Karen Gail Litson was born in Wankie, a small town in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) situated close to Victoria Falls. Her parents are South African and they moved to Rhodesia before she was born.
As her mother always painted and was involved with the local arts and crafts, Karen thoroughly enjoyed art and painted / drew from a very early age and entered competitions at the annual Wankie Agricultural Fair where she won her first 'first prize' for a painting.
Karen continued through to the end of her school career in Bulawayo with art as a major subject.
After leaving school, Karen attended secretarial college in Salisbury and thereafter worked as a secretary for a few years. By then she had met and married her Airforce pilot husband Mike and over a period of some years their family included 2 sons and they relocated to South Africa. Prior to and for some years after their move to South Africa painting was not a priority for Karen, although she started a home based cottage industry with a small contingent of staff, making a range of doorstops and other household items from hessian, stuffing and fabric for sale at the local craft market and for companies such as Biggie Best, completing each item with a hand painted face.
When Karen's husband began managing a Stellenbosch based helicopter company, she joined him to begin marketing the company to the local tourism industry and thereafter she opened her own marketing company to represent privately owned South African hotels and game lodges to both the overseas and local South African tourist industry.
In 1999 Karen's husband secured a contract in the Middle East and they relocated to the Sultanate of Oman for five years. The contract did not allow an accompanying wife to work and this became an excellent opportunity to begin painting again.
After the five years in Oman and one living in London Karen and Mike returned to the Cape where she continued with her art.
Karen's subject matter was initially predominantly African animals - but later she painted many desert scenes with camels and local Omani subjects and then diversified to start painting human portraits, also in oils and using texture for added interest.
"I use a lot of my own photographs as references for my paintings but also use the internet when I require specific subject matter.
Iinitially my style was very detailed and precise but I have begun to utilize a softer, more loose style. I thoroughly enjoy texture in my paintings and this path is continuing to develop.
I am very passionate about animals and when possible will donate a painting to worthy charity projects to help raise much needed funds, i.e. Save the Rhino."
Soon after beginning to paint in Oman Karen began selling her paintings to the local Omani and ex-pat community, both at local exhibitions and from receiving commissions. Most of these paintings were then transported to homes in countries around the world and Karen enjoys being in contact with many of those painting owners to this day.
Karen now exhibits and sells her art in local galleries and at markets on the weekends. Karen has just completed her largest privately commissioned painting to date and is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
Gallery 91, Somerset West
Bright Street Gallery, Somerset West
Franschhoek art festival