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Q&A with 2016 PenArt Instructor David Kessler


Your paintings are abstract, perhaps even non-objective, from where do you draw inspiration for your color palette and use of gesture?

When I begin a painting, or a series of paintings, I try to determine what type of color palette to use to communicate the mood or feeling of the piece or the series. Most of my paintings are done as part of a series. For me the series is generally color related and generated from a word, phrase, or idea for the title of the series. For example, “Midnight in the Garden” is one of my series. The “Midnight” mood was one of darkness utilizing dark blues and violets for rich values. The lighter values are those of yellow-oranges and greens that are the “Garden” portion of the painting and act as the centers of interest.

What are you currently working on in the studio?

I recently held my annual Open Studio Event, which is always the last Saturday in April. In addition to bringing all aspects of the event together, I finished a number of new pieces. It was a success and a big sales day for me.

Beyond the Open Studio, it is just work as usual. I am a process oriented painter, so I use the process of painting to give me direction on new studio work. I am constantly developing new series of work and revisiting older series with new pieces. I have galleries to supply with paintings as well as workshop participants – they purchase much of the work that I produce.

How does your studio practice impact your teaching philosophy? And vice versa?

Both my studio practice and teaching philosophy are based on mastering the fundamentals. After 25 years of painting, the fundamentals are still my focus. How can I design better paintings? How can I create more interesting compositions? How can I reach my students more effectively to communicate the necessity for learning the fundamentals to them?

Even though I teach abstract painting workshops (which lots of people think is just sloshing some paint on canvas and calling it art) I teach the basics of design, composition, shapes, values, color, edges and how to develop a center of interest. None of these are specific to abstract painting, but apply to all types of painting. When students complete one of my workshops I want them to be better painters, not just better abstract painters.

What are you most looking forward to during your time teaching at PenArt?

What I love most about my work is that I get to travel to new places and meet new people every couple of weeks. I haven’t been to Wisconsin for many years and am looking forward to returning. I am also looking forward to the campus feel and the beauty of the area and the first class teaching facility. While this is my first time teaching here, I hope to return over and over.

How can we find you on social media and the web?

People can find me on my website at davidmkessler.com where I have a list of all my workshops, paintings for purchase, and a newsletter sign-up where you can connect with me on a regular basis; I am on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DavidMKesslerFineArt; Instagram @davidmkesslerfineart and LinkedIn. I encourage you all to engage with me on social media so that we can get to know each other better! Thank you.


Topics: Faculty Painting

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