I want what she’s having...and what artist Kerri Rosenthal is having is a serious dose of creative fun that’s making her and her client’s happy. While talking to Kerri about her work, her inspiration and her process, I smiled because her “happy” talk is contagious. And her paintings exude the same positive energy that she does.
I met Kerri a bit over a year ago after we both installed artwork at Nest Inspired Home, a home furnishing retailer in Rye, NY. I realized I was familiar with her work, I had seen it at several Connecticut stores that have been steadily selling her work, work that’s defined by color and energy.
She has been painting for only 5 years, and in that time she has established a strong following in and around her local Fairfield, CT home and studio and well beyond, throughout the country. I was curious to learn how she managed to do this so quickly and beome a “go to” source for many interior designers and clients.
Kerri’s Pinterest page has over 3500 followers, that’s an impressive following for an independent artist, and she sells her paintings to fellow 'pinners'. Her presence in the design world has evolved into a thriving interior design business as well. She infuses her interiors with the same sense of color and pattern, sometimes bold, sometimes quiet, as her canvases.
Early on, after studying fashion and merchandising at NYU, Kerri’s creative interests were focused on fashion. She spent a few impressionable years with the Oilily, a Dutch apparel company that was synonymous with exuberant color and pattern. Time spent traveling throughout Europe and in their “creative and color-infused headquarters" in the Netherlands had a lasting impact.
After a break to have her 3 children, a random dinner out provided a spark of inspiration that created a new future for Kerri. Sitting in a restaurant one night, Kerri was moved by some beautiful paintings on exhibit. The next day, she bought her first paintbrush and supplies to try to recreate what she saw. She hasn't stopped painting since! She is self-taught - something that allows her the freedom to grow as an artist, without limitations.
Inspiration comes to Kerri from a myriad of places. A serious book collector, Kerri’s many art & design books provide endless pages of ideas.
The exposure at Oilily re-surfaced along with other influences on her color and style; artists Wolf Kahn, abstract expressionists Willem deKooning, and Helen Frankenthaler, various Impressionist painters and recently artist Cecily Brown. Kerri added that it's are way more, a Vogue fashion spread, a piece of jewelry or the natural beauty of outdoors can just as easily inform the colors and direction of her work.
I asked Kerri why she thought people respond so positively and immediately to her work. Color is the basis of her paintings and interiors, “Color speaks to me, when it's right, the colors dance, they sing and give you an incredible feeling, like a feeling of first love”. She talks about our sensory gut reactions to color, people's need for color. The color in her work comes from deep within, it makes her happy, and others in turn, tell Kerri, that her paintings make them happy.
Many of Kerri's clients have multiple pieces. The variety of her work has allowed collectors to buy from a few to up to 30 pieces!
It's fascinating to me to watch people react to color, to literally see a beautiful flower, a sunset or piece of art that makes them smile. I have written in this blog about specific colors, their meaning and why and how certain colors appeal. I see it with Kerri's work, from her soft, moody landscapes with subtle color, appropriate for a candle-lit dining room or quiet corner,
to her brighter, more vibrant work, suitable for kids rooms and family-centered spaces
or used as an accent, in a foyer
or a beautiful vignette.
even when she paints with black, Kerri adds white for contrast to create movement and energy.
So, I’ll take what Kerri’s having...she’s energized by creating her paintings, and thrilled that her clients and collectors fill their homes with her work. She has found “it”, an elusive, and very personal factor that drives her creativity to produce work that makes people smile. Kerri calls it the “happy factor”.