Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall News


My late fall newsletter emailed today. Did you get it? This one links to a first look at a short video interview in my studio. Sign up below if you'd like to receive it:

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Monday, October 22, 2012

City Hopper, Country Hopper

Road in Maine Edward Hopper
When you think of Edward Hopper’s work do you visualize urban scenes or country views?

He painted both, and stillness, solitude, and light were themes in all of his work.

It may be my own personal bias, but I get very different feelings from looking at his work in each setting. His cityscapes seem to see the architecture as a barrier. The solitude of the figures evoke a sense of loneliness.

“My aim in painting has always been the most exact transcription possible of my most intimate impressions of nature. “ is Hopper’s statement from a 1959 interview with John Morse at the Whitney.

 Another quote from the same interview,  “There is a certain fear and anxiety and a great visual interest in the things that one sees coming into a great city. I think that’s about all I can say about it.”

Manhattan Bridge Loop Edward Hopper

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sometimes in Marshes

Katherine Kean, drawing, the great marsh, cape cod, halfway house, graphite, nature
House on Great Marsh ©2012 Katherine Kean
graphite  6 x 6"

“We need the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground.” Henry David Thoreau 

Bitterns are wading birds of the heron family. They have shorter necks then herons and are shy. Snipes are also wading birds. I don't recall ever hearing them boom, although if I did I might not have known what it was. I'm told it is a drumming sound that they make with their tail feathers.

Another sketch, the Great Marsh in Cape Cod, and a house that is there. I'm not sure, it may be The Halfway House as it's called, for being halfway down the trail. I wasn't near enough to read any signs or plaques. The Halfway House is owned by Barnstable and used by groups from time to time. It looks like a wonderful place to go to draw and paint the marsh.


The Great Marsh is an excellent place to get a little taste of some wildness.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Forever Close, No Matter How Far


 I use a reduction glass in the studio, on medium and large paintings – as I've mentioned before – it saves both time and energy and gives me a fresh take on work much as using other methods, such as squinting, or a mirror, and so on.

Another useful tool is a magnifying glass. This can be used in the studio to check your own work, and I like to keep a pocket size one with me to look closely at details on artwork in galleries and museums. It is amazing to me what I learn this way.

 I recently saw an exhibition of Linden Frederick’s work – a collection of 6 inch squares of small towns and back roads seen at dusk. Realistically rendered landscapes, a few depict a solitary home or building, in which one can see tiny luminous reflections in the ¼ inch rectangles of a window pane. As these minute areas reflected the space behind the viewer, it had the effect on me of feeling right in the middle of the space even as experiencing a remoteness – as if I were an invisible giant. The magnifier revealed beautiful paint handling in even the very smallest sections. The experience I took away was of having walked around within a tiny painting as if I were also tiny and being able to step back and become huge and knowing, aware of the contents of the ‘scene behind me’ based on my glimpses at the reflections.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Billows Upon Billows

Scotland: Clouds, Hill, Field  ©2012 Katherine Kean
graphite and charcoal 6 x 6"
"Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line." Benoit Mandelbrot, in his introduction to The Fractal Geometry of Nature. 

I'm working out some painting ideas inspired by last fall's visit to Scotland, working in six inch squares in graphite and charcoal. Drawing in this small scale makes it easier to simplify shapes and clarify values, while still having room to enjoy some details. That is part of the fun of clouds, isn't it? The "billows upon billows upon billows" as Mandelbrot would say.

Scotland: Clouds, Hills, Valley   ©2012 Katherine Kean
graphite 6 x 6"

Bolton Hall Museum Gift Shop

The Bolton Hall Museum Gift Shop   is a great place to do your holiday shopping! Carrying a wide range of unique items, all are created l...