Burnie Coastal Art Group

November 2014 Kerry McInnis

Kerry McInnis

 Kerry reduced

Kerry McInnis has been painting and drawing since her early childhood years in Central America. She obtained a double bachelors degree with Honours in Art History and French from Middlebury College in Vermont and from the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1981 she received a Masters Degree in the Conservation of Works of Art from Canberra University and later established a company to conserve works of art which she directed for 25 years. Kerry is currently working as a consulting conservator to the National Library and the Australian War Memorial. She lives with her husband, sculptor Mike MacGregor, in rural bush land outside of Bungendore NSW. Kerry is represented by Wagner Art Gallery in Sydney. Her landscapes and portraits have been included in numerous prestigious exhibitions such as the Salon des Refusés, the Portia Geach Portrait Prize, the Dobell Drawing Prize, the Paddington and Mosman Ar Prizes, and most recently, the Doug Moran Portrait Prize semi finals.
Keryy has just concluded a successful joint exhibition in Canberra with her husband Mike which featured the Antarctic landscape entitled "Ice Floes and Growlers". 
Most recently, Kerry was our major judge at the Mancell Financial Group 2014 TASART Exhibition held at the Burnie Regional Art Gallery in Tasmania.

How long have you been a practising artist?
Since I was 9 years old pretty much
What got you into painting?

My 4th grade teacher was a great artist who inspired me to continue my efforts
Do you have any artistic pastimes outside painting?
I enjoy seeing what other artists create, gallery hopping.
How did you get involved in the art conservation role?
I had studied Art History and studio work at University.  As an Art Conservator, I could combine all of these interests.  I was in Canberra, working at the university when the Materials Conservation Course began. I obtained my Masters Degree in its first graduating year, in 1981.  I then established a company to conserve works of art on paper which I directed for about 30 years. I now work as a part time conservation consultant for the National Library and the Australian War Memorial – because I still love being a conservator, and because it helps pay for my paints for my own art practice!
To what art groups or associations do you belong?
I belong to various professional conservation groups, but I’m not affiliated to any artist groups right now.
Do you have a favourite or preferred medium and what attracts you to that medium?
I enjoy working across a broad range of mediums.  I draw a lot working with most dry media.  I paint with acrylics and mix it with various other media in the field.  I paint with oils in my studio, particularly when I am painting portraits.
What major awards have you won?
None.  I’ve won some lesser known regional awards, and I’ve been selected as a finalist in some well known national awards such as the Salon des Refuses, the Portia Geach Portrait Prize, the Waterhouse Natural History Prize, The Rick Amor Drawing Award, the NSW Parliament Plein Air Art Prize, and the Dobell Drawing Prize.
How would you rate the TASART 2014 as an exhibition?
The exhibition has a professional feel about it.  It is hung very well, good lighting and the whole show reads very well.  The standard of the exhibition is excellent I would say.
As a recent judge, is there anything 'unique' about TASART?
Well, I found it interesting that there were more landscape entries (by a large margin) than any other category.  This shouldn’t be surprising, as the Tasmanian artists are engulfed by a wondrous landscape on all sides! I didn’t see many abstracted works either, perhaps for the same reason.
Do you have a favourite artist or roll model?
Any artist who faces the challenge of landscape painting in the rough – they are my models.  I love the work of Elisabeth Cummings and Euan McLeod.
What  inspires you to paint?

The bush.  It is my primary subject matter.  And the scruffier the landscape, the better!
What elements do you look for when choosing a subject to paint?
If I see something that will give me the opportunity to make a mess, then that is what I look for.  In other words, lots of drawing, either in dry or wet media, forms the foundation of all of my work.  I enjoy working in the middle ground of a landscape.  Vistas and panoramic scenes don’t really interest me.
What is the excitement you get from painting?

Not sure how to answer that. Making art is an integral part of me and always has been. The most exciting moment of each painting are the first strokes.
What was your most rewarding moment in painting?
I have had many - especially those times when everything just goes right.
Do you enjoy en plein air?
All of the time if I could, but, realistically, as often as I am able.  I live out in the bush, so I have a wonderful landscape just outside my door.
What was your most rewarding or memorable painting moment?
Painting on wet ice in Antarctica.
What is the hardest thing for you to overcome when you paint?
Finding the balance between the represented and abstracted landscape.  This is the most difficult challenge that I am facing at present in my practice.
How do you know when you have finished a painting?   

When I get tired of starting again.  I am constantly rubbing out and redrawing.  Eventually, the layers look right!
Do you have any regrets?
I don’t regret having made a career as an art conservator, though sometimes I wish that I had tried to make a go out of a career as a fine artist, starting from an earlier age.  In the 1970’s, I felt a crazy sense of social responsibility to “contribute” to society in a more conventional way.  I now know that contributing as a creative artist is an essential ingredient for a healthy society.
What Is your greatest achievement - (not directly related to receipt of painting awards)?
Creating a lifestyle that has enabled me to pursue my passion for painting.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in painting?
Never give up if being an artist is your dream.  Just go for it.
What can we expect to see from Kerry into the future?  Hopefully, a continuation of my art practice to the day I die.  Creating landscapes that move the soul and portraits that remind us of the best of our humanity.
What are your next art challenges?
Getting on with my usual art competition entries.  I would like to start a body of work from trips I have made into the Flinders Mountains.  It would be great, also, if I could do some more painting in another cold and extreme landscape, perhaps Iceland.


If you would like to see more of Kerry's work, click here


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