Artist Interview: Karen Stiehl Osborn

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

Karen Stiehl Osborn



What media do you work in?

I work in mixed media, usually incorporating papers, cloth. and paint.

What do you feel makes your work unique and truly your own?

I have an abstract, colorful collage style. I love the process of cutting and ripping materials apart and then piecing them back together into a new, whole artwork.


“paint organization is a must”



What is one tool or supply you couldn’t live without?

For me, paint is the ultimate supply. I use it to emphasize some areas and to whitewash other areas.



How has your work changed over time?

I began as a painter, then morphed into an art quilter working more with cloth as my palette. Now I combine paper and cloth and paint in my work. I love building up layers of paper and cloth, and especially using recycled materials. The final layer is usually paint.

What is your creative process like?

I start with a loose artist statement, writing out my thoughts and inspiration. From there I work intuitively with the layers of materials, adding and subtracting as I go. Once I am happy with the layers, I begin to add paint.

Where do you create, describe your design area and what do you like most about it? 

Currently, my studio is a room in our home. I love being able to go to my studio and work whenever I want, without having to pack up the car with supplies and drive to an offsite studio. The downside is the limited space.

work table

What do you do when you are stuck, and all you have is a blank canvas?

My sketchbook and my camera are my tools for getting past creative blocks. I head out for a walk with both of them, and it isn’t long before I am inspired again. My best advice for any artist is “do the work”. Even on the days that you don’t feel inspired, go in your studio and do something. For years I have created “morning collages. First thing when I enter my studio, I create a small, quick collage. It is not meant to be a great work of art, but it does help to get me in the zone. I only spend about 15 minutes on these collages, working intuitively and quickly.

What is your desired color palette? Why?

I am happiest when I work with a natural palette of autumn colors. Occasionally I venture off into other color palettes, but I am most inspired by nature, so the earthy, autumn colors are my comfort zone.

Do you work on single or multiple projects at one time?

Always multiple projects! While paint is drying on one series of work, I am layering other pieces, and drawing new ideas, and taking photographs. It is too boring to only work on one project at a time.

What art organizations do you belong to?

I am not really a fan of joining groups. I prefer to create on my own, without the influence of other artists. I would rather be in my studio creating art than sitting in group meetings and working on group projects. I do belong to Midwest Fiber Art Alliance and Edge, and they are both groups with a focus on exhibition opportunities.