About the artist

Abstract artist Karen M. Andersen works from her home studio in Meanjin (Brisbane) in southeast Queensland. Having undertaken extensive university studies in fine art and biological sciences – along with many specialised art masterclasses (including with renowned Australian abstractionist Ken Done) – Karen creates artwork in response to her external and internal environments. In doing so, she has forged an award-winning career and her artwork is held in private collections across Australia, Britain, Europe, and the United States.

In recent years, Karen has become dedicated to supporting and uplifting others, and to erasing the stigma around mental illness, doing so by sharing her own stories and experiences with such through her abstract paintings. Being diagnosed late in life with autism (at age 45 in 2021) gave her the answers she had been seeking all her life as to why she felt so different and lost her entire life and why she had developed significant challenges with PTSD, depression and anxiety. Due to the confusion which autism causes for Karen in regards to identifying, processing and communicating her emotions, painting is the only way in which Karen feels she can express herself fully. It is her visual language, a multisensory experience involving the coming together mind, body and spirit to create an intricately complex narrative of inner strength and wisdom.

Colour and mark-making are the vehicles by which Karen conveys themes of vulnerability, change, courage, resilience, determination, and triumph through her abstract artworks. To Karen, each colour she chooses represents a specific emotion or thought, as does the manner in which each is applied. Painting primarily in acrylics, she works spontaneously and quite quickly yet with great purpose and thought, testament to her unrelenting obsession and natural ability with colour. Paint is often applied using contrasting techniques, ranging from thin watery washes to thick impasto. Flamboyant, vivid hues and sorbet tones play harmoniously against each other, laid down in more broad planes of luminous colour before being contrasted by expressive mark-making. The resulting works are alive with character, rich in emotion, and imbued with layers of meaning and heartfelt story-telling.

Inspired by her long-held desire to combine her art career with her love for fabric and design, and being a talented sewist of 25 years herself, Karen has recently delved into the world of repeat pattern design. Since mid 2019, Karen has been working on a project learning how to further develop her arts business into fabric design under the mentorship of regional Queensland arts leader Shelley Pisani of Maker's Shopfront and more recently with fabric designer Rachael King. Having successfully created her initial repeat patterns and fabric prints, Karen is exhibiting and launching her very first line of sewing fabrics that will be available for purchase on her website in June 2023. For more information, be sure to sign up for her newsletter and keep an eye out here on her website and on her social media pages.