For Karen Larson Turner, becoming an artist was the natural continuation of her favorite childhood pastime. Her earliest memories include hours spent on the floor with a sketchbook, producing countless drawings from her imagination. Later, she discovered the joy of drawing and painting from life.
A summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard, the island’s historic Victorian architecture inspired Karen’s first plein-air paintings, and by the age of fourteen she was taking commissions for house portraits. She learned to work on tourist-packed sidewalks, where knowing how to talk and paint at the same time became necessary; she also learned how to paint with one hand and brace the easel with the other on particularly windy days, and how to capture shadows quickly before the light changed.
Turner graduated from Calvin College in 1991 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In 1992, her love for the craftsmanship of traditional oil painting inspired her to further study at the School of Representational Art in Chicago, Illinois. Modeled after the 19th century Atelier system, SORA provides mentorship of three master painters for students embarking upon rigorous study of classical technique. Turner completed four years of study with the school, honing a mastery of anatomy, the figure, portraiture, and the still life.
After completing the program, Turner set to work as a full-time painter, exhibiting in a variety of galleries and accepting private commissions. Karen’s favorite approach to painting is to express ideas through metaphor and allegory. Still life work appeals to Karen’s love for detail through thin, painstaking layers of paint that reveal the reflective surface of silver or the ripeness of a peeled lemon. In contrast, landscape work brings a freedom and spontaneity to her brush as she seeks to capture the effects of light and shadow in thick painterly strokes.
“While in Charleston, I have rediscovered the joys of these subjects in my oils, and I have remembered the reasons I first began to paint. There are countless images before us wherever we go: the curve of a road, the fleeting shadows on a porch, a formation of clouds. Those scenes which cause us to stop and stare, if only for a moment, those things that inspire awe or contemplation…grand or humble…these are worthy to be remembered.”
On The Sanctuary Resort Murals:
“In November of 2003 I received the most challenging commission of my life, to paint four murals, each measuring 22x28 feet, for The Sanctuary Resort on Kiawah Island, SC. They were painted in my small studio, since the hotel was under construction. My husband and I designed two walls that had a scrolling wall system to accommodate the long rolls of canvas. All four murals are marsh scenes from Kiawah, each was done in small scale first and then translated onto the larger canvas. The strips of canvas were then installed like wallpaper using the double cut method, after which I got on a lift and did the finishing touches. From the first stages of planning until the final installation, the project continued from early November until April 1st, 2004."