Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Interview With Kerry Sacco @ Firecreek

I thought it was noon but the hostess and waiter at Firecreek in Downingtown both said “good morning.” I was there with artist Kerry Sacco catching lunch. I say catching because Kerry is always moving if she isn’t traveling between her studio in Philly and one in Lancaster, she can be found painting or referring a lacrosse game. After morning salutations we both looked at our watch and concluded it was a good minute after twelve, so we both ordered a pint of Victory’s Summer Love. We were well on our way of catching up on all the art happenings in the area. Kerry is well versed in teaching and displaying at all the local art centers and shows. We go back 10 years when we were both represented by a local gallery and continue to watch each others artistic journey through art crits and open studios.

Kerry has a nack for catching sunlight at the perfect place at the perfect time. All her paintings have an inviting story that leads you in and your eyes dance with every brush stroke. I had one agenda for this interview to find out why her chicken paintings are so awesome! You’ll have to read some of the painting and arty questions before you get to the chicken.


1.     When did you start making art?
I started when I was a little girl. I was the one in my family that always was drawing and painting.

2.     Did you receive any formal art training? Where and what did you major in?
I did. I got a degree from Millersville University.  It was Millersville State College at the time. And then I continued my education with Fleisher Art Memorial, I received my graduate in printmaking at Millersville, then Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

3.     What do you prefer Oils or Acrylics? Why?
Oils! Oils…I don’t know, something about the depth that I can get with oils, and I can work on them a little bit longer. I can let them sit, come back to my paints, I can remix a color pretty accurately. Acrylics, I never really gave them a good try. But it’s something about the translucent part of oils that I love.

4.     How do you do chose your subject matter?
I usually choose by first impressions, something that hits me. Light falling on something. Cute chickens running around someone’s yard. I look for the basic compositional thingys like good time winding road that kind of stuff. I also use my camera a lot.

5.     Describe for the viewers what you paint.
I paint very realistic light filled landscapes that have an impressionist quality to them. I think that when I paint animals and portraits that still comes into play I like light falling on subjects no matter if they are human or a building.

6.     Do you paint from photos or do you paint plein air?
Both but mostly from photos.

7.     You travel a lot, where is the happiest place you painted?
Oh my god, I was just talking about this. In a little square in a town in Umbria in Italy called Montefalco I sat right in the middle of the square. The people that I went on the trip with were all hanging out they were having their wine and spritzes and I had my plein air easel up and it was like a crystal clear night and all these family’s were coming out and kids were running around playing and I couldn’t believe I was in that place and I was just sitting there painting. Jim (her husband), that’s one of his best memories too, that was a very happy time.

8.     You paint awesome chickens, what is it about chickens that you love?
Oh its their expressions, especially roosters, how they can be ridiculous looking or have such command and expression on their faces, that’s why I love them.

9.      Do you have a tip for novice painters?
Learn how to draw first. I am a firm believer in that.

10.  How do you decide when an artwork is done?
Well, that’s an interesting question because until I taught I didn’t know how to do that. So in critiquing other people’s work, and being a teacher and knowing how to encourage students to go and add a little bit here a little bit more there, punch up darks punch up lights. That’s how I became more comfortable knowing when my work was done. There are paintings that I will have framed and pull out for a show and take it out of frame and redo it. Someone once said a painting is done when it stops in an interesting place. I think that is a loose enough guideline that it can change later on down the road.

11.  Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
I don’t know I’m really stumped. I can say art wise, my professors at Millersville, Robert Nilson, Sheba Spharrow. But I don’t know, my mom was a huge influence on me as far as her patience and the way she was a good teacher. Just life things, so I think id say mommy.

12.  What inspires you?
Like emotions and tiniest little things can inspire me whether its taking in a sunrise a sunset, seeing somebody do a good deed and you want to be a better person and you want to be like that. Also, music inspires me especially singer songwriters who are poets. So whether or not somebody like bob Dylan or more recently contemporary people that I have become friends with I think that some of them have a harder life than artists traveling out there on the road and singing from their soul. I listen to music all the time when I paint. All different kinds.

13.  Do you have any habits or morning routines you do before going to the easel?
Coffee. Let the dogs out and make the coffee or start the coffee before you let the dogs out.

14.  What are you eating right now?
Chicken sandwich with avocado.

15.  What is your favorite food?
Italian and Thai

16.  What does home mean to you?
Home. Home is where the heart is. Home, lets see, it’s a metaphor for safety for me.

17.  Your proudest moment?
My lacrosse team got inducted into the hall of fame in October and I was so proud to be a Millersville Marauder.

18.  Money is OK, but it isn’t what life is about. What is it about?
Life is about family and friends and being a good citizen.

19.  Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Norton in Deleware county.

20.  What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was “The Help”

21.  You collect?
I collect, now I collect paintings. I collect bottles of wine. Then drink them.

22.  Something that is important on your nightstand?
Ear plugs.

23.  Your strangest possession?
My dog Buckwheat’s ashes that are on my kitchen shelf in a can.

24.  Your best birthday?
I had 2 best birthdays one was 40 and one was 50. 40 I was in Austin celebrating and 50 I had a weekend of friends and family and music and eagles winning a comback victory and food and wine. And it was good.

