Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd
Kathryn Engberg, an art teacher at Grand Central Atelier in Queens, New York, has just received an incredible honor: her own exhibit at Wethersfield Academy for the Arts in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Showcased in this exhibit are fourteen of her most impressive works of art, including still life and figures.
Featured in the exhibit is a profile painting of a young, nude, red-headed woman who sits seemingly distressed and deep in thought. Thousands of brushstrokes create the sharp contrast between shadow and light which casts a haunting glow on the young woman’s nudity, highlights the pallor of her skin in contrast to the glowing radiance of her fiery hair; rich texture leaving bare the expression of unease upon the woman’s brow.
One of the most distinguishing features of Engberg’s work is her use of the classical “old master-style” painting techniques. Many of her oils on exhibit have been designed using the process of drawing, underpainting and overpainting, and then finished with glazing. On exhibit are also a few paintings which feature the wet-on-wet “alla prima” technique.
Classic portraiture techniques like these have been around for centuries, but they nearly went by the wayside in the mid-1900s when the modern art movement came into existence. “These techniques were almost lost, forgotten in the mid-20th century. It’s important to keep them alive,” Engberg says.
But Engberg is not just keeping these “old master-style” techniques alive in her own artwork; she’s also teaching them to a new generation of artists at the exact institution from which she herself graduated: Grand Central Atelier, an arts academy recognized for its emphasis on classical painting methods and portraiture.
Engberg also teaches a weekly drawing class at Wethersfield Academy for the Arts and will be instructing the “Cast Drawing Boot Camp” workshop in January and the “Figure Drawing Boot Camp” in February at Wethersfield.