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Artist Bio
Karen with her painting_edited.jpg

Artist Biography

Karen E. Thuermer is a Virginia-based painter who grew up in Dayton, Ohio. From an early age, she loved creating art and won awards.

Although her grandmother died when she was very young, Karen continued to be influenced by her artwork and realistic rendering of landscapes. Karen's mother, a prolific and award-winning artist, also inspired and encouraged Karen early on to create art. To this day, Karen's mother is her toughest and most inspirational critic.

Also having an influence on her art is her degree in art history and the host of art instructors with whom she has studied over the years.

Karen has studied painting most of her life. She is a regular student at the Art League School of Art in Alexandria, Virginia. She studied art at the Sir John Cass in London in addition to art history and other subjects at the American International University in London, England, and Dension University in Granville, Ohio. She has also taken classes at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and the Great Falls School of Art in Great Falls, Virginia, and is a participant in the Gloucester (Virginia) Arts Festival, Suffolk (Virginia) Plein Air Festival, and the Great Falls Garden Club Tour (invited artist).


Her career as a journalist impacts her artwork. Assignments throughout the United States and abroad, coupled with her personal travel, have and continue to provide her with countless material to paint.

Karen describes herself as an impressionistic and realist artist. Her primary medium is oil, although she also works in watercolor, graphite, pastel, and engraving. She is also an award-winning photographer.

Karen’s art has appeared in numerous juried shows. She has won awards at the Art League Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia; Torpedo Factory Artists Association’s Art in City Hall in Alexandria, Virginia; the National Arts Program at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.; Oxon Hill Manor Juried Art Show in Oxon Hill, Maryland; Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center in Fairfax City, Virginia; Upper Marion Cultural  Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; Wayne Art Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania; Del Ray Artisans Gallery in Del Ray, Virginia; Great Falls Art Center in Great Falls, Virginia; Strathmore Art Center in Bethesda, Maryland; Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center in Williamsburg, Virginia; Links Bridge Vineyards in Thurmont, Maryland, and other venues in Ohio and the Mid Atlantic.  

Karen is a member of the Art League in Alexandria, Virginia; Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society (MPSGS) of Washington, DC.; Great Falls Art Center; Virginia Plein Air Artists; Williamsburg Artist Group (WAG); and Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Her work is for sale through Gallery 75 (Torpedo Factory), Alexandria, Virginia; the Art Centr of Great Falls (Virginia), the Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society (MPSGS) of Washington, DC., the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center in Williamsburg, Virginia, Williamsburg Artist Group (WAG), and directly from the artist herself. (See contact information.)

Karen resides in both Alexandria and Williamsburg, Virginia.

Artist Statement



My interest in art began early in life thanks to the encouragement of my mother and teachers. I felt my talent was validated when I began winning awards in high school. Although I chose to make my career as a journalist, my passion for art has always been a big part of my life and one of my greatest loves. 

I create art through a host of mediums: oil, watercolor, graphite, pastel, photography, and print making. My favorite medium, however, is oil. I simply enjoy its richness of color and fluidity that I do not find in other mediums.


Critics of my work have described me as an accomplished landscape painter who is equally skilled at still life and figurative compositions. I often portray landscapes, florals, still lifes, people, and animals – subjects I love and that l render in a realistic and impressionist style. My works are frequently accepted in juried shows and displayed in a wide variety of venues. I have won numerous awards.

Many of my paintings are the result of working from the many reference photos I have taken during my travels. I also enjoy painting plein air. I find that painting outdoors forces me to be expressive and work fast.  After all, the light is constantly changing! Plein air is all about light. It gives a painting life. With each stroke of my brush, I see how color, shapes and light interplay with each other. It's like a dance across my canvas!


I am fascinated by positive and negative space as well as a wide pallet of colors and how they relate to each other in creating effects. For that reason, I am often described as a colorist. I am also interested in capturing mood. I like to create the sense of noise -- a group of people enjoying drinks around a table or selling goods at an outdoor market, or silence -- a butterfly resting on a flower, a grouping of trees in a forest, still water flanked by mountains... 

Many of my subjects come from my work as a journalist. Assignments around the world have afforded me a wealth of material from which to paint. I often pack my watercolors or pencils in my suitcase and paint or sketch whenever I can.  My camera is also a useful tool in snapping thousands of photographs that I can use as references.


I also have found that my mindset as a writer makes me sensitive to detail.  I am constantly looking for material and angles for my stories. It's the same in creating art.  The difference is the medium, be it words or paint. What is important is relaying the message through my understanding of the big picture and the details that make up its many parts. I always ask myself: how does each element relate? What matters most? What will my audience think and feel?

A number of instructors have influenced my career as an artist. They include Anna Paik (oil), of London, England; Elizabeth Floyd (oil) of Alexandria, Virginia; Michael Francis (oil) of Arlington, Virginia; Jacqueline Saunders (watercolor), now deceased but from Northern Virginia; and Susan O’Neill (watercolor and graphite) from Alexandria, Virginia.  I have also been influenced by the artwork of the Masters such as Impressionist painters Monet, Sisley, and Pissarro, and Dutch Golden Age artists such as Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer, Cuyp, Hobbema, and Ruysdael. I also have a passion for Homer, Sargent, and Whistler. There are others, including my contemporaries. It’s those artists who teach me about composition, colors, values, and hue, and -- most important -- the pure enjoyment of art.  I never stop learning and looking at other artists. For that reason, I am also continuously engaged in art classes, plein air, and exhibiting wherever I can. 

I never want to stop learning. I believe art mirrors life, and that like life, art and the creative process are constantly evolving. But more important is having fun. I hope my viewers see that I’m really enjoying myself! This is my top priority! And I hope those who have purchased my art find years of enjoyment from what I have created. 

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