"She has an innate sense of color and composition and when it is coupled with the way she handles the media, magic occurs." - Quote from Theresa Golas, Director of The Iredell Museums (Statesville, NC) published in American Art Collector Magazine, August 2006.
Painter Karen Hewitt Hagan is living the quintessential life of an accomplished artist. The Florence, South Carolina native teaches plein air painting in Italy, the Bahamas, and France. She also owns the Hagan Fine Art Gallery and Studio in downtown Charleston, displaying her work alongside the paintings of artists from far-away lands such as Russia & Germany. Her own works are collected nationally as well and are in the permanent collection of fine resorts like The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island. Though she’s traveled the world, lived aboard a boat (aptly named Plein Air) for over 8 years, she says Charleston continues to be her calm, stable source of inspiration.
“If I were marooned in just one place on earth, I’d want it to be Charleston. It’s nirvana here…funky, very close knit among the artists. We all collaborate a lot, share models and paint together. That’s inspiring in itself, but to get to do that in a city that is filled with such stunning light and beauty is way beyond what anyone could hope for.”
You might be surprised to learn that Hagan’s first memory of painting was when the artist was 32 years old—a relatively late age to find and pursue your passion. She describes her paintings as “painterly, loose, and juicy. They’re colorful, and hopefully, full of light. I guess most people call me an impressionistic landscape painter, but I resist putting titles on myself because I always want to explore. And while I hold true to traditional drawing and compositional methods, I want to experiment and push the boundaries of painting.”
Hagan is also a breast cancer survivor. That ordeal drastically changed her perspective on her life and work. “I’ve had a whole lot of challenges and changes in the last few years; moving back to dry land, becoming single and going through breast cancer. I’ve found that my paintings always follow my heart, and what’s happening with my emotions usually flows through my brush. I’m in a really good place now and feel very grateful to be healthy, happy, and painting every day!” says Hagan. -- WORDS: MARCUS AMAKER , ART MAG (Charleston, SC)
One Woman Museum Shows
Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory NC - 2009
The Iredell Museums, Statesville NC – 2006
Recent Corporate Collections
The Sanctuary Resort at Kiawah Island, The Island House at Seabrook Island, Hatteras Yachts, Figure 8 Island Yacht Club , NC, Abaco Beach Club, City Marina of Charleston, The Village at Isle of Palms.
Selected Publications Karen Hewitt Hagan, American Impressionist (published 2007) & The Enchantment of Charleston; Original Oil Paintings of Karen Hewitt Hagan, Book published by Morton Arts Media; *Due out 2012. Coastal Living Magazine – Art on The Docks Feature, October 2007 American Art Collector Magazine - August 2006 - Feature Article on Iredell Museums Show American Art Collector Magazine - July 2006 - Collectable Marine Artists Feature Plein Air Magazine, Studio Visit Feature - September 2006
Teaching & European Travel Holidays for Artists & Friends
Karen has taught plein air painting classes in Charleston, Italy, France and the Bahamas. Her next European workshop is planned for summer of 2012 in Tuscany, Italy. The trips include accommodations, meals, wine and instruction. Non-painting friends welcome. Details available online or call 843-754-0494.
Bachelor of Arts: College of Journalism, The University of South Carolina, Columbia SC, 1983
Gibbes Museum Studio School, (Workshops) Charleston SC, Scottsdale Artist School / Offsite Vermont Class
Armory Arts Center; W. Palm Beach, FL, Independent Painting and Drawing Workshops & Classes across the US, Critique by Charleston artist, John C. Doyle.
Selected Honors & Shows
Telfair Museum of Art Juried Exhibition, November 2010, Southeastern Wildlife Exhibition, Charleston SC 2010 & 2011
Landscape The Continuum, City Art Gallery, Greenville 2010, One Woman Show with The Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory NC 2009 (Hosted by patrons Andy & Suzanne Wells), One Woman Show; Iredell Museums, Statesville NC 2006
Award of Excellence: COPA Paint Out; 2004, Honorable Mention Award: COPA Paint Out; 2004
Merit Award: Piccolo Spoleto: 2002, Florence Museum Silver Anniversary Exhibition, 2002
Honorable Mention Award: Juried Exhibition Spoleto USA, Carmel Art Festival Plein Air Painting Competition, Carmel, California, Best and The Brightest Show, 2001 - Scottsdale, Arizona
"The Southern Landscape - I see it as a quickly changing canvas. Most precious and yet the most exploited. I'm especially inspired by the pristine coastal landscapes that lace between our barrier islands and the sea. It's where I feel at home with my easel. And I'm very interested in the change that is happening around this area so quickly. Some of my favorite subjects are the unspoiled areas on the rustic edges of rural life. I view our coastal landscape in the South with mixed feelings as development companies embrace conservation and natural resource preservation, all while they are still developing raw lands as quickly as possible. My vision of the South through my painter's eye is a double image, one of richness in heritage of unspoiled lands, long marsh views, freshly turned farm fields, pristine beaches and abounding wilderness paired with the access to this richness through newly developed marinas, home sites and neighborhoods that fringe these areas. My work encompasses both the old and the new. I love nothing more than painting the quiet marsh-lands or a field in new bloom. It's my passion to paint these areas...preserving yesterday's & tomorrow's view – one canvas at a time."