Karen’s artistic spirit was sparked and nurtured by her family who was always in the midst of making something. Starting from early childhood, she holds vivid and visceral memories of drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, hammering, sawing, cooking and gardening. Her dad’s basement wood shop spawned creations “only a mother could love”, yet the experience fostered a love of and skill with tools. A passion for fabric came from a mother who sewed all the girl’s clothes, taught her about the hand of a fabric and that when a garment complete the inside should look as good as the outside. Access to a stack of chipboard from Dad’s dry cleaned shirts gave rise to a passion for painting, drawing and mark making and… may very well have thrown her over the edge to a path of creative pursuits.
Studying art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where she received a BFA in Crafts/Materials Studies, was a natural step for her formal education. Since graduating, her work has taken her from full-time studio potter to design & advertising to her current work as artist, designer and educator. Her richly textured encaustic/mixed media paintings, with their nature-based imagery, are exhibited throughout the country and collected internationally. With a signature style, her designs have expanded into a line of jewelry and surface pattern designs. As an adjunct faculty member at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA she teaches encaustic painting workshops throughout the year.
Karen lives on a farm in the foothills of Charlottesville, VA with her horse Roxy and little dog, Ella and she maintains a studio in the old National Linen building near the historic district in Charlottesville, VA with 4 other artists.
A deep-rooted affinity to nature and the environment fosters the recurrent thread in my work. Flora and fauna inspire imagery and motifs that live within imaginary landscapes. I reflect on ideas surrounding longing, loss, renewal, and growth that are triggered by concerns about environmental decline. The paintings are the essence of my connection to nature— with all its frailty, joy, humor, heartache, and beauty.