By Audrey Levinson
On a beautiful sunny summer day I went for a walk around green lakes with the artist and art teacher Karen Tashkovski.
We walked and talked about art and what it’s like being in the world of artists. We both agreed that having the talent and passion for creating is a great gift and how we enjoy it is like nothing else under the heavens. We nodded hello to passersby as we walked and stopped to admire how the sun made the water glow the most brilliant blue green under it’s many logs along the banks of the lake. Of course, we shared art room experiences and ideas about teaching art along the way.
Karen has been teaching and painting for over twenty years. She attended Syracuse University obtaining a bachelor’s dual degree in Fashion Design and Studio Arts. This led her to her first art related position as Fashion Merchandising Chair for Bryant and Stratton. She taught classes in visual merchandising, history of costume, textiles, and color theory. Karen returned to SU to get her graduate degree in Art Education. She currently teaches for the Chittenango School District.
Teaching Art is an art of it’s own. The most interesting and important part is to teach children to think creatively and to inspire them. Thinking outside of the box, we hope to teach creative problem solving skills. We also strive to do this through our individual artistic strengths, such as, designing projects that challenge students. The payoff for us is immersing ourselves in art everyday! This is a joy that Karen and I talked about as well as how important it is for us as teachers to inspire our students to think that anything is possible. This is an excellent attitude to start any school year with as a teacher. She said “what people are looking for are creative thinkers. We have an important role in education.”
Teaching art is not the only hat Karen wears. Her creativity continues at home in her studio. I found the process of how she creates to be very different from most artists I have spoken to in the past year. She has a very calculated way of creating. Many of her paintings are carefully thought out and thumbnail sketches are drawn before she even touches the surface with paint. She creates a series of paintings using oil paints and collage. The work itself is an interesting collection of symbols that only she holds the code to. Her paintings are all about her life’s experiences. She partakes in the joys of using materials she loves, like the buttery consistency of oil paint. She told me that she feels oils are an authentic medium for her. Karen’s paintings are a reflection of her life. She has a story to tell through her use of incorporating found objects, mostly from old games or puzzles that she collects from various places. This creates an avantgarde type of mystery to her paintings. She hopes to connect to the child within us. Karen wants children to be able to relate to her work and adults to remember their childhood.
When I asked her how she begins a series of work. She explained that it could be the object that she intends to collage. Sometimes, it is the layering process because she feels this represents the layers of life that every individual carries within themselves. She mentioned that it could be her conscious attempt to create meaning through her storytelling. Karen seemed to know herself and her intentions quite well. She is poised with her answers in a way that secured her confidence. She loves to work with watercolor paints as well. However, this process for her seems to be an oppositional release. Her watercolor paintings are very loose, full of blending colors, areas of soft edges, balanced by strokes that have hard edges and marks made with crayon and pencil. I felt like her joy and excitement spring from the pages of her many watercolors.
Karen said that life for her is all about “happiness, joy, creativity, and laughing out loud all the time”.
Karen Tashkovski’s playful cat paintings are currently on display at Natur-Tyme on Erie Blvd. and now through October 2 at the Syracuse Tech Gard