Karen Barton is an award winning modern portrait artist with over thirty-seven years of professional experience as an artist and educator. Karen is the sole owner and operator of “Portrait Creations” which has received over $6,000 in grant money to assist in developing the business.
Her portraits can be found hanging in private, public, and corporate collections nationwide. She has been commissioned to create portraits of executives as well as Senators. Karen focuses mainly on her own commissioned work and rarely enters competitions or seeks out gallery representation, but the events in which she has been involved have earned her considerable recognition. She was a juried artist in the Gillette Centennial Art Show at the Heritage Center Gallery in the Gillette Wyoming Camplex, and was juried into “Millennium 2000?, another group show at that same gallery. That same year Karen was interviewed for a full page article in the Moorcroft Leader Newspaper entitled “Karen Barton: painter of portraits.”
She has won the coveted “People’s choice” award in the Spearfish Center for the Arts Juried blue ribbon Competition every time she has entered, and also won the Judges blue ribbon award in 2005. Her winning portraits were “Samantha” “Portrait of Jessi”, “Andrea’s girl” and “Oscar”.
Karen was selected by a jury to participate in the 2007, 2008, and 2009 annual Jon Crane and Artisans Benefit Art Auction. Each year of her participation, her auctioned commissioned portrait brought in a substantial donation for the Black Hills Children’s Home Creative Arts Endowment.
Karen’s work has also been showcased at the Whispering Pines Gallery in Rapid City South Dakota. This show was promoted in the Rapid City Journal Arts Calendar in an article with photos entitled “Barton’s View of the World”.
Karen has had two one-artist shows at the Camplex Heritage Center Gallery in Gillette WY, and one by invitation at the AVA Center in Gillette Wy. The Rapid City Journal also featured her “Images of the Heart” show in their Art’s Calendar with samples of her portraits.
Most recently Karen was featured in a special edition of the Newsletter Journal of Newcastle WY “125 reasons we love Weston County” headlining her as “talent in spades” in a full page article which covered her portrait work and included her work as a songwriter/recording artist, and jewelry designer.
Among her hundreds of commissions is a portrait commissioned by the CEO of Pinnacle Bank to paint their founder Roy Dinsdale for the grand opening of the Moorcroft branch.
This portrait of honor is on display at the bank.
Karen is also an experienced illustrator. She is a featured artist in “BookCrossings”. Her portrait entitled “Reading Dr. Seuss” was printed on 50,000 book labels which were purchased and used by their clientele for book exchanges.
She also illustrated a book entitled “Butch and the Rooster” by Judy Hess published by Focus Publishing, and produced the cartoon illustrations for a children’s coloring book entitled “Alphatoons” that accompanied a CD of learning songs.
Prior to becoming a full time portrait painter, Karen was educated in the field of graphic art, and worked full time as a studio graphic artist, and later while raising a family, a freelance graphic artist. During her career in graphics, among other accomplishments, Karen submitted a logo design which was selected to be used for the Alcohol Traffic Safety Commission in Gillette Wyoming. Her graphic designs and illustrations can be found in various instructional publications and also books for children. Early in her graphic design career she worked as a studio staff artist for Keyes Art Service in Phoenix AZ which supplied advertising artwork for businesses and companies nationwide.
Aside from her commissioned portrait work, Karen was selected to participate in the painting of a fiberglass horse in Gillette, WY for an Easter Seals fundraiser auction. The horse she painted was sold and mounted on the porch of the historic Sheridan Inn in Sheridan, WY. Karen was also commissioned to paint an image of a trail drive and a vintage stock train on the sides of a fiberglass longhorn steer for a permanent installation located at the interstate 90 exit into the town of Moorcroft to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the town. She was later honored with an award from the Wyoming Historical Society for her work on the steer. A photo of the steer was also featured on the cover of the WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric News) for August 2014. Karen, by invitation, represented Wyoming in the Annual Basin Electric Convention in Bismarck North Dakota.
Karen’s portrait style has been influenced and inspired by Daniel Greene, Margaret Carter Baumgartner but her love of portraiture actually began as a child. She was always easy to entertain with pencil and paper, and soon began to draw her surroundings cultivating her ability to see with an artists eyes. Drawing from life has always been her preference and so her ability to draw a recognizable portrait was the result of an enormous amount of practice. Karen chooses to paint using a photo as a reference but this decision stems more from a desire to accommodate her clients than from a dependency upon photos.
As well as being a highly skilled modern portrait artist Karen is also an experienced teacher. Through the years Karen has taught a number of group and private lessons in drawing and portraiture to children and adults alike. These classes have been taught both independently and through AVA, Gillette’s art center, and the public school systems in her region. Local elementary school teachers have regularly utilized her art teaching skills in their classrooms to enhance the educational experience of their students. For example, Karen organized a 2 day workshop at the Moorcroft, Wyoming Elementary school to fulfill a visual arts grant requirement of “children creating art”. She has also been invited to speak to the students at Upton, and Gillette High Schools on numerous occasions including their “career days” and a week long portrait workshop for the students in the art department.
Karen lives in Buffalo, Wyoming at the foot of the beautiful Big Horn mountains with her husband Bill Barton.