Canadian Artist Karen Phillips Curran

A Realist, of a Sort

Ontario artist Karen Philllips Curran


Seasoned, contemporary, Canadian artist, Karen Phillips Curran was conceived in Newfoundland, grew up in Nova Scotia and the Ottawa valley. Her Airforce father gave her a grounding in discipline. Her artistic mother encouraged her creative sensibility.

Karen has painted and drawn from an early age. A facility with the pencil garnered her a place in a high school dedicated to art education. There, drawing and painting were only the beginning; studies included art history, life drawing, drafting, illustration and typography, ceramics and printmaking, and once in a while she went to her math and science classes.


Armed with a boatload of skills, she has made her living with her art, making her own way. She worked as a graphic artist, drafts’man’ and illustrator for several years. She taught art to children in her rural studio.  For over 17 years, Karen was the Head Scenic Artist, at Canada’s National Arts Centre, painting their seasonal theatre production sets for both English Theatre and Theatre Francais.  A sense of monumentality, coordination and speed are basic requirements for theatre set painting. Large-scale painting is second nature to her now, especially now as she works some wonderful murals on walls and floors.

Her mediums…

Her watercolours and acrylic paintings have been exhibited in Ontario, as well as internationally; in Bermuda and the southern USA. In 2011 her 25th-anniversary exhibit in Bermuda was a milestone.

Karen works in series. Each one begins a new realm of possibilities and offers her a chance to gradually build upon a theme. For many years, the walls, windows and gates of Bermuda held her interest. Texture and the soft winter light there offered her opportunities to paint and sell her architectural watercolours for 25 years. During some of that same period, her studies of water washed stones became a series she secretly calls twilight stones. These too, are watercolours, and examine in depth, (so to speak) the interaction of stones and the water flowing over them. Her third main series is called local colour. Working in acrylic, she combs the hills and dales of her neighbourhood of eastern Ontario, and depicts it in graceful, swatches of colour and shape.

find her

Ever the gypsy, she is on the move. Returning to her roots in Nova Scotia, Karen is moving to Bear River. Her new home will provide inspiration galore.


If you have questions for her or want to arrange a studio visit please call Karen at 902 247-5141 or email her at