Quinlan Winter Exhibitions
When: Through Feb. 20
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville
Karen Lawrence has a passion for painting — painting inside houses, that is.
“I’ve been a professional artist for over 25 years,” Lawrence said. “I paint mostly interiors, interiors of homes.”
Before making it her career though, the East Marietta woman had several office jobs.
“I was laid off from about three in a row and thought this was a message,” she said in a phone interview.
Then she got a job working at a desk at the Atlanta Artist Center, which is a nonprofit for painters offering exhibition space, demonstrations and classes. It gave Lawrence the chance to bridge the gap from amateur artist to professional.
“I kind of picked out the people I could learn from,” she said. “I just kept my eyes open and got what I could learn from those people.”
Now Lawrence makes a living from her art.
Painting mostly in oils, Lawrence explained the whole process of her work is just fun. She starts by visiting a typically traditional house and taking several photographs of the interior. Then she brings the photographs back to the studio. Next she creates a painting based on one of her photographs.
“People don’t want me to paint oils in their homes, but I don’t know why,” she said with a chuckle.
Although Lawrence does not take commissions for her pieces, she is in several galleries throughout the country including California, Virginia and North Carolina.
“I don’t take commissions. The reason is they’re just not my best paintings. I like to have the artistic license over what I’m going to paint,” she said.
Her work is also on display in several Georgia locations such as Marietta, Atlanta, St. Simons Island and Gainesville at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. Her local work is part of the “Seeing is Believing” show, which is part of the center’s Winter Exhibitions and will be on display through Feb. 20.
“I’ve been involved (at the Quinlan), and I love Quinlan,” she said. “I think it’s just a lovely and wonderful place to show.”
Lawrence explained her work has evolved throughout time.
“For about 13 or 14 years before I started oils, I painted in watercolor. Then I painted the outside of houses. I thought that 13 or 14 years was enough, and I was over that,” she said. “I’m more interested on the inside and where people live. To me, when I’m outside the house I always wonder what’s inside.”
She said she gets most of her clients through word of mouth.
“Because they’re referred, I don’t knock on doors,” she said with a chuckle. “Either somebody sees my paintings and knows what I do or the houses are referred to me through a person. People who have these beautiful homes know their houses are beautiful and they love for me to come.”
For more information, visit www.quinlanartscenter.org/winter-exhibitions-2016-2017.html.