Karen Weihs is a native of Charleston, SC, with a BFA from the University of Georgia. She began her professional career as a graphic designer for Sea Pines Corporation. Karen says, “As a contemporary oil painter and colorist, I love to create images that depict endless visual space. Forsaking all details, I conjure patterns of light, air, weather and reflection that feel ethereal and diffused. Layered pigments, contrasting colors and geometric shapes breathe life into my images, and while my landscapes are minimal in representational content, I find viewers often see the familiar in the abstract.”
Karen also likes to create modern intuitive expressionistic paintings that resemble figures. She calls these her getting out of my mind pieces. She wrote a popular book called Out of My Mind about creativity. Karen maintains that professional artists need to evolve, be self-taught, even if it means changing styles frequently. She often likes to go out into the field and create a painting from start to finish, en plein air. She maintains that a painter must be familiar with the palette as a pianist is to the keys on the piano. It takes practice, and there is no better way to learn and grow as an artist than from nature. From these field studies, she sees not only what is there, but what is possible for taking realism and making it feel larger and even more simple and dramatic, even more abstract. The more you look, the more simple you can make a painting more interesting than nature, editing out most of the detail and simplifying. Learning from nature is about fleeting moments captured by the brush and palette knife, recording the natural world in record time before it is gone.
Serenity by Karen Weihs
Karen creates luminous oil paintings from her Carolina home studio. She has been at her easel for 20 years creating contemporary landscapes and intuitive playful images from out of her mind. She teaches regularly at the Bascom Museum in Highlands as well as other places in the US and Europe. Karen goes outdoors en plein air, or outside to paint from life. When not outside painting from life, and when she feels like she wants to go out of her mind, she creates in the studio some colorful, playful landscapes or intuitive abstracted coloristic paintings. She calls these her folly paintings. From “field to folly,” she likes both styles of painting. The large colorful paintings always have a minuscule part of what she has seen out in the field. She starts out with the brush, making the shapes she wants, to get the basic painting into play. Then she changes to a large palette knife with lots of paint making the texture by gliding the cake-knife-like shape palette knife through the first few layers of the painting. The effect is finished off by glazing, a technique that has been tested through years of experimenting with oil mediums. Sometimes her layers are as many as 8-10 glazing layers or more.
Her love of the simple, abstracted shapes led her to do colorful a geometric/figurative feeling series, one she calls her Wild Angels Series, another the textured Red Series, resulting in a 2009 WNC signature award.
In 1994, Karen received Artist of America award. With many more awards and publications, Karen continues to paint with much recognition. She feels that UGA instructor Lamar Dodd and mentor Frank Licciardi inspired her style of painting which has slowly evolved through work. But early on, she was taken in by the works as a teenager when viewing Charlestonian artist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith at the Gibbes Museum.
Karen has a large collector base in addition to hanging in corporate offices and restaurants including two Governor’s homes, The Biltmore Estate and The Mansion of Turtle Creek Restaurant.
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