Karen Appleton was born in Arlington Virginia in 1956. She received her BFA from the Corcoran School of Art and her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1993. Appleton has exhibited her work throughout the Washington DC area, including The Gudelsky Gallery and The International Sculpture Center. Before pursuing her degrees, she studied painting with the late Leon Berkowitz for many years.

She currently lives and works in Oakland California with her wife and their two children. Her work can be seen through Pro Arts online and is on view at Five Flavor Herbs in Oakland California.



Winter is here, rain saturates the ground, and my feet are muddy and wet. I walk down streets and garden paths, crunching fallen leaves and decaying branches, wishing for the warmth of spring. My body aches from the dampness.

Some days my studio is cold, unfinished paintings hang from the walls, bits of paper, empty paint tubes and old staples litter the floor. Corners are filled with drawings, photos, broken pieces of pastel, frayed fabric scraps, twisted wire and buckets of dried plaster. Discarded ideas litter the floor like winter’s fallen leaves, dry, brittle and broken.

I move from corner to corner, restless. Uncertain, I rake away the debris as I anticipate the arrival of spring when tiny little buds poke though the seasons decay. I listen for the sounds of beginnings. A car horn beeps, the radio blasting their favorite tunes. Kids chatter while walking home from school.  Dogs bark, doors open and close. A neighbor calls out to his friend. 

Winter is gone, the houses are open, and sidewalks are no longer lonely. Ideas come tumbling down through mountains of snow and ice. My studio fills with light, marks appear on paper. Colors emerge. I awaken to possibilities. 

I saturate the paper with reds, pinks, and greens. I take out lines and put them back in as I search for order. I add a skin, covering bones and blood, scar tissue forms and fads into a sea of light. The body heals, marks in space become electricity, a song, a sound, a rhythm, a heartbeat.

My mind wanders. I search for a thread, a bit of color, a shape. Green made from pigment and water saturates cloth and becomes light. Do I touch it, cover it up or wait? I have no answers, only questions. I stop and walk away. A cell divides, multiplies, divides, and multiplies over and over again. One cell becomes two, four, eight. Lines are drawn; shapes are formed, over and over again.

My studio work is endless, forever moving, forever changing…