The world today is a complicated and challenging place. There are many uncertainties, unexpected surprises and stresses that we all have to navigate. Somehow, we have to find ways to replenish our souls if we are to survive and continually move forward. Karen Gentile’s works are a quick shortcut to remind us of the beauty and joys of life.
Standing in front of her landscapes, whatever the season, there is an immediate sense of gentleness and calm that draws you deep into the scene. It feels safe. Yet there is a frission of energy that is ready to whisk you away on a wonderful journey, if you could only move in deeper, and stay a little longer. You know instinctively that it’s all happening just around the corner or hidden behind the hills and trees.
Many of these landscapes are painted on small canvases, some as small as four by six inches, and yet she is able to create a whole universe within them. It is not uncommon to watch viewers standing in front of her works stepping in even closer to discover the secrets within.
Gentile also creates many still-lifes which are overflowing expressions of emotions. Some are elegant and classic, while others are vibrant and vivacious. The term “still” life seems to be a misnomer because she appears to capture an instant, split-second scene within an intricate storyline that is traveling with dynamic energy within these paintings.
Her artistic media encompass a broad range; working in oils, acrylics, watercolor, pastels, graphite, print-making, digital art, collage and mixed media on paper, and metalwork depending on her project and mood. In her enviable Pennsylvania studio, that she built in 2016, she has separate stations so that she is able to move from one medium to another with ease. It is an Aladdin’s cave of art, both her own, as well as other artists, art supplies and equipment.
Karen Gentile has always been an artist. Encouraged by an artistic Italian father and a supportive Irish/Germanic mother, she remembers creating art as a small child with her own table for working with clay and drawings. Her youth was full of well-known art schools, which eventually led to her becoming a professor at FIT, where she graduated. She taught traditional and experimental painting and drawing techniques for design, as well as digital graphic design software in the Art & Design department and chairing the Texture Surface Design department.
Her mixed media, digital, and collage works in particular, show off her willingness to work with experimental techniques. Many are bold and colorful, allowing juxtapositions of styles and ideas.
Inspiration for her next work is intuitively driven, drawing on her extensive world travels, and her life both in the heart of New York City and the wilds of Pennsylvania. Her whole life of creating, studying and teaching art, in art institutions, surrounded by many artist friends, and her husband, Richard Pitts, to whom she has been married for 35 years, has given her a tremendous wealth of artistic experience and knowledge. It is a deep database that fuels her own very personal and individual styles and allows her to compose her next piece. She does wonder each time if she has another standout piece within her, hoping that she never loses that creative enthusiasm allowing her to continue to develop her art.
“I am driven to paint. I love painting. It is meaningful, and when people appreciate my art, it keeps me going.”
She admits that not every piece is necessarily appreciated, and over the years she has painted over a lot of her work, which she now sometimes regrets, although she knows that she learnt a lot. Today, when a piece is not developing as she would like, she takes a break, working on other projects, giving herself time to adjust her connection with the work, often resulting in an entirely different piece.
“I need to live to be at least 100 years old to get to where I want to go. I’ve painted all my life and yet I feel as if I’ve only just scratched the surface; I’ve only just started.”
Karen Gentile is a vastly skilled, hardworking artist with a passion for the arts that is infectious. She has a wonderful sense of humor and a great love for life. It all finds its way into her artwork, whether they be paintings, collage, digital work, or metal work. Her work is very personal. Each new piece is her emotional reaction to a new experience or thought, each piece a surprise. Each piece is a gift to the viewer who takes the time to look and replenish their soul. G&S