Kevin Palfreyman grew up in northern New Jersey where he spent as much time in the outdoors as he possibly could. In the early seventies, he escaped suburbia and studied language and literature at Fort Lewis College in southwest Colorado. There he was taken with the nineteenth-century Romantic Poets and their interpretation of nature as a benign and comforting manifestation of the spiritual world. Remaining in the southwest for ten years, he increased and refined his appreciation for the natural world.
Always involved in design in one form or another, he has trained as a luthier and enjoyed a successful career in furniture making, architectural woodwork, and yacht interior design. Married to the artist, Linda Wainwright Palfreyman, Kevin was introduced to plein air painting where he found the perfect combination of his love of the outdoors and his urge to create. Drawing on the romantic notion that emotional reaction is more important than studied analysis he tries to imbue his work with feelings of benevolence, peace, and spirituality. Living for the past thirty years in New York’s Hudson Valley, he has been influenced greatly by the Hudson River School Painters, especially the latter generation including Frederick Edwin Church, Sanford Gifford, and John Frederick Kensett.
He has traveled widely around New England and the southwest in search of inspiration spending time particularly in Cape Ann Mass. and Taos, New Mexico. Having studied with Keith Gunderson, Kevin is also part of the latest generation of a student, teacher lineage that goes back through Frank Mason, Frank Vincent Dumond, and many others beginning with Jaques Luis David in the eighteenth century France. He has also studied with David Curtis of Cape Cod, Stapleton Kearns of New Hampshire, and Paul Abrams of the Hudson Valley. His work has been shown at Briggs Mountain Gallery, Riverview Gallery and at numerous shows around the northeast and in New Mexico and his work is held in numerous private collections.
Having loved the outdoors and worked and played in it all of my life and have always had a strong urge to create things, I feel I have found the perfect marriage of the two in landscape painting. From a study of English romantic poetry earlier in life I have found myself with a view of the natural world as a benevolent presence – a source of calm and a connection to the spiritual world. The act of painting is so engaging to me that, when I stand at my easel in a beautiful wood or a farmer’s field, distractions disappear and time passes unnoted – often until darkness intervenes. It’s a good day when I feel that the finished canvas carries that romantic, benevolent sense of the natural world.
Although I began with pastels, I have found that with oils I enjoy not only the intellectual aspect of creating a painting but even the tactile qualities of the medium – the way paint comes off of the brush and its ability to create silky softness or crispness of line. I’m attracted to scenes of warmth and tranquility and often edit out signs of the presence of man. For me, there is civilization in enough in real life.
I admire the work of many contemporary artists such as Joe McGurl, Jim Wilcox, and Dennis Doheny, but I have a special interest in the lost wisdom of the past masters. I am especially influenced by the later painters of the Hudson River School, such as Sanford Gifford, John Frederick Kensett, and George Inness.
Although I paint many different kinds of landscapes and still lifes, lately I have been especially fascinated with skies and sunsets. In this series, the land serves mainly as an anchor to the buoyancy and light of the sky. My greatest aspiration for all of my work is that it may remind the viewer of our place in the natural world and help to reconnect him with the sense of spirit that nature’s serenity can inspire.
Above: “The Rose”