Artist Karen Deans had just finished a large, commissioned figurative painting when she decided she needed a background change. The Bethesda-based muralist and fine artist picked up a wooden block she’d brought back to her studio from an art-store shopping spree.
She didn’t know it at the time, but it was a career change waiting to happen. “I dropped the figure and went with pattern, texture and color. It was an evolution, pulling me back to love of these three things,” she says. The oil paint doodles she made on the wooden block thrilled her and, for a year now, have consumed her artistically.
The patterns, textures and colors she paints on the twice-sanded and stained tiles (compressed wood blocks up to two feet square) are inspired by a variety of designs that Deans stumbles upon in her everyday life. “Vintage textiles, the way the sun plays off the wall, I love the color of the blue on the blue.” From geometrics to flowers to Asian motifs, Deans plays with color and shape on each unique tile.
The Wooden Tiles have become so popular that Deans has launched a line of stationery based on their designs. Sold in attractive Chinese red and chartreuse green silk boxes, the cards come in sampler packs of 10 for $30 or personalized for $35. She also recently introduced limited-edition prints mounted on wooden tiles and will be showing her artwork at the Philadelphia Buyers Market of American Craft July 22 to 24.
Original, six-by-six-inch hand-painted tiles are $125 each, while the limited editions range from $48 to $68 each. Deans’s work can be found at Red Orchard and Vivi in Bethesda and at Eight Hands Round in Alexandria.
For more information, visit Deans’s Web site at www.woodentile.com.