Art unexpectedly found me.  I did not paint, displayed zero interest in art and fell asleep in
museums.  I woke up one day with this intense desire to paint.  When I first picked up the
Chinese Brush and painted on Rice-Paper - I fell in love.  This was 2001.

I am mainly self-taught.  I practiced and experimented on my own, read books, visited China with
Ning Yeh, sought feedback and examined my life.  In Chinese spontaneous painting - the essence of
the subject is expressed with one or as few strokes as possible.  Color variations, wet/dry strokes,
etc are all done in one stroke!  The honesty, simplicity, efficiency and speed appeals to me - probably
because it's a reflection of who I am.

I paint spontaneously, driven by my feelings and subconscious.  I love bright colors and contrast -  
different from traditional Chinese paintings.  This is why I call my work "Watercolors on Rice-
Paper".  I blend traditional Chinese techniques with innovative techniques I have created to convey
my point of view.

I had no warning this would happen.  I was born in Malaysia, adopted by a single Chinese woman.  
A Science student at an early age, I didn't get to explore art, music or dance.  We immigrated to
Australia when I was 17.  I walked out of my home after 8 months in Australia - I finally had enough
of the abuse.  With no family or friends in a new country, I put myself through college working 4-6
jobs and graduated with a chemistry and computer science undergraduate degree and a chemistry
graduate degree with first class honors.  I fell into the computing Industry - for 17 years I worked
crazy hours, travelling all over the world.  While at Oracle, I was relocated to California in 1991.  8
years at Oracle, 2 great years at Microsoft, 5 painful startups .... the executive management level
was chock full of politics but I was fortunate to have enjoyed many successes.  All this time, I kept
my sanity by dancing a lot.  I took many career risks as I felt the need to be constantly learning and
for financial freedom before I was 40.  I transitioned from R&D to technical management, marketing
and then sales - always taking on the most challenging or new projects, building teams and over-
acheving revenue goals.  My last gamble paid off - our startup was acquired after 8 months and I left
the computing industry in 2001.

All alone in the world, to survive and succeed, I developed many skills to compete and win ...
eventually becoming a typical type 'A'.  However, at heart, I am not and over the years, my soul was
dying a slow death.  The creative process of painting has allowed my true personality to surface and
it's very healing.

I bounced between Northern California and New York for several years, studying with an
exceptional art coach - Mr. Jin in New York who had a tremendous impact on my work.  I relocated
to Southern California (Santa Clarita) in 2003 and have taught this art style to 300+ adults!!

This exploration into creativity has expanded beyond my imagination.  My other passions - in dance
and music has led me into dance in a deeper way.  I teach Ballroom dance at Preciado's Ballroom
Studio and for Ballroom Dance Academy at Hollywood Dance Center and have introduced hundreds
to adults to ballroom dancing.

For over 20+ years, I have been coaching, teaching and introducing new and complex concepts to
many people - from my days in the computing industry introducing innovative new technologies to
hundreds of large corporations and thousands of people, coaching and motivating individuals to
succeed, to my life as an artist, introducing creativity through art, as a dance teacher – helping my
students express and find their inner joy through dance and art.  

I continue to invest in talent and coach individuals to success, joy and peace, transforming small
businesses and individuals.  

My knowledge and insights about myself, my deep understanding about my past experiences as a
survivor of physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse and my own organic healing journey has
equipped me to use my hurt to heal the hurt in others.  I started a support group for adult survivors
of child abuse in 2011- ASCA Santa Clarita ( and also advocate and counsel
domestic violence survivors.
karen mills
Mailing List
Copyright (c) 2014 Karen Mills
Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (asca)