Envision a scene that evokes a feeling of freedom, awe, and serenity—chances are, you’ll imagine the sky. Now, dream about what it would be like to paint skies that transport and uplift those who behold them. You’re beginning to get a sense of the joy Karen Kristin and her SKY ART team bring to their work.
Known worldwide as “the sky lady,” Karen’s creative journey unfolds in a series of chapters, each building on the last.
Rooted in Hollywood
Karen was born in Los Angeles to a mother who grew up during the golden years of the classic movie stars. Karen began drawing before she was out of her crib; oil painting soon followed. She attended community college and UCLA and supported herself as a commercial artist.
In the late 1970’s, Karen went to work in Hollywood painting backdrops and cycloramas—the aptly named 360° backdrops used to create the illusion of space, distance, and sky. She began partnering with other artists in the 1980’s and came to be known as a sky painting expert. The team developed a backdrop rental business whose clients came from film, television, music, fashion, and the media. Elizabeth Taylor, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Madonna, and other household names have danced, sung, and acted under Karen’s skies.
Yearning for the Southwest
After 10 years of success in Hollywood, Karen relocated to New Mexico and founded SKY ART Karen Kristin. She continued to paint backdrops for the LA-based rental business, but she was on the verge of her transformation into a world-renowned sky ceiling painter.
In 1991, SKY ART Karen Kristen landed Caesar’s Palace as a client. Karen created the iconic pastel sky above The Forum Shops at the casino and officially completed the transition from backdrops to murals. The SKY ART team expanded and took on commissions from theaters and shopping malls; from restaurants, bars, and more casinos; from spas and medical clinics; and even from private parties. They traveled to paint in nearly 20 U.S. states and to China, Japan, India, South Africa, and Mexico.
During this period of intense activity, the artists undertook their biggest and most challenging project: painting the skies over the shopping mall and canals at the Venetian Macao Resort and Hotel. The 252,000 square feet of ceiling took nine months to complete and is still the largest painted sky in the world.
Art from the Four Corners
After several years in Denver, SKY ART Karen Kristin is now headquartered in Cortez, Colorado, at the heart of the Four Corners area of the desert Southwest. The team continues to paint sky murals in casinos, pubs, restaurants, churches, airports, and private homes.
See some SKY ART projects on Karen’s portfolio pages, and learn more about what goes into planning a project.
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