Karen Carey has the rare ability to see the beauty in everyday life and capture it on canvas.
“We live in an area that’s naturally beautiful and my hope is to share that through my painting,” she said, glancing out one of the enormous windows in her top-floor studio in the McClure Building.
Carey is one of three local artists with space on the seventh floor of Frankfort’s first skyscraper, which was built in 1906. Betty Beshoar and Bob McWilliams, fellow landscape artists, also have studios just down the hall from Carey and the three occasionally call on one another in times of need.
“It’s nice when you’re working on a project that you feel is missing something and Bob or Betty can come and look at it and give suggestions,” Carey added.
Though the panoramic view from her perch high above downtown Frankfort is breathtaking, Carey prefers plein air painting to being confined within four walls.
“There’s nothing as satisfying as going outdoors to paint, trying to capture the light and the atmosphere, as well,” she explained, grinning. “Of course that’s after you cope with chiggers and ticks, too much sun or snow and climbing around to get the best view. It’s always worth it though.”
Carey, who primarily uses oils, prefers to paint landscape and still-life rather than portraits because people are too fidgety.
Talk of her talent spread through word-of-mouth and she is often asked to create paintings of clients’ homes and gardens. In fact, she was invited to paint the Farmers Market on Wilkinson Boulevard — a project she hopes will come to fruition later this summer.
One setback she has encountered as a plein air artist is the ever-changing light and shadows.
“I completely lose track of time when I am painting and could paint endlessly,” she said, as she cast a longing look out the window. “So, it’s really helpful to be able to take photos and finish a painting in the studio with the visual memory fresh in your mind.”
Carey, who believes art is something that must be constantly nourished, also attends workshops held by artists whose work she appreciates, such as Diane Tesler, Bill Fletcher, Lori Putnam, Roger Dale Brown, Tom Blumlein, Dreama Perry and Wesley Bate.
“Every painter thinks they have so much to learn,” Carey remarked, adding she also took art classes at Eastern Kentucky University. “I learn from observing and practicing.”
A member of Artists’ Attic, Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass and Lexington Art League, Carey has exhibited her art locally at the Jane Chancellor Moore Gallery, Capital Cellars and Bourbon on Main. She has also had her artwork on display in galleries in Georgetown and Owenton.
Though she considers herself from “everywhere,” Carey, who is retired from the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education, has settled in the bluegrass state.
“I think Kentucky is a well-kept secret. There’s something about it,” she said. “It has a mix of softness and wildness, country and sophistication. I like that.”
In addition to her downtown studio, where she mostly shows her work, Carey also has a home studio at her residence in rural Franklin County that she shares with her wife, Jane Bogardus. The pair also has a 1½ -year-old mini poodle-schnauzer mix, Lucy, and several cats. The couple also travels the world and takes one big trip and numerous side trips each year.
When she’s not painting or adventuring around the globe, Carey enjoys reading, cooking and getting together with friends.
Check out Carey’s work on her website, www.karencareypaintings.com.