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Fine Art

Through this website and blog it is my hope to offer news bits about current graphic design challenges (my own and others) as well as fine art news. To continue with the theme of my new book, "Graphic Design Exposed," this blog will expose the development of graphic design and fine art projects. From time to time I will invite guests to blog here in order to keep the news and views fresh and informative.
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CERF+ publishes article about Keepsake Painting Suite of Legacy my tool collection

On 20, Jul 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I am honored that CERF+, an organization that helps artists in sustaining their careers, published an article I wrote about depicting legacy tools in my work. The legacy tools are a collection of woodworking tools that have been handed down through several generations of my family. To me, each tool is a work of art and holds great purpose in the world. PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE HERE.

In truth the Keepsake tools about which the article are written represent a small selection of the broader Keepsake Suite of paintings. Included in the Keepsake Suite are depictions of my generations old utilitarian kitchen items and an old diaper pail from my babyhood. When I was honored with an Artist in Residence position at the Herbert Hoover National Historic site, I not only painted the beautiful prairie landscape of Iowa, but chose to paint Hoover’s mother’s chair in the birthplace cottage, objects inside of Herbert Hoover’s childhood Quaker school house and lanterns and tools in Hoover’s father, Jesse’s blacksmith shop. I’ve been commissioned by others to paint their treasured Keepsake tools. One of the most memorable (and challenging paintings) was of dental tools used by a dentist who traveled on mission trips to offer free dental services to underserved people. To see more Keepsake Paintings please visit

Keepsake Woodworking Legacy Tools

On 01, Apr 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

My painting suite, the Keepsake Series, grew from my love of utilitarian objects. I am a maker and I come from a family of makers. One of us is always painting, potting, woodworking, tailoring, machining metal, and so on. 

Tools and their ability to create fascinate me. There is a great beauty in the humble tools depicted in my paintings. These items have served generations and I feel privileged to have them close by and to be able to depict them in my paintings. 

Painting: Saws from the Keepsake Series

Here is the story about a legacy collection of wood working tools moving on to a fifth generation. 

Nathan Katz arrived in the United States by way of Ellis Island sometime during the early 1900’s.  For the remainder of his life he shared a home with wife, Yetta, his daughter, Bessie, son-in-law, Joseph and grandchildren, Hannah and Martin in Red Bank, New Jersey. He worked as a carpenter, building, refinishing and repairing furniture. I never knew Nathan, but he left a storied legacy and a collection of woodworking tools that have been passed down for generations. Martin, my father, Nathan’s only grandson, fondly told me tales about growing up in the same house with Nathan and Yetta. Nathan was quick to anger, but quick to forgive. On Friday evenings he would soak in the bathtub and then offer up his calloused hands for my father to remove splinters from the week’s work.

Bessie and Joseph had little use for the tools that were stored in their basement after Nathan passed away. They stayed boxed up in an old wooden cabinet. When Joseph, passed away, my father, inherited Nathan’s large collection of wood working tools. Many of the tools occupied a place of honor over Martin’s workbench, mounted on a pegboard replete with black marker outlines that insured that each item would be replaced in the correct location.

Although his three daughters, Naomi, Nan, and I, expressed an interest in learning to use the tools, he put us off… we think he may have been hoping for a son. He finally permitted his youngest daughter, Naomi, to watch him working on projects.

–Photo: cobbler’s chair that Nathan refurbished

Using the tools was of such great interest to me that I enrolled in technical drawing classes in high school (I had to get special recommendations from my guidance counselor and art teacher because girls were not permitted in these classes). As a freshman art student at Syracuse University, I was eligible to apply to the Syracuse University Industrial Design program (SUID). My great attraction to the Industrial (product) Design program was its ready access to a woodworking and metal shop. The shops were used to fabricate mock-ups of our product designs. One way or another, I was determined to become a skilled designer and fabricator. During the years I spent studying at SUID, I accumulated my own collection of hand tools. Despite his reluctance to allow me access to his prized tool collection, my father was proud of my accomplishments as an industrial designer.

While writing this article, I asked my sisters, Nan and Naomi, if they had the same attraction to the tool collection that I felt.

