Prairie Wife of the Week: Karen Henneck (Artist and Illustrator) #giveaway
Posted February 8, 2016 by Prairie Wife - 19 comments
As a child growing up in the city there were certain opportunities that we took for granted. One of the things I remember the most was our trips to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Ma and Pa took us frequently and Pa especially enjoyed sharing his knowledge with us. I loved the impressionists. I could spend hours looking in the French impressionists and developed a love for the work of Mary Cassatt and Degas.
As an adult I learned to appreciate art in a whole new way. I was able to recognize the effort and work that went into the creations I admired. I learned to see how light, brush stroke, and even the medium an artist used, all came together to create the mood of their work. Through The Cowboy I learned to love art depicting the West, and Wyoming scenes in particular.
When I first saw Karen Henneck’s work I was captivated by the color and then by the emotions her art brought out in me. I found myself smiling as I walked from piece to piece and pausing in thought over a particular work that struck a cord with me. Karen shows us that it’s never too late to learn, it’s never past time to start reaching for your dreams, and that with a little bit of Prairie Wife grit and grace…anything is possible.
Don’t forget to stop by the end of this post for a chance to enter to win a piece of Karen’s art!
God gives each of us talents and gifts. Some have the gift of being a peacemaker, some the gift of knowledge, some are great with numbers. I was born with the gift of creativity and imagination. Instead of embracing this gift as one of being given by a creative God I fought it most of my life.
My family discouraged my creativity, thinking it foolish, my art a waste of time, a job that had no future. Besides, a girl should marry right out of high school and take care of the house and children, letting her husband take care of her. College? It makes you wild, undisciplined. My parents accused me of being too sensitive, too flighty, and having my head in the clouds instead of my feet planted on the ground. When working in the fields of Papa’s farm I was busy noticing the value changes in the clouds, the transition of warm to cool blue in the sky, the texture on the weeds I was hoeing. When working in the hay fields, I noticed the brilliant glow of sunlight on the golden bales of hay. I would stumble into a fence while gazing at a red sunset. Needless to say, my family had troubles with me, wondering why I wasn’t like my siblings, accusing me of being childish, too sensitive, distracted and foolish. Many teachers along the way encouraged me, letting me create bulletin boards and murals on the chalkboard. But I hid that part from my family.
Seven days after my high school graduation, I married Ron. We had never dated any one else before our first date and we just celebrated our 50th Anniversary! He helped me realize that the inner creativity was screaming to get out. So I worked as an interior designer for a short time and then became a floral designer, managing flower shops for 21 years.
At 36, I was given a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. My sister had it and was paralyzed from the neck down for 37 years succumbing to it only after she lost everything but the sight in one eye and the hearing in one ear. Her voice was but a whisper but she told me, “Stand up for your dreams, don’t let other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice” and “Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” She was very creative but had also hidden it until late in her life. Many times she and I discussed how much we wished we would have known that about each other, and wondered at how well we both had hidden it.
My sister started painting shortly before her death. I would move the canvas in front of a brush she held between her teeth. We would pretend the canvas was a map of the United States, and to get the brushstrokes she wanted she would say, “Move it from Chicago to New York City” or “Move it from Denver to Dallas”. Watching her fade over the years, I realized I had to water the gift God had given me and let the creativity grow even though I felt guilty playing with my art while she watched from the sidelines.
At 46, after finding my MS diagnosis was a mistake, I went to Casper College, and a whole new world opened up to me. There I found a supportive group of people who not only understood me but, felt like me. Everyday was a new adventure. All the teachers there were my age so the fear that I was too old to fulfill my dreams dissipated, giving me strength and drive and the courage to follow my dreams.
In 2001 I started a full time career as an Impressionistic pastel artist. I love the rich sparkle and the spontaneity pastels offer and am drawn to the beautiful landscapes of Wyoming. The many colors of green, the warmth in the skies, and the clarity of the atmosphere. You can find my pastels at KarenHenneck.com, and DailyPaintWorks.com.
My life has recently come full circle with the fulfillment of my hidden childhood dream, illustrating children’s books. I can remember so well the precious illustrations of the Dick and Jane and the Golden Books I read to my baby brother and the depth of love I felt for each and every picture. Now I, too, am writing and illustrating children’s books. I have three that should be published very soon. Two of these were written by a friend and I did the illustrations. I both authored and illustrated the last of the three, and have written 12 more that are in different stages of completion.
God opens many doors to us. Keep a watchful eye, then be prepared so you can walk through them when they appear! Two of my favorite Bible verses keep me inspired in my art career. The first is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The second is Matthew 19:26,”With God all things are possible.”
I hope my story can give hope to those of you who are frustrated and feel like your chances have passed you by.
As part of our annual We Love Our Readers month of giveaways, Karen has given one lucky reader the opportunity to win a 11×16 print of “Prairie Sentinel” ! All you have to do to enter is tell us what you love about Karen’s art in the comments. You can earn more chances to win by following us on social media. Please be honest, we will be checking!
Previous Post « How To: Curl Your Hair With a Flat Iron