Los Angeles-based Karin Brauns traces her artistic inspiration back to her childhood in Norrköping, Östergötland, Sweden, whose culture is steeped in an appreciation of nature and year-round outdoor activities.
She also points to her secondary school teachers for encouraging her to pursue art school after finishing her studies.
However, Brauns took a more experiential and individualized path towards establishing her art career four years ago. At 18, she traveled the world, living for extended periods in Greece, England, New Zealand, and Australia before moving to the U.S. in 2012. To pay the bills as well as master her English, she took up modeling and, later, acting. Although she landed roles in several television shows and films, her boyfriend’s spontaneous reaction to a painting she created for him as a gift three years ago was a transformative moment. Creating art went from a therapeutic hobby to an all-encompassing calling. In addition to that encouragement, she has drawn upon both her travels and her commitment to conservation for inspiration.
“The beauty of nature has always been a big influence on me,” Braun says. “It’s where I find peace. My mind wanders freely and stimulates my creative thoughts. Simply put, capturing nature and wildlife makes me feel good. When I create my representations of animals, they are very human and yet have a sense of purity. I also find myself inspired by the way I experienced different cultures in terms of how people in those countries related to animals.”
In just a few short years, Braun has received commissions from collectors in Canada, Sweden, Australia, and the U.S. as well as numerous invitations to show her collections in galleries across the U.S. and internationally. As she wants to give back to the animals for providing her such inspiration, she also donates specially created canvases for fundraisers and auctions benefiting wildlife animal rescue. (please name the charities?) Braun’s work is international and universal in scope, starting with a subtle and sophisticated palette of color, composition, and texture to her acrylic paintings through. Finished canvases are rendered using a variety of media including acrylics, oils, gold leaf, and even glitter. The result is a balance of realistic and dreamy expressions highlighted by golden touch. For example, her recent “Heartbeats” canvases showcase the emotional connection animals share with their mates, and with the world.
“When I paint, time does not exist, and the canvas comes naturally to me,” she says. “However, it is just as wonderful and therapeutic for me to observe how different people are drawn to, interact with, and are uplifted by my pieces. I love watching people react to my paintings and get lost in the moment. Every time I witness this dynamic, it reinforces the fact that creating art and capturing nature is my purpose.”
Hello Karin! Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you begin doing art and how did you get started? When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Karin: I’m an artist and an actress. My story began in Norrköping, a peaceful city about 160 km southwest of the national capital of Sweden, Stockholm.
It was there, where the culture is steeped with an appreciation of the outdoors and nature, that my interest in animals, especially endangered and threatened animals, began. Scandinavia’s largest zoo & dolphinarium is located right outside my hometown. Growing up I spent a lot of time in the wildlife park. I was fascinated by all the different species, especially the African animals and the dolphins. I always wanted to be an animal trainer/worker or an actress, that actually later in life did happen.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a wild imagination, everything creative and artistic came naturally to me. Painting & drawing was my all-time favorite hobby. Ever since my early teens, my teachers and family prodded and encouraged me to pursue art school, but back then I didn’t have the believes to pursue a career in the arts.
I left Sweden pretty early, I was only nineteen. I’ve always been a wanderer and some kind of seeker looking for new adventures. Young and curious I wanted to explore and travel the world before choosing my path. I lived for extended periods in Greece, England, New Zealand, and Australia before moving to the U.S in 2012 which I fell in love with immediately. I came to the United States not knowing an American soul in hopes to pursuit a career in acting. Since my teenage years, I’ve done professional modeling worldwide and landed acting roles in several television shows and lead roles in films. My transformative moment of becoming a full-time artist happened about six years ago. I had eager to start painting again, my visions were sharp and clear.
The first time grabbing onto my paintbrush in years I knew that I never wanted to let go of it again. Creating art makes me feel completely at peace.
I started to paint animal couples and that’s how my first series ‘’Heartbeats of the Wild’’ came alive.
What artists of the past or present have inspired you?
Karin: There’s so many amazing artist throughout history that has inspired me, there are basically too many to list. What impresses me about the artists of all time is their amazing ability to express their moods and telling amazing beautiful stories with simply just a stroke of a brush. I admire artists of the Renaissance period like Leonardo da Vinci, His natural genius crossed so many disciplines that he epitomized the term.
In reflecting back to the start of your artistic endeavor, what is the most useful advice you ever received?
Karin: The only failure is not to try. Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s not the end of the world and in many ways, it’s the first step toward learning something better and getting better at it. Everyone is always going to judge you whether their background/ life story/ how they view the world is… The most valuable advice to be Myself is to be my authentic self and keep doing what I believe in regardless of the lows and the highs and what other people may think. Staying true to yourself I believe is golden.
You’ve also traveled the world. Tell me more about that experience, and how did that impact your artistic expression?
I am all about adventure, discovery, and living each day to the fullest. Going to unknown places and creating new perspectives and inspirations has significantly benefited me to find and keep inner balance. It’s a great, big world out there with billions and billions of people, who each day live their life and have their own unique experiences. Going to another country, and seeing people live differently, speak differently, look differently has truly flourished my artistic vision. From living in different places around the world it feels like I’ve had multiple lives, every place brings a new chapter, a new beginning. Sadly things end but memories last forever and every time I am visioning a new art piece in my mind I go back to those moments. Reflecting on the characters that I’ve met, the emotions I felt, the surroundings I saw etc.
