BRANCHING out into painting is no snap decision for Barwick-in-Elmet professional photographer Karen Turner.

For 16 years, she has captured businesses, people and the finest food in Yorkshire with her award-winning, unusual combination of natural light and a documentary approach, but gradually too she has been taking her love of the North Yorkshire countryside and coast one step further.

"When I'm not using my camera professionally to photograph people and food, such as at Skosh, Mannion & Co and Le Cochon Aveugle in York, I love to take it with me on my walks and share my images of the countryside and coast with my followers on social media and my website," she says.

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"I don’t have an image of me painting yet," says photographer Karen Turner. "I'm so used to being behind the camera, I hadn’t thought to get someone to capture me at work."

"This has led me into painting and printmaking, where I've found that in some ways my art has become an extension of my photography, as I often use the images from my walks as the inspiration for my quirky, bright, abstract drawings, paintings and prints."

Turner by name, artist by nature, Karen’s artistic creativity has become so productive already that she is holding her first solo exhibition of original paintings and prints at the Yorks of Thirsk café, in the Old Post Office in Thirsk Market Place until May 31.

"My paintings have taken off so quickly that it has all been a bit bonkers really," says Karen. "I only started painting in this style the week before Christmas, when I had a break away to paint in Staithes, and my followers on social media kept asking to buy them, hence why I decided to have an exhibition."

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One of Karen Turner's photographs of her exhibition launch at Yorks of Thirsk

Just as the English Romantic artist JMW Turner enjoyed painting the great Yorkshire outdoors, so too does Karen Turner. "I love Yorkshire; it truly is God's Own Country, providing so much inspiration for an artist, and I love painting my favourite places in our amazing county," she says.

"After an initial sketch of the scene, I then develop my multimedia paintings with a mix of acrylics, gouache, inks and even Farrow & Ball paints. I apply different vibrant layers to build up my Yorkshire scenes, giving the finished paintings a graphic and illustrative feel.

"I love to make quirky art that makes people smile. Having worked as a professional photographer for 16 years, I have a natural eye for composition and I enjoy bringing this into my artwork. I really enjoy this extension of my creativity as it takes me out of my comfort zone , and it gives me a very exciting way of expressing how I feel about where I live."

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Clifford's Tower, Spring, by Karen Turner

Her paintings are bursting with colour, by way of contrast with her photographic portraiture, albeit with a shared starting point. "I use a natural light, documentary approach for all of my photography, which lends itself really well to black-and-white images of people, especially when they're absorbed in their job or activity." says Karen.

"I thought it was a coincidence, though maybe it's really something engrained in the creative part of my mind, but my first drawings for each painting are in black ink, so I start off with a monochrome artwork.

"During the next part of the process, colour and a more abstract approach take over naturally. I find that when I'm documenting a subject with photography – be it a business, people or food – it's about capturing the reality of the subject, whereas my art is a complete contrast. I love to use bright, vibrant colours which we would never normally find in nature, so through the creative process I change the scene I first photographed dramatically."

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Karen Turner's documentary-style portrait of Neil Bentinck, chef patron of Skosh, in Micklegate, York

Karen savours seeing how her paintings become so different to the images that inspired them. "I lose some detail, and the perspective often changes during the sketching process, and then changes again during painting, so the finished artwork is very, very different to reality, but still recognisable as a place which people love in Yorkshire," she says.

At present Karen is working on ideas for her next exhibition, a group show at the Partisan restaurant and coffee house in Micklegate, York, that will mark this summer's first York Bloom Festival.

"I'll have two paintings in the show and I'll be adding a floral theme to some of York's iconic locations, though I anticipate they'll be flowers which come from my imagination, rather than nature," she says.

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Two Boats Passing, Whitby Harbour, by Karen Turner

Partisan In Bloom will run from June 10 to the end of July, showing work by York and Yorkshire artists Raphael Balme, Jerry Scott, David Campbell, Sue Dennis, Mark Ibson and photographer Tessa Bunny, as well as Karen. "We'll also have some sort of fresh flower installation going on, working with Rachel Wilkes and Annalisa McCartney," says Partisan's Florencia Clifford.

Karen already sells her paintings through her Facebook art page, "I've also set up an Etsy online shop, where people can buy fine art giclee prints of my paintings at, and a website specifically designed for my paintings, drawings and prints is my next priority," she says.