are finished pieces, some lead to other things, and some get sent in the mail. My cousin, Michael Capotosto and I have sent each other drawings for many years. I have a whole drawer full of his drawings. Some just have a stamp on the back and some were put into envelopes. My favorites are the ones that arrive in a special windowed envelope from the post office that say something like “sorry we accidentally shredded your letter…here’s what’s left of it” because it is such an odd shape or size they must think there were some other parts to it. —Karen Gelardi

Jamie Hogan

Karen’s work is an inspiration to LOTS of folks around Portland. There was a show at Space Gallery in which other artists had tagged a postcard of something of hers for an exhibit called Studio Walls. Her elegant simplicity and wisdom about drawing is a gift!


Thanks for this little peek into your studio and process. I love the idea of drawing groups!

Amy Greenan

This post was so inspiring. Sometimes it is hard to remember that not everything that comes out of the studio has to be made with a gallery or an exhibition in mind — it is so good to just get back to basics and enjoy the process! Thanks for the reminder. :)


Hi, what an interesting article and beautiful website! I found some traffic was coming to my shop somehow though here so I checked it out and I am lucky to have done so! Thanks for the great work!