Painting on Panel for Benefit Exhibit


Karen Kappe Nugent, Shades of Peach, Pear, and Purple, 10 x 10 x 2″ acrylic on cradled wood panel.

It’s fall and I’ve been back inside at the easel. The painting above explores a new process for me, and the evolution of my technique. This is part of my finding joy series that I started exploring last June along with many other artists worldwide. The painting is currently on view in Bridgette Mayer Gallery’s Hope & Possibility Benefit Exhibition in Philadelphia.

This show includes a wide array of artwork by artists from across the United States. At the opening reception, I had the pleasure to meet several of them in person including Ivette Vallejo an abstract artist from California, and Katie Collins, a portraitist who traveled from Florida. It was also good to see many colleagues from the Philadelphia region in person. You’re invited to view (and purchase) works online for the duration of the exhibit at this link:

If you are in Philadelphia stop in for the closing reception on Friday, November 19, 5:30–8pm. Or you can check out the dynamic space in person at 990 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA, through November 19.

November 20 post-show update – I’m so glad I went to the closing reception and met two artists from our region whose work I’d like to learn more about, Donna Conklin King and Chad Cortez Everett. They are both teaching artists. I also was able to catch up with Dan Oliva and learn more about the concept in his painting in the exhibit, which was couched in a playground setting to explore choices and meaning. It was also fascinating to learn more about Betsy Miraglia‘s handmade paper technique. If you missed the show, I invite you to visit the artists’ websites to see their work. And, I invite you to see more of my work at

From Initial Client Meeting to Finished Art

Working as an Illustrator

In a little over a week, I’ll be giving a presentation with illustrator Judy Newhouse, based on her illustration work and new book, The Beginning Illustrator’s Guide to Career Success (Tragus Media, 2017).

Judy will show some of her work, followed by an informal discussion between her and I.  She’ll share her career strategies and I’ll share my viewpoint as an art buyer for a global publisher and what makes Judy a “go to” illustrator for assignments.

We’ll also touch on things from the book such as using or making reference material, copyright awareness, communication strategies, sample illustration requests and publisher’s fee structure/invoicing. We’ll end with student and guest questions.

This event is hosted by Montgomery County Community College and is free and open to the public.

When: Monday, April 16, 2018
Time: 2PM
Where: Montgomery County Community College (Central Campus, Fine Arts Center)
340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania 19422

~Please share this with others interested in the art or business of illustration.~

The Portrait in Red Chalk

Dan Thompson’s red chalk portraits caught my attention due to their painterly nature and dry drawing materials. As someone who doesn’t always have time to break out oils, this technique lends itself to the expressive marks that brush and oil paint yield. Below are some pictures from his red chalk demo I attended at Studio Incamminati earlier this year.

If you’re interested my notes and some gems that Dan shared while executing this drawing (let me know in the comments), I’m happy to share! Dan holds this workshop (and others) in venues across the country. Visit his website for information #art #drawing #teachingartist


NOTAN — an exciting way to add more sophistication to your compositions

Getting to know and understand NOTAN, a Japanese term that translates to light/dark harmony in the work, will help you add another dimension to your compositions.

One of my favorite painters, Jeremy Lipking uses Notan to reinforce the effect of this painting:

Jeremy Lipking Palette

Jeremy Lipking Palette

Images and palette information via

In this example above, Notan (contrast of light and dark) works subtly to help draw our eye to the focal point and then dances us around the space by the way of the light trim on the girls dress.

Jeremy Lipking’s oil color palette:

  • Mixture: Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson (med value, cool blue for cooling colors)
  • Titanium White
  • Cadmium Lemon
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Cadmium Red
  • Alizarin Crimson Permanent
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cobalt
  • Golden Green
  • Viridian
  • Ivory Black
Source: Clifton Phachanla

Interested in purchasing these oil colors? Visit Blick Art Materials.

Art shows and jurors

gnalinvite-1How jurying a show works for me

After talking with others on their jury process, I’ve come up with my own that works pretty well.

I base my selections for an organization’s survey show of members work (it would be different for a curated show) on these three qualities in each piece: mastery of composition, technique, and foremost, the expressive quality of the artist’s idea or concept. These qualities are what I return to when I analyze a piece. Other things affect my decisions as well, including presentation.

