Karen Ciambriello was born in Ohio, USA. Her early childhood and education there influenced her interest in painting. After arriving in England she attended Saltash grammar school and Plymouth College of Art. In 1982 she met the Plymouth based artist Robert Lenkiewicz with whom she had a long term relationship and two children. She studied under him and with his guidance developed her own private language in paint. She continues to live and work on The Barbican in Plymouth.