Karen Staal graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a BFA and also earned a degree from the Kendall School of Design. She studied abstract painting at the American University in Washington, D.C. and portrait painting at the Ridgewood Art Academy.
She specializes in oil paintings of the human figure. "I usually bring one or more figures into my work which open the possibility of emotion or narrative, but my main purpose in painting is to achieve a spatial harmony which is satisfying to view. My goal is not to depict people exactly as they are, but to interpret them by creating new harmonies with line, shape and color."