Karen Bilger Art
Acrylic landscape paintings on canvas

Karen Bilger

                                

I was born and raised on a tobacco farm outside of Tillsonburg (Ontario), where my days were spent working hard in the fields or off investigating the wilderness with my innocent curiosity. I’ve always been very intrigued with nature’s elegant beauty, absorbing every colour, every detail, every smell, and every shade of shadow and light. The outdoors quickly became my happy place, while I shied away from anything human related. The little time that I did spend indoors always involved something artistic, whether colouring, drawing, or making crafts. I quickly became recognized for these talents all through school, while at the same time maintaining my “farm girl” status. It’s been quite the odd combination of two very different worlds colliding and oddly enough, it seems to work for me and I’ve managed to build a life around both of these passions.

I went to the University of Guelph for agriculture and have spent the last 20 years working in agronomy. I get to spend three seasons working outdoors collecting material and use the winters to paint. I get very inspired by what I find crop scouting and I take many pictures, so much of my subject matter is farm related. I believe artistic talent starts at recognizing the perfect scene to paint and to do it in a way that captures people’s attention.

My other inspiration comes from Northern Ontario, where I flee to every chance I get, especially to kayak. I have become obsessed with the rocks and white pines and now know why the Group of Seven spent so much time painting the scenery as well. I find I argue with myself constantly on whether to paint a north scene or a farm scene, since I have so much passion for both.  

My attention to detail (possibly caused by a touch of OCD) was already apparent in all my artwork throughout grade school when I focussed on pen and pencil drawings, putting thought into every line I made. I didn’t really start painting until my early 20’s and was self taught at that point. It became an obsession to make all my paintings look like photographs, which can take anywhere from 30-80 hours.  Sometimes they come out looking exactly like the photograph (if conditions were right when I snapped it) and sometimes I alter them completely to make the painting look more of what I wanted to feel when I took the photo. Sometimes the most exciting part about picking up a paint brush is not even knowing what a painting could morph into once I start.