Friday, January 1, 2010

Interview with Artist KAY CRAIN


Kay by Gretchen and Gretchen by Kay

Kay Crain continues to be a favorite Artist of mine on the Daily Painters Gallery. The paintings that she does from photos of times gone by really take me down memory lane...I love vintage anything and everything. So many of them remind me of my Mom's photo albums of our family. They're fun and kitcshy. One of my best friends said to me "I hope you do an interview with Kay Crain...." I said she was def on my list. I think it is the way that we can time travel through Kay's paintings that make them dear. I like when paintings transport me out of the present world that I am experiencing and take me to another place and time. When I was compiling paintings that I wanted to post in the interview, I found it hard to narrow it down so I didn't - I just put all the ones that I liked. My absolute FAVORITES are the Bouffants! and the first one below is 1st Prize winner!

After getting a bouffant it's time for some cocktails! and some smokin !

Remember hangin in your bedroom smoking with your BFF with the window open thinking your parents wouldn't smell the smoke??! What were we thinking?......
.....and you have to protect those bouffants with stylish bathing caps.....

My friend, Patty, loves Kay's painitngs and wanted to ask her "to talk about her love for
nostalgia...her paintings show a simpler time and make that time look so
sweet and beautiful.  (I never liked the way bathing caps looked but I
love them in her paintings!) "
Here's what Kay said:
 "I love painting from old photos and I think we all have a certain nostalgia for our childhood , even if we didn't have the most idyllic one. When you are a kid, you don't have to worry about paying the bills,or any of those other grown up things.
When I was a kid in the fifties,  the kids ran all over the neighborhood without their moms worrying. Many moms stayed home and were there to fix your lunch and bandage your scraped knees.
I paint lots of pool paintings because this was the happiest time of my childhood. I spent a good part of the summer at the pool every year.
My brother and I have a June birthday so our party was often the whole family gathering at the park by the municiple pool for a picnic and then the kids going in the pool after lunch."

Look how big those surf boards use to be at Moondoggie Beach....

When I get older I think I want to retire in an Airstream and travel around the country like the people in these pictures.


I asked Kay some questions and here are her answers:

Q. Your bio says that you have many Artists in your family and access 
to Art supplies at a young age, did you study Art in school or are you 
self taught?
I'm mostly self taught with the exception of taking a few workshops here and there.

Q. What inspires you?
When people tell me they love my paintings and would like to live in them. ;)
I also get inspired going to Art Museums. We have a wonderful one in St. Louis and I’ve logged a number of hours in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Q. Kay, you have an intense job as a nurse delivering babies that 
takes a lot of your time.....when do you fit in the time to paint?
I work three 12 hour night shifts per week so that leaves a lot of extra days to paint. Even though it is full  time, it feels almost like part time.

Q. Do you ever have the desire to paint something "outside of the box" 
other than what you do now? and what would that be?
I occasionally paint something rather abstract like a cityscape...But you can still tell it's a cityscape. That's about as out of the box as I get. ;)

Q. In your own words describe your Artwork.
My artwork is mostly about people. Moms and dads and their children, people at cafe's, people at the beach....It usually has strong sunlight and shadow.....some of it has a sense of humor and  some is nostalgic and it's always full of color.

Q. Who are some of your heros? and why?
My mom was one of my heroes. She dealt with many difficult situations, but kept us together and feeling safe. She had a marvelous "Joie de vivre" and kept her sense of humor right to the end. She passed away last february at the age of 91.
My husband is my hero......he's bounced back from life threatening illness twice now and managed to make ME feel safe when I thought my world was falling apart. He has always told me "Be nice to you" when ever I would say I need to lose weight or be better at something..... He's always there for me...always. He’s a rock! We were high school sweethearts and have been married 37 years .

Q. What is something you learned about life through Artwork?
From gazing at lots of artwork in museums all across the country, I've learned that people are intrinsically the same no matter what era the painting was painted or in what country.  They had families, played with  their children, went to the beach, gathered around the table for a meal, romanced a lover, had a picnic, went to the symphony, had conflict, fought in wars, lost loved ones. The themes are just repeated.

