Popular on Instagram: young artist Kathryn Engberg

Interview

Somewhat reluctantly she started an Instagram account last Summer; uncertainty kept her away until then. About 5 months later the young American artist Kathryn Engberg has got over 10,000 followers. Her paintings and drawings attract a lot of people.

Author: Evert-Jan Pol

 

Kathryn Engberg, Jimbe, olieverf op linnen, 2015.

Kathryn Engberg, Jimbe, oil on linen, 2015.

 

“I always knew deep down that art was what I really loved to do”, miss Engberg (1994) states. Not very remarkable, considering the fact both her mother and grandmother are artists. Art was everywhere during her childhood. “It was a great environment to grow up in. I was always encouraged to be creative and make a mess, but I was also never forced into the art field. I think knowing first hand how difficult the art world is, made my family never want to push me into it.”

But the proverbial apple simply doesn’t fall far from the tree, so she soon followed in the footsteps of the previous two generations. Assisted by her school. “I was fortunate enough to be a part of an intensive high school art program where I spent three class periods a day in art class. That program was a huge part in developing my work ethic and a strong drive for excellence.”

Although still very young, she is now a full-time artist. “I spend up to 14 hours a day drawing and painting.” Mainly she paints and draws portraits. “I’m just not as inspired by a landscape or still life as I am by a portrait. I have a feeling later in my artistic career I’ll delve more deeply into other subject matter, but for now I’d really like to master portraits and figures.”

 

Kathryn Engberg, Ana, olieverf op linnen, 2015.

Kathryn Engberg, Ana, oil on linen, 2015.

 

Her posts on Instagram show that she already succeeds very well. Over the last nineteen weeks she posted over a hundred portraits and figure studies, showing a liking for old masters. “Yes, I am extremely inspired by the old masters”, miss Engberg confirms. “Something about the way that they were able to capture the essence of the sitter and the light is captivating and timeless. My all time favourite artist is Rembrandt. I love both his early works, that were so effortlessly rendered with a youthful arrogance and his later works that have the heaviness of age and sorrow.”

Mostly she works in the premises of the Grand Central Atelier in New York, where she still attends workshops. The institute hires the models for its students. Furthermore miss Engberg portrays friends and relatives, like her sister. A painting she made of her several years ago lies close to her heart. “Its technically pretty terrible: the proportions are all off and it really looks nothing like my sister. But it was the first portrait I painted with any kind of artistic merit. And it’s my sister, so it remains dear to me.”

She also gets quite a few portrait commissions already. “With photography becoming so popular in the last decade or so, a lot of people like the special heirloom quality that a painted portrait has, as opposed to a photograph. A painting or drawing requires hours and hours spent with the work, carefully working out each and every moment of the canvas. It’s a labour of love, rather than a click of a camera.”

Kathryn Engberg, Zelfportret als 21-jarige, olieverf op paneel, 2015.

Kathryn Engberg, Self portrait at 21, oil on panel, 2015.

2016 will be an important year for the young artist. In November she will be having her first solo show at the Union League Club in Manhattan. “It is the gallery where my mentor Jacob Collins had his first show, so I am very excited for the opportunity.”

One day, she hopes to open her own gallery, but above all she wants to be a successful portrait painter. Just like Rembrandt was. “Of course the market today is a little different than it was in the 17th century, but I think I can make it happen.”

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