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Karen's Studio

The requests come through a variety of "avenues," but the meaning is always the same.  Karen, would you be willing to...?  The slide show below include some of Karen's favorite responses and/or her latest creations to paintings in that category.

Gerry's Walrus.jpg

Gerry's Walrus                   7 1/2 X 10 1/2 inches              Watercolor      Private Collection

When Gerry saw a painting Karen did to illustrate a poem for another friend about walrus's and flying pigs, she just had to have a walrus, too.    Naturally with Karen, the walrus was a girl and being a girl....well, you can see.

Mary Ann's Window       9x12 inches        Watercolor                                 Private Collection

The seeds for "Mary Ann's Window" arrived with a collection of photographs from one of Karen's number one fans.  More objects visible from Mary Ann's backyard accompanied this collection, but Karen decided she could make a better composition with a more limited number.  Somehow Karen even made the stained glass hanging look like it was made of glass.

Solmonson's Window.jpg

Winter Cheer          7 1/2 X 10 1/2 inches         Watercolor       Private Collection

Cardinals are a friend's favorite bird.  She's a good friend, so the request, "would you." could not go unheeded.  It was great fun watching Karen's progress as this pair of cardinals materialized in her studio.  An added bonus was seeing it finally matted.


            Winter Cheer Matted

Cousin David's Cat.jpg

Cousin David's Cat     9 X 12 inches          Acrylic    Private Collection

I'm allergic to cats so Karen has to satisfy her love of this species through her art.  Knowing her cousin, David Groth, wanting a painting of his beloved Jerry was all it took to set Karen working on this cat portrait.

Chickadee Chicks        9 x 12 inches       Watercolor     Private Collection

Bubbling over with excitement during her surprise 65th birthday party, Karen offered to paint something for everyone at the party -- their choice -- as a way to share her joy.  Now, two years later Karen finally fulfilled her promise. With the completion of Chickadee Chicks and Hunkered Down (below) Karen finally made good on her promise.  In the end, the results of that promise lead to some wonderful works of art.

Chickadee Chicks.jpg
Hunkered Down.jpg

Hunkered Down            9 x 12 inches  Acrylic on canvas   Private Collection


      Courtship              12 X 24 inches              Acrylic on Canvas             Sold

Karen has been having fun with ravens and crows.  Sometimes she'll head up to Petersburg's landfill just to photograph ravens.  On other days she'll return from a walk with more images of these intelligent corvids to add to her growing "pile" of digital reference photos.  Lately she has even been drawing on them for new paintings -- the latest titled "Courtship."  While "everybody" on the branch looks like they may have posed all together for Karen, this piece is actually based on a collection of photos taken on different days.  Ah, the advantage of paintings over photographs.

 Siskins Settling In        9 X 12 inches        Watercolor         $300 framed

Periodically we see irruptions of Pine Siskins in southeast Alaska and during such events these tiny birds (smaller than sparrows) are quick to find Karen's presentation of sunflower seeds.  Overhanging our deck and feeders is a large western hemlock tree which provides a fine launching pad for the siskins -- and a place for Karen to photograph these tame birds from her studio window.  Here Karen has taken advantage of her photos for a watercolor painting subject.

Siskins Settling In.jpg
Fledglings Invade the Blueberry

  Fledglings in the Blueberry Patch     9 X 12 inches       Acrylic on Canvas                              Sold


On half decent days, and anything better, Karen takes her camera on her walks -- just in case.  And case often happens with discoveries of species of birds such as American robins.  In spring and early summer newly fledged robins are particularly easy "prey" for Karen.  "Fledglings in the Blueberry Patch" is based on several of her photos set in any one of numerous blueberry patches that surround our Alaskan rainforest home.

Mine. All Mine         12 X 16 inches        Acrylic on Canvas                                
       Available at Firelight Gallery in Petersburg, Alaska

Karen loves all things that waddle.  For that matter she loves all things with feathers or fur or are even warm blooded -- even most things cold blooded.  And so it was that she made peace with a hissing goose at an Iowa farmers market.  She wanted the truce because she envisioned herself recording its image on canvas one day.  That day has arrived.  The pumpkins came from a pile on a cart at that market.  After all the farmers work to gather in the crop, Karen went and put them back out in the field.

Mine, All Mine.jpg
And One Last Thing.jpg

And One Last Thing       Diptych (Two 10 X 10 inch paintings) on Canvas       Acrylic         NFS 

Karen has entered a raven phase lately.  These two set her off painting six more in five different images in a fundraiser for Petersburg nonprofit organization, WAVE (Working Against Violence for Everyone).  See below for those paintings which made such a hit.

