About the artist

Abstract artist Karen M. Andersen works from her home studio in Meanjin (Brisbane) in southeast Queensland. Infusing her pieces with emotionality, empathy and truth-telling, Karen creates artwork in response to her internal and external environments. In doing so, her work has garnered a wide collector base with it being held in private collections across Australia, Britain, Europe, Canada and the United States.

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 deep, heartfelt story-telling.

Being diagnosed late in life with autism (at age 45 in 2021) gave Karen the answers she had been seeking all her life as to why she had always felt so different and lost. Due to the confusion that being autistic causes for Karen in regards to identifying, processing and communicating her emotions, she feels that painting is the only way in which she can completely express herself and properly process her emotions. It is her visual language, a multisensory experience involving the coming together mind, body and spirit to create an intricately complex narrative which brings her tremendous healing.

In recent years, Karen has become dedicated to supporting, uplifting, and helping people heal through sharing her own stories and experiences with trauma, complex PTSD, depression, anxiety, and life as a late-diagnosed autistic adult via her artwork. Her hope is that in doing so, others will feel seen, heard, and validated, that they aren't alone, that they can make it through tough things too. Karen has delivered landmark projects throughout her career focused around these objectives including her Spectrum art exhibition with two art colleagues in 2018, her "Parenthood" art installation for the Common Ground exhibition at Hervey Bay Regional Gallery in 2019, her pecha-kucha presentation with Fraser Coast Art Gallery and Academy at the Arts Ablaze State-wide Queensland Arts Conference in 2019, her month-long artist residency with the CQ RASN in 2020, her presentation with CQ RASN at their mid-year conference in 2020, and the creation and exhibition of her first fabric design through Shelley Pisani's Design CQ project across 2019-2023.

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 delved into the world of repeat pattern design. Commencing in mid 2019, Karen worked 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 The Ideas Distillery and more recently with fabric designer Rachael King. Having successfully created her initial repeat pattern and fabric print, Karen exhibited and launched her very first line of sewing fabric with the Design CQ Exhibition at Bundaberg Regional Galleries, Mackay Artspace, and finally at the Queensland College of Art Machinery Street Gallery in 2023. Her fabric is now available for sale here through her website. Karen is continuing to design further fabrics that she will make into a range of high-end linen tablecloths and cushions for release late in 2024. Karen is currently building her design portfolio of repeat patterns that will be available for licensing.

Exhibitions & Awards

2023 Woodgate Spring Arts Fest, Woodgate, Qld

2023 Petite Pieces, Aspire Gallery, Brisbane QLD

2023 Design CQ, Griffith University Queensland College of Art & Design Machinery Street Gallery, Brisbane QLD

2022 Design CQ, Jubilee Community Centre, Mackay QLD

2022 Design CQ, Bundaberg Regional Galleries, Bundaberg QLD

2020 Females to the Front, Lewis Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2020 Summer Holiday, Lewis Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2019 Eleven Showcase, Fraser Coast Art Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2019 Mirare, Fraser Coast Art Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2019 Tight Lines, Fraser Coast Art Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2018 Pop-up Solo Exhibition, Hervey Bay Seafood Festival, Hervey Bay, QLD

2019 Ghost Net (installation), Hervey Bay Seafood Festival, Hervey Bay, 2023

2019 Draw the Shades, Fraser Coast Art Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2019 Eleven, Fraser Coast Art Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2019 Opening Night, Fraser Coast Art Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2019 Common Ground, Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2018 Painting By The Sea (live painting performance), Hervey Bay Whale Festival, Hervey Bay, QLD

2018 Pop-up Solo Exhibition, Mary Poppins Festival, Gatakers Artspace, Maryborough, QLD

2018 Spectrum, Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, Hervey Bay, QLD

2017 Rush, Gympie Regional Art Gallery, Gympie, QLD

2017 Hidden Wonders (2nd place winner), Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, Hervey Bay QLD

2017 Hervey Bay Art Society's 34th Annual Competitive Art Exhibition (Commended, Abstract section), Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, Hervey Bay QLD

2009 Ignite: International Women's Day Competitive Exhibition (1st place winner), TAFE Queensland, Hervey Bay, QLD

1995 End of Semester Show, Arts Department, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD

Education & Residencies

2021 - 2023 Maker's Shopfront (series of monthly arts business webinars), online, QLD

2022 Make the Maker Bootcamp with Surface Designer Rachael King (two-day intensive workshop learning how to create digital repeat patterns from images of 3D artwork), Bundaberg, QLD

2020 CQ Shopfront Business for Arts Professionals Workshop Series, Bundaberg and online, QLD

2020 Tough and Tender Beauty Artist Residency with CQ RASN, Maryborough and online, QLD.

2017 Series of 12 weekend monthly arts business workshops (run by Hervey Bay Regional Gallery in conjunction with Flying Arts Queensland), University of Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay, QLD

2016 Masterclass with Ken Done, Rockhampton Museum of Art, Rockhampton, QLD

2010 Cert. IV - Small Business Management, Sarina Russo Institute, Hervey Bay, QLD

2009 Cert. IV - Visual Art & Contemporary Craft, TAFE Queensland, Hervey Bay, QLD

2002 - 2005 Bachelor of Nursing (Pre-registration), University of Southern Queensland, Hervey Bay, QLD (degree not completed due to PTSD)

1994 - 1998 Bachelor of Applied Science (Biology), Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD. Electives undertaken in visual arts - painting, drawing, design, research (degree not completed due to illness and PTSD)