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Karen was raised in Chicago, Illinois, and was involved in the arts from a very young age.

Karen Kanas

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre from the Performing Arts Center, Barat College of DePaul University. Karen was fortunate enough to work with such theatre companies as Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Theatre, and Phoenix Theatre to name a few. She studied painting and art history throughout her years in school, in addition to studying architecture and interior design when she moved to Los Angeles, California at UCLA.

Karen has been an artist for over ten years. Her background in theatre has influenced her immensely as an artist. Many pieces of her artwork have been on exhibit in Los Angeles, New York City, San Jose, and Huntington Beach. Karen was featured in DESTIG Magazine as one of their top emerging artists for 2019 and in the Los Angeles Art Association 2019 Volume 2 Catalog. She is a Founder Member of ArtChilli Gallery UK, the 2020 scholarship recipient and member of the Los Angeles Art Association, and founding artist of Ozli based in Los Angeles.

Karen’s artwork has been featured in House & Gardens Magazine. She was the recipient of the 2020 Artist of the Future Award by Contemporary Art Curator Magazine and the 2021 recipient of the Award of Artistic Excellence for her Painting, Dancer in Motion, by Circle Foundation for the Arts. She also wrote and produced her video performance art piece, The Unseen Artist which is a self-exploration of herself as an artist, and she directed the online series, Shakespeare’s Pawn. Karen currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband actor
Ammar Daraiseh.

Hello Karen! Tell us a few words about yourself. What does a typical day look like? Do you just do art, or is art just part of the picture?

Karen: Hi there! I am an artist based in Los Angeles, California, and known for my vibrant use of color in my landscape, abstract art, portrait, and figure paintings. My artwork was recently featured in House & Garden Magazine UK. Many pieces of my work have been on exhibit in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Jose. As a
creative, I would describe myself as passionate, joyful, sincere, loyal, and a bit eccentric!

A typical day for me in addition to painting involves journaling, meditation, and working out among other things as I’m always busy. I’m big on writing things down such as ideas for a potential piece of artwork, goals for the week or month, how I’m feeling, and anything else that comes to mind. I also keep a day planner to keep myself on track because I tend to be a bit scattered and have a lot going on. That’s a typical day and with lots of coffee of course! I do my best to keep myself on a schedule as it helps me stay focused as an artist.

The Red Shoes

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?

Karen: I feel that throughout my life, I have always been an artist, but I didn’t realize it until many, many years ago. Everything I have done from the time I was a child always involved art – whether going to a museum, taking art classes or my studies in theatre and art history – all paths led to me being an artist. Back in 2015, I decided to partake in 30 paintings in 30 days challenge that a local artist in Los Angeles was hosting. This took me out of my comfort zone and was very liberating as my artwork started to transform and become more organic. As years progressed, I was submitting my artwork to different galleries and online art exhibitions. It wasn’t until 2017 when one of the pieces was selected for an exhibit in San Jose, California. That’s when I realized that I needed to start taking myself a bit more seriously as an artist and really focus on my work.

Coastal View

If you could imagine the piece of your artwork, would you like to be remembered for, what would it look like?

Karen: That’s an easy one. If I were to be remembered for one of my pieces of artwork, it would ultimately have to be one of my landscape paintings – traditional or abstract. I love landscapes and enjoy painting them. I never get tired of a good landscape painting. I would also be remembered for my use of vibrant colors in my work, and my twist/play on a perspective that I like to do in a lot of my pieces.

Dancer in Motion

You say most of your pieces are from memories you have or places you’ve been. Could you tell us a bit more about what’s that process like? And is there a message you are trying to give with your art?

Karen: I feel each piece that I paint tells a story and is an extension of myself. Many of my pieces highlight moments or memories from my own life that are relatable to the viewer – allowing them to have their own experience when viewing my artwork,  maybe evoking a memory from a time in their life that they are reminded of. I am always inspired when I walk out the door and I have a very vivid memory. I can remember almost everything from the time I was a child. I paint from memory – it is always my interpretation of that moment, never copied or based on a photo. I have had people tell me that my work has a calming effect and what certain
pieces of my artwork mean to them or what memory it triggers. Then I get asked the question, was that right or wrong? There is no right or wrong answer. It is about what you take away from the piece. Sometimes what a person sees in my work, had never even occurred to me. I am always curious to hear how people interpret my artwork as it also helps me as an artist.

Road to Perdition

What is a day of working like in your studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?

Karen: A day in my studio, well I like to paint between 12 pm – 4 pm when the light is right either on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday as I tend to be more productive and motivated then. We get a lot of natural light around that time in our home so it’s always ideal and my favorite time to paint. Before I begin painting, I will revisit my palette to determine what colors of acrylics I’m running low on, or I create a new palette as I like to add a lot of layers to my pieces. I like to photograph and view my work from different angles periodically while I’m painting as this helps me conceptualize what might be missing, or if something looks disjointed that I may want to change. I do
have rituals that help motivate me when I paint – coffee, and music are a must and I like to take breaks in between where I lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling – I do this one a lot!

Untitled Landscape I

Which artist of the past would you most like to meet, and why?

Karen: There are three artists of the past that come to mind who I would like to meet – Joan Mitchell, Agnes Martin, and Lee Krasner. I’m curious as to what their experience was at the time since so much of the art world was and is heavily focused and dominated by male counterparts.

Untitled Landscape II

Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about?

Karen: My artwork was featured in House & Garden Magazine, UK as part of their fall art edit campaign in September, October, and November 2021 issues of the magazine as well as in their H&G online shop. I recently had two back-to-back shows one in Los Angeles at Gallery 825 – Upcycle Exhibition and another show in Huntington Beach, California Scapes and Scope – Visions of the Land, Sea, and Urban Space.

Ammar as Aaron the Moor, Titus Andronicus (Blood)

Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?

Karen: Beyond art, the purpose of my work is to tell a story – a huge part of that story is my own personal journey as an artist.

Ammar as Portraits I painted based on the characters in the online series I directed – Shakespeare’s Pawn.

What are you currently working on, and what is next for you?

Karen: I have a new piece I’m painting as well as another painting commission coming up. Then I’m planning out my next series of paintings. I’m also working on an interview for another online magazine publication as well as the book that will come out in early 2022 that I will be featured in – this is a collaboration with Al-Tiba9 Contemporary Art whom I also worked with before and was featured on their website last year.

Ammar as Henry V from Henry V (Tears)

Where do you see yourself and your art in 5 years?

Karen: I feel that my style and approach to painting continue to evolve and are ever-changing. In five years, I hope to have more exposure, my own gallery, and exhibit in larger galleries and institutions.

Town by the Sea

To learn more about Karen and her art, please check:

Website

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Thank you!

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