Naomi responded, “As a child I would always see my father using multiple tools for projects around the house. He often included me as an observer, but I never had the chance to actually use the tools. 

Then, once I reached higher grades in school and they offered “shop” as a class, it was never offered to the girls, especially if they were planning to go to college. I look back now and wish that I could have learned all of those skills when I was younger. Now, I dream of being a carpenter’s apprentice!!!”

-PHOTO: 2018 Sister, Naomi fixing a drawer in her basement workshop.

My sister, Nan, had a deep attraction to another piece of equipment in our basement. We had an old White brand factory sewing machine from our mother’s parents, who owned a dress manufacturing company. She, too, needed to acquire special permission from the school district to take sewing in high school, because it was not part of the college bound curriculum. Nan became a skilled tailor, published two books on altering and mending garments and started her own specialty clothing company. She currently designs and creates almost all of her work garments. Nan feels that everyone (even all of those college bound girls who were not allowed to take home ec classes in high school) should learn basic mending skills and intends to teach them!  

A fews years after I married an apartment dwelling city boy, and we purchased a house. My trousseau, which included an ample collection of tools that could be used to fix up the house, enhanced our wedded bliss. We both learned skills to assist with home repair.

Photo: Painting of Planes

My father passed away in May 1993. The house where we grew up was sold and Naomi and I divided up the tools. Some of the tools are lovingly displayed, hung on my studio wall. As I write this essay, my husband is using several tools in the very next room to replace a piece of damaged drywall.

Since 1993, I’ve realized that the objects I treasure most are those utilitarian items that bear the patina of years of use. Each one of the items in my collection served a purpose and in many cases, was part of an ongoing creative endeavor. 

I am so proud that my son Joel is carrying on the family tradition as a maker.  He is a skilled woodworker, machinist, designer, and fabricator. The treasured tools are slowly making their way into Joel’s toolbox. 

I asked Joel, a skilled toolmaker and wood working craftsman about his feeling towards the keepsake tools.

Joel’s Story:

“I grew up in a world of paintings on the wall of our house, and assumed this was normal, only to learn that not everybody’s mother is an accomplished artist. The paintings I was most drawn to from a young age were the “Keepsake” series, which includes all of my great-great grandfather’s tools. This foreshadowed a great life-long attraction to the warm tones of wood and metal patina. 

As a youth I played many sports, but the only one at which I excelled was sailing. I began to volunteer every morning at a summer sailing camp, where I learned to fix 30+ year old fiberglass boats, wooden daggerboards & rudders, torn sails, and broken spars. This fixation on handwork lay dormant until after college when a new roommate, Michael, engaged me in the pastime of fine woodworking. 

Michael had been scavenging quality hardwood shipping pallets from his PhD laboratory and hoarding the de-nailed boards underneath his bed. He also built a small hand tool woodworking shop in a utility closet. I invited Michael to start woodworking next to me in my welding and metal shop. Eventually Michael dragged his grandfather’s wood lathe out of a garage in Pittsburgh down to our shop in Florida. After learning to wood-turn, I had fully caught the woodworking bug again. 

Fueled by an endless supply of urban lumber from a tree service run by our other best friend, Steven, we accelerated forward with our desire to run a real woodshop. I soon began collecting old heavy-duty woodworking machines and inviting other young makers with a passion for old machinery to join our shop. 

Joel and me discussing one of the legacy tools, a wood plane.

As a machinist, I specialize in high precision metal work. This skill is useful for making furniture and sculpture, and refurbishing old machinery. Along with woodturning and furniture making, I have also constructed large festival art installations. For one piece, I machined a dodecahedron out of steel tubing. The sculpture levitates off the ground, drives around, and sets itself back down. It can house about 8 people comfortably. The whole structure folds up to fit inside my car.

PHOTO:  Joel’s creation, dodecahedron

I believe that the ability to make is programmed into our DNA, yet it is not taught or fostered in schools with college geared curriculum. It is a central part of our evolution as humans. It is obvious now to me that it runs in my blood, but that took years for me to realize.

As such, I am now focused on starting a program for young people to learn about fabrication, design, and classical technology such as: woodwork, welding, blacksmithing, machining, silversmithing, and textiles.” 

