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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Holiday Greeting Cards

I've added to a small selection of holiday greeting cards I've made available through Zazzle. Available as a note card, greeting card, or as an extra large, 8 1/2 x 11 sized card. Click on any one to purchase directly the Zazzle website.


Separation Anxiety, Panel One card

Counting Raindrops Variation card

Holiday Still Place card

Autumn's Veil with Snowflakes card

Monday, December 01, 2014

"Little Gems"

Girl With a Red Hat Vermeer 1665-66
oil on panel 9.1 x 7.1 inches
I can’t tell you who coined the term “Little Gems” when referring to artwork. I first heard it from a professor during an outdoor watercolor class. “We call those little gems.” he tossed the words back, over his shoulder, while sauntering off down the trail. I was working on an 8 x 10 page torn from my Aquabee sketchbook.

After the Rain Private Collection Katherine Kean
watercolor on cotton rag paper 4 x 7 inches
The term goes back at least to the 19th century. James Jackson Jarves, a newspaper editor and art critic, describing Fra Bartoleomo’s works:

     "In his earlier works, which approach miniature painting in fineness and delicacy, as for instance those little gems, the “Birth” and “Circumcision” of Christ, in the Uffizi, the composition is noble and beautiful, and the finish Leonardesque. Yet they have the force of large paintings.”


 Circumcision and Nativity Fra Bartolomeo circa 1500
tempera on wood 7.7 x 3.5 inches

For artists, working on small surfaces are an opportunity to try out new ideas, colors and composition, the small size means less cost for materials and less time committed. Plus they travel well and are easy to pack and store.

Willows at Sunset Vincent van Gogh
oil on cardboard 12 1/2 x 131/2 inches

Red Poppy Georgia O'Keeffe
Although Georgia O'Keeffe became known for her large flower paintings, her earlier flower paintings were enchantingly small. She began enlarging them to attract the attention of busy New Yorkers, however small works have also been known to draw focus. Crowds lined up in New York to view Carel Fabritius's The Goldfinch.

The Goldfinch Carel Fabritius
oil on panel 13 x 9 inches
There are advantages to the collector of small works as well. The small scale is ideal for those with limited space. They are easy to install – they work well in groupings, or in those niches in home or office. Really, you can put little gems of art anywhere; on a table, a shelf, or a tiny spot on the wall or they can be displayed on a tabletop easel. They are easy to store, easy to pack, easy to ship. They are very affordable for collecting and gift giving, and there just seems to be something inherently fascinating about miniaturization.

Angeles Forest Circling Storm 
Private Collection 
Katherine Kean
oil on linen 
6 x 6 inches

View or shop from a selection of little gems here: Little Gems Collection .

Monday, November 24, 2014

Deck the Walls at Segil Fine Art

Bird in Brush Katherine Kean
oil on linen 8 x 8 inches

I will be taking part in Laura Segil Fine Art's Annual Holiday Small Works, Deck the Walls! Please join us for the opening reception on Saturday, December 6 from 5 -8pm.


Deck the Walls
Holiday Small Works
Saturday, December 6 - Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Opening Reception
Saturday, December 6, 5-8pm

Segil Fine Art Gallery
110 West Lime Avenue
Monrovia, CA 91016
626-358-5563

Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 1-6pm

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bird On Branch

Bird On Branch Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 8 x 8 inches


I had so much fun with the Bird in Brush painting that I wanted to do another. Although I like the mosaic-like busyness of the other painting, I decided this time to let the little guy have some space instead of being overwhelmed with foliage. And besides, this one looked like he was posing.


Monday, November 03, 2014

Sketch: Charge Into the Deep

Charge Into the Deep Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 5 x 7 inches
I don't often draw my dreams, except for the ones that stand out and have vivid imagery I can't ignore or forget. Some people call this type of dream a numinous dream, a term coined by Rudolf Otto and used by Jung. I recently had one of those types of dreams. 

At the start I was at the birthday party of a famous artist. Also in attendance were George Lucas ( a visionary of the future) and Walter Cronkite (the most trusted man in America) and we were having a very, nice chat when a large wild red horse charged in and grabbed my finger between his teeth - not in a way to cause hurt, but firmly, so I had no choice but to hang on and go along for the ride. The horse eventually let go of my finger as we raced on to the ocean. I was never on the horse, I just hung onto the mane, which was like a living thing, coiling and waving, as we galloped straight into a tunnel formed by the oncoming waves.

This dream was about a month ago and it took several sketches and studies to organize the imagery to this point. It might take a few more before it's ready to become a painting.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Showing Metal


Coastal Pine Katherine Kean
3 x 3 inches silverpoint
Coastal Pine Katherine Kean
3 x 3 inches silverpoint, aged one month
I have been wanting to try drawing with silverpoint for ages. An artist friend suggested it to me years ago. I have a light touch, which serves me well in watercolor and oils, but for which I must compensate by using very soft pencils. With metalpoint drawings it doesn't matter so much how hard one bears down - the mark will be about the same. 

I decided to try it out with a tiny drawing of very familiar subject matter.

All the marks one makes in silverpoint are indelible. There is no erasing. Metalpoint drawings are ethereal at first and darken with age as they oxidize. You can see a slight difference in the early drawing above, compared to the same drawing photographed again about a month later.

A quality I like about metalpoint is that one piece of metal lasts a long time and I don't find myself taking trip after trip to the sharpener. Without a stylus, metal to work with can be found in the silverware drawer or coin pocket. I also like that the finished surface has a silvery sheen when the light hits it. Silverpoint is difficult to photograph - the scans here are blurry from the light bouncing around, and the drawings look better in person, which I think is true for much, if not all artwork.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Small Bird in an Olive Tree

Small Bird in Olive Tree wip Katherine Kean
oil on linen 8 x 8 inches
"A forest bird never wants a cage." Henrik Ibsen

Here is the first day of work on a small bird resting in an olive tree painting. Every part wants refining and loosening up at the same time. As a busy piece I am glad to have all the main elements: leaves, twigs, bird, laid out. Now comes the hard part, and the fun.