After leaving school Karen moved away from Airlie Beach, settling in Townsville where she studied fashion design and textiles. Karen was then recruited by the RAAF as a tailor and initially served in Adelaide before being posted to Amberley in Ipswich, designing the Australian military's first ever maternity uniform. After leaving the service, she helped to establish a very successful marketing and event management business with her husband.
Regardless of these successes, Karen has always looked to get back to her creative roots and pursue new challenges. In 2004 she finally acted on her desire to devote more time to her painting. Settled in a 100 year old Queensland home at Sadliers Crossing in Ipswich she now works as a full time arts practitioner producing a wide range of works and conducting classes and art groups under the "Arts Unlocked" banner.
In September 2005 Gallery Newtown in Ipswich mounted "Bush to the Beach", Karen's first solo exhibition reflecting her two environmental loves, Australia's magnificent shores and beautiful rural landscapes. Over two thirds of the 27 works offered during the 9 day exhibition were sold.
Twelve months later her second exhibition, "One day closer to Rain", reflected the dramatic impact on the South East Queensland landscape of the record breaking drought that has gripped the region. A local author Trevor Johnston penned a number of poems about a selection of the works and recited them at the exhibition opening. The title represented the artist's optimism for the future and confidence that we will once again see our world at its lush green best.
Karen's paintings are inspired by locations she has visited in her extensive travels off the beaten track throughout the countryside surrounding her home in Ipswich and far beyond. Her works are not photographic style reproductions of what she sees. Instead they are a reflection of the feelings and emotions the particular scene generates within her. Like her first exhibition, "One Day Closer to Rain" was commercially successful with the majority of works selling during the week long showing.Karen produces traditional landscapes, seascapes and still life art in oils along with more contemporary works in a range of mediums. Her work has won numerous awards for her paintings, textiles, fashion design and decorative crafts.
Karen says "I spend hours drawing and observing. Carefully, I mentally note details, the change of light and mood. I spend several months digesting all this information in my mind, thinking my way through a painting, not even lifting a brush. Then, with my energies in place I start on canvas adding colour and tone to bring the drawing to life. A turning point for my painting style came from that often considered and repeated tip, "Use a larger brush than you really think necessary because it will stop you from fiddling". I often use 50mm to 100mm brushes to complete a work. I rather like one of the late Lloyd Rees' comments when he said, "I have to confess that I simply do not care how a picture is produced - it is the result that matters. I therefore prefer to have the painting taking control, not the technique". I feel that once a paint brush is in my hand the paint does take over. Hours fly by and the adrenalin is rushing and I feel like a magician as colour touches the canvas. I am not always conscious of the marks being made. I love large format and sometimes I need to constrain myself to paint smaller, knowing that not everyone can hang a 2m painting in their home."
Karen's mixed media work is bold, colourful and intriguing. Her mission is simple. She loves what she does and hopes her passion is contagious. As a mixed media artist Karen is unconfined to any particular technique or medium. Each time she employs a new medium she plays with it; exploring and probing its qualities and limitations. Once familiar with the new medium she then takes it to a new height by combining it with other media. The possibilities are never ending, that is her excitement. Always though, there is colour and strength.
"Concrete and Paint Make Art" is a workshop she has created where you explore mediums like; Resene paints, cement, liquid glass, sand, collage and much more to create inspiring art.
Artist: Karen Oberg
Coast to coast
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