Karen’s visual creations are more than just landscapes. The alchemy of scientific and religious thought shimmers in the background. Science, religion, matter, spirit, all is one. All is sacred. So her mission as an artist rests in the desire to re-kindle respect for all creation. While portraying the ordinary in extraordinary ways she wishes to awaken a universal desire to protect our common home. In the blend of ideas, Karen highlights the unity and interdependence of all things everywhere.
A roving childhood
Karen enjoyed a roving childhood beginning in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada. She never lived there. Due to re-assignment to different posts her family developed super packing skills. At about eight years of age they embarked on a unique adventure. Her father, dissatisfied with the status quo, initiated a search for God’s perfect place on Earth . With a quick four-year look at Vancouver Island, they ventured off to Australia for thirteen years.
While Karen’s family roamed the Earth, her mother encouraged her children to explore and create. She kept pens, crayons, pencils and paper in plentiful supply. In addition to the creativity at home, several early grade teachers provided Karen with exercises for colour mixing experiments. As a result picking out accidental images in dried watercolour became a favorite pastime along with drawing.
While in Western Australia Karen’s skill grew with continued exploration in colours and materials. Junior High provided more practice with watercolour. Consequently, before Karen left for Queensland, her teachers asked her to entrust her paintings to them for the upcoming annual show. About this time she also won first place in a drawing competition in the local newspaper.
Open to new avenues, Karen tried oils. Paint by numbers enthralled her. While following her muse, she ventured into copying photographs. As part of an auction sale just before moving again she landed her first sales. The paintings of harbour scenes brought in five dollars each!
Julian Ashton Art School
Because of moving so often Karen’s academic success suffered. Having finished high school through a correspondence course she decided to take a year off. And with the encouragement of her mother, she attended the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, New South Wales. This time of study shone as the absolute highlight of her young life. She enjoyed every minute, revelling in the discoveries of proportion, angles, tonal shapes and colour blending. Frans Hals and Rembrandt took their place as her favorite artists. Garnering an Honourable Mention in the Portia Geach Memorial Award she knew what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
Pre-law and Honours French
However, Karen’s dream of being a full-time artist stalled. Pulled from her studies at the art school she entered the University of New South Wales in pre-law studies. Law had been a long-term dream of her father’s and, being concerned about her future, he had decided she needed to spend her time in more useful endeavours. Four years later she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Honours French Degree. Yet nothing is ever wasted. And life is filled with irony. Nevertheless Karen continued to draw sporadically.
Karen moving into life
After thirteen years in Australia Karen’s dad realised his dream of bringing his family back to Canada intact. At the age of twenty-six, with the social skills of a twelve-year-old, Karen embarked on the journey of discovery: how to live in the world. Her decision to be an artist stood. Since she had no idea where to begin. she Joined a sign company as a Girl Friday. She hoped to work her way into the jealously guarded design department.
Teaching and early retirement
During this time an enthusiastic high school teacher inspired Karen to study for an after-degree Professional ‘A’ Teaching Certificate. Perhaps she could teach art. Consequently, when a position for an art teacher opened in her second year, she applied. Using the elementary curriculum as a guide she developed one suitable for junior and senior high school. However, teaching and motherhood took an excessive toll on her health. Two and a half years later she decided to retire early.
As a result of this discouraging event, Karen’s ever supportive husband suggested her re-entry into the art world. With his help she began the long journey of mental health recovery. While they moved from one town to the next she turned her skills to teaching art to adults. She entered some local art shows winning a few awards along the way. Commissions for portraits also brought in a little more revenue.
Once Karen’s husband retired they settled in Legal, Alberta just north of Edmonton. In this community they finished raising their four children born along the way. In addition Karen established her reputation as a mural artist. Through the St. Albert Painters’ Guild she enjoyed recognition as a watercolourist and landscape painter. Also, two artists, Tom Thomson and Robert Genn had caught her attention. They reinforced her enduring interest in the empty shape around objects.
Mixing it up
Broadening her expertise Karen tested the mixed media waters. She produced her first series “Eve” exploring the roles of women. Another step in the work toward health, this helped to clear some of the resentment she carried. Meanwhile she met the wonderful group of women who form her Mastermind. They hold her accountable for the decisions she makes. Their belief in her calling to be artist finally bore fruit as she stepped into committed studio work.
First solo show
The second series “Connections” uses a more abstract approach. Transferring drawings into the paint Karen delved into the connectivity of everything in existence while the space between things continued to fascinate her. She celebrated her first solo show with this series.
Dark matter and Cosmic Christ
Finally,“Wildwood” succeeded in the intended alchemy of blended scientific and religious thought. Built on a chaotic foundation, the texture captures unpredictable proportions of colour with each layer. The first six or seven layers begin to glow. Just like Dark Matter, energy, the Cosmic Christ holds the universe together, so the glow effuses unity. Karen fills in spaces between texture and drippings. Consequently the paintings have a mosaic look to them. And the images hold together while floating at the same time. They transform with changes in light.
A sacred space
Finally with the move to Edmonton and building a studio/gallery in the backyard (12936 108th Street) Karen has a sacred place in which she can realise her lifelong dream. She is now associated with several organisations: VASA (Visual Arts Studio Association), Harcourt House, RAFA (Regroupement artistique francophone de l’Alberta) and SAVA (Société des artistes visuels de l’Alberta) in Edmonton, and FCA (The Federation of Canadian Artists) in Vancouver.
Karen produces two different blogs. “One” discusses religious concepts and ideas supporting general well-being. “Different Strokes” lays out the ‘how to’ of techniques and artistic concepts. Her newsletter “Creative Pilgrimage” links the two and provides information on upcoming events.