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KAREN VANCE hails from a family rich in art. She was born into the sixth generation of fine artists. As a child, in her Chicago suburban home, Sunday afternoons were reserved as family time. "My father, David Swartwout, an accomplished painter and sculptor, would give my sisters and me art lessons -how to draw a tree in our backyard or draw boats from the shore at Belmont Harbor. Or on a rainy Sunday, we would often spend an afternoon at the Art Institute learning from 'The Masters'. In our modest home, art was paramount. We had only original art hanging on our walls, I grew up knowing good art -I was surrounded by it", says Vance.

Vance's fine art studies include art and graphics at Northern Illinois University, the Art Institute of Chicago and Classical Painting at the Village Art Academy in Skokie, Illinois. She has studied under the direction of the "best of the best" living artists in America today: Carolyn Anderson, Burton Silverman, Scott Christensen, Mark Daily, Michael Lynch, David Leffel, William Reese, Quang Ho, Clyde Aspevig, Richard Schmid, Michael Workman and many of the Plein Air Painters of America. Vance is a member the California Art Club, Art Students League of Denver, where she is a graduate of Quang Ho's Master's Class,  Karen is a  Signature Member of both Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, and the National Academy of Professional Plein Air Painters, and is a  Master Signature Member of the American Woman Artists.  "Quang Ho said, Vance is emerging as one of the nationally known artists in America and he has no doubt that she'll continue along a fast track toward artistic stardom". - Alpenglow Magazine, December 2000.

Karen Vance's art career includes nearly 12 years as a graphic artist and the past 19 years creating fine art, professionally. Karen's award-winning paintings have found their place in Wells Fargo Bank of Denver, First Interstate Bank of Wyoming and Montana, The Grand County Historical Association, Winter Park Resort Association, The Arlberg Club, and The Bob and Sharon Magnus Foundation, and in the notable private  collections of  Rob and Terri Ryan, Shirley & Tufty Holland, Bob and Paige Lee, and fellow Artists; Quang Ho, Hollis Williford, and Russell Chatham. She works in several mediums: oil, watercolor, and sculpture. Vance's landscapes have been reproduced in 24 limited edition prints and giclées. Her landscapes have adorned the Winter Park Resort Posters from 1994 through 2006 the Winter Park Music Festival Prints, the Bach, Beethoven and Breckenridge Music Festival Print, the Wells Fargo Bank Cup Poster and the High Country Stampede Rodeo Poster.

Karen's original paintings are much sought after. She has had a string of "sold-out" shows during the past six years including several one-woman shows, the 2000 Plein Air Painters of America Annual Show on Catalina Island, the 2001 Colorado Governor's Invitational Show at Loveland Art Museum, where she was the recipient of the "Collector's Choice Award"; the C.M. Russell Art Show and Auction, where she won the 2002 'People's Choice - Best Painting Award, and the Arlene Hooker Fay Memorial Award;  the Buffalo Bill Cody Invitational  in Cody, Wyoming, where she won the 2005 Juror's Honorable Mention and People's Choice Award; the Treasure State Art Show in Hamilton, Montana, the Western Stampede Invitational in Greeley, Colorado, the Bradford Brinton Memorial Invitational in Sheridan, Wyoming, the Public Education and Business Coalition Art for Education Show in Denver, the Annual Richard Schmid Fine Art Auction, in Rist County, Colorado of which she is a Charter Member, and the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters Annual Invitational, in Estes Park, Colorado, where she won the 2004 Best of Show and the 2005 Publisher's Choice Award from the Editor of Plein Air Magazine.   Karen has been awarded a 2006-2007 residency and exhibition  at Yosemite National Park,  where one of her paintings from this exhibition will  become part of the park's permanent collection.

Art of the West Magazine has published a feature article on Karen and her work in their 2006 January/February issue.  Southwest Art  published her work in "Artists to Watch" - March 2001, and featured in the Article "A Natural Calling" by Norman Kolpas, in their February 2005 issue. In the 2005 & 2006 Winter issue of Inform Art Magazine and on the Cover of the 2006 Summer issue, Karen's work is also featured.  Her painting "October Morning" was published as the cover on the Art of the West 2002 Guidebook of Western Artists. Her work has been featured in Wildlife Art, Inside Cherry Creek Magazine, and Alpenglow Magazine. She was also published in the book, Enchanted Isle - The History of Plein Air Painting on Santa Catalina Island.

Honors and Awards


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Last modified: October 16, 2011