Telling A Story

Published 10:45 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

Karen Weir has traveled the world doing what she loves: art.

From teaching art on a tall ship in the Mediterranean to teaching classes at the Selma Art Guild, the world of art has allowed Weir to see the world.

Weir said the love of art was always there, and as her family moved around frequently, she developed a love for not only art, but for architecture.

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“We moved around a lot, therefore, we were always fixing up homes, and I became interested in the construction side,” she said. “I had a liberal arts education, but later I caught on things like drafting.

“My family moved a lot and it is one reason that we’re here,” she said. “We moved so much that there were no roots. Here my husband, who hardly ever came here, had this old house that his grandparents built that nobody paid attention to for 30 years. I said it would be great for our grandkids to have a sense of roots and I suggested fixing it up.”

After some convincing, Weir said the renovation process began on a family home for the couple to have some stable roots.

“I came from Miami, so it was a culture shock,” she said. “We have been here for about 18 years.”

The love for art was always inside her, Weir said, adding that she took classes while living near Chicago.

When I was a kid we lived near Chicago and I went to the Art Institute of Chicago for art classes,” she said. “Wherever I was I was always taking classes. I was always a drawer.”

Weir started teaching art on a ship in the Mediterranean. She traveled on ships for five years.

“A lot of people who go on tall ships are mechanical so they don’t do art and they are all somewhat retired and older,” she said. “Many said they wished they could draw and so on. I came up with this course. I covered a basic journal and on the back I would draw the map, so you would know where we went.”

Weir has owned a business in Miami for 22 years called Added Dimensions.

“Being a creative person, I always thought it was dumb if you were a designer and had a title like ‘Karen Weir Design’ or ‘Art by Karen.’ We are supposed to think outside of the box,” Weir said. “Added Dimensions to me was nebulous enough because we’re involved in a lot. We did garden stuff, we did houses, offices and art. So, Added Dimensions was totally nebulous. I still have that business. I do consultations in Selma, and I actually just finished a kitchen and then the art was there too.”

At her home, she has converted her guest house to her studio.

“It is an old garage that I have converted into the guest house and the front part was all down low and that’s why the windows feel low in there,” she said. “I didn’t want to go through the extensive changing the windows, so when there are no guests, which I love guests, I get to use it as my studio. I built in some extra storage closets because when you’re an artist you have to have a lot of stuff. It is a wonderful escape. It is not that far to go to, but it is kind of set up to where I have my music, I have a mini kitchen for tea and coffee and there is just art all over it.”

She has studied regularly with major watercolorists, like Timothy Clark and Ted Nuttall, in workshops through her membership in the San Diego Watercolor Society. She has also studied with Albert Handel and Susan Ogilvie, pastel painters, and with Brian Blood, Joe Garcia and Adele Earnshaw, all painters in oils.

“Albert Handel came to Selma around 10 or 12 years ago,” she said. “He was the one who taught me about sanded paper. I studied with Susan Ogilvie and there’s a piece I have done that. I’ve studied with a lot of famous water colorist at the San Diego Water Colorist Society.”

Weir studied creative photography at the Honors College at the University of Alabama with Chip Cooper, who has written many books on photography about the rural South.  She also regularly does plein air painting with the Alabama Plein Air Painters, and enjoys the challenge of painting outdoors. She was one of 15 painters from the southeastern states to be invited to the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational, held in Gadsden.

When asked why she does this, she has two reasons.

“There’s two reasons,” she said. “I discovered in late September and early October, this whole area gets covered in spider lilies. They have stories that’s what I love when people say I remember when I was a little kid and would bring some to my teacher. I enjoy painting things that are memories. I also love teaching because there are lightbulbs that go off. Sometimes you just never know what is going to happen. That is probably the most enjoyable part is that it is not predictable. It is like a puzzle sometimes. I love sharing it with people and they have reactions. Personally, it is satisfying because I do paint commissions, but most of my work is personal and people happen to like it.”

For more information on Weir and her work, visit