Pacific Northwest artist Karen O’Brien uses dynamic layers of acrylic and pastel to create vibrant Abstract Expressionist works on paper, panel and canvas. While serving 27 years as an Army Physician, she turned to painting as she sought to develop resilience and healing within herself and those with whom she worked. Her works have been exhibited in numerous national exhibitions to include the Pastel Society of America’s Enduring Brilliance Exhibition and has won awards in Pastel Journal’s Annual Pastel

100 Competition. She has trained under Richard McKinley, Tony Allain and Casey Klahn. Her influences include Willem de Kooning, Claude Monet and J.M.W. Turner.

I am a contemporary abstract colorist who uses a unique layering process to create an interplay of texture, color and form to create uplifting non-objective and abstract landscapes. I work in acrylic and pastel to capture light and form. My goal is to provide the viewer with an experience that inspires and heals.

Welcome!!! I hope your visit leaves you feeling inspired and enchanted!


American Art Company, Tacoma WA

Training and Memberships:

Karen has studied pastel under Elizabeth Mowry, Richard McKinley, Jacob Aguiar, Stan Sperlak and Teresa Saia and acrylic under Nicholas Wilton and Joan Fullerton.  

She is a member of the Northwest Pastel Society, Pastel Society of the West Coast, Plein Air Painters of Washington,  American Impressionist Society-(Associate Member) and Women Artists of the West- (Associate Member).

Juried Shows:

Third Place Abstract.  2019 “Pastel 100”.  April 2019 Pastel Journal.

Pastels USA 2019.  Pastel Society of the West Coast 33rd Annual International Open Exhibition  The Haggin Museum, Stockton, CA.  May 16-Jul 14, 2019.

 “Line and Shade”  National Association of Women Artists.  NAWA Gallery, NY, NY.  May 2019.

 33rd International Open Exhibition.  Northwest Pastel Society.  American Art Company, Tacoma, WA.  May 4- June 15, 2019.

 Sponsors Award.  Pastel Society of New Mexico National Exhibition.  Sorrel Sky Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.  March 2019.

 Pastel Society of America 46th Annual Exhibition- Enduring Brilliance.  The National Arts Club. New York, NY.  September 4-9, 2018.

Pastel Society of the West Coast Pastels USA 2018. Art Center Morro Bay Gallery. Morro Bay, CA.  16 August- 16 September 2018.

Plein Air Washington Artists "Little Gems Show"  Scott Milo Gallery.  Anacortes, WA Jun 1-30, 2018.

Honorable Mention.  2018 18th International Juried Exhibition.  Southeastern Pastel Society.  Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.  Atlanta, GA.  May 11 – June 24, 2018.

Juror's Award.  2018 Northwest Pastel Society 32nd Annual International Open Exhibit, American Art Company, Tacoma, WA 5/5/2018 - 6/16/2018.

Randee Higbee Gallery "From Sand to Sea Show"  Rosa Mesa, CA.  May 5-26, 2018.

2018 Pastel Society of the West Coast Member’s Online Juried Show 16 March-30 April, 2018.

2018 “Pastel 100” Honorable Mention. Painting featured in April 2018 issue of Pastel Journal

2018 Open Juried Pastel Exhibition.  Arizona Pastel Artists Association.   Sedona Arts Center, Sedona, AZ, March 28-April 10, 2018.

2018 Pastel Society of New Mexico 26th Annual National Pastel Painting Exhibition.  Sorrel Sky Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, 2-31 March, 2018

2017 Peninsula Art League International Open Juried Show, Gig Harbor History Museum, WA, September 2017

2017 Award of Merit.  Pastel Society of the Southwest National Show, Grapevine TX, October 2017

December 2017 Judges Pick.  Daily Paintworks.

Other Exhibitions:

2018 Spring Thaw Online Exhibit.  Women Artists of the West.  1 March-30 April 2018.

2018 Beyond the Lines Miniature Art Show.  Shockboxx Gallery.  Hermosa Beach CA.  24 February-5 March, 2018.

2017 Peninsula Art League Members Fall Show, Moreno Wine Bar WA October 14- November 13, 2017

2017 Peninsula Art League Members Winter Show    Kimball Gallery WA March 2017

She is also a signature member of the Artists for Conservation Foundation.   The Artists for Conservation Foundation (AFC) - formerly the Worldwide Nature Artists Group (WNAG) - is a non-profit, international organization dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the natural world. The Foundation represents the world's leading collective of nature artists and an unparalleled pool of artistic talent focussed on nature. The organization's mission is to support wildlife and habitat conservation, biodiversity, sustainability and environmental education through art that celebrates our natural heritage.