“In 1968, Jefferson Airplane released an album called Crown of Creation. In my many years of gazing in wonder at the artwork created by Karen Burton, I have never been more enthralled than when I first saw this watercolor, which, to me, invoked that descriptive phrase. I named it that immediately upon first glance because it created a visual record of the artist’s creative thinking and evolutionary process.
I’m left-handed and enjoyed thinking I could follow her creative expressionism in a counter-clockwise and perhaps counter-intuitive direction. There’s a wonderful circular feel to the piece, with allusions to beginnings, growth, life and death, and even heaven, in an arcing halo of amorphisms that grow and evolve into floral archetypes, invoking dawn, daylight and growth, evening and rest, before beginning the cycle anew.
Starting from bottom right, I see clouds of wispy color that seem to grow from mushroom-like appendages into a subsurface lily pad – a jumping off point for the artist, revealing a flowing, flaxen-haired angel that literally casts out ever-evolving images of colorful flowers – first announced by a burst of yellow (jonquils or perhaps tulips) cupped by a pale green hand that implies a new beginning.
As a bird takes flight from her outstretched wrist, the colors change as our eyes spill down the left side of the work, invoking dreamy roses or perhaps pink camellias, which harken back to my grandmother’s garden in which I used to play as a boy. The pastels then explode into splashes of pink and purple, fully opened and shining in their fair display of the day. Big, bright, and beautiful in their boldness, these fully formed images indicate the direction forward the artist chooses the flow to follow.
And then, almost as an afterthought, after the pink parade has concluded, a final connective green shadow landing pad pulls the eye toward an eventual reconnection with the creative process, languidly, as in the cool of the evening, represented by the only deep greens and blues found in the piece, into an invocation of night, where upon the circular process begins again.
The artist unintentionally has demonstrated her creative bending and shaping of color into idealized versions of flora that she ultimately decides to bring into focus, allowing us to share her mind’s eye and how unconsciously she works towards her goal of uniquely personal art that reflects not only what she sees, but how it and the process makes her feel. It is that raw display of internal combustion and the reflective outpouring of emotion that adorns the Crown of Creation with its depth and soul.
I treasure seeing this creative exercise in play and its fruition on display, and when I look at it hanging on my office wall, as I invariably do every single day, I am reminded of how precious and valuable it is to be able to do that, to create that, out of the nothingness that is our everyday world.
This is truly a ‘crowning’ achievement, a view into the artist’s mind, body, and creative soul, and one that I will always keep in my heart. When I see her art, I see the artist as well, and realize how beautiful they both are to me.”
– Jim Burton (full disclosure: husband of the artist)
FROM THE ARTIST:
“This painting was sitting on my trash pile and my husband asked me to frame it for his office. I don’t remember making it – it was just “messing around.” He “sees” so many things in it and created an elaborate philosophical story from the brushstrokes. He calls it “Crown of Creation.” You never can anticipate how and when your art will resonate with someone. Thanks, dear!”