Q. Do you have any interesting goals for the New Year that you would 
like to share?
There’s always the usual lose weight ! ha ha.
I’d also like to really clean house and get rid of a lot of things...we have too many THINGS! I think as you get older, you realize that more and more and stop acquiring tchotchkes. Oh, and clean my studio! I need a backhoe right now.

Q. You have a twin brother - do you have that thing that I have always 
heard about with identical twins- where you always feel that 
My mom was an identical twin..they called it a “mirror image twin.” She was right handed, my aunt was left handed. She had a cowlick on one side of her hair, my aunt on the other. They definitely had that special connection and would be dialing the phone to call the other one at the same time and stuff like that.
My brother and I used to have it more when we were younger and lived in the same household. We would commonly start to say the same thing at the same time.
Now, it’s not as much like that.
I adore him , however, and no one, but NOONE,  makes me laugh as hard as he does. ;)

Q. Is there anything I did not ask that would be a good question?
Ummmmm. How about who are my favorite artists?
I Love, love , love Norman Rockwell. Two summers ago, we visited the Norman Rockwell museum in Massachusetts. I was in heaven!!!
He painted the idyllic  life....they way we wish life to be. Only in his later years did he stray from that  and touch upon more contemporary themes .

I also love John Singer Sargeant. There’s a room full of his work in the Boston Museum of art. I sat there gazing at “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit” for a good part of an hour while my long suffering husband went to do something else.
(He spends a lot of time patiently waiting on benches with his Iphone when i’m in art museums.)

I love Mary Cassatt...especially  her mothers and children

I also enjoy Cecilia Beaux, Sorolla and his beach scenes , Richard Emil Miller and Frank Weston Benson.

As for contemporary artists, I’m a fan of  Jeff Hein,  D.J. Hall,  Kim English,  Ken Auster, and Paul Rafferty.

Almost all of my favorites have a common theme.....Portraits or figuratives.
When I go to an art museum, Here’s how I roll.....I head for the American paintings first........give a cursory glance to the modern stuff.....(I don’t get how a piece of string tacked to the wall is art.) I then will head for the European art, especially the impressionists like Renoir, manet, monet, cassatt etc. It's all about the paintings.

Ancient pottery.? no!   Antique furniture.?....don’t care. Beautiful silver work? -not interested. ; mummies in their tombs.?..unh uh.
I save a lot of time that way.

....and now for a little picture history of Kay-
In one of her favorite photos, here's Kay with her twin brother and Mom + Dad

Kay's brother vacuming her ....?

Kay and her brother are members of the clean plate club

her kids....and
Kay has no grandchildren yet, but says she lives vicariously through her brother's grandchildren.....

Kay and her husband, Larry.....

at work in outside studio in Cape Cod, a peek inside the studio
and at the hospital with a twin boy and girl


This is Kay's favorite place to be by the pool...      

Here is my favorite part of the interview
-the handwritten Q + A with pictures....

That's it for the interview with Kay. I have to say that I would like to paint George too....
I love to get inside the Artist 's head to hear what makes them tick, what they like and what their process is. I, also, paint people and am inspired by what Kay says about how every individual is different in so many ways. As an Artist we study people and reflect what we see and bring it to the viewers attention with our paints and brushes.


  1. Gretchen,
    Thanks for making me look younger, thinner and more hip in my portrait than I really am~ ;)
    That was a fun interview to do.

  2. Beautiful interview, I feel like I know Kay now !
    and love her nostalgic painting ,To paint like this with a full time jobs , my hat to her !

  3. Needless to say, Kay is a very talented, sweet
    niece. Her latest pic is her neices, nephew & dogs at the beach. A very special painting for her sister-in-law, and so lifelike! Happy New Year Kay, we love you.

  4. Just loved all the works!


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