Very loose collages serve as starting points for her paintings

Featured Artist Karen Brittain

Hunky Dory, 18”x 24”, pastel
Karen Brittain defines herself as a portrait artist of women, one who “conjures visual stories”. In her paintings, including the most recent collection, The Sisterhood, the characters she paints are inspired by life observation, ancestral photos, and pop culture. She is able to dissect and reformulate faces by combining individual attributes into what she refers to as composites.
Although her portraits are usually anonymous she is very much influenced by the array of strong women in her family and close circle of friends. Her portraits are contemplative of the complexities women possess.
Karen’s fascination with portraits is prominently influenced by her creative subconscious. Her recent paintings began developing out of a response to what she refers to as “ Empathic Visualization” or “Visual Assumptions”.
In the process of creating her paintings she is translating her subconscious scenarios into a visual language. She states, “Our subconscious minds are full of narratives we create about others without even realizing it. This is part of human nature.” Karen actively listens to these subconscious thoughts and imaginative scenarios
and reflects them in her art. Many of her portraits are accompanied by small stories or character sketches which she includes on the backs of the pieces.
Karen’s process usually begins with developing a collage in Photoshop. This technique allows her a lot of flexibility and variety in her compositions.
These very loose collages serve as starting points for her paintings. She works intuitively as she builds her paintings and contemplates her subjects. She often works on several pieces simultaneously. “ All of my paintings, in progress, feed off each other. When I find that I am stuck on something in one painting I almost always find the solution in another painting. It’s a very organic process”.
Her studio consists of what she refers to as different stations including set ups for oil paint, acrylic, gouache, pastel and most recently metal. Each piece she works on dictates to her its own or combination of mediums depending on the feel of the subject.
Karen paints out of her home in Mt. Pleasant and has work currently on view at The Racine Art Museum Sales and Rental Gallery and at Re:Vision Gallery in Kenosha. She is also a pastel and painting instructor at Wustum Museum in Racine and Re:Vision. To see more of Karen’s work, visit her website:

Hunky Dory, 18”x 24”, pastel Billy, 18”x 24”, oil & acrylic Waiting, 16”x 20”, pastel & acrylic Awhile, 16”x 20”, oil Shield, 16”x 24”, pastel & acrylic
Fly, 9” x 12”, pastel & gouache Butterfly, 16”x 20”, oil
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