Karen Noles, A Study Of The Native American Culture Through Art


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If beauty in artwork can defined as a delightful quality intertwined with harmony of form and color and combined with craftsmanship and originality, then one need look no further than the work of Karen Noles and her artwork of Western art that revolve around Native American women and children. Though this artist is certainly capable of painting an array of subjects, her concentration over the past few years has been the feminine and domestic side of Native American Western Art. Karen has worked in pastel, gouache and, most recently, oil.

With her home located on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, she works out of her home studio where she has a backdrop of more than 30,000 acres of gorgeous scenery and recreation area. She has wonderful views of the southern end of Flathead Lake and has, no doubt, been inspired by the majesty of nature in her surroundings.

Besides creating her many paintings, she touts that horseback riding is the highest on her list of interests and activities. Her work is carefully researched and is an accurate accounting of the subjects that she portrays in her paintings. She primarily focuses on “domestic life of the 1800’s Native American, especially the early reservation time period, ” according to her biographical statements about her work.

She is a stickler for being thorough in research and data gathering. She attempts, in a very successful manner, to convey realism in her work. She has been known to spend weeks, or even months, doing research for each painting. She methodically secures reference materials and museum books to gather all that she needs to depict her scenes in an accurate and realistic form. She often travels to museums to take photos of exhibits that will help her incorporate the reality of the time into her work. In addition, her distinctive paintings are a result of attending local powwows and from drawing upon her natural surroundings.

In commenting on her work she says, “I find that not only can I try to portray a situation of that time, but I can also give honor to their works of art. ” This is in reference to the depictions of bead and quill work of the Early Reservation time period that she enjoys most.

To further emphasize her commitment to realism in her work, she chooses to use Native American models. In addition, she also incorporates wild animals in her photo shoots. She explains, “The children that I’m working with now I’ve been working with for a few years; the parents know and trust me. Children have such wonderful imagination and do such spontaneous things – some great paintings come out of it all. ” One only needs to look at some of her most recent works such as: “The Feather Fan”, “Daughter of the Sioux”; “Blackfeet Stories”; and “Embraced In Wisdom” to understand her quote.

If you look at her work in “Tepee Tender”, you will see a little girl holding a fox pup in her lap with another cuddled up next to her. Noles is able to achieve this realism with the help of a friend who works with injured or abandoned animals. Those that are tame enough to be photographed with the child models are often used. Fauns, fox pups, young lynx and bobcats are among those that have been in the photo shoots.

Among the numerous awards and distinctions for Karen Noles are the following:

  • The People Choice Award – C. M. Russell Art Show and Auction, Great Falls, Montana
  • 1998 Viewers Favorite Award at the Spirit of the Great Plains Show, Museum of Nebraska Art
  • Honors, Pastel Society of the West Coast
  • Honors, New York Society of Illustrators
  • Patrons Choice in the Stampede Western Invitational Art Exhibit and Sale

    Inspiration can be defined by something that stimulates a person to a high level of feeling, to creative thought, or to achieve the making of art. In looking at the outstanding pieces created by Karen Noles, one would have to say that she has certainly made a connection to her surroundings and interests. Fortunately, the art world is the recipient of her beautiful inspirations.

    No permission is need to reprint this article as long as it remains unedited and the author’s bio and links are included.

    Floyd Snyder owned and operated three framing galleries for nearly 20 years. After selling his business in the late 80’s and retiring form a successful career in the stock markets he has returned to the trade he has always loved and missed. He has established his own online store representing some of finest artist in the world at http://www.FrameHouseGalleryeBay.com He can be reached at Floyd@FrameHouseGallery.com To see Karen’s work go to: http://stores.ebay.com/FrameHouseGallery_Karen-Noles

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