Karen Atwell has a passion for meticulously capturing the expression and realism of her subjects in her pencilled illustrations. She grew up in Ottawa from a family with creative talent such as an art teacher, a fine furniture carpenter and a tailor.
Karen is employed at Calgary Cooperative Association where she has been for 30 plus years and finds satisfaction in her current position in a generalist-type role which enables her to assist customers through their entire shopping experience.
Karen’s most memorable times in her younger years were when she spent summers with her Gran on Prince Edward Island in her red island sandstone home. Her Gran was such an independent person. Her best memory was when she was 81 years young and set out in her little Dodge Arrow car on a rainy afternoon and became stuck in the mud on her long laneway. Not upset at all, she accepted assistance from her neighbours and, as was her way, she forged ahead at top speed, never looking back. Karen fondly reflects on memories from those summers and is inspired to this day by her Grandmother’s constant strength and encouragement.
Karen’s inspiration for drawing evolved from always loving to colour and draw, and gradually she began to sketch faces from photos and magazines. Karen’s talent is natural and she is mainly self-taught. She has taken various night classes at the University of Calgary and attended classes with David Kitler for one year in 2005.
For many years Karen enjoyed drawing portraits in graphite of family and friends and loved to see their features and personalities emerge on paper. The photo inset is of an early portrait of her mother. Recently she has started to explore with colour, taking a keen interest in nature.