PHOTO: Chess board/cutting board wedding gift made by Joel

Mental Health for Creatives and Others

On 05, Mar 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

In October 2018 I had the pleasure of immersing myself in learning about good mental health habits because, as a graphic designer, I worked with Palm Health Foundation on Train the Brain, their community initiative for brain health. I came to understand that healthy habits and training canpositively effect our brain health.

Now that 2019 is well underway, many of us are thinking about adjustments we can make to our daily routines to help be us be healthier physically and mentally. Artists, especially, should consider being proactive about healthy habits. Contrary to popular belief, artists do not have high rates of mental illness compared to the general population. On the other hand, creatives tend to have more unconventional life experiences and heightened sensitivities. 

One contributing factor to these heightened sensitivities is that visual and performing artists tend to take on projects requiring unconventional schedules, rather than working the typical nine-to-five job. Depending on the location and the demands of their work, many variables exist as creatives move from project to project. Some such variables, inconsistent income, for example, can be especially unnerving. Furthermore, the artist’s emotional experience generally changes as his or her project unfolds. Certain stages may evoke feelings of exhilaration and others disappointment. Working on location can isolate the artist from family and friends. Aside from these sources of stress, simply eating and getting enough rest can become a challenge. Failure to adequately meet such fundamental needs poses a threat to one’s emotional balance and general sense of well-being. When a person makes maintaining good physical and mental health a priority, the stability in his or her career and personal life increases.

More information about brain health can be found at

Thank you to The Rickie Report, which published an article by me on this topic. It contains some additional information and helpful links.

Participation in Stickwork Build at Mounts Botanical Garden

On 05, Feb 2019 | One Comment | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I was already a fan of Patrick Doherty’s world famous Stickwork when Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach, FL commissioned him to create a work of art. It was an honor to be included as one of the many volunteers who worked with Patrick and his son, Sam to create the monumental stick work that will be on display at Mounts.  The build took about three weeks. Volunteers worked with the Dohertys 6 days a week. The process began with willow trunk supports sticking out of the ground and ended with beautiful curvilinear architecture.

Me inside one of the Stickwork structures

The work is considered temporal and will age as the Florida weather works its magic. On my recent visit to see the completed stick work, I saw that some of the willow branches were sprouting leaves. As I walked through the sculpture I was greeted with a wonderful fresh scent of willow.

Early morning. Ready to begin work with Patrick Doherty and son, Sam

YogaPainter exhibits at 2019 Continuum in Downtown West Palm Beach

On 08, Jan 2019 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

The 2019 Continuum Pop-up Art Exhibit runs from January 10 -19, 2019. This year it is located at 426 Clematis Street, WPB, FL. Please visit to see my 5 foot tall YogaPainter piece, EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA REFLECT. Contact me, if you’d like me to meet you at the gallery. The show contains about 8+ terrific pieces of art by Florida. #WPBARTS #CONTINUUM

Kenny and Buddy and Now Kenny and Debby

On 05, Jun 2018 | No Comments | In Blog, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

When Kenny was about 11 years old, I was commissioned by his parents to paint his portrait. We decided to include Kenny’s beloved cat, Buddy, in the painting.

Now, 20 years later, I have once again painted Kenny and his beloved…this time, his soon-to-be wife, Debby. I am so happy for Debby and Kenny and thrilled to be included in their celebration at the end of June.

Imperial Frame Gallery helped me select a pale cream-colored silk mat, simple, contemporary frame and best of all…museum-quality plexiglas so that the piece could be shipped to Philadelphia without breaking, while maintaining the clearest possible view with anti-glare and UV protection.  In my excitement to ship the wedding gift, I neglected to take a photo of the framed piece, but Kenny and Debby were kind enough to send me one (see below). Thanks!

Upon receiving the artwork, Kenny wrote, “Thank you so much for the portrait – we love it! Definitely one of our favorite gifts.”


Thought provoking post hiatus

On 06, Jun 2017 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I have been on hiatus from posting on Facebook and my and sites. Even though, in my professional life as a graphic designer, I do plenty of posting for others, I’ve taken some time from personal posting. It’s been a time of learning, observing and contemplating. Starting the posting break was not intentional. In retrospect, I believe that it has been a healthy experience.

