Artist Statement

Remember being a kid and breaking a crayon because you pushed down too hard? Well I recently found a huge box of broken crayons.

I broke crayons trying to make the promise of their colors a reality on my paper. It’s a pretty good metaphor for the damage caused by human willfulness. Willfulness can lead to a whole lot of broken things—broken promises, broken relationships, broken dreams—all snapping under the laws of the human heart. I don’t know about you, but I see way more broken crayons in my life than I’m comfortable with. But I’ve been fortunate. Now I pretty quickly spot the trap of willfulness and so there’s less heartbreak. And I do feel a bit of grace—some life force outside myself helping me. This force is like the fire I use to melt the broken crayons I paint with. My spirit flows and comes to rest under the laws of this force, similar to how my crayons transform under hot and cold air.

I don’t know what I’m going to paint at the beginning of my process. Over time the fire and wax and air play together, images emerge, and eventually I complete the piece and name it. Naming a piece is sort of risky though. People have really interesting stories for the pieces in this collection. Some clients want to orient their painting differently than I imagined, turning them on one side or another. I only sign these paintings on the back panel now, allowing you to decide what orientation works best for you. Whatever the piece evokes for you will be more meaningful than anything I or others could ascribe to it. I think that’s why I like these pieces so much. Who knew a box of broken crayons could give so much meaning and joy? Maybe it’s a nice metaphor for life…broken and beautiful.

This collection seems to have broken down into groupings or series of paintings. Read on or just go straight to the The Broken Crayon Collection.

Soul Series

This series is constantly surprising me. If I set out to create a Soul piece, it usually evolves into something else. Soul pieces evolve in their own time and way. There’s a lot of mystery in the process for me. What I do know about these pieces is that, for me, they represent the journey of the soul, with color representing lifetimes. I don’t think the life of a soul is tied to the actual birth and death of a physical body. And I think we can experience the metamorphosis of our soul within a human lifespan. In these paintings the wax represents the soul and its phases of existence. In some, there are transitions that are so smooth, you can’t tell where one phase starts and another stops. There is consistency and predictability and calm. Other souls appear to transition with sharp demarcations and radical changes clearly visible to those around them. Sometimes the lines between one life and another are straight, in others, they are jagged, with some aspect of the soul surging ahead, while leaving other parts behind. Sometimes these transitions are represented with different hues, at other times with changes in chroma.

Motherhood Series

Like the Soul Series, Motherhood pictures always evolve on their own. Sometimes I’ll just start with a color that I relate to some aspect motherhood. Other times, the piece starts as an abstract and takes a turn toward something that resonates with my experiences as a mother.

Seaside Series

I grew up next to the ocean. The pieces in this series frequently start with a memory of my childhood. Sometimes it auditory, like the clanging of the clips of a flagpole on a windy day. Other times it’s seeing color, like the vivid red of the trim on a lifeboat or the light green of the churning Atlantic after a storm. In this series, some of the pieces evolve from the sensations of weather and its impact on paint and metal and wood. In others, I find the power and awe of water and sky and the shoreline.

Snow Series

Snow is endlessly fascinating for me. It’s my favorite weather. It relieves me of the drab colors of nature in hibernation, constantly changing and capturing the spectrum of colors as light touches and leaves it. For me, trees and snow are perfect playmates. We humans love contrast and the black and brown shapes of naked trees against snow invite us to admire the intricacies of these sleeping sentient beings.

Solo Travelers

These pieces have emerged from the fire to stand on their own, their stories existing outside of any defined series. The subject matter range from the concrete like “Pond” to the ephemeral like “Equality”.

Pet Series

We don’t deserve our pets and the unconditional love, peace, and joy they bring. Yet the powers that be are generous and we are blessed. When I paint a portrait, I’m hoping the layers of wax I lay down and then strip away begin to capture the many reasons you love your pet. If you’d like your pet’s portrait painted in wax, contact me at

Copyright ©2023 Karen Holloway – All rights reserved.