Kara Joslyn, a Panorama of Values

Kara Joslyn in her Oakland Studio

I visited Kara Joslyn in her Oakland Studio on Telegraph last week and we talked about her inclusion in THIS INVENTED EARTH, the next show at Swee(t)Art Drawing Gallery. Kara’s technically gorgeous drawings are going to complement the idea of the show beautifully. She creates these subtle, seismic environments that exist underground but also beneath the skin; Habitats cooperating with ecologies that suggest prismatic realities where tonal value supplants color.

Kara Joslyn

Obi: How do you come up with your imagery? The nature of your line is seismic, almost musical, is there something to that?

Kara: I began this series of more landscape oriented drawings when I was doing a residency in Humboldt for a month. I looked at the view a lot since we were in a very rural area. I remember seeing the summer equinox at sunset. Always living in cities, I was totally stunned by the the panoramic view of a sky with the moon rising and the sun setting simultaneously – very inspiring. Nature is very wiggly itself – and I am very attracted to texture, pattern and rhythm. Lots of books and media related to music get into my work. Art Deco set designs, films, old glam and new wave magazines and album covers. I also look at indoor plant-scaping books a lot cuz I steal them from my B.F. who is a horticulturalist. I’m interested in merging concepts like inside and outside, sketching and design. 

Kara Joslyn Drawing Table

Obi: Do your pieces have titles? I almost see them as different places? Like your underground homes. How do you come up with the titles?
Kara:Yes, all the pieces have titles. Some are references to the source material – the one you mentioned, “Subterranean House” was taken from an old 70’s book of solar houses. A lot of the images are combinations of two ideas or scenes – for example, the drawing titled “Space Station Equinox” is me literally drawing from the T.V. channel that shows footage of earth from the International space station, as well as the view of the equinox sky from the deck in the country. Space from earth and earth from space. The newer ones have been more psychological spaces – all views of epic skies from inside modern dwellings, and the titles come more intuitively. 

Kara Joslyn Studio Visit

 Obi: Is drawing a natural mode of art for you? Did you feel restrained at all in this process?

Kara: Actually, drawing has been an extremely freeing process for me as an artist. Last year, I was doing this series of vase paintings, and I was struggling with this one painting and just sort of got stuck. It was weird. I started revisiting older influences because I felt so lost, and I ended up looking at a lot of crass art, old surrealist painting and books, and Nick Blinko, as well as witchy stuff I was into as a teen. It was good to get back to my roots after graduating from CCA with information overload. My pals, artists Travis Wyche and Billy Sprague also helped a lot – both collage and drawing based artists, I was totally enabled by seeing their processes. I started drawing from those influences, especially Blinko, repeating circles and shading marks until they became forms. 
It enabled me to get out of my head and draw more automatically. Over time I developed a system for making my drawings, plotting the composition out on tracing paper and then transferring it onto painted paper and filling in the details.  
Drawing is a very direct form of mark-making. It’s also totally primordial and cave-man-core! Love it.

Kara Joslyn Drawing


  1. awesome progression into the new work Kara!
    keep a rockin it baby…

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