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Karen Lehrer

FZAW Online Artist Spotlight

November 2020 - February 2021


Studio visit by appointment-only.

Karen Lehrer

My paintings begin with no preconceived idea in mind. I never know how a painting will turn out.  I paint in layers and respond to the prior layer of dried paint with each subsequent layer.  It is not unusual for my paintings to have as many as eight to ten layers.  Each under-layer becomes the history that informs the above layer. I continue painting layers until the composition and color become pleasing to me, when nothing bothers me, and then I know it’s done.

About the Artist

Karen Lehrer's career spans her lifetime.  She began as a child, then college major, and later professional textile design as a way to support herself early on.  Her styles have changed over the years, having engaged in a variety of art forms. She's been a painter since 1988.

At different times the themes of her paintings change, depending on her inspiration, focus, interests, travel, the seasons of the year, and so on. Her most recent series of paintings is called "Dreaming of Water”. I was influenced by textures and reflections from imagined worlds relating to water. At the time she was working on this series of paintings she was anticipating an upcoming trip to Alaska.  After returning from Alaska she was really shocked at how much the artwork she created prior to the trip, mirrored her visual experience of what she saw and experienced while in Alaska.  


I find myself using this symbolic language of pattern and shapes to more accurately depict and describe the world around me, both physical and imaginary. In addition, the paintings in this series are an exploration of a new material substrate, Yupo, which is a plastic paper. It was exciting to interact with this material, as it takes abuse such as sanding, and it allows me to build up layer after layer of acrylic, crayon, marker, pencil, etc.


Her artworks include acrylic paint and various mediums on wood panels, and sometimes incorporates collage. Yupo, which is a type of plastic paper,  accepts the amount of layering she applies.  As an example, on a wood panel, most of her paintings are anywhere from six to ten layers, meaning each layer is painting on top of the previous painting.  The artwork changes constantly from one layer to the next, making the final painting an exploratory process to achieve.  A process she has honed over many years, realized by facing the challenge of the unknown, and following principles of exploration, and trust in the process.



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