Biography

KAREN WEST,  Artist Karen West is a versatile artist with a keen eye for beauty and a vast array of technical skills developed over a lifetime of experience in various artistic fields. Born an identical twin in Valley City, North Dakota, raised in southern California, (Monrovia), and educated in Minnesota and California to be an art educator and artist -- both fine art and commercial for a time.  She has taught art at all levels. She earned a B.A. in Art Education and Fine Arts from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Karen has advanced training in commercial art, designed sets for children's theater and worked in photography, typography and graphic design. Many of Karen's paintings evoke a sense of longing and nostalgia for a vanishing America through themes as varied as a peaceful landscape, a historical site, or an old or architecturally interesting building. She enjoys painting gardens with their vibrant flowers, delicate forms and abstract patterns of sunlight and shade. Some of her paintings reflect just a window, a door, an old drawbridge, a still life study from a Victorian parlor, or a European plaza or basilica. She loves to do "house portraits", a watercolor of your home. Karen Lauritson and her sister were born, Feb. 5, 1940. Her sister, Carole, who lives in Santa Rosa, is also an artist. They did not know they were identical until 2015 when they had a twin DNA test done. The family moved to Monrovia, CA when the twins were 7 months old. Karen has a sister 3 years younger, Connie, and a brother 9 years younger, James Paul Jr. (Jeep). Mr. Lauritson Sr. started as a portrait photographer following his father's profession. Later he and a partner began a domestic photo-finishing business, with 3 camera stores, mail order photofinishing, and a drive-thru kiosk. For a time they did school photos. Most all of the family members were involved in the business at one time or another. Karen lives now in Petaluma, California and specializes in acrylics and occasionally works in another favorite, watercolors. Some works are done plein-aire at the exact location of the painting. Others are done later in her studio from sketches or photographs she has taken at the site. All of Karen's work is from the real world, instantly recognizable as such, but organized in an abstract way with design, composition and the elements of art. Karen has exhibited at galleries nationally and locally at: Gallery One, the Sebastopol Art Center, the Petaluma Historical Museum, Aqua Areas, Artist's Collective Gallery, Pelican Art, Petaluma's Open Studio, Art in the Park, Petaluma Arts Center, the Riverfront Gallery and now, ARTrails 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 & 2015. Some of her awards: Best use of Watercolor (Denver Art Guild), Honorable Mention for "Rhododendron Symphony", Oil, Honorable Mention for "Grieg's Window", Aqua Areas, (Sonoma County), 2005 Poster Award Winner for "Bridge Tender's House", (Bank of Marin), First Place in Watercolor 2005, (Bank of Marin) and 2009 Poster Award Winner for Art in the Park (Petaluma Artist's Association).    

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