Hennick, a native of Eaton, Colo., uses her artistic mind to create pastel landscape paintings
for The Fence Post
It’s a peaceful evening near Casper, Wyo. Karen Henneck calls it the “golden hour,” where the light is just right to capture her beautiful Impressionistic pastel paintings.
Her husband and children are avid fishermen and frequent the Platte River and other creeks and streams near their home. In the past, Henneck would often join them and paint while they fished. With a recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis her outdoor excursions are limited, and she relies more upon her vast storage of photos that she has collected over the years for reference to paint the alluring landscapes she loves so much with complimentary colors that dance and vibrate.
Henneck wasn’t always a painter. In fact, you might call her a late bloomer. She grew up in the small town of Eaton Colo. Her family farmed and were somewhat well-known in the area. Her father built a successful onion growing business and had some other agriculture investments. They were hard workers and didn’t understand Henneck’s need to stop and observe her surroundings and letting all the colors and textures of nature flood her senses.
“I would be working in the fields and I’d see a sunset and I would have to stop and watch it.” Henneck said. “I would look at the texture of the grass while I was turning the hay bales. I wasn’t like the rest of my family. I was busy seeing the colors mix together. The creativity (in my mind) was so powerful. I thought I was an oddball and just didn’t fit in.”
LIFE CHANGING MOMENT
Still not realizing her extraordinary talent Henneck became a floral designer and at one point she had her own shop. Then one day came that forever changed her life. Earlier in her life she had been diagnosed with MS. On that day a doctor in Casper told her he did not think she had MS and that she had been misdiagnosed. Henneck was astounded. This was a reprieve, a second chance. She felt compelled to honor it. With an amazing sense of freedom under her wings, and a heavy burden lifted she enrolled in college to pursue her love for art at the age of 46.
“I felt like a fish out of water.” Henneck said.
It was a whole new world and she loved it. She soon realized that she had a lot of catching up to do. Her younger classmates already had years of training. With Henneck’s new lease on life it was now or never, and she worked hard to catch up.
“A creative mind has to have time to stop and have rest time and let our brains work,” she said.
She learned to take time by herself and go to a place where she was comfortable, and she could let her creative brain start to work. She chose a waterfall on a creek near her home. There she could take time and notice the colors blend, the textures in the grass, and pictures in clouds. To others this might seem a waste of time or an act of laziness, but to Henneck it is essential to keep her right brain, her creative side, active with images that implore her to be captured on paper with her favorite medium — pastels. Henneck insists that these simple techniques keep her creative mind refreshed and ready to conceive her masterful and exquisite artwork.
Karen’s creative mind doesn’t stop at her appealing pastel landscape paintings. She has written 13 children’s books and has three that she has illustrated and are published.
• Ben and Pirate Moon was written by Courtney Crane and illustrated by Karen Henneck and is about a magical journey through the night to explore the universe.
• This Skin I’m In was written by Courtney Crane and illustrated by Karen Henneck and is a message of individuality, gratitude and self-esteem.
• Something’s Fishy was written and illustrated by Karen Henneck, it is a cute tale of fish who look like their name.
Henneck started the books with a friend. They made them just like the “How to Get Published” books you buy at book stores tell you to, and they sent them off. Their carefully handmade books were sent back every time.
Henneck joined a children’s book author society in hopes of finding an agent. At one of the meetings she met a member who was a former children’s book literary agent.
“She told me that the publishers get hundreds of books every week and that I should just give up.” Karen said.
On the verge of giving in, Henneck won an art contest at the University of Wyoming. Her prize was her choice to work with a professor in finances, marketing, computer skills, etc. When a professor that was teaching illustration asked which one she was going to choose she said she didn’t know.
“What I really needed help with was getting my books published,” she said. “He said he used to work for a publishing company back east and he could help me with that.”
Henneck has written several other books that are waiting for her to finish them with illustrations.
“I don’t think I can do it much longer.” Henneck said. Recently she has been diagnosed with MS again. Her sister was diagnosed years ago with MS and within a short time became paralyzed. With that possibility constantly in the back of her mind her art is pressing, and she is resistant to take time away from her first love — those magical landscapes.
“Every day is a blessing, she said “and I really want to push it.”
For more information and to view Henneck’s artwork, visit her website KarenHenneck.com.
You can also view her works at these galleries: Silver Sage Gallery, Dubois Wyo.; Haven Gallery, Casper Wyo.; Deselm’s Gallery, Cheyenne Wyo.; Scarlow’s Gallery, Casper Wyo.; Laura M’s, Saratoga Wyo.; ART321, Casper Wyo.
— Hall is a freelance writer from Platteville, Colo., when she’s not writing she is riding her horse in the mountains. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.