Who is Karen Ilari?

Hi there! I'm Karen Ilari and I'm a full time professional acrylic artist and painting teacher living in Portland, Oregon.

I'm inspired by nature, by color and by beauty in all its forms. Especially every day beauty. Those little sparkling moments that stop me and make me appreciate being alive.  

I'm also inspired by inspiring others to learn the craft of painting so they have the tools to follow their own artistic heart. The more I teach, the more I learn.

I love to paint from photos to catch that instant in time. The moment between breaths.  If you live in my neighborhood you will see me riding around on my bike with my camera around my neck. Looking for those moments. Something that connects to me. That image that just seems to come into full color in a black and white world. I also love to paint outdoors, just enjoying being there and  trying to incorporate all the sensations, smells, sounds into the painting. And then I take lots and lots of photos to bring back for studio paintings.

I've been painting for many years, I began when my kids were in high school. I was on a mission to rediscover myself, and my joy for life. On a whim I started taking some drawing classes at night after work. Little did I know what I was getting into! Art has absolutely changed my life. My state of mind, my heart, my passion. Oh and my house, :) I'm in two bedrooms and the family room now! d

So, I took lots of college classes, read lots of books and took workshops and classes from local artists. In the end, though, the real teacher in this journey is the easel, and I learn something new every time I show up!

Art is for everyone. We are all creative. You ARE creative! Living with and creating original art makes life full and rich.

A few recent accomplishments

  • Ongoing Acrylic Painting Teacher at Oregon Society of Artists - 2015-present
  • Group showing "Featured Artists of Oregon Society of Artists" at Concordia University 2016
  • Juried participant in Portland Open Studios Tour 2015
  • "Best Acrylic" award for her painting "Field with a View" at the Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2013, sponsored by the Columbia Arts Center in Hood River, Oregon
  • Solo exhibition in 2012 at the UV Arts Center in Roseburg, Oregon
  • Guest artist at Gallery Northwest in Roseburg, Oregon
  • Her painting 'Autumn Splash' which won the People's Choice award, and the J. Lynn Peterson award at the 2012 Artworks Northwest through the UV Arts Center
  •  Collectors worldwide, through Karen Ilari's EtsyStore , as well as Art Festivals and local exhibitions

On the personal side:

I was born in San Luis Obispo, California, currently living in Portland, Oregon, with my wonderful husband Bill, and our very spoiled cat Pooty.

I am very proud of my wonderful family: Joe (son) and his wife Samantha , Dustin (son), his wife Bree and granddaughters Lilah and Haven, Juli (daughter)and her s.o. Alex and Amber (stepdaughter) and her son Dominic.

For more information check out my :



You need to be a member of Paint With Karen Ilari to add comments!

Join Paint With Karen Ilari

Comment by Karen Ilari on May 21, 2014 at 7:16am

Thank you Gail :)

Comment by Gail Forkan on May 20, 2014 at 3:16pm
What a beautiful family- I saw your paintings on u-tube and loved them and the instruction. Looking forward to having the videos to watch and learn from.
Comment by Karen Ilari on May 12, 2014 at 11:36am

Welcome Heather! Glad you could join us! The members on this site really are a wonderful group of people. They come from all over the world, but seem to have the same good heart :)

Comment by Karen Ilari on May 12, 2014 at 11:35am

Thank you Wanda, I was blessed with some good genes in the aging dept :) I'm 55 now, born in 1958. But I do agree, I think art gives us a young spirit! :) 

Comment by Karen Ilari on May 12, 2014 at 11:33am

Thank you John for the kind words :)

Comment by Heather Woodwark on May 12, 2014 at 11:29am

Karen, I  just joined your site after watching a video on youtube of a water painting lesson you were giving.  Of course, I have been checking out the contents and came upon this page.  It is good to see your wonderful family included in your bio.  It makes me feel like you are a person just like me, and not a magician who wields a paintbrush that can do anything it wants!  I look forward to learning a lot from you and the other members of the site.  I have been involved in acrylics and taking lessons for only a few months from an excellent instructor in my town, but I think it is important for me to see and try all kinds of styles.  Thank you for what appears to be a warm and welcoming site!    

