Port de Grave artist has a knack for re­al­ism

Gary Kennedy says it takes lots of pa­tience to be a rep­re­sen­ta­tive artist

The Compass - - Sports - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The for­tu­nate ex­pe­ri­ence of get­ting to learn from an artist from New York who chose to set­tle down in Con­cep­tion Bay North is still pay­ing off for Gary Kennedy.

A Port de Grave na­tive now liv­ing in Clarke’s Beach, Kennedy is a re­al­ist painter with an in­ter­est in both land­scapes and peo­ple. He’s been a full-time artist since 1984, but his con­nec­tion to paint­ing goes back al­most 50 years.

In 1968, Kennedy took part in George Nose­wor­thy’s new­ly­cre­ated art school for chil­dren. Nose­wor­thy came to Hibb’s Cove two years be­fore and had a deep in­ter­est in shar­ing his love of art with youth. He be­came a prom­i­nent artist in the prov­ince af­ter set­tling in New­found­land, and died in 1985.

“George Nose­wor­thy gave me some char­coal and pa­per. The school opened up in the sum­mer and I guess you had a lim­ited amount of paint,” said Kennedy. “So the first three days, we were sup­posed to use char­coal and pa­per, so I said, ‘OK’ … So I went out and did some sketch­ing and I lasted about half-an-hour and I went in and said, ‘George, can I have some paint?’ I like work­ing with colour more so than char­coal.”

Kennedy did not re­ceive any for­mal train­ing in sub­se­quent years, but that didn’t de­ter his tal­ent. He worked with screen­prints for the first 15 years of his ca­reer to pro­duce seri­graphs, fo­cus­ing on au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal images con­nected to his child­hood.

In 1999, he started work­ing on an ex­hi­bi­tion for Bowring Park ti­tled Sea­sons in the Park. It fea­tured 21 oil-on-can­vas paint­ings, and since then he’s fo­cused al­most ex­clu­sively on paint­ing.

Most re­cently, his art was fea­tured in a full-page spread for In­ter­na­tional Artist Mag­a­zine, a bi-monthly art pub­li­ca­tion. It Gary Kennedy stands be­side “Har­bour Hills Port de Grave,” a paint­ing he fin­ished ear­lier this year. It’s on dis­play at the Christo­pher Pratt Gallery in Bay Roberts. in­cluded his paint­ing “Har­bour Hills Port de Grave,” a large 47-by-61-inch piece Kennedy spent two years work­ing on. It’s now on dis­play at the Christo­pher Pratt Gallery in Bay Roberts.

“It’s more of a re­al­ist style, but it still has a lit­tle bit of im­pres­sion­ist over­tones and at­mo­spheric ef­fects,” he said.

The process of cre­ation for “Har­bour Hills Port de Grave” in­volved pick­ing away at it over time. There were stretches where Kennedy left the piece alone for a cou­ple of weeks be­fore get­ting back to it.

“I find with this paint­ing in par­tic­u­lar, try­ing to cap­ture the land­scape was very painstak­ing, be­cause I’m try­ing to rep­re­sent the way it ac­tu­ally looks. That takes a lot of pa­tience.”

Asked what he likes about paint­ing, Kennedy re­sponded that it’s always sat­is­fy­ing to see a fin­ished piece.

“A lot of peo­ple think of paint­ing as fun, but it’s ac­tu­ally very hard work,” he added. “Es­pe­cially if you’re be­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tional.”

Kennedy loves hav­ing a space near home like the Christo­pher Pratt Gallery where his work can hang along­side pieces cre­ated by Mary Pratt, Scott Goudie, David Black­wood and Clif­ford George, amongst oth­ers.

“It’s also good too that Christo­pher Pratt lent his name to the gallery — it helps bring peo­ple in, I think,” he said. “I’ve seen peo­ple from Van­cou­ver who came here be­cause it was the Christo­pher Pratt Gallery.”

He’s now work­ing on a paint­ing of the Trans-Canada High­way leav­ing from St. John’s, though that piece is in the ear­li­est stages.

Kennedy had a solo ex­hi­bi­tion at The Rooms Pro­vin­cial Art Gallery in 2008 and has two paint­ings in its per­ma­nent col­lec­tion. His work can also be found in pri­vate col­lec­tion in Aus­tralia, Nor­way, England, Ire­land and the United States.

“Har­bour Hills Port de Grave”

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

“The Red Bikini”

“Some­thing in the Sand”

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