Meet the Maker (squared)

February 2024

article by johanna kennedy | photos by arianna skoog

Karyn Mehus

Karyn doesn’t remember exactly when she became an artist; she just remembers drawing everything all the time. In 2nd grade, one of her drawings of a plant was displayed in a local mall. At 13, she had a babysitting job where the child’s father, artist Steve Bjorkman, asked her to apprentice as a cartoon illustrator. Her art adorned the offices of her high school while she attended. After high school, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Chapman University. Degree in hand, Karyn began her career at a couple of art galleries in the Los Angeles area, where she started designing and painting art for corporate offices. After marrying her husband in 2002, she was introduced to a new customer base. Her husband was a mortgage lender who worked with realtors. Once the realtors saw Karyn’s work, they began purchasing her artwork to stage homes. The demand grew as more people were exposed to her fresh, contemporary style. After years of painting and creating her art can now be found brightening the walls in coffee houses, restaurants, offices, and modern homes both locally and nationally.   

Karyn’s voracious love of learning and extraordinary ability to see beauty everywhere in everything is noticeable when standing in front of one of her paintings. Her scenes are bold, bright, and filled with joy. Even the darker, deeper shades draw from a source of palpable hope. Currently, Karyn is leveraging her vast knowledge and joy in two different arenas: art for grief and trauma therapy and art opportunities for children. This winter, she is studying how to facilitate grief and trauma therapy groups using various art mediums. 

Additionally, Karyn joined the board of Billings’ Arts without Boundaries. Together, they are creating more art opportunities for K-12 students in Yellowstone County. She aims to host a summer arts program at Orchard Elementary this summer. Children will come to the school for the day to experiment with creating art. If you’d like to view Karyn’s art or contact her, she can be reached through her website. 

Sadie Hilkemann

From Sadie’s first memories, she was always creating. Her dad, a graphic designer by trade, and her mom (a nurse) homeschooled her from preschool through graduation, so she had the perfect atmosphere to endlessly experiment with multiple art categories. One day, she would draw, the next paint, followed by knitting and crocheting. She isn’t the only designer in the family. Sadie and her three siblings have spent countless hours around their home building instruments (brother and dad), engineering planes (brother), drawing (sisters), and baking specialty cakes for friends and family (mom). Sadie also has a creatively bent friend group. While her peers might be at the movies or out shopping, Sadie and her friends can be found perched around a table at a local coffee shop, talking, laughing, drawing, or painting together. Currently, Sadie’s new position at Clark Marten Photography has served her well in expanding her expertise in yet another category in the visual arts, all things related to photography.  

Sadie is a light-hearted, undemanding, witty teenager. Every bit of her inviting personality shines through her expansive landscape paintings. Standing in front of one of her landscapes, you’re drawn in by the peace it exudes with a desire to slow down, walk the rolling hills, lie in the wind-swept grass, and watch the clouds slowly drift through the sky overhead. What would our world be like if we all took a deep breath and met in one of Sadie’s paintings? I daresay we would all find ourselves much more rested and ready for what the world needs from us. Her landscapes are available in all sizes at Roots Garden Center and through her Instagram. If you want a unique gift or a rich landscape painting to adorn one of your walls, Sadie is also available for commissioned pieces.  

Originally printed in the February 2024 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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