karen's story

Canadian Artist Karen Phillips Curran
A Realist, of a Sort

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 work can be seen in several national museums. 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.

Her mediums…

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 part of that same period, her watercolour studies of water washed stones became a series she secretly calls 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

Her third main series is called local colour. Working in acrylic, she combs the hills and dales of her neighbourhood and depicts it in graceful, swatches of colour and shape.

Recently she has embarked upon a series called Sign Language. With it, she explores the symbolic language of sign and symbol, in its cultural context.

Find Her

Ever the wanderer, and now returning to her roots in Nova Scotia, Karen has moved to Bear River. Her new home and studio will provide inspiration galore. Come visit her in her studio in Bear River! Virtually or in person. You can follow the Bear River Artists' Trail here https://bearriverartists.com/


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


working up high!

Karen Phillips Corran

Wow what a treat. Working up high has a certain quality to it. A bit dangerous, so great care in one's movements must be taken. And the grand gesture can be made for visual puch from a distance.