Raven Montage for WAVE.jpg

Raven Montage                   22 X 30 inches              Acrylic on Watercolor Paper              Sold

Raven Montage is a group of five paintings, all of which sold in a gala fundraiser.  The idea was to raise money for WAVE (Working Against Violence for Everyone) by selling paintings by the Inch.  Karen divided her space into discrete paintings which could easily be cut up and sold for $1.00 per square inch without sacrificing any of the artwork.  Karen's effort was a big hit at the affair.

The Face of Baird     14 X 21 inches             Watercolor   Not for sale

Years ago Karen painted a version of this subject for an audio conference class she was taking.  Being her frugal self, she painted it on really cheap drawing paper.  In fact the original took two sheets of that paper.  Don always loved the painting despite it's wrinkling and the yellowing of the paper over the years.  When Karen asked for suggestions about what to paint, a new version of Baird Glacier often topped the list.  Now, at last, here it is.

Baird's Retreat.jpg
The Hermit.jpg

The Hermit                      4 X 6 inches

             Watercolor     Sold


We have an Elderberry bush outside outside our kitchen window.  If we wanted to pick the berries, we'd have to race the birds -- crows, Steller's jays, varied thrushes and, one day, this hermit thrush.  Needless to say, we like the painting better than any bowl of Elderberries.

  I Heard You the First Time, Dear 

  11 X 13 3/4 inches  Watercolor  Sold

Karen sure had fun with this one.  Her model was a single raven that posed for her on a rock during a morning walk.  Can you tell both subjects are the same raven?  Then, she kept showing it to friends as the painting progressed -- each showing evoking a laugh from Karen as well as the viewers.  Naturally Don thinks the raven on the right represents one of us, the one on the decide.

I Heard You the First Time, Dear.jpg
Happy Faces.jpg

Happy Faces         10 1/2 X 13 inches               Watercolor         Sold        

Flowers are always a favorite attraction for Karen.  All you need do is look at her extensive photo library to determine that.  Apparently others agree since Happy Faces and Basket Bouquet  (below) both sold during a 1st Friday show at Wild Celery Gallery here in Petersburg.

                Basket Bouquet  

7 1/4 X 10 3/4 inches            Watercolor                                  Sold

Basket Boquet.jpg
Patiently Waiting.jpg

           Patiently Waiting  

           7 1/2 X 10 5/8 inches  

            Watercolor  Framed
       Available at Firelight Gallery

            in Petersburg, Alaska

One of Karen's favorite places in our coastal rainforest is Anan Creek south of Wrangell.  There large numbers of black and brown bears congregate to feed on the large salmon runs that must navigate a rugged falls while dodging the bears.  It's a feast for the bears as well as Bald Eagles and gulls which pick up the leftovers.  There's also constant interaction between the bears with black bear

cubs often being sent up a tree for their safety.  Filled with salmon, they often fall asleep waiting for the all clear signal.

Denver Bunny.jpg

Denver Bunny    9 X 12 inches    Watercolor     Sold

While changing planes in the Denver airport one autumn day, Karen stopped short at the sight of a rabbit "hanging out" by the terminal.  Tight connection or not, she just had to stop and snap a few photos of her docile friend before resuming her dash to her connecting flight.   What a wonderful painting subject.  Naturally, Don's reaction differed somewhat:  How did it get past the TSA?

Connie's Squirrel        9 X 12 inches              Watercolor        Sold

Karen seems to bond with every rodent, particularly squirrels, she encounters.  Thus, when she visits her cousin Connie in Solon, Iowa, Karen takes lots of photos of squirrels.  In fact, between Iowa squirrels and Wisconsin squirrels, Karen may have the world's largest collection of photos of furry critters eating whatever she provides.  This painting is called Connie's Squirrel, but the question remains, which one of Connie's squirrels?

Connie's Squirrel.jpg

                                                           Karen's Birthday Project

As suggested above, we had a birthday party for Karen in August, 2011.  Eighteen friends came laden with food, gifts and good wishes when Karen expected two people to just stop by to say hello.  SURPRISE!   Karen almost floated in air with her excitement.   Before they left, she went around the room asking each person what they would like her to paint for them.  It took awhile for ideas to gel, but just before Christmas, she took off on her project.  What a thrill it was to see these watercolor images flowing off her brushes.  See if you don't agree.


BC        8 X 11 inches      Watercolor                    Private Collection


BC was an old cat, a secretive old cat.  He lived in the Riemer's garage and often the only sign of him was his daily doo -- under the car.  Reportedly, he slept most of the day in the furnace room and his food disappeared.  What more could you want from a cat?  His name, BC, refers to his position in the peck order back when the Riemer's had two cats -- Bottom Cat.

