Ontario Artist Karen Phillips Curran

A Realist, of a Sort

Ontario artist Karen Philllips Curran

Karen

Seasoned, contemporary, Ontario artist, Karen Phillips Curran was conceived in Newfoundland but has spent much of her life in the Ottawa valley. Her Airforce father gave her a grounding in discipline. Her artistic mother encouraged her creative sensibility. 

This Ontario artist 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 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 near Carleton Place Ontario.  For over 16 years, Karen was the Head Scenic Artist, at Canada’s National Arts Centre, painting their 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 watercolours and acrylic paintings have been exhibited locally in Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley, 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 to gradually build on 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 has created a series she secretly calls twilight stones. These too are watercolours, and examine in depth, (so to speak) the interaction os stones and 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. 

These days she lives in the Ottawa valley in her cabin at the edge of the woods, with her purpose-built studio. Its steel cladding glistens in the sun and beckons her each morning.

If you have questions for this Ontario artist or want to arrange a studio visit please call Karen at 613 433-2758 or email her at karen@riverstones.ca.