Karen Thomas is an artist who works with the natural pigments of watercolour, she finds inspiration in the beauty of the natural world around us. She works hard to breathe life into her subjects, recreating them in vibrant, expressive and contemporary paintings and that is clear from her work. #TeamCoco fell in love with her work and we had to find out more.
Here, we talk to Karen about her plans for the future, her favourite place for a coffee and so much more…
When did you launch Karen Thomas Watercolour and what was the reason behind it?
2015. I had painted so obsessively that I was facing a serious storage problem. The solution of going professional became the obvious one when, increasingly, my work would disappear whenever friends, relatives and neighbours came round. I suddenly found that my waiting-list for commissions stretched rather scarily into the future, exhibition venues and galleries kept asking for re-stocks and I had to get organised pretty fast.
Whats your background?
After a promising early start I was told (as so many artists are) to get a ‘proper job’. Round peg, square hole described me well during this period and looking back, I can see creativity tried to spill out at every available opportunity. At college, I’m ashamed to say I used to ‘bunk off’ my own classes to hang out in the art and pottery studio. I made a success of my time in the corporate world but never felt authentic.
When my husband and I decided on a complete lifestyle shift, moving to Devon, art re-captured me almost immediately. I became quite single-minded in pursuit of the skills required to get the expressive imagery in my head down on paper. I paint every day and make a point of trying to learn something about my craft every day. It keeps me inspired. My friends tease me that my brushes are surgically attached, like the painting version of Edward Scissorhands!
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
In order that I can dedicate enough time to painting, my husband is my logistics manager, taking care of tasks such as distribution and getting my work framed. He’s constantly dispatching commissioned work and other paintings to buyers throughout the UK and abroad. I’m starting to attract collectors from Truro to Texas, so it takes a surprising amount of time! I have an excellent fine-art photographer and printer nearby and we work together to create my limited edition prints of which I’m very proud. I’ve also been incredibly fortunate in the support and advice I’ve received, both artistically and on the business side of things, from people who have kept an eye on my work and understand what I’m trying to accomplish.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Sometimes I wish I’d turned back to art earlier. However, I’m a bit of a fatalist and I believe no experience is ever wasted. I might have been less well-equipped to handle the business side of art had the ‘proper jobs’ never happened.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
Although I have a studio, my best work often gets created in the kitchen. It’s my favourite place. The problem is, sometimes there’s no room to cook. I do enjoy eating out so the problem is never insurmountable.
2017 is here, where do you plan on taking your art?
These days, it is possible for an artist to totally self-represent. But for anyone who wishes to become a renowned artist, the art world has a curious hierarchy to it. People describe the quality of galleries who will represent an artist in their life as a sort of predictable ladder to climb. My job, as I see it, is to work hard to stay on a continuous upward curve, in both the expressiveness of my work and in maintaining a dialogue with places who I hope will exhibit my work of the future.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
Firstly, the amount of pleasure I’ve received chatting away with a growing army of very loyal followers, collectors and art chums on social media. I’ve never had 5000+ friends before! I treasure each and every one, often ask their opinion on what they want to see next from me, heckle them back, and really enjoy my relationship with them.
On the business side, regular near sell-out exhibitions of my wildlife paintings in a beautiful National Trust gallery. It’s confirmation that I’m on the right track.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
Having worked in London, I can tune back into the vibe there quite quickly.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Mascara, Bobbi Brown tinted lip balm and creme blush
Being true to yourself and celebrating your individuality.
Best thing about London to you?
Culture! Galleries, museums, theatre and of course the restaurants.
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Statement boots, every time! I’m not going to divulge how many pairs I have, but I’ve been known to hide some.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
My Frye boots.
Favourite love song?
‘You Do Something To Me’ by Paul Weller
Best place for a coffee?
The Olive Tree, Bude! A long way for your readership I know, but it’s my ‘local’ and you can gaze out at the sea lock …
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Two pieces actually. To embrace all experience without losing ones sensitivity, even if that hurts. It’s what makes us artists. Secondly, a person wanting to be a successful artists is the one that doesn’t wait for a day when inspiration strikes, she turns up at the easel every day.
A box of Ferrero Rocher and a glass of Prosecco (or two!), by the log fire in winter and by the sea in summer. It’s not really that naughty, is it?!
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
With my paint brushes in hand and my dogs under the easel, anywhere. Having said that, I have my eye on an Art Safari
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