I’m so excited to be sharing Karen Broemmelsick’s photography and paintings in today’s article. Karen lives in Mississippi, USA and has been a horse lover and artist all her life, with horses always having a prominent place in her art – whether it was her school art class or her photography & painting business. Her love of horses shines through whatever medium she is using to showcase her skills, as you can easily see in the images of this article.
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Karen also generously offers some of her top quality images for other artists to use as references in their art, and is kindly letting Art Of The Horse use 12 of her equine and dog images for all artists to use for the Art Of The Horse SAVES A Horse & Art Of The Animals SAVES An Animal campaigns.
Everyone is welcome to join and help save horses and dogs in need by creating art and buying the art that will be in this project that runs from April 1st to April 30th. What to find out more on how to join on this project? Go HERE for Art Of The Horse SAVES A Horse and HERE for Art Of The Animals SAVES An Animal.
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When Karen was a young girl, she was extremely allergic to both cats and horses. She rode for a while, but not being able to brush them or just spend time in the barn was not a fun time, so it wasn’t for another 15 years or so that Karen was able to be up close to one of her favorite kinds of animals.
When she was in college, Her mother bought a horse. She slowly started to go to the barn with her and realized that her allergies were not as significant and she could then ride, groom and play with horses- and, of course, photograph them!
“It was then that I realized I could finally be around horses without having much of a reaction at all, especially if I took precautions and washed my hands frequently.”
Now, Karen calls Missippi home since 2011 and spends her free time with her very own horse, a Missouri Foxtrotter mare, Molly, and a Goldendoodle pup, Finley.
“I put love and care into each click of the shutter and each brush stroke to craft a piece of art that reflects that which we love most about our animals. I look for the strongest qualities of each animal and I learn the story of each one I work with. Most of all, I strive to create art that will connect you with the animals you love. I love the challenge of capturing their personality, whether on camera or on canvas.”
– Karen Broemmelsick
Art Of The Horse: How did you get involved in art and horses? What mediums do you work in?
Karen Broemmelsick: I grew up with horses and have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I was always kind of the “class artist” and had several teachers that strongly encouraged me to go into art, so I did end up getting a BFA in Graphic Design. I primarily work in oils and photography, occasionally throwing in colored pencil and alcohol inks when I want to try something different.
AOTH: Who is your favorite artist and why?
KB: There are so many! But I’ll name a couple. Nancy Medina – I love the way she works with vibrant colors and expressionism in her gorgeous flower paintings. And Tony Stromberg – he is a master of photographing horses with dramatic lighting and really capturing their spirit.
AOTH: What inspires you?
KB: This might sound kind of strange…but honestly, it’s going through my photos and looking for “the one” that has potential and then editing it in such a way that I feel could make a good painting for my style. I guess it’s kind of a digital “trial run” of sorts. Sometimes I find that I love the effect as a photo alone – and that painting it wouldn’t do it justice, and that’s okay because photography is it’s own kind of art.
AOTH: As a photographer, what is your favorite subject to shoot?
KB: Definitely horses in motion, with dogs being a close second.
AOTH: What camera do you use and why?
KB: For years, I was using the Canon 5D Mark III because when I first got into photography, my mom had an old film Canon Rebel with a couple of lenses, and those lenses were also compatible with the digital version. And it just kind of went from there. However, just a couple of months ago, I switched to the Sony A7III because I was getting tired of waiting for Canon to put out something comparable. I love the higher frame rate and the focus tracking is amazing for moving subjects! Now I’m just waiting for the lens selection to catch up.
AOTH: How do you know when you achieve the perfect shot?
KB: Lighting is probably the single most important factor. When you’re using natural light, you have to make the best of what you have available, so choosing the right time of day, the right location, and the right angle are some of the biggest factors for achieving the perfect shot, along with the knowing the technical details of your camera. And…of course, having a great subject helps too. My favorite is the golden backlight of early morning or late afternoon/evening. I also love the soft filtered light that can be achieved in the right indoor or covered arena early or late in the day. And when it’s miserably humid in the summer, all of that moisture in the air makes for some nice, soft, diffused light outdoors during the golden hours.
AOTH: What’s the most difficult part of working with animals and their owners?
KB: The animals are the easy part! But really, none of it is too bad – it’s mostly just trying to get the owners to give me enough time to get the images edited after the shoot.
How did you get involved with providing painters use your images for reference? Are these images from client shoots? Do you charge people to use your images?
KB: I think I came across a Facebook reference photo group that had just started, and browsing the newly created albums, I saw that they had just a bare handful of horse photos, so I decided to help remedy that and began adding some of my own. I really enjoyed seeing everyone’s different interpretations of the photos, so I eventually got to the point where I was taking photos specifically to post in the group. The photos are not from client shoots, unless the client specifically says it’s okay to share them with artists. I don’t charge for the low resolution photos that are in my Facebook reference photo group or in the various other Facebook art and reference photo groups.
AOTH: What would your advice be to a beginner or amateur photographer?
KB: Practice! Learn your camera so that you can eventually change the settings without looking, learn how shutterspeed, ISO, and aperture work together, take online photography courses, consider taking photography workshops so that you can learn in person (plus, they’re tons of fun!), and practice some more. Don’t get discouraged if every shot, or even most shots, aren’t perfect. Don’t be afraid to ask for constructive criticism in photography groups. Look closely at photos you like, and ask yourself *why* you like them. Try to identify how that was achieved (Was it shallow depth of field? Interesting composition? The angle of the light? Color? Editing style?) and practice applying those concepts to your own work. Just keep practicing, using the same rules of composition that apply to painting, look for what makes a scene or subject interesting, and pay attention to the angle and quality of light and how it affects your subject.
AOTH: What was the funniest moment during a shoot?
KB: Probably when I was photographing horses at a workshop in France. We were shooting this big, regal, beautifully groomed gray Andalusian stallion who was pretty much a prime example of the noble Spanish breed. He’d been running for a few minutes and had worked up a good sweat, when he decided to stop and roll…thoroughly. By the time he got up, he was so dirty he looked like a completely different horse… The owner was mortified, but we all had a good laugh and brought out a different horse to photograph.
AOTH: How do you market your work? Do you sell prints?
KB: My work is marketed primarily on Facebook and my website at the moment. I do sell prints of both my art and photography.
AOTH: How far do you travel?
KB: For regular photo shoots, I typically stay within about an hour or two of home. However, I absolutely love flying and traveling to other parts of the world, so when I’m considering what workshop I want to take next, I’m willing to go just about anywhere that sounds like fun. I love Europe and still need to see more of it, and I really need to make my way to Australia and New Zealand at some point. My travel list is pretty long!
AOTH: Would you tell us a little bit about your paintings?
KB: My paintings are mostly horses, and sometimes dogs and cats. I love bright and colorful, as well as dark and dramatic…so lately I’ve been trying to sort of combine the two. And I absolutely love magenta and cobalt teal (or cobalt turquoise, depending on the brand), so I’m always trying to figure out how to fit those colors in a painting…lol.
AOTH: Can artists use images from your page/website, or just your group and the groups you post in?
KB: The images on my page and website are sometimes from client shoots, or are my artistic interpretation of my photos, so I prefer them not to be used without permission unless they’re also in my group (or one of the handful of other Facebook groups I’ve also added photos to). But all the photos in my group are available as artist references!
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Thank you, Karen for letting me interview you and for being our featured photopgraher of the month for Art Of The Horse SAVES A Horse and Art Of The Animals SAVES An Animal! I was so interesting and fun to write this article and to learn more about you and your art. Looking forward to following your adventures in the future!
Want to Follow Karen on her artistic journey?