Featured Artists for January

Featured Artist-of-the-Month

Each month, Chef's Palette features new artists on our website.
For the month of January, our Featured Artists are.....

Karen Pearson and Joan Erwin
Both of these lovely ladies have taken classes with Cathy Martin at
The Red Canvas Studio in downtown Apex, NC!

Karen Pearson
Karen Pearson is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and painted her first painting at age thirteen. Karen says, “My father, who was a musician, gave trumpet lessons in a barter exchange so that I could take oil painting lessons!” Karen loved art and took classes throughout high school, as well as violin lessons, becoming proficient at both.

When it came time for college, she submitted a portfolio of her art, and also auditioned with her violin. She ended up accepting the scholarship that offered her the best financial opportunity. Karen attended De Pauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education.

Karen married an air force navigator and over the years they moved from California to Arkansas to Italy to New Jersey, finally settling here in North Carolina when her husband, Jeff, retired. Jeff and Karen have been married 41 years. They now live in Holly Springs with a Mini-Dachshund named Daisy.

The couple has three children and five grandchildren with a sixth one on the way! Their daughter, Bethany, inherited her mother’s artistic talent and attended UNC in Asheville to pursue a degree in art. Bethany now owns The Apex Gallery in downtown Apex!

Right next door is The Red Canvas, an art studio where local painter Cathy Martin gives painting lessons. Karen says, “I would often walk past her shop, look at those vibrant paintings and vow to take lessons someday. I was very inspired by her love of color, her energy, and bold brush strokes.” That day finally came, and Karen enjoyed 6 months of painting lessons, rediscovering her early love of art.

Now Karen passionately loves to paint: landscapes, figures or portraits. Her style is loose and impressionistic. Her subject matter is oftentimes North Carolina beaches, or her favorite vacation spots in Italy, which offer the perfect inspiration! Karen says, “I have enjoyed every minute of this and haven’t looked back.”

Karen has also attended workshops with John Poon, Dan Nelson and Peggy Kroll Roberts, who all helped Karen develop her ever-evolving style. She has participated in juried shows and currently shows her work at her daughter’s gallery. Karen says, “I am always very humbled and thankful when people ask me to paint a commission just for them.”

You can find some of Karen’s paintings in her Etsy shop at:

And also on her website:

Click here to visit Karen's webpage on The Apex Gallery's website:

Joan Erwin
Joan Herre Erwin was born in Harrisburg, Pa in 1948. From the time she was a tiny girl, according to her mother, she loved painting and drawing. When she was five years old, she distinctly remembers her mother's best friend pointing out to her that nothing is really all one color. Joan says, “She showed me that what appeared to be a green lawn was actually a combination of greens, blues, yellows, and browns.” This had a profound impact on her, even as a small child, and she never saw anything as one simple color again! 

This wonderful woman, affectionately named “Aunty Jean,” encouraged Joan to draw and to look at things closely. During her teens, Joan also had two art teachers who inspired her: Mr. Willis, and Mrs. Marvonicholas.  Her stepfather too, supported her artistic talents and especially influenced her to experiment with lots of bright colors.

Although Joan took art classes throughout high school and showed artistic promise, when she went to college, she focused on more practical studies, graduating from Emory University with a B.A. in History in 1969, and later, graduating from Duke Law School in 1974. Joan passed the North Carolina Bar Exam the same year and was hired by the NC Department of Justice in 1975. She worked for The Attorney General's Office in the criminal division for 25 years before retiring in 1999. Although Joan had a very satisfying and successful career, she jokes that, “I like to refer to myself as a recovering lawyer now.”  Joan says she realized she needed to reconnect with her artistic side when she started sketching a cartoon of Chief Justice Rehnquist while waiting her turn to argue a case in The U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, Joan lives just outside Apex on a farm with her husband Bob, 6 dogs, 2 horses, and 4 cats. Joan has an art studio in her house and enjoys doing pen-and-ink drawings, cartoons, and painting in an impressionistic style with acrylics. Joan is interested in creating scenes that feature a juxtaposition of nature and man-made things; an interior with flowers in a vase, a house plopped in the middle of a garden, or a city scene with a river flowing through it.

Artists who have inspired her include Charles Addams, Dr. Seuss, The Limbourg Brothers, and all of the Impressionists. Joan says, “I like the Impressionists because you can tell what the subject matter is, but the painting is about the colors used, not rigid accuracy of representation.” Joan also says she feels artistically energized every time she visits The North Carolina Museum of Art. “I think it’s so wonderful that a state would put together such a great museum for its citizens.” 

To contact Joan about her work, you may email her at:

Or call her at:

Chef's Palette's Featured Artist-of-the-Month Alumni include:
Mike Guin
Barbara Guin
Andie Freeman
Michelle Prince
Jeanine Romeo
T. Wayne Grimes
Shelley DeBlase
Ronda Morris
Patricia Anne Horne
Anne Yarborough
Autumn Cobeland
Don Ducey
Gail Snukst-Torbeck
Gay Littleton
Harry O'Connor
Jim Trull
Jo Bolton
Jo Lawson
Ginger Gehres
Kevin Peddicord
Lori Hohenstein
Patrick Bartley
Susan Brabeau
Christa Smith
Christopher Evans
Eileen Allen
Hannah Cole Buie
Petra Glorie
Karen Pearson
Joan Erwin
Jhuma Das
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