About Karen Story

Figural Abstractions, in the gallery through September 2019

My interest in depicting the human figure began at PNCA where I received my a BFA in 1991. Whether working on an isolated figure or one in interaction with another, this never-ending challenge has been my studio companion.

Having recently begun working with media which are textural, I found that I needed to change my approach. I began to use a palette knife and other tools besides a paintbrush to apply cold wax. Encaustic is also quite textural.

Being influenced by California figure artists of the 60s, I also began using colors not found on the body. This has been a serious challenge for me. I want to keep the form in proportion and anatomically correct while using texture and color abstractly.

This new body of work is the result of this challenge to abstract within the figure. I hope you enjoy viewing it.


These images, or “Shipscapes” were photographed over a 2 year period on the Multnomah Channel in Portland, Oregon. They were taken at differing times of year, day, and weather conditions. Most of these photos taken at the waterline of the old World War II Navy tugboat “Captain Bob,” which was anchored on the channel for that period of time. Layers of rusting and peeling paint, along with algae and moss growth combined to present these fascinating images. Some of the photos are taken at the waterline of other ships anchored on the Willamette River near Swan Island in Portland.


The encaustic paintings are created on a hard surface (wood) using a mixture of materials (beeswax, natural resin, and natural pigments). The encaustic mixture is heated/melted and applied to the canvas using a brush. Each layer of wax is fused to the preceding layer using a torch, allowing the layers to become one. Many tools are used in addition to the brushes, one of the most useful being a scraper, which keeps the surface of the painting even.

Majoring in printmaking and painting at PNCA in Portland, Oregon, Karen was the recipient of the Louis Bunce Scholarship award, the Printmaking Department scholarship award, and the Local 10 Scholarship award. Her work is owned by the Portland Art Museum and by many private collectors, and can be seen at Alberta Street Gallery (Portland, OR) and RiverSea Gallery (Astoria, OR).

Village Frame & Gallery, 7808 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219 ● (503) 245-8001
Open Tuesday - Friday, 10am - 5pm, and Saturday 10am - 4pm, or by appointment.