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 :



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Comment by Art on April 6, 2017 at 2:12pm
Karen it's doing it again.been here for 20mins
Won't let me add comments
Comment by Karen Ilari on February 8, 2017 at 11:47am

Hi Mark!

Thanks! I appreciate the lovely comments :) So glad you are here.

Yes, there are a lot of interchangeable techniques and concepts between oils and acrylics. Though I think people tend to not like acrylics because they are trying to use them like oils, without exploring their unique strengths.

Comment by Mark S Ward on February 7, 2017 at 12:48pm

Hi Karen, I absolutely love your work! I saw your video on Lavender Field and your soft and easy way of teaching is refreshing as well.

I've recently made a transition to oils and love it, but acrylics have always been my medium. Many techniques and concepts are interchangeable so I'm interested in learning more from you and other artist. Thanks for being here!


Comment by Karen Ilari on February 4, 2016 at 10:59am

Hi Pauline! So glad you found us! So glad you are inspired to paint, I look forward to your comments and paintings :)

Comment by Pauline Abbott on February 4, 2016 at 7:40am

Hi Karen,  I watched you video on the Lavender filed and also on the landscape with the opposite bank.  I enjoyed them so much I liked the way you went through the demonstrations clearly saying what you were doing and how you did it.  I like your style.  You have inspired me to take up my brushes more often.  I love your website it is inspiring.  I have some water colours and pastel pictures but have now taken up acrylics, which I just love they are so vibrant and lively.  Looking forward to sharing my future paintings on your web site.

Pauline :)

Comment by Karen Ilari on July 30, 2015 at 9:05am
Hi William, so glad you found us! And happy to be a part of your new adventure! Look forward to seeing your paintings :)
Comment by William Bissey on July 30, 2015 at 4:20am

Hi Karen, found you on wetcanvas.com. Followed your video painting lessons and loved the way you teach.  I am 75 and have not painted since 1979. I am retired now and will try again. Just rented a small studio space.  So I will try to begin again with you.  You do beautiful work.  You have a great family and super website, thank you for all you do.  Looking forward to a new beginning.

Comment by Laura Fairbrother on February 24, 2015 at 8:42pm
Hi Karen, like so many of the other comments I simply enjoy your style and the sense of ease you demonstrate in your videos. Up until a few years ago I worked primarily in water colors but I am now exploring acrylics. While I love my water color paintings I always felt that I was always so tense, acrylics have given me a freedom/enjoyment that I have been looking for! I look forward to taking this journey with you and your wonderful videos!
Comment by david smith on February 12, 2015 at 12:00pm

I like your painting of the Summers Dream. It is the only one I have watched so far. Look forward to viewing your website. Thanks David.

Comment by Sue Ehlbert on December 30, 2014 at 7:07pm

I love how well you explain everything and thank you for the free lessons!  I feel so inspired to paint when I watch you.

Comment by Janice Lynn Pybas on October 27, 2014 at 8:06am
Hi Karen, of course like so many here I discovered you on you tube. It is really wonderful the way you share what you have received. Thank you. I look forward to learning from you and the other members and I will contribute as I can.
You are so blessed with a beautiful and family and so much talent...and we are blessed that you share with us.
Warmest regards, Janice
Comment by Sharon Cullen on September 21, 2014 at 4:38pm
What a beautiful family you have. Thank you for this website. I ran across your summer daydream video on YouTube which led me here. I thought it would lead me to a list of classes that would be far outside my budget.
It's amazing to find such a generous person to reach us all. Thank you so much.
Comment by Linda Wooding on September 17, 2014 at 11:23am

What a beautiful family you have Karen! I'm so embarrased that I've completely missed this page....and I've been a member for nearly 8 months!!! I love your style of painting....you bring lightness to the air!! I've got a long way to go but with a teacher like you my journey will be fun! Thank you so much for all you give.

Comment by Rita Putatunda on September 16, 2014 at 6:09pm
Dear Karen, First, I want to thank you for being such a generous soul and sharing your knowledge and art with the world. Second, I must tell you, you are the best art teacher I have come across, and I have been scouring youtube for years for painting demos, so I know. Third, though I've been watching your youtube demos for a pretty long time, I didn't have the confidence to actually attempt any of them.. But today, I decided to take the plunge and have just finished Part 1 of 'Summer Daisies', and am feeling so happy.. I will post it here once I finish Part 2.

Although I have always had an artistic bent, life catches one in its nitty-gritties and my art got shelved in a rarely opened cupboard. After watching your videos and visiting your website here, I got inspired enough to give it a go once again, and I wanted to thank you for that.

Please keep creating your beautiful artworks and your wonderful instructional videos. And, you have a beautiful family :) - Rita
Comment by Melissa Ryan on July 24, 2014 at 5:44am

Hi Karen,

I joined your site after seeing your wonderful video's on you tube, they are great and I can not wait to start working along with one of them and see what I turn out.. I done folk art painting many years ago.. Then about 2yrs ago I started teaching myself to draw, then about 12mths ago I started buying all the different things I needed for painting as that was my next exciting new venture, about 6mths ago I started doing some of the follow along lessons I can across on you tube and was surprised at just how easy it they were to follow along too. I still don't think my work is that good but just love painting. thankyou again for sharing your wonderful skills and works with us all

Cheers Mel.

Comment by Irene Dolan on July 18, 2014 at 1:55am
Hi Karen,
Thank you for sharing. I just joined today after watching a wonderful demo yesterday of one of your paintings. I like painting but would love to relax more in the process. I have lots of time on my hands now as my four children are now all grown up. I hope to be inspired by your calm and natural approach. Also your painting are lovely also.
Comment by Karen Ilari on July 2, 2014 at 3:51pm

You are so welcome Naruemon!

Comment by Naruemon Srisawarng on June 29, 2014 at 11:26am

Love your "About Me" page. What a happy family you have. 

I knew you are a great artist as soon as I saw your painting videos on Youtube! I was so excitied and wanted to learn from you. 

Since I have subscribeed to your website, I have not been able to get hand on any paintings at all - been busy watching NBA Basketball (I know it's not a good excute). However, from now on, I will watch your videos and paint as often as I could.

Again, I am realy glad I have found you. Thank you so much for sharing your artistic knowledges - I really appreciate it!


Comment by Karen Ilari on June 2, 2014 at 7:55am

Thank you Liz, that is very kind of you. And I'm so glad you found the website! Your comments are always so thoughtful and helpful. And what an amazing artist you are becoming! I'm going to look into the costs for mailing outside the US today... Thanks :)

Comment by LizJ on June 2, 2014 at 7:53am

Sorry Karen, I never saw this before, you have a beautiful family indeed and I agree with all the other comments you certainly are a wonderful artist and tutor, so glad I found your lessons, I have learned so much in a short time, and am still learning, so thank you sincerely.    Spotted your gift cards on Etsy let me know when you add shipping to Uk, I'll be first on the list to own a set ;)

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