Artist Spotlight: Karen Vernon

The Collection, watercolor,  22" x 30"
Back Porch Treasures, 20" x 16", watercolor
Texas artist, Karen Vernon, is well known internationally for her watercolors, oils, acrylics and pastels.  Her work hangs in museum, private and corporate collections around the world.  Though Karen works in several mediums, she teaches mostly in watercolors with a deep understanding of how the medium works, how the pigments react with one another and how different brands interact.  To study watercolor under Karen Vernon is to get to know watercolor intimately, but also to get to know one's drive as an artist intimately.  Karen believes it is essential for those who create to do so and those who don't create to have art in their lives.  This philosophy is reflected in her work and in the gallery she owns with artist husband, Ken Muenzenmayer.  Part of the gallery's mission is to give viewers a chance to get away and enjoy the work.  "Relax and take in the colors and textures of masterfully executed artwork.  The Gallery at Round Top offers you the opportunity to experience the journey that art brings to the soul."

Karen began teaching watercolor because she was intrigued with the pigment's luminosity and exploring her own process in finding the hues' intensity.  She has also found in her own work and in teaching that moving from watercolor to another medium is a natural process; whereas, starting in something else and moving to watercolor is much more difficult.  Watercolor gives Karen the transparent effects to reproduce light, the essence of her work.  She manipulates the pigments the way light works and honors what the pigments do on the surface of her paintings.  

Along the Trail, 20" x 16", oil
In choosing her pigments, as in choosing all of her materials, Karen believes that skimping can cause problems and frustration.  "Good materials enable you to learn more quickly and struggle less, " she explains.  Karen paints on Aquabord™, a wood panel with a textured clay surface, intended for watermedia.  She chooses her brushes with just as much thought as she picks her pigments, looking for ones that won't compete with her surface. Working primarily with synthetic and natural blends, Karen uses a range of shapes, from rounds, to small flats to cat's tongue.  She uses Kolinsky sable quite a bit for her own work due to it's softness, but teaches students with less expensive brushes so they can learn the medium before investing in natural hair brushes.  Her brushes need to have balance in the handle, bounce in the hair and something with a good ferrule, something like a Faux Squirrel.  They need to work with her, so she can pull out color, scumble and move the pigment and get into the painting "zone."  

Hidden Gifts, 40"x60", watercolor
Karen started studying art in the 2nd grade, and with an artistic family on her father's side, she was supported in studying art in college, earning a BFA.  But it was in her thirties when she decided to stop painting as a hobby and make it a career.  She filled out her learning with business and marketing classes, and has found herself not only a successfully selling artist and often sold out art instructor, but the owner of a busy gallery as well.

Karen teaches workshops regularly across the country and will be at the Art of the Carolinas in November.  You can find a detailed schedule on her website or follow her gallery at The Gallery at Round Top.  

Keep Painting, 

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.