Robin Laub, a Life Stylist

RSVP Guest Blogger Series: Karen Folgner

March 8th is International Women’s Day. So, it’s perfect timing that an amazing woman RSVPed to The Report this month. Karen Folgner is a mom of three kids who got back into painting about five years ago. She’s quite an inspiration! I have one of her pieces, which is bright and beautiful. She’s truly an amazing female artist that I think you should know. 


Robin: What’s your process for naming your art? 

Karen Folgner: I name my art with the initials of the people who initially inspired them. Sometimes it is an artist of the past. Sometimes it is a current friend or family member.


R: What inspires your color pallets?

K: I love post-world war IISFabstract expressionist art. Often times, my palettes start with inspiration from this era but I always use intuition to balance my pieces as they progress.


R: I noticed you have a message on your Instagram, “when art is sold, trees are planted. If everyone did one small thing…” – what does this mean to you? 

K: I donate to have trees planted through One Tree Planted when I sell pieces directly. I am passionate about doing my best to support a healthy planet for future generations. It is not much, but if everyone did one small thing to help our planet, we can combat climate change.


R: You primarily work with oils on canvas, do you see yourself ever branching out into other mediums? 

K: I love oil paint. Even though it can be terribly messy and take a long time to dry, I love the quality of the end result. I do love experimenting with many mediums when I am inspired and occasionally I will play with mixed media collage. 


R: Do you first sketch out your ideas before putting brush to canvas or do you just go for it and see what happens? What’s your typical creative process? 

K: When I am working in complete abstraction, I am usually inspired by a particular form factor or color palette to start but I always finish my work with my own intuition. It sounds funny, but the piece will tell you what it needs as it progresses.


R: When you’re working in your studio, what’s the environment like? For example, do you like to paint with music? In the dark? 

K: When I paint, I usually listen to guided meditation, podcasts and Audible. I might be Audible's best customer. Meditation helps me when I feel I have hit a roadblock in a piece. It helps me gain perspective.


R: Are any of your children interested in art? Do you have family art time? 

K: My children are very creative in different ways. My oldest son loves to draw comic book style art. My daughter is an aspiring author and she also loves to paint. We are watching my 5-year old's passions unfold but he has a very diverse set of interests for now. When we have time in our hectic schedule, I will paint with the kids one on one. All three at once is overwhelming! 


R: For commissions, what’s your process for working with a client? 

K: It goes without saying, but commissions are very personal. Each starts with a unique inspiration from the client then we begin with a conversation around that idea. I have done work for clients based on honeymoons, relationships, and people. It is important that the client already enjoys a range of my work so I feel I have an allowance to make pivots in the piece as it is necessary. The fewer constraints on a commission, the better the final product. 


R: Where can interested buyers view your available work? Can they visit your studio? 

K: Currently I have work at Slate Contemporary in Oakland as well as A. Space gallery in Menlo Park and American Art Gallery in Carmel. I also arrange private studio tours. 


R: What can we expect to see from you later this year? Another exhibit perhaps? 

K: I have the honor of being featured as this year's emerging artist at Lymelight's Dart for Art 2020. It is such a great event and organization and I'm so happy to be a part of it. I also have my next solo with Slate Contemporary in Oakland. We are doing a satellite exhibit at 555 12th street and set to open April 1st. I have plans for another solo exhibit in San Francisco fall 2020 but details to come!


Artist’s statement

I am repeatedly inspired by the abstract expressionist painters of San Francisco. I love the colors that are so indicative of the post-WWII era and the techniques strongly reinforce my impasto tendencies. Furthermore, I enjoy the therapy of expressing an essence or an idea through paint. Just as the world around us is ever-changing, my practice has continued to evolve with each new piece I create. Every time I step into the studio, I bring positive energy and my student-for-life motto. 

You can read more about Karen and view her art here. Also, check out Karen's Instagram @art_by_klfolgner.