3, 3 and 3: Patricia Kennan, artist

pat3, 3 and 3 is an occasional series featuring creative people and the things that inspire them. My first guest of 2015 is artist Patricia Kennan. I met Pat in 2011, when we were both in residence at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland. She is well known among her many friends there—not only for her exquisite work but for her habit of plunging into the lake early every morning come rain, shine, sleet or snow! Alas, she could not convince me to join her. Pat was born in Dublin but has lived for much of her adult life in the United States, and her accent is a delightful melding of both ‘homes’. While she loves her adopted country, she says she feels ‘mostly Irish’, and this is evident in her work as an artist. When I visited her studio at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, she was working on a series of paintings drawn from her memories of Donegal, and I was deeply moved by the sense of longing and belonging I sensed in them. Pat has Masters degrees (Fine Arts and Art) from the University of Iowa, and has taught in a private school in Spain. She has been exhibiting solo and in group shows at galleries in the US and Ireland since 1979, and her many residencies have included Cill Rialaigh (Ireland), the Julia and David White Colony for Artists (Costa Rica), Pouch Cove (Canada), and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (US). Over to Pat…

3 things I love about what I do

1. When I was four, I stumbled across the colour green by overlapping blue and yellow. It seemed like magic to me, surprising, exciting. Colour and the power of paint to get me back to that place of wonder are what I love about being a painter.

I would be nowhere else

I would be nowhere else

2. I love having the time to look at and feel landscape before I try to put it down on paper, which is freeing. I work from memory on any image until I recognise it.

The road

The road

3. I love reading poetry and fiction and listening to music, and using these as vehicles to take me to that place where process and image come together suddenly in the work. And I love the solitude of working in the studio, not having to deal with people, just the image and the quiet.

3 places I’d like to visit or revisit

1. Donegal, Ireland—wild, wonderful, full of childhood memories. When I’m there, I’m haunted by its history, the weight and beauty of the sea and sky and the ancient land.

Sunset, Donegal

Sunset, Donegal

2. Annaghmakerrig in Newbliss, Ireland—a place that gives me the time and solitude and affirmation and protection to create. 3. Vinalhaven, Maine, an island in Penobscot Bay—the place I have lived longest anywhere in North America, an island where people take care of each other. It has a great library run by two women who love books, and the New Era Gallery, run by Elaine Crossman, where I show work.

3 favourite things

1. Arriving in Maine, seeing the sea come right up to the house in a 10-feet high tide—and jumping in.


Vinalhaven, my jumping off point

2. Spending the day at the Art Institute in Chicago alone and feeling I’m among friends. 3. Finding a book that will take me to a different land, culture or time and filling my heart with images.

Manly beach

Manly beach

You can view more of Patricia’s work at the New Era Gallery’s website


Filed under 3 3 and 3 (creative people)

18 responses to “3, 3 and 3: Patricia Kennan, artist

  1. They are beautifully evocative art works…’feeling scapes’ full of solitude…wonderful to meet Patricia and her work.

  2. David Buchanan

    Riddled with gorgeous!

  3. A nice person in love with art and art in love with her. I understand what she means about being more Irish than American. On my mother’s side, namely the Veale, the name is comparatively rare and when the two brothers left the farm for the older brother and came to Australia and the States, they were rewritten Vali which made me think we were part Italian.
    I have hardly any knowledge of the Jeffery side so that’s why I fantasise about being Irish.

  4. bev mortensen

    I love Pat and her paintings….I’ve known her nearly 50 years….from the US, England, Denmark and travels…..Her painting over my bed…more sea than land….ushers me to many other worlds….. My own Irish roots tremble sometimes in her presence……

  5. Definitely one of your most beautiful posts to date…

  6. Debi O'Hehir

    wonderful Pat ,i loved this xxxx

  7. Glen Hunting

    Lovely paintings.
    I was rather besotted with the colour green when I was that age, too. When I was in kindergarten I used to paint all my pictures with green and no other colour – green sun, green people, green water. Supposedly the teachers resorted to hiding the green paint so that I might try another colour, but that part of the folklore is perhaps apocryphal.
    Funnily enough, there’s a lot of Irish in my lineage (at least half), but I’ve never felt particularly Irish. Then again, I’m not sure I feel especially Australian, either.

  8. I had the extreme pleasure of sitting next to Pat on a flight from Chicago to Newark…… Yesterday! She made me laugh and was so very interesting to listen to. She was so enthusiastic about heading to Dublin that I almost bought a ticket and headed to Finnegans with she and her family!
    I’m just starting to research her work based on meeting her but wanted to add my coincidental meeting story and mention what a bright light she was.
    Jim Gineris

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