Karen's Passions                       9 X 10 inches   

          Watercolor         Private Collection

Anyone who knows Karen knows she collect rocks.  And she collects feathers.  She just can't get enough of these creations of God.  Thus, this painting ranks among her favorites in the project.

Rocks and Feather.jpg

Tranquility                    6 X 9 inches         Watercolor      Private Collection

This piece is another of her favorites, one which sent her scurrying to the internet in search of more art supplies with which to create more feathers.  "Keep buying those paints" is all I can say.

Summer Porch  (right)                            and  Patient Courtship  (below)

  Both Watercolor  Private Collection

Pete wanted pigeons on a power line and ended up with Karen adding a blizzard.  Carol opted for one of her favorite places to relax among her favorite possessions.  They certainly make a fun contrast.

Summer Porch.jpg
Patient Courtship.jpg

Patient Courtship

Tuckered Xena          Watercolor               Private    Collection            

Tuckered Xena.jpg

Jane                  Watercolor              Private Collection

Xena (above) and Jane could ever see with all the hair over their eyes is beyond comprehension.  Thankfully for the pups, Bev and Grant and Lila believe in scissors.  Unfortunately Jane is no longer with us.  When the Trasks acquired her as a used dog, Jane was named Sarah.  One problem.  Their daughter is named Sarah.  After careful deliberation, it seemed less confusing to change the dogs name instead of their daughter's.  Go figure!  For fun, Karen added the quilt Sarah created one summer to remind us of Jane's "maiden name."

               The Parsonage     

 7 3/4 X 10 3/4 inches        Watercolor

                 Private Collection

Karen struggled with this one.  Not the parsonage, but whether to splatter snow flakes on top of her creation -- a request from our former Pastor, Al.  She canvassed many friends.  Which way to go?  One would said "yes," the next "no."  In the end, she held her breath and splattered.  Anyone viewing the original of this piece would applaud her courage.

The Parsonage.jpg

Hospitality        7 3/4 X 10 3/4  inches

   Watercolor  Private Collection               
Hospitality depicts the dark side of Karen -- sneaking into people's houses to photograph their tea pots.  A warning to all.

Beached           7 3/4 X 10 3/4  inches        Watercolor   Private Collection

Beached was a complicated subject -- a request for a beach scene with specific items.  This one challenged Karen, but in the end challenges provide our greatest growing edges.

Princess Hungry.jpg

Princess Hungry         11 X 15 inches     Watercolor     Private Collection

We don't have a cat.  We're big dog people and our former dog, Niko, liked nothing better than treeing cats..  Snoopy said "cats are the crabgrass in the lawn of life."  So why is this one of our favorites in this collection?  I say paint more cats.  Guess they'll hold still when Niko relocates them into the nearest tree.

Gretel  (right)  9 X 12 inches                        Both Watercolor  Benson  (below)  9 X 12 inches                Private collections

This pair of paintings could be called Mutt and Jeff.  Gretel was the size of a small pony.  Benson isn't much bigger than a beach ball.  Both had/have the energy of the Ever Ready Bunny.


Henry                         4 1/2 X 7 inches  

     Watercolor      Private Collection

Alas, Henry has departed this earth.  Who would have thought that dogs get diabetes and it can have dire consequences.  Thus this painting immortalizes a very well loved dog that I often thought looked more like a cuddly Q-tip.


Paintings below were completed before Karen's grand promise.

Life is Such a Gift.jpg

   Life is Such a Gift              10 X 13 inches                 Watercolor                 Sold

Our former plein air group, Fresh Air, planned a show at Wild Celery.  Karen rose to the occasion.  Sitting across the street from the Quilt Shop, she drew lots of attention and, Karen fans.  One fan, a lovely little girl was drawn to Karen like a bear to honey.  Finally, Karen decided she should be part of the painting.  No artist could hope for a model who held so still.  You can see her in the right hand corner of this piece.  Ultimately this painting took on a life of it's own and ended up being the signature piece at the Petersburg Quilt Fest held later that summer.

Tranquility Blind Slough.jpg

Tranquility                    11 X 14 inches            Watercolor      $250 matted

Created for the WAVE sponsored show,                       Rise Up.

Living with water and mountains surrounding our island home with it’s bounty of fish and wildlife never ceases to delight me:  

Whether it be shorebirds flashing like northern lights over an ocean swell,

     whales launching themselves into a cloud of mist,  

            or rain droplets edging a cluster of lupine,


I bow my head with a prayer of thanksgiving as I RISE UP at the dawn of each day.

A Watchful Mother         6 X 8 inches                Watercolor         NFS

We originally called this painting Driftwood Beach since that is what we named one of our favorite beaches on Mitkof Island.  The scene depicts a cottonwood log which we have watched move around the upper part of the beach over the years, slowly surrendering to the elements.  Of course Karen had to add a mother shorebird on the log with the chicks she is guarding in the center foreground.

