Upon first catching sight of Karen Talbot’s work, you’re forced to do a double take. Surely there’s no way someone was able to sit down and replicate a creature so precisely, not only capturing every physical attribute of her subjects, but seemingly bringing them vividly to life in dripping detail. Talbot’s pieces have long been collected by scientists, anglers and those with an appreciation for nature and fine art and it’s hardly a challenge to see why. Long before any medium touches a canvas, her work starts in the field. The avid fisher, diver and hiker gets much inspiration meeting her subjects face to face in the wild, where she’ll rough out a field sketch, photographs them and often times takes them home for further study. Back in her studio, Karen observes the specimens tediously under a microscope, familiarizing herself with every minute detail. It’s this level of attention that really sets her apart from other artists – most of her fishes are so ridiculously accurate down to each individual scale on the lateral line! It’s this specific area where she tends to gets her bearings on a species (a Bangaii Cardinal, for example, usually has 26 scales along its lateral line).
Her work is the result of a conglomeration of materials, starting with a graphite drawing, perfecting fine detail in pen and ink, she then washes over each piece with watercolor and finishes off with colored pencil and acrylics. The results are simply resplendent. No stranger to the aquarium world, award-winning author and photojournalist Ret Talbot has been floating about for over two decades making waves and inspiring inquisitive minds. He’s also the adoring husband of Karen, making them quite the aquatic duo. His level of pride for her is obvious and well deserved. When I asked which piece of hers was his favorite, he was endearingly torn. The Naso tang takes top spot for tropicals, but his overall favorite might be the Bluefin tuna, OR the brook trout, which he holds near and dear. But then there’s the Colorado River Cutthroat trout! They’re all stunners, honestly, I’m the lucky owner of 3 of her pieces myself, the favorite of which is a charming little mystery wrasse that I had the pleasure of picking up from Karen herself. Her art studio and gallery has been open in Maine since 2013 where she not only exhibits her many works but teaches art classes as well, an endeavor I plan to take on very, very soon. Since we’re in the holiday spirit, and one of her prints would make a wonderful gift for any reefer in your life, www.KarenTalbotArtOnline.com has generously offered our readers a 15% discount for their online store, simply enter the coupon code: RDC14 at checkout! I encourage you to take the time and explore her other pieces, they’re quite extraordinary.