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I grew up in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, a small river town about an hour southeast of St. Louis. Since there were no art supply stores nearby, my father, who worked as a grocery clerk, brought brown paper bags home for me to use as drawing paper. Using No. 2 pencils and ball-point pens, I worked obsessively without instruction to master representational drawing skills.
In high school, I created a wide variety of commissioned works, ranging from portraits and landscapes to lettering for campaign signs and car decorations. One of the murals I assisted with in downtown Ste. Genevieve still exists today. It has faded, but shows that I had promise as a representational painter from an early age.
After becoming valedictorian of Ste. Genevieve High School, I began my formal art education at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. I started as an architecture student, but my obsession with painting was so strong that I changed my major at the beginning of the second semester of my sophomore year. I received my undergraduate degree in drawing and painting in 1990 from Washington University on a full academic scholarship.
At the University of Georgia, I met my future wife, Michaela Oberlaender, in a Northern Renaissance art class. That course had an extensive impact on my life because it also introduced me to the narrative symbolism and the meticulous techniques of the Flemish masters that influence my work today. In my studio classes, I was encouraged to paint loosely and use oil paint, neither of which felt right to me, but it was an important stage in earning my Masters of Fine Art degree.
The fall after receiving my graduate degree, I began teaching art full-time at Gordon College in Barnesville, Georgia. In addition to teaching, I pursued corporate art commissions, regional juried shows, and had my first solo museum exhibition. While teaching was new and exciting, it was always a means for me to be able to paint.
In August 1997, while my wife was expecting our son, I moved my family to the Tampa Bay region to accept a teaching post at St. Petersburg College in Florida. I still teach full-time as an Associate Professor of Art on the Clearwater campus.
I made the switch back to painting in acrylics in 2001, a few years after my son Nicholas was born, because I did not want the toxic fumes in my home. The other reason was because some of the oil pieces showed slight cracks in them after they were varnished, making them look as if they were already as old as the pieces by the Renaissance Masters. It took a while for me to become as skilled in acrylics as in oils, but now if you look at works in both media side by side, it is difficult to distinguish between them based on the medium alone.
Late in 2019, I decided to work on more positive themes. Lame Ducks is series of smaller, humorous images that retain the narrative, and technical approach of the more involved figure paintings, using rubber ducks as the common thematic element. These visual puns are colorful and fun. They provide an upbeat way to decorate as a counterpoint to the negative things that have characterized much of 2020. I hope you will like my "Art that quacks you up!"
The paintings are accompanied by masks and “Duckorations” available on this website, www.kevingrass.art or www.lameducks.net. I hope to have a line of merchandise with Lame Ducks motifs available here as well before the end of the year. Please sign up for my newsletter and I’ll let you know when that happens!
If you have further questions, please email me at TheWisequacker @ hotmail.com or call my studio directly at (727) 942-9020 between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
The following video explains why I am doing the Lame Ducks series. Enjoy!
This video tells you why I started the Lame Ducks painting series:
Here I am wearing my What the Duck?! face mask
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