Ken Foster: The Portrait Project

Ken Foster

For the First Friday Artwalk on November 6, Carver Hill Gallery, 338 Main Street in Rockland, will open KEN FOSTER: The Portrait Project. The show is a two week exhibition that will run through Saturday, November 21. It will feature the portraits of many local people. Ken Foster is an architectural designer and artist living in Camden, Maine. He paints in oils, acrylics, gouache, and especially loves the spontaneous and exciting experience of painting with watercolor. He has traveled extensively and has written and painted his way through many journals observing rural and urban landscapes all over the world.

Ken made his debut  last year in our “Us and Them” portrait show and then followed that up with three intriguing and unique landscapes depicting the restoration of the Beech Nut building on Beech Hill in Rockport. This was a popular benefit show for the Coastal Mountains Land Trust. This year he has his own show “The Portrait Project – 250 friends. 250 Portraits. One year.” All 250 portraits will be presented.

“The idea for The Portrait Project actually started about 2 years ago,” said Foster. “I had been painting and drawing lots of landscapes and urban environments but I found myself really struggling with drawing people and getting my people to “fit” into my paintings. So I started drawing more people and faces when I was out sketching at bars, restaurants, on buses and trains, when traveling, and I was going to life drawing classes regularly.”

“One night in November 2013, while I was watching TV, I picked up my computer tablet and saw a photo of a friend on Facebook that I thought I would try to sketch.” Foster continued. “I opened a drawing app on the same tablet and split screened it so I could draw while looking at the Facebook friend. Within 30 minutes I had exercised my ability to draw the likeness of a person’s face, made a pretty decent sketch that I thought my friend would enjoy, and felt that I learned a little more about my friend as I was drawing them. That first sketch gave me the idea to draw and paint more friends on a more regular basis and maybe even share them if I thought they were good enough. A few more months went by and I had done a few more portraits and was beginning to notice an improvement but I still struggled and often failed at getting the likenesses I was hoping for.”

Foster said  in October 2015, he had completed 218 portraits. Somewhere along the way he realized I wasn’t going to make it in a year but that wasn’t really the point for him. It was about getting better and on that mark this project has surpassed his expectation, Foster said.

‘I have grown by leaps and bounds as an artist and painter as a result of doing the Portrait Project. Enjoy the show!” he added.

Carver Hill Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment by calling (207) 594-7745.