When an Internet search of art schools in the United States didn't offer human figure or "figurative" sculpture, she started looking at schools in Europe. In 2001 she applied and was accepted into the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. She graduated in 2004.
A month ago she opened Cope Studios where she teaches the old European-based methods of Naturalism/realism in figurative sculpture and drawing, she said. The techniques she shares with her students have received very little exposure in America, she said.
The revival of realistic movement of figurative sculpture has been seen recently in New York and is moving West, she said.
"I want to introduce Glendale to this work," she said, adding that it is very teachable.
Professional sculptor Christopher Slatoff of Los Angeles is Cope's mentor in the California Art Club in Pasadena. They taught together at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.
"Karen's work is very strong," he said. "She has a very good technique and is also a wonderful teacher."
Former Burbank resident Lynn Christopher of Los Angeles was a student of Cope's at the academy two years ago.
"As a teacher, she was excellent," Christopher said. "She's extremely passionate about what she knows and she's able to help me put all of the process together from A to B. She sets up goals for the piece, to help me get to the next level of work on each piece."
Cope has taught her the ability to see things that she was not able to before, Christopher said.
"My vision and reality of the figure is expanding every time I take a class with her," she said. "I see new things on the figure that I've never seen before."