LOTS of people enjoy buying personalised artwork – a portrait of their pet, or home, or hand-painted sign for their road-end, but finding people both willing and capable of doing these things, isn’t always easy.

In the case of Karen McSkimming though, a skilled painter who has always enjoyed art from a very young age, who started her business Artful Regards in 2012, she could be your very woman.

Living in Brough, Cumbria, since 1995, but originally from Crocketford near Dumfries, Karen is based at home, and takes on commissions for a variety of things. She admits to liking a challenge, and is open to all enquiries.

“Basically, I’m a self-taught artist,” explained Karen, “I’m just awaiting your instructions. From portrait to design, anything ‘artful’ considered!”

Karen has always been passionate about art, but after leaving school in the eighties and not going down the road of further education, life took over and art was unfortunately put on the back burner.

After meeting her partner Steve, and having daughter Josie in 2007, Karen worked at Augill Castle at night, and did a housekeeping job during the day, a couple of days a week. However, her free days, and wee Josie getting older, meant that Karen slowly began to build up both her confidence and her portfolio and for the past six years, Artful Regards has gone from strength to strength.

She takes on a lot of commissions that are often unique, one off, personal presents.

Karen explained: “I get asked to do a lot of pet portraits, which is lovely. I do like to try and meet the pet so I can get a sense of their personalities, but I often do these from pictures, too. They’re a lovely memento to have of a family pet.”

Her commissions are reasonably priced, with jobs taken by individual case. Karen also has a variety of prints and cards that can be purchased direct, or from Kirkby Kutz, in Kirkby Stephen. She has also taken her spoils to a number of local shows, and admits that she would like to go to more in the future.

“I’ve also painted ‘live’ a few times,” Karen told The SF, “which is basically gone along to places – an art gallery for instance, and set up and painted while people have gone about their business around me. It’s a nice way of getting my work out there, and people get the chance to approach me and ask questions about what I do and things.”

Karen is also part of the Eden Valley Artists Network, a group that was set up last year, of about 100 likeminded people in the North of England. They meet regularly, and help promote each others work.

“It’s a great way of meeting people,” Karen admits, “and to see what other people are doing, and how they grow their businesses.”

As far as the future is concerned, Karen confesses that, although she loves what she is doing, she would love to be able to make her artwork her top priority and do it fulltime.

“I’ve got a waiting list just now, and that’s mostly down to the fact I’m not dedicating my time to it,” Karen concludes.

“You never know what the future might hold though, so I’ll keep going the way I am, building up my portfolio and enjoying having my art as a big part of my life, and just see what happens!”