A Watchful Mother.jpg
Gentle Shoreline.jpg

Gentle Shoreline        6 X 9 inches       Watercolor       NFS

My Valentine       7 X 12 inches          Watercolor          NFS

Karen painted My Valentine for Don as a gift for.....guess what day?

My Valentine.jpg
Winter Retreat.jpg
A Pocketful of Patterns.jpg

                                      Two 4 X 6  Watercolor Cards  

                                       Winter Retreat (left) and 

                                  A Pocketful of Patterns  (right)

Winter Retreat depicts Karen's Aunt Lois's cabin on Tomahawk Lake in Wisconsin.

Curiosity                        9 X 12 inches               Watercolor         $300


Karen painted Curiosity for a show at Petersburg's former Wild Celery Gallery. She painted it in plein air with her model added later.

Bessie at the Helm.jpg

Bessie at the Helm                  9 X 13 inches                 Watercolor                  NFS


If a serious tsunami warning forced us to evacuate our home maybe 50 feet above the sea level, and I had time to grab just one thing, this painting would be it.  Karen painted "Bessie at the Helm" based on a photo I took while kayaking home from LeConte Bay with our then canine companion, Bessie.   She "manned" or should it be dogged the forward seat of our Klepper kayak during that drizzly day paddle among the icebergs.  Karen captured the essence of that trip with her painting better than the photograph.


Keta       10 X 12"        Watercolor       Private Collection

While Keta no longer roams his former haunts, he still lives on in Karen's painting, a gift to a friend to comfort her when Keta went wherever doggies go after we say our last farewells.

Casey at the Helm          10 X 10 inches           Watercolor
                                   Private Collection

Casey at the Helm is another in Karen's series of paintings memorializing the loss of our friends special companions.

Forest Dweller1070775.JPG

Forest Dweller         10 X 14 inches            Watercolor                                        Not for Sale

This painting was accepted for the 2006 Paint America competition that traveled through the US for several years.

Karen's model for the painting was a saw whet owl that flew into a window of Petersburg Public Library.   We tried to give it a second chance, but ultimately the trauma overwhelmed the owl.  Still the bird lives on in Karen's painting.

Waiting for Mama              16 X 20 inches 

            Oil on canvas    Not for sale

Karen based this painting, her only oil painting so far on canvas, from a photograph Don took of a sea lion pup in the Gulf of Alaska.   We both like her painting better than the photo.

Sea Lion Pup Spring 2005 002.jpg
The Last Migrant Watercolor 0001.JPG

The Last Migrant                11 X 14 inches
                Watercolor          Sold

We don't usually see robins in winter around Petersburg until, we get a big "dump" of snow.  Then, surprise, where did these birds come from?  Karen based this painting on one visitor to our bird feeders after a snowy period.

Peekaboo                   9 1/2 X 7 1/2 inches
            Watercolor        Not for Sale

Our last pooch, Niko, often slept with one paw over her nose.   So endearing!  Here Karen painted her in that pose on one of our old braided rugs.  Umm, I wonder what happened to that rug?

Niko on Rug.jpg
Along the Dempster Watercolor.jpg

Along the Dempster    9 X 12 inches
          Watercolor   Not for Sale

Karen and I made three trips up the Dempster Highway which begins near Dawson City, Yukon and ends at inuvik, Northwest Territories.  Oh how I wish we could go back there every summer.  It's a magical place which Karen captured a taste of in this painting.

Zephyr                         15 X 22 inches
     Watercolor       Private collection

When friends lost their beloved Zephyr to old age, Karen stepped up to the plate to ease their pain and create a lasting memory.   They declared her efforts a resounding success.

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Varied Thrush 2-06 002.jpg

Varied Thrush     7 1/2 X 9 1/2 inches


When heavy snows come in winter and access to the forest floor becomes problematic, we discover how many of our winged friends have been hiding in the woods around town.  That's when we're really glad we put out our bird feeders.

Irises      11 X 14 inches       Watercolor       Commissioned

Karen got into a painting irises phase, all of which sold, and even led to this commission.  I was sorry to see her move on to other subjects -- except I like them, too.

Bowl of Favorites Watercolor 0001.JPG

Bowl of Favorites     10 X 14 inches

Karen loves autum leaves, she loves rocks and she loves blue bowls so what could be a more natural painting subject for her.

Raven's Roost Ridge   9 X 12 inches
          Watercolor   Not for Sale


Years ago I climbed a ridge which led to a viewpoint overlooking the north end of Wrangell Narrows.  Although I've long wanted to, I've never been back, except via Karen's painting which I dearly treasure.

Raven's Roost Ridge view Watercolor by K
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