Karen Mason – biography
An innovator and life-long experimenter, Karen Mason began exploring painting at MSU and later at The Art Center and California College of Art. Such studies provided a foundation to capture the visual beauty of nature scenes, but it wasn’t until later when Karen received private instruction from well-known abstract, watercolor, and plein air artists that she pushed the boundaries of what is possible. Under the direction of Jamie Brunson, Susan Cornelis, and Tom Soltesz, Karen studied the properties of a range of paint and surface materials and developed a strong working understanding of the available tools. That opened things up in a big way.
Equipped and free to explore, Karen developed a unique style utilizing layers on layers of oil, ink, acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, and resin over textured surfaces. In this way, she captures the mood of birds and botanicals in her paintings, which have an incredibly unique depth and surface reminiscent of encaustic. Having traveled extensively to Japan while working in the automotive industry for many years and regularly visiting family in Italy, Karen is heavily influenced by her exposure to Asian and Italian cultures as evident in her Renaissance Wabi Sabi style paintings.
Karen lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and began exhibiting paintings in local solo and semi-solo shows 15 years ago. Around this time, she built two garden studios in her backyard, as to help provide the needed space to explore and also surround herself with nature. Karen has maintained a regular cadence of painting and exhibiting activity while also pursuing a career in high technology over this period, but recently made the move to shift to a full-time artist. As Vice President of a healthcare technology company, she led a large UX Researcher team for eight years that helped inform future product design based end-user needs. After a successful career leading such innovation and related initiatives at Nissan, Levi, Visa, Oral-B, AAA, Karen left the high-tech and product/service industries to pursue her fine art painting career full-time. She now paints every day in her garden studio, actively applying what she has learned about innovation and experimentation in creating beautifully unique paintings.