ART

Spirit Of New Orleans Captured In Paint

Kerin Beard

PHOTO: Kerin Beard and her paintings at the Center fo the Arts in Murfreesboro. © 2013, Russel Mobley/MTA.

Captivated by the lights, sounds and colors of New Orleans, Kerin Beard created with bold strokes and vibrant color her Red Shutter series of paintings.

Each scene of the Vieux Carrè, the original heart of the city on the east bank on the meandering Mississippi River, features red shutters somewhere in the painting. It has become her trademark for the series of New Orleans art. The work is now on display at Murfreesboro's Center for the Arts, where it can be viewed for free through May 31.

Painting by Kerin BeardExcept for two high school art classes, Beard is self-taught. She painted a lot of landscapes while in her twenties, but art lost out when Beard decided to start a family.

"Painting got put on the back burner," said Beard. "And then one day I had an itch, and I still had a lot of old paints and fortunately they weren't all dried up. So I sat down and painted a small painting and decided I was going to get back into it."

Beard's daytime gig is working with a computer at Springtree Media Group. After work she finds her creative outlet with tubes of paint, canvas and brushes.

"[Springtree Media Group does] audio, video and lighting for concerts. And thankfully they have been very supportive in this endeavor," said Beard. "So I work my typical nine to five, and if there is time on the weekends or in the evenings, I sit down and start painting."

Kerin BeardSometimes Beard is joined by her three-year-old son, who paints on his own canvas. She's happy to think that he might follow in her footsteps.

"I did a lot of drawing when I was a child too," said Beard. "I've always been kind of artsy, but I never let it manifest itself until now."

Beard and her husband were introduced to the charms of New Orleans by relatives.

"We just fell in love with it. We love everything about it - the food, the music, the people are so friendly, the shopping, and just the culture in general," said Beard.

It was inevitable that the colors of the city would become the focal point of her paintings, when she picked up a brush again.

The French Quarter's architecture in every picture Beard took "was an inspiration to paint."

"Every time you turn a corner, walk down a block or peek in a store . . . there is so much to use as a muse," said Beard.

She loves the way the warm afternoon light plays on the wrought iron and brick facades. She is also drawn to "the illumination at night, all of the different street lights and the contrast of colors."

The work of New Orleans artists Diane Millsap and James Michalopoulos have been inspirations to her. Michalopoulos for the way he captures the sense of "every light inflection, every reflection, color and even dim light so perfectly"—and Millsap for how some of her paintings "are a little bit off, a little bit exaggerated—I like that, it tells me that no matter what you paint, you can make it anything you want it," said Beard. "You can make this a little bit larger or make it a little bit off center. It doesn't have to be perfect. And I think that's what makes it good."

For her next series, Beard is considering delving into the above ground cemeteries that south Louisiana is known for.

"They are frightening and scary, but also extremely unique, mysterious and full of so much wonder," said Beard. "At first I thought it would be too morbid for paintings. But at the end of the day, it is just beautiful architecture and art."

Beard’s work has been recognized throughout the middle Tennessee area. Most recently, her Royal Hotel Moon painting was featured in the Sweet Mysteries exhibit at Chroma Gallery in Nashville.

For more information on Beard and her work, visit her website at www.redshutterorleans.com..

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