From Newfoundland, Canada
Based in Houston, Texas, US
Karen is a painter inspired by water which inhabits all her fondest memories since childhood. Her many water-sports canvases colorfully celebrate the beauty of the human form and its mastery, yet also serve as an outlet for below-surface, inner experiences
1 - “Soaring”, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches, artist note: Swimming for me is pure joy. It transcends my sadness and it lifts my soul. 2 - “Breathing", acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches, artist note: Suffocated by fury, drowning in my recovery, I burst through the surface of the sea and in this moment I escape. I am free. "Breathing” was selected as the Third Prize Winner for International Artist magazine’s Challenge No. 98, People & Figures. "Breathing" has been in numerous international online exhibitions. 3 - “Living", 48 x 36 inches, artist note: Our inherent and overwhelming desire to be free. Our passion and instinct to explore. We are born with an insatiable curiosity and from our first step to our last breath life is a constant leap of faith. So plunge in. Ignore the naysayers and go for it. With everything you have...*
A: How did you start to paint sports?
K: Athletics have been a part of my life since I was very young. I was a competitive swimmer and water polo player. I've run in five marathons including the Boston Marathon. Every day I either play tennis or swim. Athleticism is ingrained in me.
A: The most captivating part of it for you?
K: I feel most alive when I'm swimming fast in a pool and I'm convinced swimming hard can save a person's soul. When I'm physically challenged and in a situation that demands endurance and strength I feel a release from everything that's bothering me. Sports add so much to life, to my life.
Sports can beautifully portray the human experience for me. Athleticism translates perfectly in people‘s challenge in their day-to-day life.
A: How does the process work?
K: I start with a small sketch that is based on an emotion. From there I spend a great deal of time creating a composition. The air, the water, the landscape and the figure are all intertwined and bound by the original emotion that ignites the sketch. From there my goal is to create a compelling beautiful piece art that is worth the months of time to paint.
A: 3 things you learned about sports by painting it?
K: 1. In the end you only ever really compete against yourself. 2. The foundation of all sports is our emotions. 3. Sport connects people on a very deep and meaningful level.
A: I’ve never tried, but wish to paint…
K: Perhaps a gymnast flying in the air. I wasn’t a particularly good gymnast so I appreciate the incredible power and courage that it takes to do aerials. The sense of flying for just a moment. It fascinates me.
A: Your advice to someone who’s just starting their sport art journey?
K: Listen to your own voice. And avoid the advice of experts.
Also you don't have to be an athlete to produce sport art. Effort, determination, sacrifice, winning, losing, resilience -- these are all universal traits that are portrayed by athletics but not exclusive to athletes.
A: A funny story that happened to me related to painting sports is…
K: Not really funny but you will discover many bruises if you play competitive water polo.
A: Your favorite quote?
K: "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." - Aristotle
*Dedication: “Living” is a painting of my dear friend Graham Johnston. Graham died in July of 2019 at the age of 88. He was my dear friend. In the moment of my greatest need and when my world was crumbling, he was there for me. He was always there for me. Graham was an Olympian (Helsinki 1952), a world record holder in the Masters Swimming program and an inductee into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame. He was also so much more. A true friend who loved life, Graham took a bold and giant leap of faith every day. He loved life. I miss you Graham. Rest In Peace.