Retirement means more canvas time for artist Karen Storm

By Robin Intemann

Karen Storm is a successful, award-winning, nationally-recognized artist, but that isn’t what prompts her to spend up to 30 hours a week painting at her easel.

“I’m grateful for the recognition,” she said, “But what keeps me going is being curious about how to express myself better. (Painting) is like learning a language. It’s a communication skill I want to keep developing.”

She considers art as creating ties. “Art is a vehicle for connecting people,” she said. “Whether its music or dance or theatre it’s a way to connect with others. I use art to develop my voice and having others hear my voice through my paintings.”

Although she said it’s nice to know that her work hangs in people’s homes and in galleries, that’s not what motivates her. It’s more basic: “I enjoy painting and developing as a painter,” she explained.

Storm was an art educator for 27 years, 17 of which were spent in Woodland Park. Initially, she taught at the secondary level in Colorado Springs. “I like to say I worked my way up to the elementary level. That’s where I made a difference as a teacher where I could get the students off to an artful start.”

Since retiring in 2011, she has been able to commit to art in a way that wasn’t possible when teaching full time, and earlier when raising a family. “Back then it was either sell the kids or sell my art,” she joked. “I chose to keep my kids.” It wasn’t until her younger son left home that she had more time to paint.

She turned to oils, she said, because “I felt like oils would be a really big challenge and I knew I would need a lot of dedicated time to find my voice in oil paint.” She also sculpts, draws and used to hand dye silk to create wearable art. She paints landscapes, figures, animals and flora.

Storm and her husband enjoy traveling. Whether it’s the Galapagos Islands, Viet Nam, northern California or the Colorado mountains, she usually paints or sketches wherever she is. She also takes a lot of photos to serve as later inspiration or reminders.

Her work has been featured in the annual Governor’s Art Show for several years, including 2016 and 2018 when she received Special Merit awards, however, it was the 2019 exhibit that garnered the Best of Show award.

“This year I’ve been blessed with what I consider really good judges,” she said laughing. On a more serious note she added, “The Best of Show was a highlight of my career as an artist. The work there is at a very high level and being part of that is something I’m really grateful for.”

Storm is not ready to rest on her laurels. In fact, her goals are to continue honing her craft. “I want to keep developing as an artist,” she said. “I just want to be a better painter.” More specifically, she plans to work on her color harmony and edge work.

“The biggest thing is to stay curious about what you can do through your craft and artistic expression,” she explained. “If you lose that curiosity, well, I don’t know.”

In addition to academic degrees, Storm has continued her education working with other artists, including Jill Carver, Chuck Mardosz, Martha Mans to name a few. Among the artists she considers influencing her work are Joaquin Sorolla, Richard Schmidt, Edgar Payne and John Singer Sargent.

“I would like people to know there are a lot of local artists doing extraordinary work,” she said. “Just look around Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. You don’t have to go far outside our community to find beautiful work being done.”

When not painting in her home studio, or walking her dog in the Garden of Gods, Storm said she spends time keeping up with the business side, which includes entering shows, maintaining her website and social media presence.

Storm is a member of several local, regional and national organizations including the Colorado Springs Figure Drawing Group, Plein Air Artists of Colorado, the American Impressionists Society and American Women Artists, among many others. Her portfolio and contact information is available at her website karenstorm.com.

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