Comment by Wanda McDonald on May 6, 2014 at 10:58am

I have no idea why I did not notice the about me tab...but glad I finally noticed it.

What a lovely and successful family you have. I must say you really look very young to have a full grown family like this. Maybe it's all that beautiful art you produce and the fact that you are so open to sharing...makes for a young spirit.

You truly inspire me. Cheers, Wanda

Comment by Natalia Saenkova on April 21, 2014 at 12:17am
thank you for your lessons.. my english is not good. sorry if i have mistaics
Comment by Karen Ilari on March 29, 2014 at 11:28am

Hi Scott, thank you! I am very proud of my sons, and my daughter too who works full time and goes to school full time as well. And thank you for your service!

Comment by Karen Ilari on March 29, 2014 at 11:27am

Hi Roger, Yes I do love Portland. Hopefully when the weather gets nicer I will venture out more to see all the beautiful places around here.

Comment by D. Scott Brewer on March 28, 2014 at 1:01pm

Karen, you have a beautiful family.  My hat is off to your sons for serving our country.  I just finished 20 years in the Marine Corps, and it is doubtless a sacrifice, but a rewarding one.  Your painting is incredible and I'm looking forward to learning from you...and of course, learning from the easel.  Sincerely, Scott.

Comment by Roger A Clark on March 22, 2014 at 5:46pm

I lived in Portland from 94-99.  You are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.  The gorge, Multnomah Falls....the list is endless.  I have a good friend there who paints a great deal and has entered some shows.  I miss it a great deal and would have stayed had it not been for my family back here in the NE.  Fortunately I am near enough to Cape Cod to enjoy all the beauty by the sea.  I must tell my friend about you.  Perhaps your paths have crossed. Glad I found your site. Roger


Comment by Karen Ilari on February 27, 2014 at 9:51am

Please do Rosemary, by all means share your techniques! I love the way we all learn from each other and everyone has different methods and techniques that fit them. So yes, share away! So glad you have joined us :)

Comment by Rosemary Clark on February 27, 2014 at 8:27am

I just wanted to check with you. You don't care if I share techniques I've learned over the years with fellow members, that may be different than the ones you use, right? I don't want to offend anybody.

I'm just excited to share things that might make painting a little easier for some and encourage them to keep going forward!

Comment by Karen Ilari on February 25, 2014 at 10:01am

Hi Rosemary, We do have some things in common! Great to have you on the site - be sure to check out the Forum if you haven't already. Lots of discussions and things going on there.

Comment by Rosemary Clark on February 25, 2014 at 9:56am

I started painting in 2005, just short of 50 years old. Never knew I could paint. Didn't know I had a creative bone in my body! A friend paid for two classes for my 49th birthday, I came out of it with a finished painting (no way, I thought!) and the rest is history.

Comment by Rosemary Clark on February 25, 2014 at 9:53am

We have some things in common! Our only daughter's name is also Julianna (she's 25 and mom to our two grandbabies), and we have a son in the military. Our oldest son, Paul, is in special ops with the Air Force, down in New Mexico, working on test equipment, and the C-130 planes. We have three other sons, ranging in age from 24 to 18.

Comment by Jeannie Maddox on February 12, 2014 at 6:30am

beautiful family   Karen !      I am half way through your new video.....  very good... you are teaching every moment you speak.       Yesterday while on the site...  where you list the  dept.'s  you can  click into...  there was a new addition to the right... which showed paintings  lately posted....  I forget the   dept. it was called... is it located  somewhere else on here... I can't find it....  this site is getting so interesting,  I am spending  more time on it each day.... I am  glad that more and more people are contributing  with more comments and paintings.... you should be proud   you have so many  students... they are willing to learn from you... thanks... Jeannie.

What's new?

Need some extra help?

The Personal Tutor

Yes, you CAN help!


Become a Patron of the Arts!

Join me on my Patreon page. Pledge a small monthly donation and get rewards!

  • Discounts on Classes in my Online School
  • Discounts in my Etsy Shop
  • Free Personal Tutor Sessions
  • Patron Only video chat/demos
  • and more!



Or you can use the button below for a one time contribution in any amount - Thank you!

© 2018   Created by Karen Ilari.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service