Candles

The summer of 2000 was my first traveling opportunity in Russia and Poland. (I much preferred the art in Warsaw!) There were more galleries with a better selections of glass, pottery, painting and sculpture being represented. Another artist’s impression of a grouping of candles surprised me – dull colors, lifeless shapes and angry execution. I wondered if an unwanted birthday had come and gone in that artist’s life!

I see candles differently and wanted them shown my way. Candles are as diverse in size, shape and color as people.Some are stored, unlit for years, others burn out too quickly and some simply glow with warmth and enthusiasm. An individual candle gives off dim light but a group can light up a room with festivity. When lit, candles are sensitive to time and breezes. They are romantic, fun and many times precede presents, surprises or gifts. 16 canlde paintings are on display at Ruth Chris Steakhouse is downtown Austin....and the waiters loved them....one told me "people stay longer, buy more wine and sit and talk...better tips too".

I use canvas, thickly layered with gesso and roughly coated to give texture for the underpainting. Next layers of paper or fabric are adhered and dried. Layers of acrylic paint and color glazing are then added to create luscious colors, warm and rich tones and the sparkling of candle light. Shadows are added to the candles and finally the candle flame is lit. It’s not uncommon for 15 layers of paint to be applied until I get the effect needed. When I look at the painting and see “candle magic”, then the painting is complete.

Kay Martin, N.A.P.A.
Revised: February 22, 2001