Karen Lawson

Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand

Mediums: My preferred medium is acrylic paint. I also enjoy drawing, using pastels and collage and photography.

Style: The style I enjoy most is abstract painting.


I am a self-taught artist from Dunedin, New Zealand. My paintings reflect the environment around me and my thoughts and emotion. I love photography and often use photographs as inspiration for my art, though the colours and textures of nature and the surprises of the colour of life are my true inspiration. It never ceases to fascinate me that the addition of paint to a blank space can create a new space, a new world. I studied political science and social politics as a mature student at university and am interested in the way art can be used to express political thought.


Green Cat Painting Karen Lawson

Green Cat © Karen Lawson: Is this how the cat sees us or how we see him as he dances through the garden. When one of my sons started school it quickly became apparent that there were going to be some difficulties with learning to read and write. Grasping at straws his teacher suggested he may be colour-blind. The class had cut out cats to paint and my son painted his cat green, much to teacher’s alarm. The child thought it was funny to have a green cat. I think he also thought it was funny to wind up the teacher.


I have always been creative, but like many spent my early years raising children and confining my creativity to the sewing machine, or providing my children with paint and not myself. When I first began painting six years ago it was like taking up an addiction. My hands shook when I first bought a ‘larger’ canvas and began to paint. I still get that feeling of excitement when I have a new surface and a new project is about to begin.


Do you listen to music while painting?

I’m a bit strange about music. I listen to the radio constantly so get a variety of music night and day. Also get a variety of news, audio plays, book reviews and politics. I am slightly hearing impaired and didn’t realise how much more I could enjoy music until I began wearing hearing aids two years ago. I love jazz and I like classical music, especially piano.


What interpretation would you like others to have of your art?

I think that everybody has their own perception of art and each viewer will have their own interpretation. If I am trying to convey anything it is that there are many ways to see the world.


Process of Creating Art

Sometimes the idea for a painting will come to me out of the blue, perhaps when I am driving or relaxing in a quiet space. I like to play with colour and how different colours interact with one another. I take my camera with me everywhere and like to take pictures that are a bit off beat. The surprises that a photograph can produce are sometimes inspiration for a painting, texture, colour, shape, and mood.


Passing Through Painting Karen Lawson

Passing Through © Karen Lawson: During the painting of this picture I received news of the death of a childhood friend. She had been ill for many years and died before her 50th birthday. For her it was the end of a long struggle. She touched many lives as she passed through this world, knew joy and love and sorrow and left a warmth in the spaces where she passed.



I enjoy writing fiction and poetry, but more often see ideas in the form of painting. It could be a word, a sentence or just something beautiful or interesting that I have seen.



The list is short. I began the journey to start selling my art at the beginning of this year. I have exhibited at the City of Dunedin Art Awards, April 2013 , The Otago Art Society Annual exhibition, June 2O13, Otago Peninsula “Almost an Island” exhibition, April 2013.


Breaking Black Painting Karen Lawson

Breaking Black © Karen Lawson: Breaking Black was born as a complete painting before the brushes met the canvas. It was inspired by the night reflections on the water outside my studio and by a need to break through a dark emotional space to one of light and colour.


Have you sold any artworks?

I have sold one photograph to date. It sold through my Etsy shop.


Promoting Art

I promote my art on Facebook, Etsy and on my Website, karenlawsonartist.com


Heather Painting Karen Lawson






Heather © Karen Lawson: Heather is one of the invisible people that occupy our space on the planet. She is known as “that woman that delivers the junk mail” Heather walks for miles every day delivery community newspapers and advertising. She goes out in all weather. Her back bent over the handle of the pram that she uses to carry her wares. “Why did you paint me?” – “Because you have a beautiful face.”






Can you recommend another artist?

I have seen many wonderful art works since I began trawling through Facebook pages and artist websites. The ones I admire are those that have managed to break into the market and sell their work in abundance. There are also many great artists out there like me who are not yet in the Matt LeBlanc league (I love Matt’s work and admire his energy), and they are the ones I admire the most because they support me and form together a community of people who enjoy and create art for the love of it. I guess we all admire or like people who are like us.

OneRachaelArt – I love Rachael’s paintings, she uses strong colour, a lot of cats and more recently some very expressive figurative painting

Abstract paintings by Augusta – Great colours texture and movement in Augusta’s work

Trudie Ann Moore

Neil Stewart – Neil Stewart is a New Zealand artist who recently won the Clifton Art prize. He paints landscapes but has a surrealist twist to his work that I really enjoy.

Jane Eastabrook – Jane Alden Photography – The person to look at if you like bugs. Wonderful photographs of the insect world and very knowledgeable about her subject matter.

Isolde Kandry – Superb city scapes and great Egyptian colour

Paula P. Cork – Fabulous photography and artwork.


Colours of the Sea Painting Karen Lawson

Colours of the Sea © Karen Lawson: This was the first painting that I did in 2013 after returning to my home town after 15years absence I am delighted with the closeness of the sea and the changing light it brings into my daily life.


Please tell us some interesting events from your life

I have never lived anywhere more than four years. I was born in Ullapool, Scotland and emigrated with my family as a child to New Zealand in the 1960’s. I have spent most of my life in Dunedin, New Zealand, moving from house to house. I spent 8 years in the UK from 1998 to 2006. In 2010 at the age of 49 I entered the University of Waikato as a mature student and graduated three years later with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Political Science and Social Policy. I am now unemployed, unsure whether that is a consequence of obtaining a degree or a consequence of being out of the workforce for three years.

Travel: I have travelled to Scotland, England, Pakistan, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, would love to go to Europe. I’m now back in my home town, Dunedin, and it’s bloody cold.


Any regrets?

I regret only that I didn’t begin being serious about art earlier in my life, then I would have had more time to learn more. But it is not a huge regret. I don’t like to believe in regrets, I think they are too negative, hold you back.


What about plans for the future?

I plan to keep on painting and learning as I go. One of the nicest things about painting is that every painting is a new experience and there is always something new to learn. I plan to sell my art and not always be poor.



Advice for emerging artists

Create whatever makes you feel good, create for yourself, not for others. If you put your heart into what you do you will get better at it and enjoy it. It’s easier to sell babies booties than art, be prepared to spend a lot of time marketing if you want to make any money. Create for the joy of creating. Start today.


Karen Lawson - Abstract Paintings by a New Zealand Artist

Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand

Website: Karen Lawson Artist | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | Etsy

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