Thursday, January 2, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Karen Johnston

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Karen's painting, "Spring Celebration" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Karen's DPW Gallery page:

I live in Napier, New Zealand with my husband. It's a great place to live and I love what I am doing everyday! I draw inspiration from my surroundings. I enjoy painting a variety of subjects to bring interest to life around me and share a way of seeing and feeling. There is beauty everywhere if you take the time to look.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

All my life I have been drawing, painting, or doing other creative projects. I started getting serious about painting a little over twenty years ago. A friend invited me to go to a pastel class and that was it! I decided I needed some paintings for our home we had just bought, so that was the start.

From there I joined a local art club and took further lessons in watercolors and silk painting. Then, I studied part time for a couple of years to gain a diploma in drawing. The silk painting took over for a few years until I was introduced to acrylics and oils, the oils won out. I have been using them ever since, I love the smooth buttery texture.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I slowed down a few times because of work and other commitments, but never stopped completely.

Spring Celebration
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Karen's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I have tried pastel, pencil, charcoal, batik, silk paints, pen and ink, watercolor, acrylic and oil. My subjects are varied, I seem to do more still life, flowers, animals and landscape, but I have tried a few figurative paintings.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Most mediums have fallen away. I still draw and sometimes use watercolor but oil is the one that has stuck.

Loaded Brush
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I would like to explore watercolors a bit more, I know it's not an easy medium but I think the challenge would be good for me.

Who or what inspires you most?

Kathleen Dunphy, she has beautiful light in her work. Also, Daily Painters Carol Marine, Karin Jurick and Qiang Huang; they were my inspiration for starting daily painting. Many things inspire me, but mostly light and color.

New Keys
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination for me is having too many ideas running around in my head. I have to pull the reins and focus on what really excites me, I find that difficult at times.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Being organized (most of the time) having set times and following a daily routine. I work best late morning until late afternoon.

Simple Pleasures
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

My ideas usually come from my surroundings in everyday life wherever I am. It could be when I'm out walking the dog, the food market or just around home. I may get an idea and follow it up with sketches or set up a still life, other times I take photos!

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I like different subjects and paint what I love and feel excited about, if I don't it just doesn't work! I change things around a bit as well, I will draw or paint larger pieces. Regular breaks are great to avoid burnout. Whenever I take a day off, I feel relaxed and energized, then I find ideas start to flow.

Miss Daisy
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

I am learning to let go of things that aren't working and embrace the small things that make life worthwhile. I don't have to paint like anyone else and when I paint from my heart it's personal so I feel it's my best work.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Just painting and being lucky enough to do what I love.

Thanks, Karen!

© 2013 Sophie Marine


  1. Karen is one of the most "Planfull" artists I have watched over the past few years. Every painting is meticulously designed with an underlying structure that is balanced and then she plugs the subjects in on top of that platform.The results are great paintings and a feeling of calm and balance that I respond to every time.

    1. Thanks so much Jo! I'm so pleased that I convey that's one of my aims as an artist, more than anything else!!

  2. Congratulations on being chosen for the DPW Spotlight Interview, Karen. I love your comments about not having to paint like anyone else and that painting from your heart produces your best work. These are words of wisdom we should all remember. Loved the interview. Absolutely love your artwork!

    1. Thanks so much to you too Chris! Can't beat painting from the heart...always warm get warm fuzzies!