BY INDIANA NASH
NISKAYUNA- Karen Woodin has been a landscape painter for several years, but it wasn’t until Niskayuna’s Art Out event this summer that she really began to branch out into the Plein air method.
“It’s the avenue I’m hoping to take next . . . It’s what really cinched it for me,” Woodin said of the Art Out event.
Something obviously clicked for the artist as she won first place for her piece of the Mohawk River overlooking Lock 7.
Although she’s a Waterford resident, Woodin travels all over the country in search of inspiration for her paintings.
“But I’m rediscovering this area more and more,” Woodin said.
For one of her more recent pieces, she went back to the Mohawk River and painted from a scene of the water scape that can be seen from Riverview Road.
Some of her work is on exhibit now at The Butzel Gallery in Schenectady High School and in Gallery5 one in Clifton Park. For the past three years she’s also shown at the Niskayuna Train Station in Lions Park.
But exhibiting is only half of her second career as an artist.
“If there’s anything I can contribute, it’s teaching,” Woodin said.
During her first career, she taught elementary aged students and students with disabilities for over 20 years.
“I loved teaching, but it wasn’t everything,” Woodin said. She always knew there was a missing piece to her career.
In 2011, when she retired from teaching around the Capital Region, she and her mom were sketching together in St. Agnes Cemetery in Troy and Woodin rediscovered one of her first loves.
Her mother, Joan, was a former art teacher and passed along her creative genes to Woodin.
“I’ve always been ambitious. I love learning and I love expanding,” Woodin said.
When she decided that her second career would be art, she knew she couldn’t take things slow.
So she began to take a variety of lessons with local artist Audrey Romano and at the Art Center in Troy.
Woodin also hired an art representative and a business representative to help get her name into the local industry.
In 2013, she began to teach group lessons, private lessons and at various events, such as weekend programs at Sagamore Lodge.
“Everything is coming full circle now because this summer I’m teaching in St. Agnes,” Woodin said.
Teaching has helped her to solidify her career as an artist, both in an economic sense and in the level of career-contentedness.
“It’s tough to do, but I’ve actually started making a profit from everything that I’m involved in,” Woodin said.
Although she no longer works with an art representative, she said that the experience helped her to get a solid start in the art world.
Woodin has gained traction not only as an art teacher but as an accomplished artist.
After she joined the Bethlehem Artist Association in 2013, she gained recognition in their annual art shows (which are judged by art professors of the Capital Region).
“Being recognized in that way was important,” Woodin said.
She was recently asked to work with the Oakroom Artists (another local group that is known for being prestigious).
But, once again, everything came full circle for Woodin.
“After the Art Out event, a few of us formed a group where we focus on supporting one another,” Woodin said.
In a craft that can be isolating and difficult to gain traction in, having any sort of support can make all the difference.
They share various artistic challenges and bring up different opportunities for one another.
“It just really helps to have that,” Woodin said.
She also credits part of her artistic career to her husband Dave, who travels with her to various locations and helps her to find the perfect photos and painting spots.