What does it mean to be human? Karen explores the hope she continually finds in her intrinsic search for purpose and meaning, set against the unpredictability and turmoil that is life in the 21st century. “As a computer programmer my world is filled with analysing problems and logical solutions. Art has become my release, my balance, the place where I am able to search out mystery.”
karen harkema
Karen Harkema

Karen completed her Computer Science studies at UJ (then RAU) in 1991 and followed a career in software development for over 20 years. Through the years, she cultivated her love for art by attending art classes and workshops and joining various art groups as often as she could.

Changing career has been a gradual process she says, but these days she proudly introduces herself as an artist, and programming has now become her part-time hobby.

Karen is a multi-disciplinary artist, painting with oils, water-based mediums, paper collage, charcoal, and even digital media. She has a great love for expressive mark making. Since she joined a life figure drawing group in 2019, she has fallen in love with portraiture and depicting the human figure.

Art Qualification & Training

Art development and exposure:

  • 2019 – current: Ruth Walters Contemporary art classes
  • 2020 – current: Life-drawing group with Andre Clemments
  • 2019 – current: FIGURES&FORM Life Art Group
  • 2012 – 2016: BLC Art group with Lisa Crumpton
  • 2002 – 2005: Rowna Swartz art classes
  • Some of the Online courses I have done:
  • An Intuitive Approach to Drawing and Collage – Paul Cristina
  • The Deconstructed Portrait in Oils – John Wentz
  • Abstracts, and Painting the Figure with Malinda Cootsona
  • Expressive Portraits
Galleries & Exhibitions
  • Mwanawasa Art Projects – 27 Boxes.
  • Art group exhibitions with Rwona Swartz.
  • BLC Art Exhibitions
  • Rotary Arts Festival
  • Alice Art Gallery – Art in the park.
  • SA Art Initiative – Ruimsig exhibition with Susan Allin.

Urban Picnic

30 × 3 × 40 cm


23 × 1 × 30 cm


60 × 1 × 60 cm

Life as a garden

60 × 2 × 60 cm

Out of Africa

30 × 3 × 40 cm


60 × 1 × 75 cm

Shining Moment

23 × 3 × 30 cm
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