Having the time off to be quietly observant and learn has been a pleasurable luxury. During April and part of May I visited Israel and Prague and read several books.

Me, photographed with the Franz Kafka memorial sculpture

In Israel, I spent time enjoying my family and then traveled to Prague with them. There I learned more about Alphonse Mucha and Franz Kafka. I spent time in the Jewish quarter and learned that the well-preserved artifacts from synagogues throughout Europe were in Prague because Hitler had planned to use the city as a site for his Museum of an Extinct Race. The quarter is located where the Jewish ghetto was located beginning during the 13th century.

A memorial to the writer, Franz Kafka, by artist, Jaroslav Róna stands near hisbirthplace, next to the beautifully decorated Spanish Synagogue. Franz Kafka was born and lived in the Josefov section of Prague for most of his life. It is amazing how many layers of history of different religious and ethnic groups of people exist in Prague. Throughout my visit, I was treated to many fantastical folklore stories based thinly on “real” history of some of these groups of people.

I was especially interested in seeing a progression of commercial work by Mucha because, like me, he worked as both a graphic artist and fine artist. The Art Gallery of Prague had a wonderful retrospective of his work that included the poster of Sara Bernhardt, starring in Gismonda, that brought him his first taste of fame, as well as other commercial and fine art pieces, such as his Monaco Monte Carlo poster.


Congrats to Aidan for Best in Show

On 24, Feb 2017 | No Comments | In Blog, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I’d like to congratulate my talented student, Aidan Skolnick for winning a Best in Show ribbon at this year’s ArtiGras festival in Jupiter, Florida. Aidan has been coming to my studio for just under two years for art lessons. I had the joy of watching this wonderful, mixed-media, piece depicting acrobats unfold over a three week period. Aidan is currently working on a piece inspired by Antoni Gaudí’s nature forms.

Welcome to YogaPainter

On 10, Nov 2016 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

yogapainter-home-screensmblgMany of you know me personally, or through my art and design work. Yoga has been an integral part of my life since November 2010. I have only recently brought these two passions together, in a personal passion project of mine.

I’d like to introduce you to, my online store, your source for yoga artworks and gifts.

My first GIVEAWAY!

From time to time I’ll be extending special offers to newsletter subscribers and Facebook fans. Please SUBSCRIBE to the YogaPainter newsletter, than visit YogaPainter on Facebook to find out how you can win a package of note cards or a Yoga Expressions 13″ x 19″ scroll.

At YogaPainter you can order Yoga Portraits, Yoga Expressions and note cards.

Yoga Portraits are hand painted original portraits on artist canvas. Great care is taken not only to capture likeness, but also to express the light within every painting subject.

Yoga Expressions are digital paintings. Instead of using a brush directly on canvas, I draw and paint with a digital tablet and stylus. The artworks are printed with high quality archival inks on artist canvas. No two are exactly the same. Each is customized for you, either digitally, or by hand and paint brush.

Both the Yoga Portraits and Yoga Expressions are sent to you ready-to-hang, Asian scroll style. They have wood dowelsupports along the top and bottom edges and hang from a cord. If you prefer to have the an alternative hanging method, please let me know and we’ll make every effort to accommodate you.Pin It

Yoga painter and more

On 22, Oct 2016 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I’ve been on an unintentional hiatus from this blog since the summer when I had a solo show at Art on Park in Lake Park, Florida. I’ve been very busy working on so many new and fulfilling projects. In addition to wonderful graphic design clients with whom I have the pleasure of working regularly, and a trip to Europe, my yoga based artwork has been keeping me busy (and joyful).  I am excited, too, that one of my yoga artwork paintings, SG Child Pose, was accepted into a show at the Art Gallery of Viera in Melbourne, Florida.


SG- Child Pose, acrylic on canvas, 29″ x 25″

In the early part of 2017, I plan to open an online store for yoga artworks and gifts.  Check back here for that big announcement towards the end of 2016.

Please visit my Facebook page to vote for your top choice of a card design chosen from the three designs.  Voting will end at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, October 26 when the decision will be made. The winner card design will be printed and delivered to me about 10 days later.

 If you are interested in purchasing a pack of 6 cards for $10, please contact me directly via phone 561-622-4884 or email

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