Karen Johnson is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI), and the Nature Artists Guild of the Morton Arboretum. She exhibits regularly with the Guild and was their featured artist in 1995. She has also exhibited with the American Society of Botanical Artists at the Chicago Botanical Gardens, the Olbrich Botanical Garden in Madison, WI and at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.
She has bachelors’ degrees from Iowa State University in biological illustration and entomology, the study of insects. Karen has done the majority of her color work in watercolor, gouache, acrylic and pastel and her black and white work on scratchboard. Her realistic depictions of flowers and insects are done on a variety of backgrounds ranging from plain to abstract. She also utilizes the computer to make her paintings available in cards and calendars.
She has done illustration work for a variety of clients including: Iowa State University entomology and veterinary departments, Organic Gardening Magazine, Horticulture Magazine, the University of Illinois Extension Services and Ball Horticultural Company. Her artwork is included in private and corporate collections.
Currently she teaches pen and ink, scratchboard, and insect illustration classes at the Morton Arboretum. Exploring polymer sculpture in the form of jewelry is her latest foray into depicting insects and plants in an educational and artistic way. Texture, color and the interesting shapes of insects inspire her. She hopes that these wearable creatures and flowers will inspire people to take notice and care for what’s around them every day in nature.
“When I discovered in college that I could combine art with science, I was thrilled. With my science background, I could more accurately depict the animals and plants in my artwork. I’ve always been fascinated with the smaller details of God’s creation, especially with the variety of insects and the beauty of flowers. It is my hope that my paintings and sculptures will inspire people to look more carefully around them at the wonders that God has created, both large and small. All of my paintings are fleeting moments that I have observed and captured so that I could share with others the wonder that I still feel when I observe the intricacies of God’s nature.”