Paint Annapolis is on the way! Learn more about the juried artists and get yourself ready for this historic Plein air painting festival. 

We’re excited to welcome Mat Barber Kennedy from Chicago, Illinois as a juried artist for Paint Annapolis 2022! Mat grew up in a family of architects and became passionate about buildings, cities, bricks and mortar, plaster, concrete, and steel. He says, “I have been looking at the aging, decaying parts of buildings for as long as I can remember. My first plein air paintings were typically of chimney stacks, shop signs, front doors, and windows. I think the life of a city, of a culture, of a family or business, is revealed in the ways that our structures age…”

(Above) Mat Barber Kennedy

“…In some sense, I think my work is a kind of portraiture hoping to reveal more than just the appearance of things but revealing something of the life of things. I am fascinated by the corrosive relationship between the design of objects, the evidence of their use, and the passage of time. My work explores the world that we have built, its adaptation and inevitable decay.”

– Mat Barber Kennedy
“Old Fox Books,” watercolor, by Mat Barber Kennedy, Urban Landscape Award, from Paint Annapolis 2021

Mat describes what inspires his work, “For over twenty years I have been drawing and painting aging machines, tools, and buildings. Through the process of drawing and painting, I am engaged in the archeology of material culture, inspecting, exploring, and celebrating physical manifestations of human history. My work is all about people really, though they are conspicuously absent from my paintings. I am fascinated by what we built and what we did. It’s a kind of anthropology. My paintings are lovesongs.”

“Hartke’s Yacht Yard,” watercolor, by Mat Barber Kennedy, from Paint Annapolis 2021

Kennedy is involved with many artist communities. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, and a member of The American Impressionists Society. Kennedy says, “In 2008 I was awarded the Turner Medal in London.”

“Conduit and Cathedral,” watercolour, by Mat Barber Kennedy

“I love the Eiffel Tower as much as the next man, but its not the essence of what it feels like to be in Paris and to experience Parisian life. That is found in the graphics, the mansard roofs, the space between the windows, the communal entrances to apartment buildings, the bus stops, the street names and building numbers, the folding chairs and the newsstands. It’s those, everyday pieces that I want to celebrate in my work, hopefully revealing their dignity and importance through the energy of my composition and mark making.”

– Mat Barber Kennedy
“Ipswich Bay Lobster Bouys,” watercolor, by Mat Barber Kennedy

Although Mat primarily uses watercolor in his work, he does not limit himself to the medium. He says, “I’m always experimenting in the studio…I have spent years trying to escape the flatness of the page by adding non-water-soluble elements, thickening agents, collage, and applying paint straight out of the tube with my fingers and palette knives and rubbing it away with shirt sleeves and paper towels. I recently was painting at a historic homestead and to create the textures and “authenticity” of place in my piece I picked up handfuls of dirt and sprinkled it into my first washes. It worked rather nicely.”

“On Cornhill,” watercolour, by Mat Barber Kennedy, from Paint Annapolis 2021

“Being an artist is a lifelong quest to communicate ideas. You are going to write better literature when you know the alphabet and have a decent vocabulary. Those are the essential building blocks. Without good language skills, you can’t even express a bad idea well, let alone a great one. There are lots of things that I try in the studio that fail, but every success gets added to my tool belt and expands my vocabulary.”

-Mat Barber Kennedy
“Liquors on West,” watercolor, by Mat Barber Kennedy, from Paint Annapolis 2021

Learn more about Mat Barber Kennedy on his website here.

Join Mat as one of the public artists for this year’s Paint Annapolis Plein air festival. Learn more paintannapolis.org

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