Karen Jean Larson is a Realism painter currently living in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Her media of choice for painting are oils, acrylics, and watercolors. She also does drawing and printmaking. Her passion and inspiration comes from nature, but she is also happy to do commissions and make giclee prints from her originals. She has a special connection with the water-based world, and many of her works incorporate the “muse” of water. She recently painted a beautiful rain barrel as part of the “Rain Barrels on Parade” project to raise money for a non-profit organization.
– Biography of Karen Jean Larson adapted from her website.
Artist in the Water World: An Interview with Karen Jean Larson
Why does your passion and inspiration for art come from nature?
The passion and inspiration that comes from Nature has been a part of me for as long as I remember. I have tried to remember first and important moments with the natural world and found I could call up these memories easily. First, we lived in Biscayne Bay, Florida when I was pre-grade school. Though it was an apartment, there was the bay and I seemed to have free reign to explore. I don’t know why my mother was not more protective then, but maybe I was lucky that I had the chance to explore my world so freely. I saw wild ocean-life first: Portuguese Man of War jelly fish would end up on the bay’s stone wall and looked like beautiful colorful balloons. I loved to watch the water and see what I could beneath, crabs, manta rays, fish…
How did you become enchanted with water?
It started then, I suppose. I didn’t consciously realize I was making so much art related to the sea. It just happened, until one day I was aware of it being my muse. I began to read voraciously about water. Plus being aware of it and the feeling of connectedness realizing we are 70-percent H2O and so is the planet, I began to do paintings and sketches about this and other ideas such as the theory that water came from a comet. I see water as precious more than just for drinking or cleaning. It is heavenly. I am a great admirer of Sylvia Earle and her Mission Blue. We saw her speak at the National Geographic in DC and then went to see the Alexis Rockman exhibit at the Smithsonian.
Do you feel your art serves the environmental movement?
I was a teacher for about 30 years, an art teacher, and an artist continuously. So the teacher is still in me. It is not pleasant to be preached at with art. It becomes cliché and pedantic. So I try not to. But I get emotional about the environment. There are two kinds of people: those who care about everything and those that don’t. They have their reasons when you ask, but I don’t buy it. We are here living on this spinning orb in space, and it is our time to make a spark of goodness wherever we can. Or as the Native Americans say: stay on the good red road. It isn’t always easy. You sometimes fall, but keep going, keep going. Be honored to be alive and to be aware and awake to life. It is so immense. There is so much of it and so diverse! It gives me chills!