bemusing musings of a bewildered brush-wielder

me and evan

me and evan




So, I worked quite a bit more on this painting. I had a bunch of things that needed to be heightened, other things subdued. The risk I run, by going back in to a semi-finished painting, is that I may be exchanging spontaneity for precision.

I’ve actually learned a lot as a painter, in the past two months. I’ve been putting in some really long hours at the easel, working on various pieces, fighting for that particular glow of light, that particular saturation of color. And as I’ve sought these artistic solutions, I’ve had to reinvent some of my technique. As I’ve furthered my understanding of pairings of washes against piles of thick paint, I’ve realized something- my painting finish is inadvertently emulating that of David Leffel’s, even Sorolla’s. (Not saying I’m as good as.) And why has my painterly effect emulated theirs? Because they were trying to capture light, and a particular painterly attack is what it took to get that effect. Thick paint against thin, and the ends justify the means. Some people tell me that they want to paint more brushy, and they will ask me how to become more painterly (not that I am necessarily a brushy painter, but away from a computer screen, there is some thick paint, or boogers as my son identified). I never know how to respond to that “becoming brushy” question, as if brushiness were in of itself a pursuit. If you want to paint brushy, then see brushy.

My little guy, Evan, is a tough little bruiser of a three year old, and the fire in his belly keeps me laughing all day long. He seems slightly ashamed of his self perceived aggressive nature. But I know that, if properly directed, his aggression be a gift, a rapid river rushing, carving out hillsides and forming the landscape. It’s police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, standing down Tammany Hall corruption in New York City. It’s Edward Elgar producing the Enigma Variations. It’s Jane Jacobs taking on Robert Moses, and saving Greenwich Village from demolishment.

Evan came to paint with me in my studio, the other day. He saw how far along this painting had come, and he stared in wide eyed wonder. He pointed up to the painting, and said “Dad, that’s my work boots, and your work boots. That’s us. You really love me.”

Being an artist is difficult, yet enjoyable. Being a father is incredibly difficult, yet overwhelmingly and inconceivably wonderful. Could an artist, could a father, wish for anything more?

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”-Solomon, Psalm 127, verses 3,4, and 5


4 responses

  1. Carl Färdig

    My dear Kevin……….I pray that you will save all your articles, sift through them and begin to WRITE a book…………You have awesom talent of expression which I and I am sure many others as well, find your style of reading……captivating and refreshing……..unreal !!!!! You are able to express in writing, what you can achieve in painting……..expression, beauty, captivation…..and on it goes! For some reason, it never ends…..

    June 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    • Man, Carl, thank you so much for your kind words. I promise, I will try and write that book. I think about it constantly, and your encouragement spurs me on so much. Thank you.

      June 25, 2013 at 10:26 am

  2. Gary

    Hey Kev,

    Really like the painting and the light, the personality in the color vs. the character in the leathery boots. Too thick vs. too thin… is a battle I wage on a personal, physiological level all the time……and on a painting level, every time I look at a canvas.. It’s like looking in a mirror, depending on the time of day and the light, thick can add character and muscle … or just weight,…. thin can look healthy and ready for life… or washed out, wrinkled and bland. As far as your paintings, I’ve always found your use of texture enriching and sculptural..

    As far a spontaneity, it, I think, depends on “the source,” if spontaneity sincerely adds to the piece, then in works, if not,, and it’s there just for the sake of spontaneity, which I often see, then it just clears the room. It’s kind of like a particularly poignant comment made in a group of people that makes their heads nod in affirmation…or it can be like a fart in a crowd….it turns a lot of shaking heads and clears the room. I always try to ask myself, is this a beautiful, spontaneous expression or have I created a….”what’s that?” and am I clearing a shaking head room.?

    Your paintings have very few “what’s thats”….as Margaret says…….”Kevin…Just paint….”.

    take care and keep up the great work, friend….

    June 25, 2013 at 7:34 am

    • Gary Thomas


      I agree with Carl,…you have many gifts. I love reading your musings about the efforts of paintings. We all, as well, also enjoy the pleasure of viewing your paintings. They speak! Your personality, and those of your subjects shine through.your works.
      In quoting Margaret,….i.e. “Kevin…just paint….” I only mean to say… you have it! I think that’s what Margaret was saying. Don’t doubt your gifts, just continue to use them,. and they will all work together. So,, write that book..

      By the way, the spontaneity i see in your work, is real. It’s not contrived,…its refreshing and of the head nodding, affirmative style…


      June 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm

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