What was your first word?
Big Break
first big break probably was a solo show with DeBottis Gallery.
Jim Crochie Photographs and Memories.
First concert was Billy Joel at the academy of music.
Plane ride
I probably was 19 or 20 and I think it was California.
Piece of art you sold
I sold a lithograph at a student show at Fleisher Art Memorial.

So I figured out why she enjoyed painting chickens and roosters so much. She smiled and didn’t seem to mind biting into the $13 dollar Left Coast chicken sandwich that she ordered. We discussed why it was named “Left Coast” because of the avocado placed between the bread and chicken. It was great to sit with Kerry and catch up all this time I had known her I didn’t realize how many things we had in common. We talked about the music we play while painting yet love the silence when we drive. How important it is to stop and enjoy the moment, which usually centers on food and beverages. When she shared her enthusiasm for her wine club and food pairings she could even be a sommelier, but I think she would have to give up one of her extra activities the days just aren’t long enough. I did get to ask her five more questions, for which I call the speed round. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ADD Dinner

Last night we had two couples over for dinner. Every once in awhile I like to add a little more chaos to the work day by cleaning up planning a meal and preparing it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all worth it. Come to think of it, it wouldn’t matter if I planned it 3 months ago cause I would still be running around getting ready. Why? Because it is right at the end of my “work day” which is always filled with creativity and the proverbial phrase I say to myself, “If I could just finish…” place in there anything from painting to emailing to looking for inspiration for the next day.

But, all that isn’t what this post is about. It’s about introducing the right mix of creative people to each other and seeing what happens. I love this part! There is a book called “The Tipping Point” by Malcom Gladwell which talks about three types of people; connectors, mavens, and salesmen. Connectors know everyone and are willing to share info by connecting with everyone. You’ll know who they are. They are easy to spot on FB. They have the most friends. Then there are the mavens. They are the ones with a strong desire to help others. They are the ones on FB always posting articles and forwarding posts. In my opinion they are the fine line between the squeaky wheel and the creative type with full on inspiration. Finally, there are the salesmen. These are the people with the passion for getting the word out there. They aren’t on FB. They are calling you on the phone.

My little soirĂ©e had a musician and his lovely wife who has the corporate gig going, but moonlights as a retro hip blogger and traveler. The second couple, both who are in the field of helping and saving lives by night or wee hours of the morning depending on their schedule are also creating art or searching out the newest musical talent. All have a deep passion and creative edge that keeps the conversation lively moving and often off track. Speaking as one with a short attention span, I think I can speak for the other guys when I say, if it weren’t for our wives reminding us of our main point we would still be talking.

Ok, what was the main point of this post…Oh for dessert we had Victory Storm King Stout Floats with the Victory Storm King Ice Cream with little chunks of chocolate malt. Awesome!

Monday, July 11, 2011

That General Direction

I gave myself 2 days to work our way home from Gainesville, Florida to Downingtown, Pennsylvania. The one objective was to stay off of Interstate 95. The other objective was to enjoy time with the family while exploring the 5 states that separated us from our home. The actual routes that we were to take were not planned and that was the fun of it. We had a general direction, north and a little bit east.  We traveled through the pine groves of Georgia with its scorched underbrush that would make way for the machinery to harvest the trees. As we drove the smell of smoldering ashes thinned and changed to fresh pine as we passed the lumber mill.  We continued our journey through lost towns that were once attractions to travelers before the big “95” came. A 12 foot high rusted coffee pot once signaled  for tired travelers that need a pick me up.  A rusted car perched 10 feet high upon a pole drew attention to the auto repair shop below. The Bob’s Big Boy figure precariously placed upon the A-frame building with its “Antiques” sign caused us to stop and admire someone else’s junk. We thought it was wise for them to keep it instead of making it our junk.

The task of returning home was broken up every six hours with the search of new culinary delights. If there was a big sign introducing the eatery in town, we weren’t interested. We ate, we laughed, we continued on to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is an extremely well designed route that meanders through the Appalachian Mountains. Each curve revealed a breathtaking fresh view of the mountains. It all led us in the general direction of home.

Why and how could I do this? Well, because during the previous 10 days I locked myself in the studio. While in the studio I worked on seven paintings that had a general direction. I had seven sketches made up of general ideas that I wanted to explore and that was the fun of it.  I started with the colored backgrounds; adding circles and numbers, knowing they were intrinsic to the composition. The monotony of the backgrounds drove me to rethink it, which in turn made me dust off the airbrush. The smell of musty dust was overtaken by the smell of the fresh coat of hot wax placed on top of it.  It’s my attraction to painting with wax that maintains my focus and causes me to easily finish the composition. There were many steadfast techniques that I could of used to reach the final image but I had the time to push and explore.

In the midsts of the painting frenzy, I stopped and followed another thought that peeked my curiosity. So, I followed the whim and painted one outer edge of the cradleboard a bright color. Then, the “word” that I scrawl across every painting got moved to that outer edge. I had meandered my way to a new fresh and breathtaking idea. It was an unexpected turn in the general direction of finishing a painting