Karen Boylan Art

About Karen Boylan

A native Montanan, Boylan’s life has been all about horses.  Her early years were filled with Gymkhanas (games on horseback), horse shows, 4-H horse programs, and rodeos.  Developing an early interest in drawing, these activities played a major role in directing her focus to animals, especially horses.

With a major in physical Education and a minor in art, Boylan graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman, Mt. in 1969.  She married, had three children, and ranched with her husband and family in Red Lodge, Mt., where they ran a cow-calf operation for 14 years.  They then moved to the Gallatin Valley of Bozeman, Mt., where they continue to raise Black Angus Cattle today.

Throughout this time, Boylan’s interest in art continued to grow.  She attended numerous workshops with internationally known artists such as Carl Brenders, Nancy Glazier, Terry Isaac, Robert Bateman, John-Seery Lester, Morton Solberg, and Greg Beecham.  Boylan’s time was very limited – ranching, raising children, and working a full time job.  With an increasing desire to paint more, something had to change, so she quit her job.

Since then, Boylan has been painting whenever time allows, attending shows throughout the country to promote her work.  Narrowing down the number of show she attended proved to be more beneficial financially as well as giving her the opportunity to be more efficient and productive.  A few of the shows she attends regularly include the C.M. russell Show which has since changed to Out West Art Show, Great Falls, Mt., the National Fine Art Show & Auction in Ellensburg, Wa., the Northern International Exposition in Billings, Mt., and the National Finals Rodeo Cowboy Christmas Show & Sale in Las Vegas, Nv.  She has also done shows in Texas and Arizona.

As a result of these shows and promoting her work, Boylan has received numerous awards, her images have been produced on numerous posters and several magazine covers, has had several articles on her work and life published in magazines, and has been included in three coffee table books on Northwest Artists.  In 2006, Boylan was featured artist at the the Firearms, Engravers, and Gunsmiths Exhibition held in Reno, Nv., had a one-woman show at the Clymer Museum in Ellensburg, Wa, was honored as Grand marshal of the Ellensburg Rodeo Parade in 2010.

Although she has worked in acrylic, gouache, pencil and scratchboard, Boylan has concentrated mainly on oils in the last few years.  Wildlife has been included in her body of work, but the Western style of life has been her main focus.  Horses, cattle, and working cowboys dominate her subject matter.  Boylan tries to capture the awe and intensity of life in her paintings while portraying the beauty, hard work, and the reality of ranch life.


Artist statement

I would describe my art as a passion.  My fascination with nature and animals, especially horses, has always been enhanced by my interest on how light affects objects, the wonderful contrast in colors, and the infinite detail on everything from grass, rocks and leaves to the vastness of the landscape.  It really is an obsession!

Attention to detail is the most important aspect of my work.  And I feel the paintings are a result of familiarity with the subject.  My paintings are created out of respect for the Western style of life and feel that they reflect the spirit and grandeur of the West.  I draw on  my ranching experience in striving for accuracy and realism.  It is sometimes difficult to balance my time between ranch work and creating art, but I love what I do and relish the physical challenge as well as the mental change that, hopefully, gives freshness and new life to my paintings. 

Because Cowgirl Up is “the most important exhibition and sale for Western Women Artists in the country”, I would like to have the opportunity to exhibit my work with the best.  Because I already show beside many of the women  at other exhibitions, I feel my work would fit in well at this event.  As artists, we must always strive to better ourselves and try new things.  And I can’t think of a better way to accomplish this.  I would be honored to be included in this prestigious show.