October 04, 2023

Karen Johnson returns as Clarke Area Arts Council artist of the month

The first painting Karen Johnson tried her hand at was in 1974, and it was a still-life painting.

“I hated it,” said Johnson. “I thought, I can’t do this…[but] I made up my mind, I’m going to do this. I kept at it, kept at it, and there - mind over matter.”

Forty-eight years later, Johnson estimates that she has painted more than 7,500 pieces. She still has that first painting, her husband unwilling to let her get rid of it.

Painting started as a form of mental therapy for Johnson and while she took a few classes, she is mostly self-taught At one point, she had four or five new paintings on her easel each day.

“When I had a shop and a demand for art, I sold a lot of art; whipped those things out,” said Johnson.

She also taught classes at the art league, traveled to different schools as an outside guest artist, and hosted art classes at Your Sweet Pickins’ in Osceola. She also did arts and crafts shows, but the pandemic and health reasons caused Johnson to have to take a step back. Now, she is easing her way back into it.

Johnson works mainly in oils and acrylics, with the occasional watercolor. She finds pastels to be too “dusty,” and mostly stays away from them. Her favorite subjects to paint are landscapes, cityscapes, mountains, and the ocean. She dabbles in portraits, but they aren’t her favorite thing to paint. Johnson credits her travels and finding beauty in life as inspirations for her paintings.

Johnson has some advice for those who are thinking about picking up a brush to create something.

“You don’t have to draw to paint…a positive mind, and you can do it,” said Johnson. “It’s a talent that’s all in your mind; you wanna do it or you don’t want to do it.”


An artist reception for Johnson is planned for Thursday, Sept. 8 from 4:30 to 7 pm in the Lakeside Hotel & Casino Events Center entrance. Johnson will be present to talk with visitors, and there is a drawing for one of three original paintings by Johnson - winner’s choice.

“Come out and join us,” said Johnson, who also encourages people to come and support the Arts Council and all they do.

The paintings on display at Lakeside include mountain and ocean scenes, animals, flowers, and more. Most all of them are available for purchase.

For those who would like to purchase a painting from Johnson, she can be contacted at kjohnsn@grm.net.

Her artwork will be on display at Lakeside through Sept. 20.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.