22 Questions with Karen Seward
1. Name: Karen Wingard Seward
2. Age: 76
3. Hometown: Rutland but I grew up in Clarendon
4. How would you describe yourself in three words? Creative, inquisitive, helpful
5. What’s something not a lot of people know about you? I’m a synesthete – I see letters and numbers in color, and they’ve always been the same colors. It’s something I grew up with and I assumed everybody else had that characteristic and somewhere along the line I realized that not everybody did. (Editor’s note: 4% of the population has synesthesia).
6. How do you start your day? With a nutritious breakfast and positive affirmations. I cook some greens and add on top of it a cooked egg, a little shredded cheese and arugula.The positive affirmations give me a little boost and at my age I need all the boosts I can get.
7. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life? I’d have to say I’m not a wild person, I’m not a race car driver but I took a trip to Quebec white water rafting by myself. I planned to do it with my sons and they weren’t able to go so I ended up going by myself. It was something I’d always wanted to do, like a bucket list thing, and I felt good I had done it and added it to my repertoire of life experiences.
8. What’s your favorite food? A good Greek salad, or a hot Italian grinder.
9. Do you have a day job? Painting would be my day job because I work at the restaurant at night. (Editor’s note: Her family’s restaurant, Sewards on Route 7 in Rutland)
10. What medium do you work in? Primarily oil, but I do watercolor and I love pastel.
11. Why this medium? Most of my artwork is in oil because I like that I can re-work it. The oil stays open as they say, so I can re-do as I contemplate my work. It’s not so immediate, I take my time.
12. What inspired you / how did it start? I’ve always loved creating art from my earliest memories coloring as a child, and I was introduced to oil many years ago through a friend who was taking an oil class. I joined her and it continued from there. But if I wasn’t painting early on I was thinking about it.
13. Do you have a process for creating? Mine is a thought process. I spend a lot of time organizing my thoughts and my technique in my head way before I touch a brush to a canvas. That’s my process, a planning process and then as I start I work in layers. But I’m open to new processes and I’m looking forward to continually learning, and as Covid ends taking new workshops and developing new styles.
14. When are you the most inspired / what’s your favorite time of day to work? When I’m painting with others, drawing from the energy in the room, I love workshops and classes and I love to teach others and paint with others.
15. Which artists inspire you? I’ve been inspired very much by Wayne Thibaud, Charles Sovek, Kevin McPhersen, and all three I’ve taken workshops with. I’m also inspired by the impressionists, particularly Paul Cezanne.
16. What do you listen to when you work? I might listen to a podcast or a novel. Even with a group of people, complete stillness inspires me. I’m not a music person
17. What are your thoughts on being an artist in Rutland? Because we’re a small city with lots of art energy, especially in the past few years, it gives an artist a lot of exposure. As opposed to being in a larger city, I think garnering exposure there would be more difficult. I think Bill Ramage has had a lot to do with recent art energy.
18. What’s your earliest memory of making art in Rutland? I was introduced by my husband to his very good friend Art Crowley and his wife Mary Crowley who has become one of my best friends. And Mary knew that I loved art and she signed me up for a class at the Chaffee. We went to a watercolor class, had a wonderful time with a wonderful instructor who was the executive director, Lynne DeBeer, and I remember Peter Huntoon was in the class, too.
19. Why do you think artists are attracted to Rutland? We have a multitude of art outlets here compared to any other small city. I think we are very fortunate. And because we have such beautiful scenery and opportunities for painting, selling, and exhibits.
20. Which arts organizations in town are you involved with and how has it impacted you? The Alley Gallery, the Bank Gallery, the 77 Gallery, Timco Gallery, and the Chaffee which is a mainstay for art in the region. Right now my art is in the Chaffee and Timco and a few in City Hall.
21. What’s your favorite art exhibit/project you’ve seen in Rutland? At 77 Gallery Bill Ramage had a beautiful statewide exhibit I was proud to be part of, it was for over 70s, and people came from far and wide for it. The others were the train exhibit and the hearts project. Those brightened the art scene in Rutland. You’d come around a corner and there would be an art installation.
22. What would you like to see for the future of the arts in Rutland? I’m hoping we can do something in the future along those lines (of the hearts project) because I think it brings everybody together. Perhaps another region-wide street art project. And greater continued support of our arts organizations. I think a community with great arts organizations and great support for them makes a vibrant, healthy community with healthy growth.
(Part of a VT Marketing Stimulus Grant for the arts. A collaboration between The MINT, The Carving Studio, 77Art, The Paramount Theatre, and Chaffee Art Center.)
Click to view all the “22 Questions With” artists. Check back regularly for more!
Reprint with permission only. Contact: [email protected]