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Monday, January 26, 2015

Dream Sketch: Books, Chair, Fire, Water

I've been drawing from dreams, choosing a few that stand out, especially after much time has lapsed. Many of these dreams are long and segments of them overlap, so in each I've decided to focus on selected key parts. In this dream what stayed with me was this scene. A chair in a narrow room with art books stacked on and around it. The left wall is on fire and through the right water comes into the room. I am mesmerized watching to see which; the the fire or the water, will reach the chair and the books first.

I drew it first as I remembered, getting all the essential elements. The feeling is there, although the scale seems off.


I allowed some distance in this sketch and still retained much of the feeling of the dream scene. While I like the openness and shape of the window on the right, the perspective is wrong.


More distance and better perspective and the chair is far away. I begin to wonder if it wouldn't be more elegant to simplify.


Better? I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with how the books are arranged. They seem to lead the eye in a semi-circle and out of frame. Also, this way it is more of a still life instead of an interior landscape.
I'll likely do both, but in the meantime another sketch or two, or ten, is on order.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Animals On My Mind


Animal have had a place in art for as long as there has been art. From the paleolithic artwork of the Caves of Lascaux to contemporary depictions, animals have long been part of human culture, myth, and symbol.

Sojourn Pamela Murphy
What do animals mean to our psyche? Many earth based cultures consider animals as spiritual counterparts, as messengers, and as partners in life on earth. Jung stated that animals were a relevant symbol of our psyche and often  represented the self.


Tiger Tiger Travis Louie

Theriomorphism: the ascription of animal characteristics to humans.

Stilts (Adaptation) Martin Wittfooth
There seems to be a resurgence of animal imagery in contemporary art. One theory for this is that we are compensating through art for a loss. As humans grow more urban our involvement with non human animals becomes increasingly rare. With the exception of those animals doomed to be commodities; as food, as pets, and used for entertainment - which could include animal sanctuaries and parks, as well as zoos - natural encounters with animals, wild or tame, are few and far between. The occasional encounter with deer becomes an almost magical moment, and happening across a coyote, bobcat, or bear, or even a wild turkey or goose, often causes fear or confusion. 

Mixed Metaphor II Robert McCauley
Anthropomorphism: the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.

Intermission Theresa Elliott

The questionable practice, in my opinion, of using live animals as art has unfortunately also surged. As I write this, an Ibizan Hound is part of an exhibition at LACMA. This practice to me is an extension of perceiving animals as commodities. None of those images appear here, or of taxidermy based art, as these are simply, to my mind, further forms of animal exploitation. The very same mind set that allows people to feel comfortable with exploiting animals, may also allow them to feel comfortable exploiting people.

Enassamiian Tom Uttech


"There are some who can live without wild things and there are some who cannot." 
 - Aldo Leopold "A Sand County Almanac"

Monday, January 05, 2015

Artist's Choice Exhibition - Pasadena Society of Artists

Angeles Forest Storm Katherine Kean
oil on linen 8 x 8 inches
I'll have two pieces in this group exhibition of artists from the Pasadena Society of Artists taking place this month in Burbank at the Creative Arts Center.

Pasadena Society of Artists 
Artist's Choice Exhibition
January 9 - 29, 2015

Creative Arts Center Gallery
1100 West Clark Avenue
Burbank, CA 91506
818-238-5397

Please join us for the Artists' Reception
Friday, January 9, 2015
7:00pm - 9:00pm

Gallery Hours:
Monday - Thursday 9:00am - 9:00pm
Friday 9:00am - 7:00pm
Saturday 9:00am - 1:00pm
Sunday - Closed

Monday, December 29, 2014

Most Popular Posts 2014

Rainy, cloudy, stormy, snowy, the most visited posts on my blog this year are all on artwork focused on the weather.


#5 Painterly Progression
 "...varied and broken brushstrokes, sketchiness,  impasto..." 


#4 Billowing Clouds Go By and By
Inspired by Scotland, this painting went to Palm Springs, then Monrovia, and then found a new home.

#3 Suburban Murmuration Drawing
An imaginary flock of birds and a suburban home.
#2 Chasing Clouds Another painting that went to Palm Springs, heading soon to Burbank.




#1 A Little Snow On the Marsh The most popular 2014 post from my blog is this simple charcoal sketch.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Marsh Snow © 2014 Katherine Kean 
oil on linen   12  x 16 inches

Wishing you joy and peace this holiday season and throughout the New Year.

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 .