Born on the outskirts of Melbourne, Atkins has drawn and painted all her life. After completing studies at Monash University and Hawthorn Institute of Education in Melbourne, she went to North-Western Victoria to teach. During the ten years she spent there, she fell in love with the huge expanses of sky and land of Australia’s interior. Constantly painting, she also spent time droving, working as a ‘Shearer’s Roustabout’ as well as the regular calendar chores associated with life on a sheep and wheat farm. Atkins was an artist-in-residence at St Michael’s School and found the interaction with, and enthusiasm of the students enormously fulfilling and an integral learning step in her own path to becoming an artist. In late 1990, she arrived in Sydney and began painting full-time, enormously excited by the variability of vistas and the huge expanses of water after the red flatness of the Mallee. Atkins’ ethereal images demonstrate her talent for displaying the wonder and extraordinary in the everyday. She draws from personal connections to landscapes and myths to create her work.
Atkins has participated in numerous selected group exhibitions and solo shows. Her artwork is part of private collections within Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and USA. She has also received awards from the Royal Art Society of New South Wales, a Special Commendation from Crows Nest Club Art Prize 2000, the Royal Art Society of NSW Autumn Medal of Distinction 2015 and the Royal Art Society of NSW Thora Ungar Medal of Distinction 2015.
“My paintings evolve from experiences and observations, and explore, with romance and whimsy, the places our choices may take us. My personal mythology draws from traditional myths and fables and is enmeshed with stories I have lived. It is all about seeking out what really matters in the world, the relationships between people and the environment. I am constantly amazed by possibilities, enormous skies and sumptuous colours and extraordinary relationships between people, animals, land and art. My aim is to convey my wonder in the everyday and the extraordinary in my paintings.” - Karen Atkins