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Artist of the Week: Karisa Marley

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Karisa Marley: I have been painting since I was five and my parents enrolled me in art classes. I can still remember learning about fancy brush styles and learning to paint landscapes. In college I focused on graphic design while painting and drawing in my spare time. After college, art took a backseat to my design career but in 2016 I decided to cut back on client work and focus more on painting. I also like to work in fibers and I sometimes dabble in photography.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I have a little notebook where I jot down ideas, inspiration and bits of conversations. I like to use these ideas as I am painting in my sketchbook, which I try to do almost every day. After that I look through my sketches and tear out the ones I like most and hang them up. I pick what I like most about them and mesh it all together as I begin a new canvas or series of paintings. My pieces always veer in new directions as I am working, but having that jumping off point from my sketches gives my work a stronger focus. But every now and then I like to grab a blank canvas and just go for it because I want to shake things up.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
Right now a lot of my inspiration comes from my family, friends & every day experiences. I spent spring and early summer working on a series based on conversations with close family & friends. Another recent series was based on friends I made on a trip to Santa Cruz for young adult cancer survivors.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Right now I have been really into abstracts. In the past, nature has been big for me.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
The piece of art that means the most to me is a pastel drawing I did with my grandmother when I was ten. My grandmother was an amazing artist and one of my biggest influences. She had me rip a photo out of a magazine and then we both sat next to each other drawing the same scene. When we finished we looked over our work and they both looked so different. She wanted to show me that every artist sees things their own way and it is totally fine that your work doesn’t look like anyone else’s work, that’s what makes it special.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
The experiences that have most effected my work would be becoming a mother, being diagnosed with cancer, and traveling (my favorite trips have been Rome, Japan & Costa Rica). Each of these experiences has pushed me outside my comfort zone and shown me a new type of strength that fuels me and my art.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
You can see more of my work on instagram and my website.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I am excited to spend the rest of summer expanding my conversation series onto large canvases and then starting new projects in the fall.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone).
I am a tea drinker. I love mint tea and earl grey best.