Recently, I was the juror for prizes for the 75th Anniversary Show of work by members of the Greater Norristown Art League in Pennsylvania being hosted by Montgomery County Community College. There were 125 works entered with eight prizes to be awarded, including “Best of Show.”

There were many high-quality traditional pieces in a variety of mediums entered in this show with some work having exciting non-traditional mounting methods and unique viewpoints in both 2D and 3D.

IF YOU GO: The show’s opening reception is Wednesday, Sept 15th, 5–7pm. Next week there will be a gallery talk on September 18, 1–3pm. The show will be up until Friday, September 30th at Montgomery County Community College, Fine Arts Gallery, Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422 (USA).

Photography & Design

As a designer, working in the studio with photographic lighting these past few months has been a fantastic experience. I recommend a basic understanding of photography and lighting for all creatives (including illustrators and painters). Having skills in this area will reap benefits for you as a graphic designer or illustrator (working with/directing photographers or setting up reference shots to paint or draw from for your fine art or illustration).

Assign 4 Portrait_cropped_43_72ppiThis portrait was taken with a Nikon D700 in a studio setting using flash. Thanks to Mr. Jeff for donning the gear and being super gracious throughout the shoot (you’ll have to take my word for it, he really was having a good time:)

A Strategy to Master Inner Communication: Living in the Present

Each week brings new challenges and tasks, whether it’s time with family, or projects in graphic design and publishing. Once in awhile, doubt creeps into my psyche around being on the “right” path. When that happens, this quote from the Dalai Lama helps me release doubt from my inner banter and concern myself with the things that matter today. “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Is there a quote or memory you have that helps relieve your worry and enjoy the present? Please take a minute to share it with me in the comments below.

Art in the Storefront, Ambler PA


In addition to my graphic design and publishing business, I am a painter, and over the next few weeks I will be putting final touches on  new paintings for “Then and Now,”  an exhibition at Ambler’s Art in the Storefront. This show will include paintings from when I was a young painter through today. The works for the exhibition will show a progression in my work including portrait, still life, and landscape paintings.

Save the date and stop by for the opening on Friday November 20, 2015, from 5:30–7pm. Art in the Storefront is a sidewalk event, and the work will be in the window of Denney Electric, so please dress for the weather and an enjoyable time! The show will be up until January 13, 2016. Street parking is available as well as a municipal parking lot. To see an animation of my painting process check out the slide show on the home page.

Artist Authoring Tool

Artist-Author template-inprogress

Solving theblank page” or “TMI” Writing Dilemma
I am in the midst of developing an interactive authoring tool for artists to help them write about their art technique. The template will help artists organize material for professional publication or teaching an online or face-to-face class or workshop. Artists will also be able to document their working methods so others may reference it in the future. Here’s a sneak glimpse at the first page of the prototype. If you are interested to know when this becomes available for use, or you think you have an art technique book in you, please send me a message in the comments below or an email to karen (dot) kappe (at) I look forward to hearing from you!

Alumni and Faculty Exhibition Montgomery County Community College


A “Meet the Artists” Reception for the Annual Art Faculty and Invited Art Alumni Show is happening this Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, from 1-3 p.m., at the Fine Arts Gallery in Blue Bell, PA. The show opened Tuesday, January 21, and will continue through Friday, February 14.

"Winter Tea in Kennett" by Karen Kappe Nugent, oil on canvas, 14" H x 18" W.

“Winter Tea in Kennett” by Karen Kappe Nugent, oil on canvas, 14″ H x 18″ W.

This is a show where invited alumni of the college art program and faculty show their work side-by-side.  At drop-off I saw some exciting things, including work on plexiglass by one alumnus.  The show will include paintings, ceramics, sculptures, and more.
Even though my painting in the show “Winter Tea in Kennett” was a 2013 Art of the State of PA award winner, the goal of this still life was to express the form and color of simple objects like a donated teapot I picked up at the Salvation Army, a cup and saucer purchased from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and a tea fob that was my fathers. On the technical side, it was a challenge and a lot of fun to render the form, get just the right colors, and push the values in the painting. While this might look like a tightly rendered painting, it’s really not.  There are a lot of painterly brushstrokes — and that’s one of the most enjoyable experiences of painting for me — capturing something with  paint from my brush.

The college opens all its exhibitions to the public free of charge. For more information on the exhibition or artists in the show, contact the Gallery Director, Holly Cairns by phone at 215-619-7349 or email her