Playfulness, movement, and color are overarching themes in Karyn Drum's landscapes - from undulating trees that seem to hula hoop the vines swirling all around to wildly vivid southwestern skies. Drum's bright colors convey her desert southwest childhood where her intense relationship with nature was instilled by fabulous adventurous outdoorsy parents. Camping, hiking, sailing, fishing, trail riding were regular weekend activities as well as visiting State and National Parks whenever possible. Additionally, although most of Drum’s childhood was spent in the desert southwest, most Summers included a yearly drive across the country to visit her parents' home in the mountains of North Carolina with its amazing forests and rivers and green, and a family week on the Atlantic Ocean with big sky. When asked how early she knew she wanted to be an artist, she replies, "It was always there, a part of me, I don't remember ever a beginning." Drum's mother recalls Karyn's love for art making as early as 2 years old, perhaps because she was born in Italy where her Officer father was stationed at the time, sight seeing art from a stroller eye view that her world became so visual. Then reinforced by hours traveling in the back of a station wagon, looking out the window as the landscape changed whirling past, and sky watching during cloud season, the storms and desert monsoons that gallop across the vast openness. A look of reverence comes to her eyes as she speaks of star gazing and the milky way in New Mexico.
Near the end of her Senior year at Tech, a poster appeared on the wall outside the painting studio: "Located 65 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, East Carolina University's MFA program in painting..." made her decision for graduate school easy; to be close to family and the Ocean, "no brainer!" she says. Faced with the cost of out of state tuition however, Drum was only able to take one painting class, but she was prolific. She was awarded the Special Talent Award which included a Teaching Assistantship and a tuition waiver. Many shows and awards followed including a one person show, Birdwords, featuring geologic formation symbols with osciligraphs of bird calls superimposed with names such as, "Igneous Intrusion with Three Toed Woodpecker" exhibited at the NCMA.
After graduate school Drum taught Basic Design at UT El Paso. When Summer classes did not fill she decided to take the opportunity to visit her parents who were now living in Germany. While there she found a job as a graphic artist and decided to stay in Europe instead of returning to her teaching position in the states. Drum worked, traveled and painted for the next 2 ˝ years. A teaching position opening at Humboldt State caught her eye, and her dream of living in the redwoods brought her to northern California. Although she did not get the position, she remained in the bay area returning to work as a graphic artist. She soon moved to more affordable Oregon to live in the rivers and trees. She continued to paint, exhibit, and was a founding member of The Artback, a group of artists that continue to get together each Summer to paint a mural in the small town of Estacada to this day. She also wrote and illustrated a children’s book, calling it a "vegetable western," Broccoli Bob and the Organic Outlaws, humorously highlighting the struggle to raise her children organically.
Love for the swamp and kayaking brought Drum back to eastern North Carolina and is the inspiration behind her large vibrant swamp paintings. Drum calls the swamp her "Giverny" after Monet's garden; but she also calls Tucumcari Mountain (in her childhood home in New Mexico) her Pedernal (which Georgia O'Keeffe painted multiple times) as Drum recently began a southwest series featuring the Mountain after a Summer visit. Prolific, working on several paintings at once, Drum now paints full time in eastern New Mexico where she continues to paint the Mesalands.
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All images are © Karyn Drum