Artist Bio | Karen Krahl 


I’ve been fascinated by drawing, painting and later photography since I was in my single digits. Coloring books were quickly replaced by finger painting, my own drawings, sculpting, and then oil painting began probably when I was about 8.  I remember my first major art exposure when my father took me to the Van Gough exhibit at the Baltimore Art Museum.  Color, brushstrokes, vivid landscapes and strange portraits opened up a whole new world. It was shortly after that Dad showed me how to mix oil paints on a palette to get all the colors under the sun and work with turpentine and linseed oil. What a mess!  Many a palette was a disaster and of course those canvas boards were fairly muddy in the beginning.  I did a mural on the Civil War in elementary school because I was the only one “who could draw horses.” In high school I majored in Art and English. In my teens I took a few courses at Maryland Institute of Art, in color and calligraphy, however I did not wind up going to art school. I moved to Boston at eighteen to study Macrobiotics and natural healing.  I took courses in life drawing and portraiture at Mass Art and started stretching my own canvases, sketching, using pastels more, and got a studio in a building on Bromfield Street where painters, lithographers, print artists, photographers and musicians lived. It was very stimulating. I took courses in printmaking, etching and aquatints; while taking formal voice lessons, and studying blues guitar.

The next year I moved to Munich, and decided not to take a camera so I'd have to sketch everything I saw.  After being in Munich (where I painted in the basement of the hotel I was working in for four months) I left to visit a friend who was in school in Perugia, Italy.  Not only did I get to see the hill towns and the Italian Adriatic Coast, but stayed in Rome for several weeks. More sketching took place.  I continued to paint and draw when I returned to Boston. I decided to pursue a career in the healing arts, and while completing work at Boston State College, some of my humanities included book design and printing. I moved to California to go to chiropractic school.

In Pasadena I continued to build a portfolio and took it to different businesses and publishers looking for free lance illustration jobs. I found one with “Let’s Live” magazine and did several pieces for them. I did portraits on commission, had a gallery show of my oils, and started a greeting card business while attending Pasadena College of Chiropractic, and waiting tables at night.

I have studied black and white photography, photoshop with Tony Hertz, painting with Libby Tolley in a Plein Air course, had an intensive weekend course on the limited palette with John Farnsworth in Santa Fe, April 2011 and have taken numerous courses at Cuesta and Cal Poly. David Limrite, Bill Burridge, I took several courses over the past two years with each, and another Plein Air course with Libby. My great love is working in oil, but I also work frequently in acrylic gouache, water color, pastel, graphite, charcoal, and ink. 

I have put on a few shows of my paintings while still in clinical practice, and happily sold enough to go to Italy and paint plein air solo, for three weeks. That generated another show, this time of my Italian landscapes, and the sales from that allowed me to go back again. I have been entering pieces in juried shows at local galleries. You can see from the picture below that things were getting a little crowded. The three unfinished canvases below have been completed; 2 are for sale, the sunflowers sold.

I'm a member of SLOMA, and the SLO County Arts Council, Arts Obispo, and for 2011 and 2012 participated in the countrywide, Open Studios Art Tour, or OSAT. That's when I was using our guest house as a studio full time. It was exciting to be part of it, fun, and for me, quite successful. I met many people, visited with patients of mine who stopped by, other artists and made new friends, selling many pieces of art. I have since moved back to my studio upstairs in my residence, it's much more convenient, and continue to share the space with my writing references and computer, cameras, musical instruments, and art supplies, as I divide my time between all the forms of self expression I can. 

Last summer I attended one of Joan Beaule Ruggles' three day workshops, another two with Bill Burridge, and then three with David Limrite, whom I hired to critique my body of work and coach me.  I was honored to have been asked to be one of the participating artists by the Central Coast Wine Classic's Archie McLaren, where I will be rubbing shoulders with impressive, artistic company. 

The rest of the time I'll be working on my paintings/body of work and collection for the show below. 

I have an upcoming solo exhibit in September 2014 at Big Sky Cafe in San Luis Obispo, so mark your calendar's for my opening reception, on the first Friday of September, the 5th for SLO's Art After Dark, and come say, "hi." It will be a new body of work. 

In my upstairs dedicated room/office, before I moved everything to the studio, and now I've returned. 

In my upstairs dedicated room/office, before I moved everything to the studio, and now I've returned.