Karin Toppel
   Fine Art
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I was a watercolorist when I began my career as an artist. I'd worked cautiously for several years in that most demanding of the graphic media and, while I value the freshness of watercolor, that was the time when I discovered the American West and became the artist I was meant to be. My horizons widened and my responses to my subjects deepened in those exciting moments when I realized that I needed the greater flexibility and depth I would achieve with oil paint. That change - from one medium to the other - occurred suddenly, when I finally understood that "The West" is in my blood, that I need the infinite possibilities of oil paint to impart my vision of our glorious western landscapes to people drawn to my work.

The adventure began long before I knew the difference between watercolor and oil paint. I was five or six when I first glimpsed the life of an artist, sitting, mesmerized, watching my grandfather draw the charming cartoons that brought him fame in our safe little world of southern Ohio. A few years later I began to teach myself to draw at the Preble County Fair where, instead of auctioning 4-H pigs, I drew them. And, year after year, I kept on drawing them until I could almost draw. Yet, despite the youthful deficiencies of my work, there came a moment around that time when I knew that my life must be dedicated to painting. What I didn't know was how long it would take and how much is demanded of an artist whose work people might actually want to own - to live with. Though I have a degree in Fine Art, no art school can teach its students what to see, or how. And learning to draw - for every serious artist - will always be an unrelenting, never finished, life-long commitment.

Today, many years after that childhood decision and the rigorous training that followed, I'm producing paintings that speak in the silent language of profound feelings for "my" American West, it's history, its culture, its vastness, its native peoples. My daughter is half native-American, her shared heritage helping to guide my vision in search of the natural beauty that's been there since long before the Europeans - and their ambitions - began to change the pristine landscapes I seek to capture, and thus, in a small way, to preserve. My determination also to study and convey the wisdom - the honesty - of the horse, its instincts and noble spirit has led me in another direction I couldn't have imagined as a girl in Ohio. For me, the horse is the spirit of the West.

Life in Colorado has emancipated me from offices and deadlines. I'm now free to go on learning, to be challenged by the drama of shape, light and color as all of the great western artists have been. As often as I can, I paint directly from nature in the open air - en plein-air as the practice has long been known. When standing in the natural beauty that often whispers an invitation to paint it, I'm constantly renewed, - truly inspired - by simply being there. And it's the "being there" in my paintings that I hope will inspire you.

  • 1979 - University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI., B.S. Fine Art
  • 1982 - Madison Area Technical College, Madison, WI., A.A. Graphic Arts
  • 2009-2011 - Art Students League of Denver, Denver, CO.

Professional Workshops:
  • 2018 - Tom Mazzullo, Silverpoint Drawing, Denver Art Students League, Denver, CO.
  • 2017 - Romel de la Torre, Ala Prima Portrait, Lee?s Summit, Missouri
  • 2017 - Joe Bohler, Dynamic Studio Watercolors, Monument, CO.
  • 2017 - Raj Chaudhuri, Compositional Techniques and Ideas, Denver Art Students League, Denver, CO.
  • 2017 - Raj Chaudhuri, The Figure in Plein Air, Denver Art Students League, Denver, CO.
  • 2017 - Susan Lyons - Painting the Clothed Figure, Scottsdale Artist School, Scottsdale, AZ.
  • 2016 - Teresa Vito, Ala Prima Portrait, Denver Art Students League, Denver, CO.
  • 2016 - Jay Moore Mentorship, Parker, CO.
  • 2012 - 2016, the Atelier of Castle Rock, Castle Rock, CO.
  • 2015 - Greg Beecham, painting wildlife
  • 2015 - Don Hamilton, plein air
  • 2015 - Kevin Macpherson, figurative and plein air
  • 2015 - Kim Mackey, painting horses
  • 2015 - Stacey Peterson, plein air
  • 2014 - Keith Bond, plein air
  • 2013 - Kathyrn Stats, plein air
  • 2012 - Lorenzo Chavez, winter landscape painting
  • 2012 - John Poon, principles of design
  • 2011 - Tim Deibler, plein air
  • 2008 - Joe Bohler, watercolors in the field
  • 2021, 37th All Colorado at the Depot Show, Littleton, CO.
  • 2021, Color Splash Art Show, Palmer Lake, CO., Honorable Mention
  • 2021, NOAPS online Associate Show
  • 2019, Black Hills Plein Air, Hill City, SD.
  • 2019, Lone Tree Art Expo, Lone Tree, CO., 2nd place
  • 2019, Sunny Vista Art Show, Colorado Springs, CO., Honorable Mention
  • 2018, "Color Splash", Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, two honorable mentions
  • 2018, Plein Air Artists of Colorado, 22nd Annual National Juried Fine Art Exhibition and Sale
  • 2018 - "Equine Art in the Park", Rocky Mountain Horse Expo?s 9thAnnual Art Show and Sale, Denver, CO.
  • 2017 - 21st Annual National Juried Fine Art Exhibition, Plein Air Artists of Colorado, Mary William Gallery, Boulder, CO.
  • 2016 - In Plein Sight-Art in Open Air for Jeffco Open Spaces, Invited Artist, Jefferson County, CO.
  • 2016 - 3rd Annual Douglas Land Conservancy, Invited Artist, Castle Rock, CO.
  • 2015 - 19th Annual National Juried Fine Art Exhibition, Plein Air Artists of Colorado, Honorable Mention Award, Mary William Gallery, Boulder, CO.
  • 2015 - Driggs Plein Air Event, Driggs, ID.
  • 2015 - 2nd Annual Douglas Land Conservancy, Invited Artist, Castle Rock, CO.
  • 2014 - 18th Annual National Juried Fine Art Exhibition, Plein Air Artists of Colorado, Abend Gallery, Denver, CO.
  • 2014 - Steamboat Plein Air Event, Steamboat, CO.
  • 2014 - Moab Plein Air Event, Honorable Mention and Artist's Choice Award, Moab, Utah
  • 2014 - 1st Annual Douglas Land Conservancy, Invited Artist, Castle Rock, CO.
  • Portrait Society of America
  • Oil Painters of America
  • Pastel Society of Colorado
  • American Women Artists
  • Plein Air Artists of Colorado
  • Bella Art & Frame, Monument, CO.
  • Mast Cove Gallery, Kennebunkport, Maine
   Karin Toppel   -  Fine Art
   Phone: 303.956.5250 Email: fineart@karintoppel.com
"Copyright © 2013-2020, by Karin Toppel. All rights reserved."