As an art teacher, I am fully aware of how tricky watercolor pigments can be to handle without muddying. Some simply defy any rational explanation for their behavior when layering or mixing.


When I discover watercolor paintings that show real mastery, I make a point to share the works with my students and readers. It is especially fortunate to find that the artist is not only still around, but successful and open to being interviewed. Such is the case with watercolorist Karen Faulkner. Here is the back story of how I came to learn about her.


Last year, while creating the watercolor curriculum for my Summer Art Academy program, I did a Google images search for floral watercolors. Luckily for me, the beautiful works by watercolorist Karen Faulkner came up. Her vibrant palettes and clean layout were exactly what I was looking for, and were a big hit with the students. I was intrigued and had to learn more about the artist for myself and my students at Pastimes for a Lifetime Art School.


August turns September, Karen Faulkner Chive Blossoms 4x6 Forget-Me-Not 1

(Images L to R: August turns September, Chive Blossom and Forget-Me-Not.)

Although I was unable to locate a website for her, I was thrilled to discover her presence on Facebook and reached out to her. She graciously agreed to the interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Q. What is your style of painting referred to? For my art students, would you please describe what this style means or represents?

A. I would call it Contemporary Floral or Botanical I suppose. I had someone refer to it once as Haiku of watercolor painting, and I think that is an accurate description as well. My work is most often described as simple, peaceful, cheerful and colorful.

Purple Poppy Love Petals Frozen in Time

(Images L to R: Purple Poppy Love, Petals and Frozen in Time.)

Q. Much of your work features floral and foliage images. What is the story or inspiration behind your choice of subject matter?

A. It’s what I like and what inspires me. I love being outdoors, especially enjoying my own garden and patio or walking on wooded trails. I visit places in my area where there are plenty of flowers for inspiration, such as Longwood Gardens and the Philadelphia Flower Show. Both of these places have a huge variety of potential subject matter. I gravitate towards these kinds of places when I travel as well. I have visited the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco, the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, and the Boston Public Garden on recent vacations.

I like to grow flowers and also to cut and arrange them. I have taken a number of floral design classes at a local community college. All of these experiences allow me to become very familiar with particular flowers and foliage in detail before I go about the process of painting them in an abstract way.


Q. My students are interested in the latest tools of the trade. May I please inquire your preference for or favorite brands of paint? Is your work on rough or smooth watercolor paper or board? What brands and types of brushes work best for you? Do you ever make your own paint or have custom pigments made to order for any of your projects? Do you finish with a varnish or leave as is?

A. I have various brands of artists’ grade tube watercolors such as Sennelier. I use hot pressed (smooth) watercolor paper almost exclusively. Twinrocker handmade paper with deckled edges is really interesting on occasions when I experiment with rough paper. For brushes, I like Winsor & Newton’s Cotman line. They are good quality and relatively affordable. I love Moleskine watercolor notebooks and use them for sketching out ideas and testing colors. I like Blick Art Supply for purchasing all my materials. They carry almost everything imaginable!


Q. At what age did you realize you were an art spirit?

A. Although I have always been creative minded, I don’t think I truly realized it until my late 30s. That’s when it started to become clear to me that I was being drawn toward painting and began experimenting and developing my style. I did grow up in a creative home where there were always plenty of art supplies.


Q. Did anyone try to talk you out of fulfilling your dream as an artist? If so, how did you handle it?

A. I don’t think anyone specifically tried to talk me out of it, but I suspect there were a number of people who saw it as a nice little hobby in the beginning. It is probably surprising to them that recently I’ve been commissioned by a couple of major companies to create images for packaging designs. I have had a number of different vocations along the way including karate instructor, but the majority of my career and professional background has been in marketing communications. I was always most drawn to my interactions with the art department in that profession. You have to keep following the clues along the way to where you are headed.


Q. Is your work represented by a art gallery? If so, how did the gallery and you become acquainted? Did you seek them out or did they find you? If not, how do you make your beautiful paintings available for purchase?

A. No. I never set out to be a professional artist necessarily and my business has grown out of my presence on Etsy. I opened a shop on Etsy in 2007, recently after the site’s launch. All of paintings and prints are sold either online or by word-of-mouth. I have also found a larger audience from my Facebook Page.


Q. Art can touch people’s lives, bringing happiness and hope. For example, my art school partners with CoachArt to provide free art classes for families impacted by childhood chronic illness. Is there a charity you are fond of or support, that you might like my readers to learn more about?

A. I don’t support a particular charity through my art, however I have donated items for various charity fundraisers and auctions as requests cross my desk.


In closing, do you have a favorite quote, mantra or process that you find inspiring or helpful when faced with a creative block, that you would like to share with my readers?

[Tweet ““Your work is to discover your life and with all your heart, give yourself to it.” Buddha”]

Karen Faulkner has been a watercolor artist since 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science and MBA in Business Administration/Marketing and worked as a Marketing Communications Manager.

To learn more about the artist and her work, please visit her Facebook page.

Her beautiful work may be viewed and purchased on Etsy.


Sage 5x7

Sage 5×7

Did you enjoy this interview? If so, please share it with others.

Were you inspired? Please share your inspiration in the comment section below.


For more on Pastimes for a Lifetime’s Art Curriculum and founder/instructor Linda Wehrli, visit our website or Facebook page.

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