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Artist brings love of nature to canvas
Karen Keen Braswell, fine arts graduate from the University of Georgia, has found a way to generate income from her paintings and artistry.

When the St. Simons Island resident realized that even she couldn't afford to buy her own original paintings, priced at $400 to $500, she decided to start making prints and note cards of the originals.

The prints are sold at one-tenth the cost of Braswell's originals, which is approximately $40. Note cards of the prints sell for about $4.

"Printing is an excellent way to make money off your art," said Braswell. "This is where my real income comes from."

With the help of her husband, Braswell managed to come up with a system that allows her to reap the most profits.

Braswell assembles all her prints by hand. She does the mat cutting, framing, puts her artwork in stores and checks her own inventory every week.

"I touch everything," said Braswell. "It saves money. Otherwise, you're just giving away your money."

Braswell's watercolor paintings are of nature scenes that she sees in real-time. She does not paint from photos.

She'll pull up a chair and paint for hours. The trick is to capture a scene with the same lighting, she said.

Sometimes she'll have to go back to the same area for days on end to finish an artwork.

She has painted plenty of coastal scenes. Sea Island, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island and McIntosh County all have been captured by Braswell.

"The whole coast of Georgia is just wonderful," said Braswell. "I love the trees. This region is all about the trees."

Braswell's love of trees and nature is evident in her work.

She also sells hair combs and wire earrings, both products she started in the middle of the recession and people weren't buying paintings.

Braswell had to explore other outlets to make money while still utilizing her talent for artwork and design.

She worked at Macy's for 13 years selling furniture. She used her sense of colors to help people coordinate furniture with the decor of a room.

"This is what you do with an art degree," said Braswell. "It's not always practical, but you can apply art to your work."

Even when selling furniture, Braswell never stopped painting and selling her work.

The soon-to-be 68-year-old, who will celebrate her birthday in July, is looking for the next scene on the coast to paint.

"I love what I do," said Braswell. "I don't do it for the rewards. I really do it for me."

* Coastal People appears Mondays. Contact Martin Rand III at mrand@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 324 to suggest a person for a column.

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