Artist Biography - Karen Leigh

A fourth generation Montanan, Karen Leigh has lived in the Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park since the early 1970's.  She is an honors graduate of Montana State University with a degree in graphic design.  For many years, however, her primary interest has been transparent watercolor and she has studied under some of the finest masters of the medium including Irving Shapiro, Skip Lawrence, Joseph Zbukvic and Carla O'Connor.  Always on the lookout for 'accidental magnificence', she is particularly interested in finding beauty in unexpected places.  Junk yards and rusty machinery offer many exciting possibilities, but figures and urban landscapes have recently become important subjects as well.

She is a long-standing faculty member at Flathead Valley Community College and also teaches occasional workshops here and abroad.  For ten years, in collaboration with calligrapher, Gini Ogle, she designed and published a line of prints, posters, calendars and note cards which were marketed under the name of Echo Designs.  For three years running they were winners in the U.S. Postal Museum's international competition, “The Graceful Envelope.”

Karen's work can be found in many private and public collections including the Beringer Wineries, ConAgra Industries, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and the Smithsonian Institution.  She has also been featured in a number of arts magazines including the 2003 yearbook issue of Watercolor Magic, the fall 2004 issue of Watercolor magazine and a recent special edition of Portfolio.  In 2007 she was selected to design an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree and she and other contributing artists were honored at a reception hosted by First Lady Laura Bush in the White House. Most recently, Karen was accepted into the Northwest Watercolor Society's 79th Annual International Competition, one of only 60 selected artists.  A full-time painter and signature member of the Montana Watercolor Society, she maintains a sunny studio in the newly renovated Eastside Brick, formerly the local hospital constructed in 1911.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling...with sketchbook in hand, of course...skiing, hiking and always looking out for 'accidental magnificence!'


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