Synergy of Expression: A Conversation with Karrie Ross

See also: “A Catalyst of Meaning: The Art of Karrie Ross.”

September 2014 Written by Jill Thayer, Ph.D. for ARTVOICES Magazine, Fall Issue

Karrie Ross_I am the Egg! Man #2

“I am the Egg! Man #2,” 2013, 30”x22”, Oil, watercolor, ink, acrylic on arches

“I paint with abandon, driven by a belief that centers around being connected through vibrational energy of the universe.”

Karrie Ross believes that everything has a frequency, a mechanism that stimulates response. There is a balance in her mixed-media process as she integrates pen and ink, watercolor, and water-based oil in various methodologies of her work. In one composition, she references a bird as a “dynamic,” element. She describes it as the unknown adding, “There is a question going on that you can only know when you put yourself into the work.”

Karrie grew up a Los Angeles native within the creative influences of the SoCal culture and the 1960s. She was introduced to balance and form in high school through advertising design and typography. Karrie is an artist, designer, problem solver, and creative explorer. Throughout her design career, she has created book covers, advertising promotions, branding, and more. Her artistic metaphorical representations, paintings, and drawings explore a variety of themes such as energy creation, science, participation, and impact as beginnings for her questions. Karrie’s paintings are included in commercial and residential spaces internationally.

On a warm summer day in LA, I stopped in on the artist who shared her thoughts on life and synergistic creativity.

Jill Thayer: What led you to becoming an artist?

Karrie Ross: An underlying need to question and to keep busy, as both my parents were initial influences. My mother was a florist who taught me the value of art-projects. My father, a carpenter/inventor, taught me to question. Their creative access filled my mind with a fascination for play and critical thinking.

JT: Your art-project-book, “Our Ever Changing World Through the Eyes of Artists: What are you saving from extinction?” looks at 36 Los Angeles artists. What was your take away from this compilation?

KR: Self-exploration and a better connection with the LA art community. I was looking for story—those “Aha” moments that happen in life. An interesting observation that showed up was that figurative artists wrote story, whereas abstract artists wrote statements. And people like me who do surreal, non-real abstract work combined both!

JT: The description reads, “Stories of life, passion, and unique perspectives about change.” What changes in your life brought you to where you are today?

KR: Two marriages, my son, normal insecurities, mental/physical/emotional angst, a fascination with energy, and an art career. I am an award-winning artist and author, certified life coach, Feng Shui practitioner, and energy balancer. I change moment-by-moment. My life is an illusion that I create, especially when I acknowledge having lived a fascinating 65-years. My “what is”… IS right now.

Change can be a simple “Aha” moment when I see a shape and say, “That’s IT!” Change is in the magic created within the mystery of living life. I change lives… mine, and those around me. Welcome the paradigm shifts.

JT: Change is a catalyst in your work, and art can be a catalyst for change in others. I find this true myself. Art is truth.

KR: And authentic.

JT: Authentic, it’s true depending on how it’s portrayed.

KR: Yes, even though one person might think it’s authentic, another might think it’s contrived, and once again, subjectivity.

JT: One may look at viewership and that dialog between the artist’s intent, viewer perception, and context of the work. Your artwork includes figurative and graphic elements in a unique illustrative style. Would you elaborate on these constructs?

KR: My artwork balances symbols and figures to ignite a viewer’s attention. A context is formed from what my subconscious needs me to expose so the art changes a perspective into a response. I have no idea what that is until the art is finished. Balanced. I start with a symbol or figure, but all the rest “just happens” when one is put next to another over and over again.

JT: As a graphic designer, you have cultivated an aesthetic that seems to have carried through in your paintings.

KR: It helped me get to where I feel it’s ok to leave 30% or more of the canvas white!

JT: Negative space can be a powerful design element.

KR: Balance within that open space; I’m an extreme asymmetrical.

“There is fun to be found in everything we do. So be sure to develop a pattern of creating conscious play that will stay with you always.”

JT: Describe your concept, “pattern of play.”

KR: I attribute “pattern of play” to my upbringing. Even though an activity was considered work, I was introduced to it in a way that I was playing while my parents worked. It’s very similar to meditation, Fourth Way, and concepts of Gurdjieff where the activity of doing something is not work. When we bring activity into play, the “precious now” becomes magical in how it changes the vibration of our focus and being.

JT: Tell me about your medium.

KR: I like water-base mediums, ink, and paper collage. They seem more alive to me. I like the chemistry, the push pull of flat to gloss, or metallic, and the kinetic properties of ink together create a wild and daring elegance.

JT: Elements of your work remind me of Cy Twombly’s doodles. Are they semiological?

KR: I admire Twombly, Calder, Klee, and Miro. The constructivism of Duchamp and Man Ray fascinated me. I’ve been in several shows about symbols. Everybody can relate to a symbol— marks, letterform, and shapes can move a perception bringing balance within to make a connection with our internal angst.

JT: Perhaps your art provides a way through the angst to get to the other side… Do you have a belief system or philosophy that informs your work?

KR: I do… Everything vibrates. Make it happen. Art creates a safe entry through the angst.

JT: Tell me about your multidisciplinary work as an artist, designer, and writer/publisher.

KR: I wouldn’t have it any other way, in how it all blends together. Happy is now.

JT: Karrie, it’s been a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for your time and contributions to the culture.

KR: Thank you.


ARTVOICES MAGAZINE – Fall 2014, “Synergy of Expression: A Conversation with Karrie Ross,” by Jill Thayer, Ph.D.
For more on the work of Karrie Ross, visit:
Jill Thayer, Ph.D. is an artist, educator, and curatorial archivist. She is Associate Professor of Art History for Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria, California; and online faculty at Santa Monica College in Art History: Global Visual Culture; Southern New Hampshire University in  Humanities/Art History and Marketing; and Post University in the MBA Marketing program for the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business. Jill is contributing writer for Artvoices Magazine, Los Angeles; and Artpulse Magazine, Miami. Her postdoctoral project, “In Their Own Words: Oral Histories of CGU Art,” featuring Professors Emeritus, Professors, and Alumni of Claremont Graduate University is included in Archives of American Art at The Smithsonian Institution.