Kate Knapp – Her Early Years

One of the lessons taught to Kate Knapp at the Cape School of Art was painting one note of color against another. This concept has stayed with her throughout her career and we especially see this in her earliest work, some of which is now on display at the Jessie Edwards Gallery on Block Island.

These nine oil paintings, on prepared masonite board, beautifully depict the impressionism teaching she learned so well: one note of color against another. These are early color studies and are some of her first attempts as an artist out on her own in the world.

These works are some of the purest and most innocent attempts at using her new skill of painting with palette knife. The colors are clean and crisp and capture the light and color in each of these pieces. These are some of the last works she completed using palette knives before her love of brush work took over. While the discipline of using just palette knife paid off as a training tool, as soon as she was introduced to using brushes she never looked back. She loves the freedom of using a brush and the way she can combine colors while the palette knife keeps them separate and is, in a way, more difficult to render what she wants to express.

These paintings are from the period between 1970-1972. This was an experimental time for Knapp while she was trying to find her voice as a painter. She has kept them all these years because she loves them and they have offered, to her, a reminder of time and place. Now, she feels, they are ready to be out in the world and seen and appreciated by others. These paintings truly are a rare glimpse into the early work of this much loved artist.

Block Island viewers will recognize ‘Ernie’s at Old Harbor’ for its Mansard roof and the jetty wall. The background landscape, though, is free of buildings and this is a view back in time to the island of last century.

In ‘Island Haystack’, we see what a limited and muted palette can offer in terms of light and shadow and structure. We really get the sense of one color up against another in this portrayal of a haystack of old.

‘Apple Tree’ could be a study from Block Island or upstate NY but location doesn’t matter. The simplicity of this scene soothes us as one season turns to the next. The apples are gone and the leaves are turning but there is still so much life in this study.

‘Rooftop in Afternoon Light’ is just that: the dormer window and chimney are focal points while the branch of an overhanging tree and its shadow on the roof add interest and wonder to what else may be playing out below the view.

Please join us in the Gallery or online to enjoy these wonderful offerings by Kate Knapp. We are upstairs in the iconic Post Office Building in Old Harbor and usually open 12-4pm most weekends. Please phone us on 401 466 5314 for updated hours into the early winter months.