Shifting Focus: Oils & Cybernetics

I’m excited to say I am working on two new oil paintings. It’s been… about 6 whole years since I’ve done a large-scale oil painting. It’s because we have our new studio space in our apartment, which is better equip for ventilating the fumes, the scale, and capturing splatter. I don’t have any pictures of our old “studio” online, but it was essentially a tiny corner next to our bed. So. Much. Improvement. In all aspects of my life… everything is just much better.


The past year or more, my focus was to create some more commercial work. Commercial in the sense of being more sell-able, more appealing to a general public… as images about sexuality, nudes, or overtones of suicide don’t frequently end-up as wall art. So I have some flowers, some plants, some urban landscapes, and I will keep doing these as I found a way to make them enjoyable for me (I was really adverse to doing work like this because there was just no way I could connect with it), but now…I would like to also work my way back to subjects and themes I care about while still being able to make neat greeting cards.

After a long chat with my dear art & film friend Jessica, I came to many conclusions: I’m bored with what I draw & paint to the point that I see and feel nothing when I sit at a blank paper or canvas; I’m tired of censoring my work subconsciously because I know who is looking at it; and the way I present my work is not working for me.

So as a way to regain my sense of direction, I am starting this oil painting (currently in the state of sketches below) because it stirred within me the feelings of attraction, pain, and a sobering calm. It may be because of my surgery that I find the subjects of extreme body modification we’ll be capable of in the future interesting….or it might be just because of the video games I play; either are a perfectly acceptable reason to explore these images.


As I consider the second and third issue further, here is the current stage of the second painting. I am deciding on the lighting and the palette. The lighting and palette should evoke the same emotions I experience thinking about this scene. One the focus points is how heavy the arms feel and the strained shoulders; like waking up and not feeling rested.


Interesting enough, the oil painting above of autumn trees and birds is more of my genre. It’s not really a dark painting, yet it has that duality of being somewhere in between with the background texture. The background was actually created by my partner, Justin; it’s a painting he started, painted over several times, got mad at, and abandoned. I saw potential in it, so I asked him if I could use it. So I guess, you can say it’s an accidental collaboration.

Finally, here’s another artwork I have not got around to posting that fits in well and I’ve been kicking myself to post. It’s an observational watercolour of sunflowers I grew on my balcony. I didn’t want to paint them at their prime only, instead at different stages: new flowers opening, blooming flowers, closing, and withering. The colours are gentle and light, yet the tone of the picture changes as it progresses down. I guess what I like creating is work that’s all-encompassing. (Links to prints and such below.)

Shifting Focus: Oils & Cybernetics by Karolina Szablewska
12″x18″ watercolour on 140lb Fabriano paper. Sunflowers from a balcony garden, flowering late in September. ~2016

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