Nature, animals inspire Rockledge artist


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Rockledge artist Susan Kennicott puts the finishing touches to her three-dimensional, acrylic painting “Beta Blast.”

Ernest Arico

Susan Kennicott knew from a very young age that she loved to paint.

In fact, the 63-year-old Rockledge artist said her inspiration started when she was a small child growing up on a farm in the Midwest.

“The beauty of the flowers in my mother’s garden, the corn in the fields, the cows in pasture, all the richness of that farm life and growing up in a creative family greatly influenced me and my art,” she said. “I am who I am and how I see things today from my roots of nature.”

Born in Macomb, Illinois, Kennicott graduated from Colchester High School in 1973 and attended Western Illinois University.

She ran several jewelry stores in the Houston, Texas area and a small art gallery in Iowa before turning to painting full-time.

Kennicott moved to Brevard County in December 2014 with her husband, Tony, and son, Brent. Tony, an avid golfer and hunter, ran several major home-building companies before retiring, while her son, Brent, graduated from the University of Florida. He now works for a construction company in the Fort Myers area.

“I love Brevard County,” Kennicott said. “The people, the county. It felt good to move here. Like a shoe, it fit.”

Kennicott has won numerous awards throughout the years. One of her favorites is when she won first place in acrylic paints at the Iowa State Fair.

“It seems like I’ve painted forever,” she added. “I love doing acrylic painting and I like doing three-dimensional portraits. I put a lot of depth into my paintings.”

Acrylic paint is a great medium because it is relatively inexpensive, water-soluble, quick-drying, versatile and forgiving. Because acrylic is a plastic polymer, it can be painted on any surface as long as it doesn't contain wax or oil.

Besides painting, Kennicott loves to teach art. She started teaching art 12 years ago, most recently at Ralph’s Art Supply in Melbourne. She will conduct classes this month at the Art Gallery of Viera on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

“I love to teach art,” she said. “I tailor my teaching to the student. I never tell a person they can’t paint. I don’t stand up there and lecture. ”

Kennicott said she encourages students to paint what they want. “There is no wrong art,” she added. “It is an expression. You learn as you paint. It’s a relaxed atmosphere. We have fun.”

Two artists that have inspired Kennicott are Robert Bateman, a Canadian naturalist and painter, and Rose Frantzen.

Frantzen, a native of Maquoketa, Iowa, has gained national and international acclaim for her oil paintings from life that bring contemporary perspectives to a traditional alla prima approach. Alla prima refers to a direct painting approach where paint is applied wet on wet without letting earlier layers dry. In Italian, the term alla prima means "at first attempt.”

Kennicott said her future goals are to continue to inspire and teach people how to paint and continue to paint for fun for many more years.

“I would like to do more animal portraits,” she said. “I think my favorite paintings are of nature, fish and animals.”

For more information about Kennicott and her work, go to susankennicott.com