standstill. thoughts + a new collection

A few weeks ago, I was stuck in traffic. Things were at a standstill. As I said this word over in my mind, I thought about it for a moment.

It's a word that has a slightly negative feel, but if you put some space in the middle, there's a transformation. There's suddenly room to breathe.
Stand still. 

We all know those moments that stop us in our tracks. The beautiful and the challenging. Sometimes while painting, what I envision is not translating onto the canvas. In that moment, I can't see my way forward, so I just need to wait. I usually step back and look at the painting, trying to feel my way back in. It may not happen quickly, but if I stand still long enough, there's always an opening. The stillness allows movement and there's space for the the unexpected to bring it alive. 

Standstill is a collection about movement & the stillness that exists inside. 

. . .

I'm so happy to share this new collection with you. Please reach out with any questions, thoughts, or feedback. I love hearing from you. 

Karina Bania
Spring Playlist

I love music and have been making mix tapes for decades. I compile a playlist and listen on repeat, sometimes for months. While painting a series, I usually make a new mix which I listen to almost exclusively while working on those paintings. I like the idea that the music ties them together.  

This is my spring mix, hope you like it. 

Listen on Spotify
Listen on Soundcloud

*Note: One of my favorite tracks, the Fenech-Soler cover is only available on Soundcloud below.  

artKarina Bania
To Remember
what will I remember

Sometimes I ask myself, "What will I remember from today?"

Will it be the eight am beach-combing and ocean swim? The almost running out of gas on the deserted road, or the ten am piña colada that accompanied the epic wave watching laziness. Will it be the five year-old attitude and the endless sibling fighting that defined the afternoon?

Or maybe the phone call to my ever patient husband who listened while I described said fighting, the attitude, and my complete incapability of dealing with it. Maybe I'll remember his calm mention of the promised land--school starting in just 4 short days and how kindergarten and a routine is just what this tiny girl/big attitude needs.

Will I remember the pink sky and warm winds behind her now sweet, early-evening, five year-old daring self, as she performs handstands on the trampoline?

Or maybe the only memory will be this sunset swim. The one where summer and fall and my girls growing selves meet. Where seasons change subtly, days blur into one another, and so many beautiful moments in life are blown into the wind.

livingKarina Bania
We meet again
karinabania floating

in summer.

living lately // eating outdoors every night reading the luminaries contemplating conscious parenting listening to first aid kit feeling good about recent art shows in joshua tree & ocean beach experimenting with plaster playing with clay walking beaches swimming in warm oceans gathering with friends enjoying my time with the girls moving slower breathing deeper.

hope your summer is everything. xx

artKarina Bania
Art Happenings
Karina Bania studio

A few things.

If you are in Marfa this weekend, my work is part of the Biennial Roadshow being held at El Cosmico. Marfa!! It should be a great event!

I am also thrilled to be part of the Southern California/Baja Norte Regional Exhibit at the SDAI Museum of the Living Artist in Balboa Park, San Diego. The opening gala is Saturday April, 5th. I'll be there, so if you're in town tomorrow night, pop in and say hi! The show runs through the end of April.

Also a heads up for Art Walk April 26th & 27th in Little Italy, San Diego. I'll be in Booth 184, on Beech Street.

I have a ton of new work and am spending this weekend getting digitally organized, so they'll be a shop update soon!

Hope you have a great weekend. xx

artKarina Bania
San Diego Art Institute Karina Bania
SDAI Karina Bania
karinabania gallery
Karina Bania San Diego Art Institute

One of the interesting things about creating something for people to look at is watching them look at it. It's a bit surreal. The work came from you, but it's not you. Much like your children, you created them but they came into the world wholly their own person, sometimes as if you had little to do with it. Standing back, I watch people get in close, take a step back, discuss it, want to touch it. They're doing all the things that I do as I look at a piece. I am always interested in everything that went into a painting, so I usually sneak in close to decipher details and technique. I see many people doing this too. And coming back, I always like to see the people that come back to get a second look. Or a third.

. . .

The exhibition runs through May 18th at the San Diego Art Institute Museum of the Living Artist in Balboa Park.

artKarina Bania
inspired by

Totally inspired this morning by the collected objects + space of Jill Wenger, owner of Totokaelo.

The Alma Allen bronze sculptures and the story about way she acquired them are so beautiful. "These bronze and wood sculptures are by Alma Allen. I try to get out to Joshua Tree every once in awhile to visit his studio. In fact I'm overdue for a visit! The space is filled with Alma's work —sand cast bronze and hand carved stone and wood pieces. Most of my small-scale sculptures were ones I asked about in their kitchen or living room, mixed in with their books and own collections of things. I love buying are like that. Pieces that have been lived with and loved."

I've always believed that the objects we live with become part of our family. They take on energy and meaning, forging their history, telling their story. I talk to the girls about this and they watch me interact with the plants and objects in our home, talking to them, being thoughtful. It's a beautiful way of living.


