About The Artist
Karen K Johnston
I began painting for others many years ago when I received a request from a friend for a hand painted egg for her collection. Since that time and mostly through word-of-mouth I have rendered many unusual subjects on different sized eggs. I’ve had requests for such things as graduation, anniversary, birthday, pet memorials, caricatures, and even a collectible car.
While looking for a new format or surface on which to express my creativity, I came across plain frosted glass ornaments and decided to create my own unique Christmas ornaments that year. As gifts, they were very well received and I began to get requests for “special” ornaments from family and friends.
During the Christmas season of 2000, through my daughter Andrea, I made the acquaintance of Jill Neidig. Jill, at that time, was the owner of a wonderful little gift shop for “pets and their people” called E. Claire & Company. As fate would have it, Jill expressed an interest in offering my pet ornaments to her customers and as E. Claire & Company happened to be a wonderful and unique gift shop we formed an alliance that allowed me to express my love of animals through my art. Soon her customers were wanting their own pets painted on these “special” ornaments so Jill began taking custom orders for me. Thanks to Jill, that was the beginning of Laughing Dog Designs (named for the new puppies that I had just adopted) and my initiation into portrait painting. Since that time I have done countless special order “portrait” and “memorial” ornaments for people that have been sent all over the United States and abroad.
I chose to “specialize” in pet portraiture because I firmly believe that pets are an endless source of joy and companionship and our lives are much richer because of them. Although I consider my specialty to be pet portraits, I also paint people portraits, not just on ornaments but on the traditional canvas too. Whether it is a reproduction of somebody’s wedding picture or their 50th anniversary, baby’s 1st Christmas, or a memorial tribute to a lost pet or loved one, I put my heart and soul into each piece. My greatest reward results from the emotion expressed in the eyes and the smiles of my clients when I deliver a finished portrait to them.
I enjoy the challenge of learning new ways to broaden my artistic horizons and am always looking for a new medium or surface on which to paint my designs. Whether it is the traditional artist’s canvas or an old tin can, I like to tell my customers, “The surface is up to you, if the paint will stick to it, I can paint anything you want on it”.