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Karen Ramsay: Plein Air Zen with a Pen. . . And Watercolors

Karen Ramsay is an artist who enjoys capturing the “everyday ordinary” through her ink and watercolor plein air paintings.

Living in Fort Collins, Colorado, Karen devotes much of her time to drawing and, recently, developing her watercolor skills. She unites paint with a waterproof fine tip marker in a process that she calls “zen with a pen.” Being an ink artist myself, I completely understand that mesmerizing method.

Karen is also a member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters as well as a frequent participant in Sketchcrawl, an international organization where dates are chosen for groups of artists to join together in drawing marathons. Each of the drawings below were created during one of Karen’s adventures.


I’m a big fan of her beautiful line work, especially in the illustration above. It appears almost continuous, as if she never even lifted her pen off the page.

That light combination of “zen” and plein air studies gives Karen’s drawings a loose feeling and fresh perspective. You can just imagine her taking ten minutes at one location, then moving 50 feet away to capture another scene.

As you’ll see in the image below, Karen adds an infinite amount of detail not only with her pen, but also with the multitude of watercolor layers.

The Ellen

And while this illustration of a local movie theater is packed with detail, individual “moments” still jump off the page due to variations in color, light and line.

Perhaps the most obvious thing about Karen’s work is that nothing is too common or too ordinary to capture in ink and paint. She’ll take the simplest subjects, like this bike, and then transform it into something beautiful and refreshing—and possibly even a bit nostalgic.


Of course, these three images are just a small sample of Karen’s entire portfolio, which is worth a look in its entirety.

Please head on over to http://www.KarenRamsay.com if you’d like to explore more of her plein air adventures in ink and watercolor.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Most successful artists have a common thread running through their work—some kind of unifying element or distinct style that gives their art its own flavor. For Colorado artist Saundra Lane Galloway, this common element is quickly becoming collage.

With a degree in art education, Saundra has taught at the middle and secondary. . . read more

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