Images via Sight Unseen.

just listen
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.” -Norton Juster

When I'm not here, you can find me on instagram @karinabania.

artKarina Bania
mistakes & the fight against preciousness
Karina Bania art

This is a painting still in progress, or maybe it's done, I'm not sure yet. I usually have pieces in process hanging around the house, reclining on the couch, pulling up a chair with us at dinner, sleeping next to me in bed. You think I'm kidding, but if I've created you, I need to look at you a lot. Just ask my kids or my living room after I rearrange it.

The thing that kind of gets me in life is that there are endless possibilities. Endless decisions to be made, endless ways to frame and filter that photograph you're about to post on instagram, endless streams of words to put together for a blog post, endless marks to lay on the canvas. For someone who struggles with perfectionism, there comes a point in certain paintings where I hesitate to make the next move for fear of ruining it. Into my head swim deadlines, thoughts of limited studio time between carpools, and tallying all the time invested into a piece. That fear can then make me act with caution. And caution, well, that's a killer of creativity. So I must kill caution right there. What do I do? I usually throw paint on preciousness.

If you fear your next decision will ruin your work, you are being precious. Preciousness is trading creative freedom for fear. It's holding you back and stifling the natural creativity that wants to come out. I paint over paintings all the time. I make mistakes constantly. My mistakes are what generally lead me to some of the best places my work has gone and definitely some of the most enjoyable moments of working. But many pieces go nowhere. Many times I leave the studio with nothing to show for it but the act of creating. And that is enough. Everything doesn't always have to be "something."


A few tips for feeling free:

• Let go of needing every creative act to go somewhere. Every work can’t be a masterpiece. Create to create.

• Step back. Think about your overall body of work or what you want to express. Create for that. It puts less pressure on an individual piece or project.

• Try something different. Make time to try different projects. Sketch, doodle, journal, knit. Trying a different medium often helps you loosen up, get inspired and feel more creative.

• Exercise, drive, shower or sleep. Inspiration often comes when our mind is relaxed and body are relaxed.

• Loosen your self-imposed expectations. Play and have fun.

artKarina Bania
going round

“Still round the corner there may wait A new road or a secret gate And though I oft have passed them by A day will come at last when I Shall take the hidden paths that run West of the Moon, East of the Sun.” JRR Tolkien

Life circles round. People come in and out of our lives. Things we used to do and tired of, suddenly look fresh again. Nothing is ever really done. We can always do it again, in a different way.

Measuring life (part one)
elephant board
o jamie

How do you measure how deep a life you are living? How do differentiate between days that sometimes pass in a blur of similarity?

You live in a world that you've created. You're working, raising kids, trying new recipes, having dinner with friends, taking a bike rides on the weekends. You think you're living, and of course you are. You're probably even enjoying. But then something awakens you. An interaction, the right words in a book, the glimpse of an old house on a tucked away road. And then suddenly, you're overcome with the feeling that life is so much deeper than we're normally living.

Sometimes it's really seeing one of the girls that awakens me. Looking in her eyes, her fleeting four year old eyes, time stops, or I want it to stop, god do I want it to stop. Often it's travel. Daily it's something I read, or see, or do that gives me this feeling. Daily I have this feeling. Daily I want to have this feeling. Daily I want to live deep.

I do not rush, but I am rushed. I know to go slow, it is my nature to savor. But I am a doer. I get things done. I am busy doing them. And life, to spite my best efforts, keeps on moving by leaving me to ask, am I living deeply?

Nothing could be slow enough, nothing lasts too long. No pleasure could equal straightening the chairs, pushing in one book on the shelf, loosing yourself in the process of living. Virginia Woolf

*photos with people in them by the talented jamie street.

From where I stand
mexico studio
mexico plants

Blink and it's another week. And then another. The weeks pass by in their usual way and I'm still here, standing. I've had a lot of changes going on, the subtle ones. Tiny ripples create big currents. But you know that.


• Spending time down in Mexico. Heaven. • Saw an Ayurvedic doctor. I have an excess of Vata. Too much wind energy. Bringing about balance. • Have upcoming art shows and deadlines which I've been getting ready for. • Realizing that sometimes I just disappear. I drop out, at least online and sometimes socially. I don't know how people stay so plugged in and consistent. • Paused in the middle of The Goldfinch to read a book about cutting out all the excess in our lives. It has me thinking. A lot. • Morning runs and yoga are becoming good friends. • Spending mornings in candlelight listening to music. Making a mix to share. • Bought a bike some months back and have been riding a lot with the family. Love the feeling. • There are these really big buzzards that sun themselves on an old abandoned house near the ocean in Mexico where I walk each morning. They sit together looking around, pondering the day. I find them so intriguing. • The rains are supposed to start tomorrow. It's all the talk. I'm ready.

livingKarina Bania
Memory…this is life
night himalayas

As I stepped out of the door, I was surprised by the silence. I must have fallen asleep. The wind and the ice were fiercely howling most of the evening, so I expected to brace myself when I went out. It was bitter cold and I was still achy and feverish. There was a bright moon that night and everything around me was white and vast.

