Karen Barnes, a native of Upstate New York, has a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University. During her senior year at SU she was recruited by Hallmark Cards, Inc. of Kansas City, one of only a few artists selected nationwide that year to work in their greeting card design department. It was an ideal job for an illustrator just out of college. She learned much and her artistic abilities developed tremendously.


Five years later Karen decided to leave the feathered nest of a corporate job to pursue the wild world of commercial illustration with a staff position at an illustration studio in Annapolis, Maryland, where she illustrated for prestigious clients such as National Geographic magazine, Reader’s Digest magazine, Kid’s Discover magazine, and numerous publishers in NYC. Her cover for James Herriot’s last book “Every Living Thing” made it to #1 on the NY Times Best Seller List. Her time with the studio was highlighted by the publication of two fully-illustrated children’s books, “Why Don’t Haircuts Hurt?” and “Very First Things To Know About Frogs.” The “Frogs” book was selected by The Society of Illustrators for their 2000 annual show of the best in children’s book illustration that year.


Karen’s love of pattern and color led her to faux and decorative painting. It continually amazes and thrills her to see how the change of color, texture and/or pattern on walls can make a room feel completely different, as well as how the person feels in that room. With her illustration background, she is particularly adept at faux finishes – the art of mimicking the look of a specific wood, stone, marble, etc – to extraordinary effect. Her murals are also detailed, very realistic and beautifully composed.

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