I get to know Karen Henneck at Metro’s coffee shop, surrounded by vintage, soup colored chairs.

Right away I notice her eyes are the same blue as the skies she often paints in her landscape pieces. She is a sharp dresser and her nails are perfect.

Upon arrival she exclaims about the Indian Paintbrush she’s seen near Pathfinder Reservoir in response to a comment I've made about the endless rain.

“I’ve been just crazy about nature always,” she says, “that’s why I love Wyoming—its never-ending skies, the horizon, the moon, the clouds...”

Falling in love, following your dreams, and having faith are themes our conversation circles back to.

Henneck met her husband when she was fourteen. They were high school sweethearts and have been together ever since.

For 21 years, she was a floral designer, but one day, something deep inside told her it was time to pursue her real passion: Art.

She went to Casper College and has been a full-time artist ever since.

Most of her art sells at shows and contests. You can also find her paintings in galleries in Saratoga, Cheyenne, Cody, and Greeley. You can also find her work at her site karenhenneck.com.

There’s an upcoming show in Cody soon, and next year she’ll do one in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Karen Hennick's Studio; photo by Kolby Fedore
Karen Hennick's Studio; photo by Kolby Fedore

She’s illustrated several children’s books, including two that she wrote herself, and she is currently working on a third.

“I love color,” she shares. One of the most satisfying aspects of her process is finding the just-right-shade – she looks at a tree or the grass, for instance, and has to mix the perfect combination of pastels to make it work.

Henneck loves the moment when she stands back to look at the whole picture and sees a painting.

Her goal as an artist is to show the splendor of the natural world. I ask what she wants her audience to feel when they see her work: "To help others feel close to God."

Serene is the word I would use to describe both Henneck and her art. Her presence is calm, soothing even – which is reflected in her paintings and illustrations.

Henneck's studio is full of color. She uses colored pencil to illustrate children's books and create pictures of florals.
Henneck's studio is full of color. She uses colored pencil to illustrate children's books and create pictures of florals.

Years ago, her older sister was battling multiple sclerosis (MS). She was paralyzed from the neck down; she could hear out of only one ear and see out of one eye. Her voice was a whisper, yet it was her desire to paint, too.

Henneck remembers putting the paint brush in her sister’s mouth and moving the canvas according to direction to help her create a painting. She recalls the happiness that it gave her to be able to create, also.

Love is an integral part of Henneck's life and process.

Later, when I visit her home to take photographs, she shows me her garden.

It's not surprising that an artist and ex-florist has a yard that looks like something you would see in a Thomas Kinkade puzzle. A kaleidoscope of flowers and vines spill out of corners meticulously.

There's a wishing well, a bridge, and old fairy house.

I marvel at her Aspens and irises.

Sometimes, says, Henneck, she takes flower cuttings and brings them inside to paint in the studio.

An vibrant iris says hello; photo by Kolby Fedore.
A vibrant iris, painted by Henneck, says hello; photo by Kolby Fedore.

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