It’s tempting when viewing a Michael B. Karas painting to insert yourself into the frame — so adept is he at nailing a moment, a mood and what a landscape feels like. Those of us who feel transfixed or more likely transported by Karas’ creations have plenty of company. His works have been exhibited in museums across the country, and nearly 3000 of his paintings are included in private and corporate collections worldwide.
The paintings of Michael B. Karas transcend both time and place with a sincerity of execution that lock the images into our minds forever. His southern works have catapulted him into the ranks of the most renowned artists of the Lowcountry and beyond.
Recently I had the privilege of visiting Michael at his studio. “I don’t try to paint a ‘portrait’ of a scene,” he said, “it’s the essence of the scene I’m after.” Rather than to simply represent the outward appearance of the landscape, his paintings evoke a certain emotion revealing a deeper inward significance.
This region, perhaps as much as his native New England, has unleashed a creative force within him that has led to the creation of many highly acclaimed landscape paintings expressing his passion for nature and the natural world around him. He loves the low light of early morning and late afternoon for painting the serpentine creeks that wind through endless Lowcountry marshes. He is drawn to dramatic cloud formations, the sea and the majesty of our sunrises and sunsets across the water.
When I asked him, “Who are your heroes?” he quickly replied “Frederick J. Waugh”, the great marine painter and the acclaimed master painter, John Singer Sargent.” He was inspired by their works early on. Karas grew up on Boston’s North Shore, a few miles south of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, which consists of the historic seaport city of Gloucester and the nearby town of Rockport. Both of these have thriving artist colonies, where artists run their own galleries. There he learned he could make a living selling art and has done so successfully since high school.
Michael’s routine includes working in his home studio on Callawassie Island, a private sea island in coastal South Carolina. Here the sweeping expanses of marsh, winding estuaries, vast pristine tidal waters and the abundance of bird and wildlife provide the creative heartbeat of his Lowcountry paintings.
When not at work, Michael enjoys inshore saltwater fly fishing. Why fly fishing? “There is a pleasing aesthetic in the way the rod and line move through the air when making a cast, which propels the nearly weightless fly to silently land near it’s quarry. Then, when a fish is hooked, the long rod bends in the most graceful arch.”
Michael adds, “The places where I fish are also the places I paint. Time spent fishing gives me the perfect opportunity to observe my subject.”
And whenever time allows, he and his wife Fern, both Disney enthusiasts, love going to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Beyond the rides, they enjoy the amazing environment of outstanding design, creativity and attention to detail. They delight in just strolling around the parks or sitting on a bench, soaking in the magic.