In one word: sanity.

It is hard to put into words actually. There is something natural and vital in it that I can’t get anywhere else. The experience of doing it is meditative for me, and it allows my mind time and space to wander over whatever I’m painting. In that way, I guess it is a physical and visual form of appreciation. For example, I can’t help but admire the way the shadows and highlights play on the face of someone’s pet. I love the expressions in their eyes and cheeks and mouths.

This cat, for example, Guinness Molson, is hilarious and awesome. I really love the character in his expression and enjoyed painting him immensely.

Guinness Molson the Cat
Photo credit to Katty Wang
Guinness Molson the Cat and Benji the Dog - a Portrait by Julie Karey
A portrait of Guinness Molson the cat and Benji the dog

…I feel warmed by the beauty of the severed tree (in Phoenix, as in the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes), its delicate patterns, the variations in colour not “just” grey, and the new life sprouting from it.

Phoenix Reference
Unknown photo credit

And the patterns on this one!

Phoenix Reference
I can’t make out the watermark, but this shot comes from a professional site.

…I am somehow invigorated by the colours and textures. I never knew how beautiful the colour grey could be until I painted Eddy (or the Owl, as my friends affectionately call it).


My mouth literally waters and my breath quickens at moments: standing in front of a wall of paint brushes, some of them as big as my palm; marveling at the pattern created by a paint pour; and this colour grey in all its variations, softness and subtleties, especially as it is textured by the wood grain underneath. Always these things seem to have a life of their own, even when I have had a hand in moving them about.

Then in the bigger paintings, the physical movement of working the paint onto the surface is somehow divine. There is a sort of paradox within me working itself out through these paintings. I struggle to describe it, but you may notice the movement. I am drawn to paradoxes: the way life eats death, the way creation depends on destruction, the way darkness contains all light, and vice versa. A black hole is full of light. So weird.

In this one, the black is winning, but there is still line and form. The black becomes like a thicket amidst the light and colours. And most importantly, it moves, and in doing so creates.

Abstract Painting by Julie Karey

…I am thinking of black and white here metaphorically in relationship to our experience of light and darkness. We tend to prefer light and may even fear the dark. But, the one has no meaning without the other, and the dark is vastly more interesting in that it is often simply yet undiscovered, like the shadow material of our minds or parts of space we have yet to understand. Imagine being able to look inside a black hole. Mind blown.

This is one of my deeper, more sort of metaphysical meets physical meditations in paint. I have a hard time describing what it means to me, and it often comes out sounding either nerdy or overly simplistic, but there you have it: I have tried to capture this non-verbal dance that I do in these paintings between apparent opposites.

This one here is my latest, not yet finished, exploring the interplay of the elements of a seaside landscape. To be continued…

Overall, in my experience, life demands that we constantly reinvent ourselves. Painting seems to be a part of this for me. In a grand sort of sense, it is the closest thing I have to a religion or purpose in life. It keeps me grounded, connected to myself, and tapped into life. I draw stimulation and joy from my day job teaching literature and composition to college students, where I get to tackle interesting problems of communication, learning, and understanding. When I paint, my brain gets to rest and my heart set to joyous work.

Look at this furry little face!

One of Many Rabbits - painted by Julie Karey

And now back to the studio. Happy Saturday trails, friends!

Thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.


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