Karl Mårtens was born in San Francisco, but grew up near Stockholm. At 16 he moved to Switzerland, and from there to Canada, and eventually back to San Francisco. At the age of 40 he returned to Sweden. Karl trained and worked as a graphic designer from 1979 until 2010 when he finally decided to become a full-time artist. His design work took him to Toronto, San Francisco and eventually Stockholm, where he ran his own design studio. He was a member of the Board of the American Institute of Graphic Arts - San Francisco Chapter and also a member of the Design Faculty of San José State University, San José, California.
Since he was young, Karl has had a particular affinity for birds and has always enjoyed drawing and painting them. Over the years his style has significantly changed from extremely detailed painting to a looser, freer expression. His current style has developed from his keen interest in meditation found through Zen Buddhism. Learning to understand oneself through attention to thoughts and emotions, and accepting that one can never be fully in control of one’s life, are thoughts that have inspired him both in his work and also through his workshops that he runs in Zen calligraphy. Participants practise identifying their emotions, resisting planning and then expressing themselves using Chinese ink on calligraphy paper. “When we paint from our true feelings, we all paint something beautiful”. Karl paints his birds from memory, using watercolour and charcoal on hand-made paper. “I look at a bird and a specific expression or posture which particularly expresses the personality of the bird sticks in my mind. Then I paint.....”
To view Karl's Limited Edition Lithographs click here.