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Karen has been commissioned to sculpt Saint Francis and Saint Clare. 

Holy Family Video

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Heading to Loveland

After months of preparation, the van is loaded and I’m on my way to the Loveland Sculpture Invitational! This invitational is the largest sculpture show in the country, and I’ll have a booth with thirteen of my sculptures on display. These events aren't just about selling art. It's a great opportunity for networking with other artists as well as collectors, and I am really excited. 

An important part of preparing for an exhibition is to set up a “mock booth” in my studio before I leave. My sign, labels, and table cloths will be added at the show.

I’ll be making the drive from Orange County to Loveland over three days, and I’m looking forward to the solitude and rest. I'll also be listening to "The Civilization of Renaissance Italy" by Jacob Burckhardt on Audible.


When Art is Heavy: Elevating Large Sculptures

Large Sculpture LiftWhen Art is Heavy: Elevating Large Sculptures
This year I’m doing a ¾-life-size enlargement of my “Holy Family” for a church in Kentucky. Smaller sculptures, or maquettes, are small enough to stand on a rotating pedestal, which I can adjust to a comfortable height for sculpting. However, sculpting a figure that is 54 inches tall is a different matter.

The challenge with a larger figure is finding a way to adjust the elevation of the sculpture as I sculpt so that I can avoid over-reaching or bending over. These large sculptures require hundreds of pounds of clay and take months to produce, so you can imagine the strain that bending down would inflict!

I looked for such a platform with some kind of lift but didn’t see anything that exactly suited my needs. I was left to design something from scratch and I thought the idea might be useful to other artists in the same predicament.

To start with, I purchased a Uline Hydraulic Lift Cart. Not cheap, but they are high quality, and can be safely operated with ease.

Next, I built a wood table with the legs far enough apart and tall enough for the lift cart to slide underneath (see photo). I made sure to install casters on the bottom of the table legs so that I could easily roll the table around the studio without the lift. (Remember, these tables will soon be loaded with heavy clay.) I also used a step stool and a scaffold with locking casters to work on the upper parts of the sculptures. As I work on the figures for this “Holy Family” sculpture, I can transfer the lift cart to each table as needed, and I’m saved the physical strain of bending over.

If you have questions or suggestions about this design, I'd love to read your comments.


When Creativity Runs Dry

Karen Schmidt sculpting Joseph in Holy Family sculptureNo matter how skilled an artist is, there are times when the source of creativity is dry. I know that during hectic seasons of life or demanding deadlines in the studio, the joy of creating art goes away and I struggle to find inspiration.

I believe that the correlation between busyness and lack of creativity is no accident. For artists, the source of inspiration comes from a place deep within the soul, and this place must be nurtured. If we don’t take time for rest, contemplation, prayer and beauty, we become spiritually empty.

Creativity isn’t a switch we can turn on or off. If you are facing a deadline or your life is crowded with commitments, you’ll be tempted (as I have been) to rush the creative process. But it cannot be rushed. Force yourself to slow down, retreat, and protect the time you’ve set aside to create art.

In addition to making rest a daily exercise, you may consider taking a retreat for some extended time of renewal and inspiration. A dear friend is co-leading a retreat designed for this very purpose, for artists and non-artists alike. “Praying with Imagination: Igniting a Prayerful Response” is being held next month at Saint John’s University in Minnesota. As far as retreats go, this looks like a gem and I hope you consider it!


Thank You Artist Career Training

This month I have the privilege of being the featured artist in the online publication ArtMatters, which is published by the team at Artist Career Training, an organization that has significantly impacted my career as an artist. Aletta de Wal and her team of consultants understand the mind and heart of an artist, and come alongside their clients to help them identify their goals and passions and to give them the tools to get there. 

I'm honored to be featured in this way, and I had so much fun during the interview process. I highly recommend Artist Career Training to any artist who is looking to venture into new horizons in her career and personal growth as a professional. 


Art and Anxiety: A Lesson from Theater

Meredith Hinckley Schmidt playing Olivia in Twelfth NightMeredith Hinckley Schmidt as Olivia in "Twelfth Night"As my new paper sculpture series shows, anxiety has been an obstacle for me as an artist over the years–and I know it is an issue for other artists as well. What has helped me, among other things, is to talk to artists about how they deal with anxiety about their work.

This week I had the pleasure of seeing my daughter-in-law, Meredith Hinckley Schmidt, perform in Looseleaf Theatre Company’s production of Twelfth Night. As we debriefed the performance, she gave me an important insight about directing plays that spoke directly to my experience as a sculptor (she has had success as a director, actor, and educator).

She said that with theater, the director’s vision for the play–a cohesive production of her interpretation–is not realized until it is performed for an audience.  This means that the director is facing a work of art that is incomplete, in process, and disjointed until the very last minute. 

When I enter the studio and see my work before it is finished, still weak in some areas and not yet expressing what I want it to say, it can shake my confidence as an artist. But I remember that art takes time, and that I must have faith in the process.