Canadian Artist Karen Phillips Curran
A Realist, of a Sort

Seasoned, contemporary, Canadian artist


I was conceived in Newfoundland, grew up in Nova Scotia and then later lived in the Ottawa Valley.

My Airforce father gave me a grounding in discipline. My artistic mother encouraged my creative sensibility.

Like most of us, I painted and drew from an early age. A facility with a pencil garnered me 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 I went to my math and history classes.


Armed with a boatload of skills, I have been able to make my living with art. I made my own way. I’ve worked as a paste-up artist, a PMT operator, a graphic artist, drafts’man’, a cartoonist and a technical illustrator in the early years. Then I taught art to children in my rural studio.  For over 17 years, I 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 became second nature to me, enabling me to do some wonderful private murals on walls and floors. My work can also be seen in several national museums. My watercolours and acrylic paintings have been exhibited in Ontario, and internationally; in Bermuda and the southern USA. In 2011 my 25th-anniversary exhibit in Bermuda was a milestone.

at my retrospective show in Bermuda

my style

I love to work in series. Each one begins a new realm of possibilities and offers me a chance to gradually build upon that theme.

For many years, the walls, windows and gates of Bermuda held my interest. Texture and the soft winter light there offered me opportunities to paint and sell my architectural watercolours for 25 years at the Windjammer Gallery, the Bermuda Society of the Arts, and the Dockyard Arts Centre. My work was included in The Bermuda Museum of Art in the Exhibit “200 Years of Painting in Bermuda”.

During part of that same period, my watercolour studies of water-washed stones became a series I secretly called twilight stones. These watercolours examine in-depth, (so to speak) the interaction of stones and the water flowing over them.

“The stone was there before the wind, before the man, before the dawn: its first movement was the first music of the river.” – Pablo Neruda

My third main series is called local colour. Working in acrylic, I comb the hills and dales of my neighbourhood and depict them in graceful, swatches of colour and shape.

Recently I’ve embarked upon a series called Sign Language. With it, I explore the symbolic language of signs and symbols, in their cultural context.

Find Me

my signature

Recently I returned to my roots here in Nova Scotia, in Bear River. My home and studio provide inspiration galore!

Come visit the studio, virtually or in person.

A selection of my work is available at the Flight of Fancy Art Gallery in the heart of Bear River.

In Halifax, you can find me at the Teichert Gallery in the Nova Scotia Museum of Art


I feel a little exposed!

If you have questions or want to arrange a studio visit just message me at