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Karen Carlton

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

Artist Statement

Landscapes are my primary subject matter, whether in an oil painting or a pen and ink drawing. I love the ever-changing fluidity and randomness of nature. Nature is not only beautiful but unpredictable. It is a joy to paint. Painting is my freedom of expression, and I love seeing my brushstrokes and emotionality on the canvas. Many of my paintings show paths. I am intrigued with roads taken and not taken. The choices we make in life can lead you one way or another. There are so many different paths that our lives can take. Think back to choices made as a teenager, as a young adult, as a young parent, in your career or pursuing your passion. Paths reflect our journey in life. We can grow, we can falter, we can take a turn off a path or stay on a similar one. Even if careful thought isn't given to a choice, we can learn from it. Life is a journey. We, along with the earth we live on, are always evolving. And in similar regard, my original intent

on a painting can sometimes change. I may have a preconceived notion as to what the finished painting will look like but once the painting process starts, the paintings takes on a different dynamic. And I welcome those moments when emotion takes over and the result is something I didn't envision. I have usually intended a journey on the canvas for the viewer. There is a movement around the canvas to keep the eye and mind going. This may be done with color or with brushstrokes. I frequently use line to further define an abstract shape in nature. It gives form to the

randomness found in nature. The use of line reflects my love for the pen and ink medium, and my illustration background. My journey has come full circle with creating art. I loved drawing as a child, and even though it never left my life completely, I have been a much happier person since returning and re-dedicating myself to art. It gives me great pleasure to paint and explore on canvas!

Interview with Karen Carlton

Tell something about where you grew up, went to school, etc.:

I grew up in Western New York (Buffalo area, specifically) with my parents and two brothers.

My parents fell in love with the Buffalo area once my dad (Wray Carlton) retired from the Buffalo Bills in 1968. Obviously, we are life-long Bills fans!

Did you go to college? Where?

I went to Denison University and received my BA in 1985, and worked in New York City and Connecticut for a few years. I never gave up my passion for art, however. So I went back to art school and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1995 with a BFA.


Which artists have most influenced you?

#1 is Monet, especially his later work. Cezanne, Van Gogh

What type of art do you create? Has your style changed over time?

I paint with oils. Over time, my style has gotten looser and more expressive. I enjoy the process of painting and using color and brushstrokes to evoke a feeling. I don’t have an interest in doing an exact replication of a scene. I may start with a photo or subject matter; however, as I proceed, the painting sometimes takes on a life of its own. I welcome that and enjoy that a painting may become something that I had not intended. For me, it’s about personal expression and painting is a personal experience.

What inspires you to create art? Are there real-life situations that inspire you?

I love landscapes and any subject matter in the natural world. I like the randomness and

ever-changing fluidity that nature brings. Nature is serene, energizing, and calm, simultaneously. The four seasons are beautiful. I am inspired from all of what nature offers especially the beach, wooded pathways and trees, water scenes and clouds.

What is your most favorite artist tool?

When I want to soften or blur, I use a rag.

What are the hardest and best parts of creating art?

The best part is touching someone else with my art. There is nothing better than having someone personally relate to one of my paintings, and then we can forge that bond and communicate in a special way (whether it’s about a feeling, a place or a memory for them). Another best part for me is the sheer joy I get in painting. I love to paint and am never not motivated! I don’t do prints of my paintings simply because I have so many originals that I still want to paint. I find inspiration from everywhere. The hardest part is knowing when a painting is “done”. I always want to go back in and rework! When a piece is “done”, I will put it down for a few days or weeks, and then look at it later with fresh eyes to see if it is indeed done.

Do you listen to music or podcasts when you create? What type and is it inspiring?

I definitely listen to music! Music is very inspiring to me. I’m old fashioned and have a CD player. I listen to everything from Josh Groban to Harry Styles to Classical. I have hundreds of CD’s.

Do you have a website for your work?,

Instagram is: karencarltonart

Do you accept commissions?

Yes. I also do pen and ink house commissions.

Do you have a piece of artwork that you’re most proud of? Why?

Not really. Each piece has a part of me in them, so they all feel special to me. And what may be special to me, may not be to someone else so I try not to judge a painting like that. I love that art is subjective, so I try to keep objectivity and judgment out of it.

Do you have a dream project that you’d like to create?

My family is sending me to Provence on an art retreat in May, so that really is like a dream come true!



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