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Connor Kay

22″ x 30″


Alex Rowe, Illustrator & Children's Book Artist

Alex Rowe
Illustrator & Children’s Book Artist

Artist Statement
“I’m currently a junior in high school. I tend to focus on large scale palette knife paintings, but for this piece,  I wanted to push myself to do something different. Therefore, I gathered items from around my house that represented an element of my experience in the Catholic faith, focusing on objects that have different textures. I then constructed a setting and arranged a still life using those objects and illustrated them using brush and ink.

I wanted this piece to represent different experiences of mine centered around religion without it being blatantly obvious (i.e not including a cross). Some objects are more symbolic than others, however, they all have a personal connection for me and can be interpreted in any way, shape, or form.

I believe that the beauty of art is that it is different for everyone depending on their perspective, therefore this piece is different for all who view it. “

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Video Transcript

“This is a really terrific still life and it’s really showing your kind of mastery of this medium. I want to first compliment you especially on the frog in the corner and its shadow. Those are so well done and they showed just a great skill with the ink.

Now with your work, I think that the thing that you have a great handle on is the use of shadow and darkness, and you’re not afraid to really dive into that. But, your light, all of it is around the same couple of shades and there are two things I think can really help you kind of explore that.

One, I would try a quick still life using ink, but illuminated by candlelight. Because that way even the brightest thing and the image will still be comparatively dark, so it will really help you kind of train your eye to see those things.

Another one is a tool called art masking fluid, and it’s a great way to kind of reserved some of the white of the page and then not be afraid to do big bold ink washes over the whole thing. So playing around with those two things in your future pieces, because that balance of light and dark is really key.”

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3 responses on "Connor Kay"

  1. Your technique with the ink wash is simply incredible, and in this case lends itself perfectly to the mystery of your subject matter. Although I would like to get a better sense of how this still life illustrates your relationship to Catholicism, at the same time the ambiguity is a strong draw in this piece and really captures my imagination.

    This is such a specific and eclectic assortment of objects that the image reads as deeply personal but also surreal. You clearly intend for the emotion of this still-life to be somewhat inaccessible, and to compel us to ask questions, but the viewer needs to be clued in just a little bit more… I’m especially interested in the white figure on the right of the page – which, on first glance, appears to be the only explicitly religious object in the composition, but on closer examination is not actually praying but merely clasping a rose to its chest!

    Maybe pushing this kind of confusion and misdirection further with the rest of your chosen objects will give us the clue we need to decode your meaning. An extremely engaging piece!

  2. The way that you use ink in this image is so soothing and smooth. I get lost in all of your shadows, like the areas of the key and the cup. But the smooth quality, particularly in the lighter areas comes across as expressionless, pretty deadpan, and I don’t know if that’s necessarily what you want to convey.

    I like that you’re taking the still life to the next level by making it about something meaningful to you and turning it into a kind of self portrait that represents you without needing to include your physical body.

    I think you would enjoy looking at Shane Velez‘s paintings, or Michael Lombardo‘s early paintings. Both of them paint about how religion is integrated in their lives, using special symbols and objects in their work. Michael in particular paints in ways that are very expressive and intimate that add to the narratives in his work.

  3. Hi Connor! Your technique with the ink wash is really outstanding; ink is one of those media that truly has a mind of it’s own, and the fact that you are able to articulate such convincing forms and surfaces is really wonderful.

    I’m really interested in idea behind each of these objects having religious significance. I’m not Catholic, so I’m not familiar with each of these objects, so from my point of view the only object that I get a religious connotation with is the figure, whose appears to be praying. I think it’s terrific that you didn’t make the religious association overtly obvious, and now I’m really curious to know exactly what each of these objects is.

    What I’d like to see is for these objects to convey, in some way, what your relationship is with your religion. Right now the objects are beautifully articulated, but it seems like your approach with the ink is more an observational description of the objects, as opposed to really saying something about what you think about them. For example, if religion was a harrowing experience, you could create a very cold, uninviting atmosphere with stark lighting. Or if religion is an experience that you love and embrace, you could make the scene appear to be very luminous and optimistic.

    Small thing, but noticeable: the “MKE” tag at the bottom, at a quick glance looks like “NIKE,” which could be potentially distracting! Text can be problematic in images; viewers can’t help but go right to the text right away, so I would recommend either de-emphasizing it, or removing it entirely.

    A very accomplished ink piece, would love to see where you take this!

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