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Sketch Pad

Eileen Kane
Getting out of line
by Kathy Anderson

ileen Kane, a Boston native, has moved from east to west and from scientist to artist. She’s taught a variety of classes – both science and art – at grade school, college and graduate levels. Eileen now works part-time, teaching art at the Art Institute of Portland and in the Arts in Education Program run by the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Her husband is a physician and photographer; both their children have artistic interests and talent – though neither has committed to a career in art.

"Triad of Lament," charcoal and graphite.

Go figure
Lines are the basis of Eileen Kane's art lines weaving in and out, creating vectors of movement and the three dimensions of form.

"Line is obvious in all my figure work," she said, "including my recent series of dancing figures.
Whether depicting single or multiple forms, I use line to develop the sense of volume and motion in my drawings, paintings and wire sculptures of moving figures. The process is most obvious in my Forms of Protest series."

In watercolor and mixed-media paintings, Eileen uses strong, intense color as a foundation for her lines of moving figures.

"Coral Capers ," watercolor.

"I try to weave lines in and through the intense washes of transparent color, building up layers of each to develop a sense of depth," she said.

"My wire sculptures are also built from interweaving lines that can use color and reflection in the wires to strengthen the compositions."

Another important factor in Eileen's art is her constant experimentation with new materials, along with approaches that mirror her past work as a research scientist.

"Ocean Sky," watercolor.

Oceans of inspiration
The beauty of the natural world inspired Eileen's dancers and moving figures, whereas the ugliness of hate, deprivation and war inspired other works.

"The ocean any ocean with strong tides inspires me," she said. "I grew up on Cape Cod and work well near salt air. I'm also inspired by music, including classical, jazz and some popular rock."

Some of Eileen's favorite artists include: Kathe Kollwitz ("strength of line and subject"), Egon Schiele ("elegant line and composition"), John Singer Sargent ("the most beautiful watercolors ever!"), Anselm Kiefer ("incredibly powerful imagery and important content") and Magdalena Abakanowicz ("strong imagery, scale").

"Kollwitz, Sargent and Schiele certainly influence my work," she said, "as does Matisse's use of color."

"Exuberdance," wire sculpture.

Coast-to-coast coverage
Eileen's work has appeared in many shows in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the country. Her art is part of private, public and corporate collections in Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Oregon, New York and New Jersey.

In Portland, see her work at In Her Image Gallery and the Portland Art Museum Rental/Sales Gallery.

Eileen has also been a speaker and panelist for several public forums, as well as a juror for art exhibits in the Northwest.

Hook and ladder
"I cannot remember not enjoying drawing," she said. "I was probably about six when I became aware that I drew well. I drew pictures for myself, my friends and my family.

"A couple of years later, my dad showed me some watercolor paintings and allowed me to use his paints. I was hooked!"

During junior high, Eileen took classes at the Massachusetts College of Fine Art. In high school she took every art class offered, and attended classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

"The Colors of White," oil.

"I continued studying art at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.," she said. "However, I was also intrigued by sciences so I majored in zoology. That interest led me to graduate school in medical sciences at Harvard, where I earned a Ph.D. in anatomy.

"I had a full research and teaching career in neuro-anatomy specifically, the microscopic structure of the central auditory system in Worcester, Mass., Boston and Chicago before coming to Portland.

"This entire time I continued taking art classes," she said. "Eventually, I left science and went to the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, where I received a bachelor of fine arts equivalent in painting and drawing."

Field of dreams
Eileen tries to convey her love of art to family and students, and makes a point to see as much art as possible, locally and in her travels.

"As a younger person, I had misunderstood the difficulties intellectual, physical and emotional and the vast rewards of creating art," she said. "Art had seemed 'easy' and a less respectable career than science.

"Bluelining," mixed media.

"While I enjoyed science and was successful in my field, it never provided the excitement and the challenge of drawing, painting or sculpting. I needed to mature into the field of art. I learned to be a good artist through my experiences as a scientist; the approaches are not that different. The unending images and ideas that happen daily are both exciting and frustrating.

"I'm especially happy as an artist," she said. "My goal is simply to continue making good art that communicates to others in an emotional way. I hope to respond honestly and forthrightly to the world without and within me with my art.

See more of Eileen's artwork at her Web site, or e-mail her at eskart@attbi.com. Reach Kathy at kanderson138@attbi.com, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

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