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    Karen Boone, 2015 Kentucky Derby Festival Artist, Captures Louisville’s Energy
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    The 2015 Kentucky Derby Festival Artist, Karen Boone, is no stranger to acting as an ambassador for the Festival, for Louisville, and for Kentucky. Before winning this year’s Kentucky Derby Festival poster design contest, she had already won twice, in 1996 and 1999.

    When the official poster design is presented at Festival Unveiled, February 26, at The Ice House, attendees will get to see the 2015 product lines and collectibles, and bid in a silent auction of creatively framed posters. The most collectible item, says Boone, is probably the Limited Edition of 500 prints, signed and numbered. Get your tickets early, recommends Boone, because the event will probably sell out.

    Boone actually created two designs for the Festival. “The official design that will be unveiled there is the painting. I also did a graphical representation, which you may have seen in the press already. The two are very distinct, but one is a translation of the other. I thought it would be fun to take a traditional painted design and make it edgy and modern looking. They liked it.”

    Both designs will appear on wearables, glassware and other Festival merchandise, and “different people will be drawn to each one.”

    As the owner of Karen Boone Design, here in Louisville, the artist is very comfortable with digital graphic design, as she showed in one of the two winning designs. After working 12-hour days for her clients, she makes time for her painting, which currently involves working with all natural materials. In fact, Boone says one reason that the Festival may have been especially interested in her is because her focus on keeping a low footprint in all aspects of her lifestyle, including her artwork, aligns with the Festival’s Go Green! initiative. “It’s important to them and it’s important to me. It’s a simple message, but the Kentucky Derby Festival wants to be more socially conscious,” she says.

    For the Festival poster design, Boone used organic oil paints, created by mixing real earth pigments with organic black walnut oil. The posters are printed on Forest Stewardship Council-approved papers with soy inks. “I was very pleased that they wanted to do that,” says Boone.

    The artist has been working with sustainable materials in her fine art for a few years and would like to see others do the same. “Artists should be leading on sustainable methods. We use formaldehyde, turpentine, we don’t think about the effects of that. I’ve traveled widely and, in other countries, there is a lot less waste and more consideration for the footprint. This is also part of my lifestyle. I am not preachy, but I try to lead by example. This is a choice we can make.”

    Boone is currently working on a series she is calling Wild Brushes. In addition to natural pigments and organic cotton canvases, she is exploring the use of natural items to create the patterns and textures. Instead of a traditional brush, she might use a pinecone, for instance. She plans to travel while she continues the series, to search out new materials from the mountains or the sea. “It opens me to new things. The path is giving me new ideas.”

    In addition to this series, which Boone may show both locally and in other markets, she enjoys working on commissioned projects.

    You will see Boone not only at the Festival Unveiled event to reveal her winning poster design, but at many other Kentucky Derby Festival events, as well. The Louisville-raised artist loves being part of the Kentucky Derby Festival and contributing to the community aspect.

    In all three of her winning poster designs, Boone says the work is geared toward Louisville and “always about energy. If I convey energy, I’ve captured the Festival.”

    Photos: Karen Boone


    Kachina Shaw's picture

    About Kachina Shaw

    A transplanted Hawkeye, I've now lived in Louisville longer than any other city. Can't live without: my husband and fur babies, coal-black coffee, peanut M&Ms, sunflowers, monthly vacations, books, walking paths, massage and a big purse.

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