I could see it standing in the distance. I was so cold I could barely move. Walking out, the boards creaked heavily and I could hear them rustling below; the family outhouse was suspended right over their pen. I stooped down, steading myself on the simple wooden planks with wide spacing between them. Everything felt surreal.

I remember thinking, this is someone's life.


I'm always imagining what it's like to live a different life. Looking back, it feels like I've lived many and tried on even more. It sometimes seems like a dream, my time in the Himalayas. Backpacking through places so isolated and remote it's hard to believe that people live their whole lives there. The mountains that surround them are their universe. They have generations behind them and an eternity ahead. Many of them will never see beyond their valley.

Last night I watched this documentary on a woman living alone in Siberia's vast Taiga. She was born in the wilderness, survived her whole family eventually dying, and then chose to stay there alone. The film follows her days, her thoughts, her existence.

After watching, I stood in the dark, hot shower letting the running water pour over me as I stared out the window into the dark hills. I could see the dim lights of houses across the way, each one holding it's own existence, it's own world. One of them caught my eye. That is someone's life.

Sometimes it is all too much to think about, the luck, the karma, the forces that brought you to this life, your life, whatever that is.

"There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one."

This is my life. This is life.

outside, in
cactus reflection
karinabania moodboard

feels like i never left home this weekend, but i did. took a few walks. met new people. had new experiences. collected life, brought it back in. let some go.

now feeling a bit stirred up.

that happens with change and expansion and growing out of your comfort zone. also, selling the baby crib may have had something to do with it.

not pictured: piles of laundry. the contents of my purse dumped out on the living floor. a cacophony of coughs and sniffles.

what are you not showing?

livingKarina Bania
beauty, a bedside perspective

"Isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?" Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

This week, the whole of this week, I've been in bed. It's been a long time since I've been so sick. It happens every few years and when it does, I get completely wiped out. Aside from coughing and caring for a little one who has been sicker than me, I've pretty much been laying low.

Bania brushes

As I've wandered the house, playing memory, stepping into a silent studio, or pouring homemade soup and green juice out of repurposed jars, I'm aware how moments like this, these down-weeks, are so rare in our busy lives. There is a silence and a softness that comes with being sick, a beauty, one that we don't often give ourselves otherwise. And although the break in a normal routine is rather disorienting, I also find this downtime oddly centering.

palm springs

At my retreat last weekend in Palm Springs, we talked about the motivation and beauty behind our goals. Learning to see what is underneath what we want. We looked at different areas of our life (work, wellness, relationships, spirituality, creativity) and described what we want to feel in those areas. Balanced, centered, joyful, organized, productive, connected, inspired, beautiful, mindful, badass. Instead of focusing only on the goal, what we want to achieve, we talked about how we can focus on the feeling that is behind the goal. How do you want to feel in your work? In your relationships? When you wake up? By focusing on the feeling that you want to feel when you achieve your goal, you are actually living your goal now. The goals are no longer in front of you, you are living your way into them everyday. The journey is the destination. This is how to see the beauty in the daily journey that is connecting you to your larger dreams.

A pause
forage karina bania

forage, 飼料. pigment, blood orange, acrylic on canvas.

Alice Waters. Even her name creates a sense of slowness in me. I recently watched this lovely interview by Doug Aitken on his website The Source.

Alice talks about being a Montessori teacher and the philosophy of creating an environment that is beautiful where children can discover things for themselves. She also spoke about her Edible Schoolyard Project and how feeding children in schools from local sustainable farms and food they grow would support local farms, the community, and nourish and change children's values.

What I loved most from the interview was this:

Just in bypassing the supermarket, going directly to the farmer, the farmer’s market, growing food in your own backyard is a really revolutionary thing to do. I think it’s just kind of bringing people back to their senses and they immediately connect to it. It’s almost like falling in love. It’s easy to do because we’re still hard wired for it. We still wanna sit by a fire. We still wanna sit at a table. We wanna eat good food. We wanna be connected to nature. We need to really have a pause every day and to get in the habit of relating. That’s what we all do if we’re lucky every day.

A pause. Staying close to the land, to the table, to people, to yourself. Relating. Connecting. Slowing down. It's almost like falling in love. It's natural, it's coming home.


We've had an abundance of blood oranges around lately. I've always been a huge fan of the color and name, swoon. I rubbed the blood orange on my canvas. The red on the raw material is stunning. I have this piece in my kitchen right now, it's looking good against the white subway tile.

I'm off this weekend to Palm Springs for my annual women's group retreat. We've rented a house where we'll be cooking, talking, crafting, swimming, communing and rejuvenating. Just what is needed.

A long pause.

Do you put a pause in your everyday? I've never called it that, but I try and practice moments of slowness. Love to hear what you do.

Have a great weekend! xx

art, inspirationKarina Bania