Artist Karen Piper in the studio

Artist Karen Piper in her studio

Karen Piper has a natural desire to use multiple artistic mediums. She creates beautiful artworks in a variety of different art styles from realism to expressive and contemporary, into children’s picture book illustration and beyond. She is exploring with pastels, watercolors, acrylics, colored pencils, charcoal, graphite, digital art and several other mediums such as Sepia powder and pencil.

Karen’s beautiful artworks are infused with an expressive sense of exploration and playful adventure. It’s been an absolute delight to mentor Karen from beginner to Advanced level artist. I hope you enjoy learning all about her wonderful journey through my mentored program, from the Complete Online Drawing Course through to mentored levels 2 and 3.

Along the way Karen has learned so much and you can see that in the progression of her work here. I’m sure you’ll agree that she has a big future ahead of her, in whatever subjects or mediums she chooses to create with.

Artist: Karen Piper Title: The calm before the storm Medium: Graphite pencils on Hahnemuehle 400gsm cold pressed paper Size: 19 cm x12 cm

Interview with Karen Piper by Cindy Wider


Q: Hi  Karen, where were you born and where do you live now?

A: I live in Cape Town, South Africa.  Barring two years in the UK, I’ve lived in this beautiful city all my life. I’m married, with one son and have a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and Accounting. I have been retired for 3 years now after having a very successful career in technology, starting as a software engineer and ending as the Executive on a very large digital transformation program.

Peppie the Pup, The Old Hayshed and A Column Fold Exercise drawings Karen created at the start of her journey, from the Complete Online Drawing Course


Q: Can you tell our audience about how you first got started with art and drawing?

A: My husband is writing an epic fantasy novel which keeps him relatively homebound. I realised that I would need something to keep me occupied once I retired and drawing/sketching seemed like the best fit. I dabbled in a little sketching early on but stopped focusing on that when my career took off. I always wanted to take an art class; however, COVID and lockdown occurred as I retired so the next best thing was an online course. I discovered your art course on Udemy and decided that this would be a good foundation.

Once in the course, you invited me into your mentored program and I then switched to the more comprehensive ‘Complete Online Drawing Course.’ 

Karen was given a ‘Complimentary Gift Critique’ on this Silver kettle from my Udemy course before she began mentoring with me in 2020. You can see the critique video below.

First Video Critique of Karen Piper’s Work


Q: When students start to study with me I ask them to create a pre-instruction drawing as a record of their ability before they start the course. Can you remember back to that time when you did your first portraits in the course?

A: I didn’t do the pre-instruction exercise as I had already begun the portrait section when I began mentoring with you in the Complete Online Drawing Course. I can look back now and see how much progress I made even from the self-teach version of the course before mentoring. After mentoring though the difference is significant.

You can see that Karen did quite well during the self-study version of my portrait course (left side before mentoring) then with mentoring her drawing soared to a new level in the after mentored 2 level image right side. The image left side is Karen’s favourite drawing of her son created in Sepia powder and pencil.


Q: What was it like studying with mentored support?

A: Being a mentored student is really wonderful. I started the mentored program whilst still on the course. I soon realised that the additional support I was getting would help me grow so much quicker. Your immense experience means that you can very quickly see where one is failing and you give very specific advice on how to correct issues. I really love the way you balance criticism with positive reinforcement as well. This helps keep one motivated to always improve. 


Karen’s drawing of Isha from the Complete Online Drawing Course (left) then Sumaya on the right from the Mentored 2 level course that followed.

As Karen further progressed into the Complete Online drawing course she studied colored pencil. Her development is rapid. Here are two of her exercises from the course.


Q: What’s happening with your drawing journey right now?

A: Over the past year, I’ve dabbled in all sorts of mediums. I particularly like charcoal and pastels, but after doing your Acrylic painting course, I have also taken to painting. My happy place is doing portraits. Initially I worked in graphite pencils and charcoal, but lately I have been trying to master acrylics too. It’s so much more difficult to work with brushes and paints, and I know that I still have a long way to go before I will really feel competent in this medium.

Q: Have you won any awards, or held exhibitions, sold your art since you studied at DrawPj?

A: I have had one commission from an ex-colleague – it was a landscape, something I hadn’t tackled before.   I have also sold a painting which was a delight. I have yet to enter any of my works in a competition, but I hope to pursue this in the forthcoming year.

Artist: Karen Piper Title: Point Reyes, Inverness, California Medium: Graphite pencils on St Cuthberts Mill – Saunders Waterford HP300gsm (140 lbs) Size: 31cm X 23 cm



Q: What are your favourite art materials and why?

A: I love charcoal for portraits. The medium allows one to create art pieces quite quickly and one can easily fix mistakes.


Artist: Karen Piper Title: Tyler Medium: Charcoal on Canson Mi-Teintes 160gsm paper Size: 41cm x 30cm


Artist: Karen Piper Title: Stella Medium: graphite pencils on St Cuthberts Mill – Saunders Waterford HP 300gsm paper Size: 31cm x 23 cm


Q: Do you have any words of helpful advice for beginner artists?

A: I was always skeptical about being a proficient artist, but like everything in life, one needs to practice. Try to turn up at the table every day, even if it is only for a short while. You will see an improvement. Avoid spending too much time admiring other artists’ work. This can be very distracting and also demotivating as there are so many wonderful artists on social media. Focus on your own goals and look for artists (old masters) whose style you like and study their pieces to understand the craft better.

Title: Dose of Vitamin Sea Medium: Pan Pastels and various brands of pastel pencils. Claire Fontaine Pastelmat paper 360 gsm Size: 25 cm x 30 cm


Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: I would like to use my new skills to record my travels on future holidays, I have not done any plein air painting yet so this is my next goal.


Artist: Karen Piper Title: At the beach Medium: Derwent Inktense and Procolour pencils on Saunders Waterford HP 300gsm paper Size 18cm x 26cm


Artist: Karen Piper Title: Walking in the rain Medium: Digital artwork Size 394mm x 394 mm

For more images and information about Karen Piper:

Instagram: @karenhpip