“I’ve been painting all my life,” says Karen Hudson. “Well, since childhood. I just always had the talent. I was quiet and shy. I spent lots of time in the corner with a sketch pad and a pencil.”
Karen sold her first painting 35 years ago at a show in the park at Cave Junction, Oregon. The piece was a portrait of an Indian girl whose eyes followed the viewer. After that first sale, Karen “just kept painting.”
With six kids to raise in rural Oregon, painting became therapy for Karen. “I used to go out to the old van which sat in the field on our property. The van didn’t run, but it became my art studio. And every year, I would take my pieces to a show.”
Karen works mostly with acrylic paints, but also does some amazing pen and ink drawings. “I’ve done a little bit of everything. I used to do western art, Indians, wildlife. Then, I switched to animals. I did portrait painting in the 80s, but got burnt out.”
Karen says, “These days, I like to paint moving things rather than landscapes.”
Ms. Hudson has been painting “Pet Rocks” for ten years now. “It’s fun because they are small and you see results real fast. And, people seem to like them, especially deer, bears, wolves and lions.”
Karen first noticed small painted stones sold in gift shops about ten years ago and decided to give it a try. Doing her Pet Rocks allows her to “get carried away with detail.”
Karen’s oldest daughter was in a rock group (the mineral kind) and that helped her find an outlet for her new work. “I kept getting special orders when I did those (rock) shows.”
Hudson says, “When people walked by, they often said, ‘They look so unique.” So, she calls her work and business Unique Creations.
Ms. Hudson paints all kinds of animals - from dogs and cats, to lions and bears. “My favorite animal to paint is the wolf.” She has quite a number of them on display in her house. Instead of canvas and rocks, Hudson often uses a saw blade to make her paintings.
Karen Kersten was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Woodside (eastern edge of Queens). “If I had stayed in New York City, I would have become a fashion designer. Karen had studied fashion design at her high school.
She moved to Longview, Washington, with her husband soon after high school and raised three sons and three daughters. Four live in Oregon, one in Seattle, and her daughter Tanya Lawson lives in Harlowton. Karen has thirteen grandchildren.
Karen Hudson has been living in Harlowton for nearly 2 years, after moving from the West Coast. She had lived many years in southern Oregon.
Most of Karen’s work experience has been in retail clothing and the grocery business. In recent years, she has cooked and worked in kitchens. Teaching western line dancing was one of her favorite “regular” jobs in years past.
In the early 90s, she attended Graphic Design College in Medford, Oregon. Hudson intended to become an illustrator, but unfortunately her training was cut short when her school suddenly closed.
Karen also studied art at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass. (For a time, she was President of the Artist’s Association in that city.) Interestingly, Hudson was involved in a program called ‘Teaching French and Doing Art.’ “Because French is the language of art.” No, she doesn’t speak French.
Her favorite artwork was an Indian princess done in full length. “It was a night scene with the glow of a fire.” That painting was auctioned at a benefit.
Karen’sighest commission for a painting has been $400. She generally charges $250 to $300 for an original.
“It’s nice being retired. Just doing what I want to do. I like it here in Harlowton. It’s peaceful. I don’t miss the traffic.” Ms. Hudson works as a sub in the kitchen and classroom at Harlowton School. She is also a member of Kiwanis.
Years ago when she had special orders along with a regular job, Karen would get up at 4:00 am and paint. Then, she would go to work.
“Now, I paint when the mood hits me. I have to be in the mood. I don’t paint every day, like I once did.”
“Painting is always enjoyable. I don’t need it to deal with work and children now. But, I don’t have to be stressed to paint. Still, painting relieves stress. So, it is therapy.
Painting soothes the mind and soothes the soul.”