Karen Cruickshank is a contemporary abstract artist who lives and paints in Portland, Oregon.
She works in oils, and her signature style employs rich textures and powerful infused colors. Many of her inspirations are pulled from nature, others are expressions of emotions or social commentary. She aims to present her canvases in unique ways, hoping each viewer feels or sees something different, something personal. Her works are often created in layered stages, adding complexity and intrigue to the finished pieces.
Over several decades, Karen has transitioned from painting Realism, to Impressionism, and for the past five years, Abstract and Abstract Impressionist art. In 2012, she began entering her works into regional, national and international juried competitions, earning numerous awards. Her art has been exhibited along the West Coast and her paintings have been installed in public and private institutions and residences. Two of her works were recently selected by the US State Department to be part of a three-year exhibition at the US Embassy in Bucharest, Romania.
Karen was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1961, and began receiving art instruction as a child. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University in 1984. After placing second in a national toy competition during college, she was recruited by Mattel Toys as a toy designer. She later freelance designed for Disney, Hasbro, Galoob and other notable companies. She has been an art educator for twenty years. Karen is passionate about creating captivating art to share with the world.
"As a young art student I was always drawn to van Gogh, and today I understand why–his use of texture and color was the subconscious genesis for my own evolution. Abstract painting has become my way of communicating power, emotion, and beauty.
My art becomes distinctive as the layers of colors bleed into each other and result in a unified canvas. Many of my creations are so thick in oils that they literally take months longer than typical paintings to dry. Sometimes I will pursue a particular vision to completion; the painting represents a specific idea. Other times,I am taken on a beautiful, magical journey that evolves as I'm working the surface with my palate knives, brushes and mind.
Having lived in the desert Southwest and Pacific Northwest, I have been exposed to an almost limitless array of natural elements that I may draw upon while creating my paintings. Conversely, my art can be so truly abstract that it begins and ends with something representing nothing beyond the wisp of a thought and the guiding influence of my senses and emotions. It is satisfying when a viewer offers an opinion about what a painting represents, or comments that they “connected” with a canvas in a very personal way.
People often ask me how I know when a painting is completed.It is a simple question with no easy answer. Some of my thickest works are painted in layers over many months, and I continue because it feels right to do so. I once painted a very large diptych that was initially meant to be a single-panel piece, but after completing the first canvas,I felt as if it were begging me to add a second, to continue the journey. So I did, and today I feel it’s one of my most powerful works. A painting is completed when it tells me so."