Karen was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in 1966, the granddaughter of Guernsey artist Louis Le Ray.  As an adult Karen travelled the world living in Singapore, Bangkok, Australia and Norway.  During this time she developed her love of drawing and painting, undertaking portrait commissions and running art classes. ‘Living in all of those great places, gave me the opportunity to see new cultures, new colours and new scenes all of which would have an effect on my painting.’

On her return to Britain Karen studied Art in Aberdeen.  She moved to Southwold seafront in 1999 and realized her natural ability to capture the sea. She enjoyed limitless views of the beach, the groynes, the sea, birds, people, beach huts and of course the waves crashing onto the sand. Her paintings became increasingly popular.

In 2004 two of her paintings were selected for a permanent art collection in the Palace of Westminster.

Karen purchased the Southwold Gallery in 2005, ‘So now not only was I in charge of my own destiny, but I had the opportunity to help others artists to display their work – this has been fantastic for me – able to support emerging artists as I was supported.’ The gallery exhibits over 40 local artists and has thousands of loyal customers.

In 2008, she was approached by Dorling Kindersley to write and develop a book on advanced acrylic painting. Following several hard months of painting, writing and having her work photographed in a step by step process, the book was published in 15 different languages and received a number of 5 star reviews.

Karen now lives and works in Norwich but still has a home in Southwold. In Norwich, her studio is surrounded by parkland and wildlife. ‘This setting is perfect for tranquil painting time although my heart belongs by the sea.’

‘Inspiration for my paintings comes from the amazing Norfolk and Suffolk scenery, which I see every day: The dramatic sky, light reflecting off water, rugged old boats, a pile of fishing paraphernalia on a beach. Everyday things just lying around, that when the light hits them look amazing. An inspirational sky for me conjures up all sorts of emotional feelings, lost loved ones, angels, hopes and dreams, what’s to come. That particular feeling I portray in my painting creating a drama which the viewer interprets in a personal way to them. Painting is a pleasure; time spent painting is my time.’

Karen’s paintings are in private collections in Britain, Europe, Malaysia, Australia and America, including two paintings held in the House of Lords Art Collection. Her work is on permanent exhibition at Southwold Gallery, Southwold and Thompson’s Gallery Aldeburgh.


Making Waves, Artists in Southwold by Ian Collins. Published 2005 by Black Dog Books.

Who’s Who in Art, Hillmarton Manor Press.

March 2007 Elected Member of East Anglian Marine Artists

Author of ‘Acrylics Workshop II, published in 15 languages by Dorling Kindersley 2008.

How Artists See East Anglian Places, A Green Pebble Publication, 2010

How Artists See People, A Green Pebble Publication, 2010

100 Women in 100 Words, Inspirational Women in Norfolk and Suffolk, 2012.

Exhibitions (a selection):

2004      Solo Exhibition ‘Quintessential Suffolk’ – Southwold Town Hall

2004      House of Lords – London “Best of Britain’ Exhibition

2006      Mall Galleries, London East Anglian Group of Marine Artists Exhibition

2007      Hunter Gallery, Long Melford Summer Exhibition

2008      Mall Galleries, London

2010      Art in the Park, Croxton Park

2010      Mall Galleries London

2012      Solo Exhibition, Southwold Gallery

2014      Solo Exhibition, Roger Hickman’s, Norwich