'Treats' Acrylic on wood assemblage ©robinrkent

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Folk Art Diary: Twist her nose

I painted 'Literary Companions' in a 'quasi-serious style' a few years ago. It's a precursor to my current folk art style. You have to start somewhere. So this piece became an historical touchstone in my art timeline.
'Literary Companions'  Acrylic on board     ©robin r kent
My current work tends to be freer. 'Go ahead and paint a twist in her nose,' I say.
It's one reason folk art feels authentic to me. Quirks or gestures may be augmented, but still identifiable. We have seen people with these traits. Or think we have.
A collector said I shouldn't disown my previous style: an artist can have many and still be recognizable. Nice thought. I hope the sentiments displayed in whatever style translate as well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Folk Art Studio Tour...

...or The Shortest Commute I Know
I can paint just about anywhere. As long as I can concentrate to find my 'groove.' I've tested many areas around home and barn. Recently I've migrated to my bedroom. Figure I'll acclimate towards senior housing by setting up my easel here now. It's a north facing room with bed, bureaus, 2 windows, rocker, luxo lamps, desk, art books, paint. Some details:
A Folk Art Studio?  (It's messy, sorry Mom)     ©robinrkent
  • Kitty litter boxes, sans the litter. Thought the leftover piece of linoleum from the downstairs bath would spare my wood floor, but the double bucket approach (rinse jar inside the kitty litter bucket) was foolproof. I rinse the brush in the inside water jar, then wipe on a hanging towel in one unconscious swoop.  
  • The easel was a gift from Warren Kimble, our town's famous folk artist. 
  • Acrylic house paint in jelly jars are easier to carry. Medicine vials hold paint for on location touch ups (on floor, right of chair)
  • Sitting back or leaning forward in my rocker is automatic. 
Another nice spot to critique from is my pillow. It's about six feet away - the first thing I see in the morning is the work I did the night before. Really fresh eyes.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Before and After of Folk Art Tales

To paint on canvas or to assemble a wood sculpture was the dilemma with this next folk art project. (See previous post for the first chapter of this story.) Grimm's fairy tale 'Cinderella' was the assignment. Why hadn't other artists picked her for the Fairy Tales group show at Frog Hollow Craft Center?
'Before the Ball'  acrylic on canvas  ©robinrkent
I realized one reason, as I thought about how to portray her. She can be difficult in a perfect sort of way.
She's too cutesy. Too perfect with the birdies tying up her sash, a la Walt Disney. ...and maybe then, too shallow? What's interesting to paint about that?

Mustn't forget how she got there. That's where the grist lies. That's what made her the woman, er, fantasy she is today.
That's the part that's interesting. (Not that I'd want to take care of 2 vain women and an unloving father...) but a little exaggeration makes the modern day connection.

So this is Cindi, 'Before the Ball,' 2012 created using acrylic (still house paint, though) on canvas. Much less work than an assemblage: scrubbing wood, hammering, sanding...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fairy Tale Folk Art

I had an offer from Frog Hollow Gallery to create a piece from Grimm's fairy tales for an upcoming group show. I was so excited I said I'd like to create two pieces: maybe an assemblage for one and a painting for another!
"Red and Her Consort' acrylic on wood assemblage ©robinrkent
Fairy tales are a personal favorite, and I haven't done any 'literary work' in a long time. It was
'a very long time ago ...'
Illustrating simple stories takes thought. The artwork needs to live up to their exalted imaginary status.
Due to my meager photography skills, the four layers making up this wall assemblage aren't obvious. Grandma's house is far away, indeed. 
Now on to Cinderella: painted lady or stacked wood? The ending yet to be determined.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Outsiders in a folk art world

I'm a folk artist based in New England. Not many in the large folk art world are located here. Southern (or way southern as in Mexican, or Oaxacan) and African folk artists make up most of its citizens, I think. At least on the internet.
'Siesta Box' folk art box ©robin r kent
Folk art flourishes further north as well. Alaskan and Nova Scotian contemporary folk artists sure do rock it.
Maybe we're outsiders in the folk art world? Outsider folk art. We could claim that as in location, but we might be sterotyped as more reserved in style. Yes, this region might be a tad more stoic. Working with leftovers from nature's prim pantry. But we do embody the every man motif. Few embossed or polished edges here.

Siesta Box , left, acrylic on wood assemblage (about 2/3 life size; 2 boxes: hat crown lifts for small box, arms are the lid for the large box)
He left sitting pretty in a spiffy 2-seater convertible many years ago. I could tell he was made to see more of the world. They looked like a nice couple as they headed for points south. He never looked back.