In my artworks, I like to capture a specific moment of life in a colorful, balanced way so every creature presents itself as an ‘’anihuminal’’. Each being, whether it is a lion, elephant, or bird has its own heartbeat, identity, and set of behaviors. However, all have qualities we can relate to affection, love, pride, and soul. And throughout my travels, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore and experience all these elements and qualities from different perspectives around the globe so I now can dig through my memories and put them on canvas.
You’ve recently started to create” Bar Art”. This sounds very interesting to me, please tell me more about that and what is the inspiration behind it?
“My ‘Bar Art’ is composed of a variety of mixed mediums filled with different dimensions and abstract characteristics. It’s usually composed on a wooden canvas. Containing elements of resin, precious stones like real genuine diamonds and gems & other unique materials. The main object in focus is of course the bottle with its memory. Whether it is a wine/ champagne/whiskey/ gin bottle.
I like to pick a special bottle with a story, a unique bottle preferably provided by the buyer/collector. Maybe it’s a wine bottle that was given to someone on their wedding day, their special anniversary, or a very old bottle of liquor that has been kept in the dark for years and now finally open. I smash the bottle into pieces and create the unique custom art piece there memories will be printed forever”. The artwork will forever remind you of the good times of celebration.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork?
Karin: I believe all of my real-life situations are the foundation of my artworks. I’m solely inspired by the unique perspective I’ve had through life situations.
From my own story, I’m able to develop larger stories, scaling my interaction with the world up to distill it down to a few themes. My point is, that inspiration isn’t about what artist or art movements you like or gravitate towards, it’s about what you do with the feelings and thoughts after you experience something. Where do you take it? How do you explain what you felt? You can be straightforward or, as is the case with most intriguing art, you can build a compressed version, filling it with all the nuances and details of maybe not only that specific experience but many experiences and feelings and thoughts had that add to the recipe. Your life is your ingredients, your inspiration, you simply have to go out and live it and be fearless in your self-examination enough to dig out of yourself what you feel you need to express.
Your art is very unique. What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Karin: For me, it is important to recognize that the creative zone can be elusive, as can my energy or focus. Letting the creative process happen in a balanced way is very very important to me. We often tend to want to control where our minds and thoughts go, But in letting go and following, instead of leading, we may find more than what we were looking for. I’ve learned to overcome it realizing the importance of taking care of myself. Not just my creative self, but my whole self. Not criticizing myself too much, overwork, overthink… Some days there’s certainly a challenge facing a blank canvas – the same challenge a writer faces staring at a blank page. Other days the creativeness flows like a wild river, you just need to be aware of where your state of mind is in the present.
What are some of the tools you use to create a distinct style of artwork?
Karin: I like to use a variety of materials including acrylics, oils, gold leaf, glitter, even Precious & Semi-Precious Stones. The result is a balance of realistic and dreamy expression highlighted by a golden touch.
For example, I use gold leaf frequently in my paintings as a reminder of the delicacy of the natural world, It reminds me of the bright rays of light that illuminate our world and the delicate balance of nature, I places it carefully for impact, hoping that it will imbue the art and the viewer with the healing power of gold. The sparkles in my artworks is the symbolism of precious and semi-precious stones. Sapphires meaning wisdom, virtue, and good fortune; rubies signifying courage and passion; diamonds standing for purpose and clarity; pearls representing virtuousness and pureness; opals symbolizing wisdom and healing. Each stone adds purposeful meaning to the piece. I constantly looking for the additional essential detail to make the work complete. Whether it’s feathers, broken glass, rocks, leaves, reeds, thorns, or even a found object, it becomes elevated as the finishing touch.
What are some of the stories behind your work?
Karin: Every painting tells its own story. I love working with colors and it can certainly be shown in many of my works, especially earlier paintings. We all know how powerful colors are, how it influences our perceptions and plays a big roll in human behavior. How it influences mood, certain emotions, and physiological reactions in people. I love to see how people react differently depending on the colors and the elements I chose in my artwork. How some people are drawn to the blues and some to the reds. That combined with my animal couples and their interactions with one another makes the story in the painting perhaps even more clear. Animals have seemed to been shown in art ever since humans first started drawing on walls in caves, the animal world has always served as an endless source of fascination among us. I think the portrayal of animals in art reveals a lot about our times and the relationship between our two worlds colliding. Also reflections within ourselves. My endangered animal species are also a reminder that one day some of these animals no longer will walk, crawl or swim on this planet. Our wildlife faces a variety of urgent threats and through my art I hope to raise awareness to the legacy of nature conservation and inspire people to fight the biodiversity crisis of our planet.
What is the most recent piece you’ve enjoyed working on the most?
Karin: The most recent piece I enjoyed working on was a ’Bar Art’’ commissioned piece for a lovely married couple. They sent me their sabled champagne bottle from their wedding day. It was a Magnum bottle that I smashed and put together on a large wooden canvas. I had a lot of fun creating it in the spirit of love and celebration. Adding extra mediums and broken glass. I only cut my fingers a few times creating it even though I wear gloves most of the time. I also made their lucky numbers out of little glass shatters that are hidden in the piece. I finalized it with a little genuine diamond on top.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Karin: Create new fresh works here at my art studio in Beverly hills. I also have a show coming up in August-September in Vienna, Austria and other art fairs lined up across the country towards the end of the year and 2022. I’m excited that things are finally starting to open up. I’m thrilled to be able to showcase my art among people again, travel, and find new inspirations and projects. When this pandemic is over, it can only get better. The best is yet to come.
To find out more about Karin and her art, please check: