For the past 35 years Karen Thompson has worked as a professional artist and educator. Currently, she is delighted to be a recipient of a 2020 ‘Canada Book Award’ as an illustrator of the children’s book ‘Memories of Papa’, authored by Sharon Nichols. Following her graduation from University of Toronto, she continued her studies at York University for printmaking and fine art. She topped up her skills by also attending the Ontario College of Art (OCAD) for colour theory, experimental arts, and airbrush design. She has had several successful solo art shows at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Paul Giovis Gallery in Oshawa, the OSSTF Gallery in Toronto, the Jane Mallett Theatre at the St. Lawrence Theatre as well as at the Here and Now Gallery. Her one-of-a-kind murals have been featured at the Allen Cherry Bridal Salon and most recently in the Toronto Star Real Estate Home Show Section. Karen’s work is in the collections of several members of the entertainment community: Michael Burgess, Louise Pitre, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, and the late John Candy.
Artists who have influenced Karen would be Velasquez who painted the atmosphere of ‘air’, Piero della Francesca whose figures so solidly painted, reflect the endurance of humanity and Degas who captured the translucence of light so well. Reflecting these master mentors in her artistic work has been a joyous, life long relationship. Her classically based style marries airbrush with acrylic, pencil and oil paints; which has been referred to as ‘Magic Realism’.
While her previous audiences may have been (slightly) older and (somewhat arguably) taller, she has throughly enjoyed illustrating books for children and feels that her light-hearted, airy view of the world around us delights not only children but adults as well. She has tried to capture the details that might enchant a child looking at the world around them.
Her first book, ‘Olivia’s Garden’ is a storybook written by Diane Seufert Tait that introduces children to the world of herbs, garden plants and their friends. The sequel, ‘New Friends in Olivia’s Garden’ features the critters that one would find in a garden: birds, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, and spiders!
Her third illustrated storybook is ‘Memories of Papa’. A gentle story about loss and the importance of maintaining family traditions. It too includes creatures, birds, insects and flowers designed to charm wee readers and capture their attention. This book, written by Sharon Nichols, won a Canada Book Award in 2020 for its ‘dedication, passion and creativity’.
Currently, she is working on her fourth book which is a humorous and delightful look at the escapades of three golden retrievers who visit a farm for a fair and wreak havoc for the day.
Her fifth book is one that involves a ‘Pandemonium of Parrots’, thirteen colourful and amusing portraits of the different species of parrots around the world.