Space, quiet stillness, peace- in stripping away the recognizable, abstract painter Kj Appleton manages to evoke a response with childlike simplicity.

Born in Virginia, in 1956, Karen studied painting from an early age. In the 1980’s, she studied painting with the late Leon Berkowitz whose influence remains a source of inspiration.

She received her MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University and her BFA from the Corcoran School of Art.

Having survived cancer at the age of four left her with the experience of an existence beyond the physical- a connection to a rich inner world of light within darkness. Karen considers herself a traveler through a maze of chaos in search of peace and clarity in her desire to touch the divine.


When I listen to music, I listen with my heart.  The words tell a story but the sounds of those words, the rhythm, the beat, all evoke a response.  My breathing changes, my heart beats stronger, my body's energy is lifted.  I might smile, or cry, or turn away, or rise up in dance. Whatever the response, I am moved beyond thought, beyond meaning and my existence shares the space between.  This is what I want to capture on the canvas.  That which cannot be seen or heard with the thinking mind, that which can only be sensed or felt.

Young children have the ability to walk up to a piece of paper and with crayon in hand, make marks on the surface.  They delight in the movement of those marks, the colors, the pressure of the crayon digging into the paper.  When they first begin to draw, it is not about telling a story, it is all about the mark and their ability to make that mark.  At around the age of three or four, those marks become representations of their world.  As we age, our thinking takes over and changes our experience of the world around us. But what about the space before thought?  What if all the chatter, all the visual clutter, the billboards, the screens, the traffic, the radio, the talking, was to be silenced? It is in the stripping away of the recognizable that I find space, quiet stillness and peace.