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Pushing Art In Oyster Bay

Teaching Studios of Art has been partnering with the Oyster Bay Historical Society for several recent events. They include classes for young artists during July and an exhibit on

Aug. 10 of the Plein Air Competition at Planting Fields. Additionally, there have been painting demonstrations by the TSA staff. Plein Air juror Bennett Vadnais demonstrated

landscape painting outdoors on Saturday, Aug. 10 at Planting Fields and the week before, Kristin Künc demonstrate portrait painting on Sunday, Aug. 2 at the Koenig Center.


Sunday afternoon, Nicole Menchise, OBHS librarian and archivist, was the model for portrait painter Künc. Sheila Brech, one of Kristin’s students at the Teaching Studios of

Oyster Bay said, “Watch the magic.”


“It’s amazing: something out of nothing,” added Tom Hallen, her husband.


And it was magic to see Kristin wave her paintbrush over the canvass in small strokes, putting in the shadows and then the skin tones to build up the portrait.


Kristin used a previously painted canvas to work on. She over-painted it, creating a dark rust background out of which the painting emerged during the two-hour session. 


“I like painting on a used canvas. It has a nice feel and I like the color,” she said. 


Instead of a white canvas, she had a muted background to work out of, adding both darks and lights.

Questions and Answers


Kristin answered a few questions as she painted. She had set out about 15 brushes on a side table, but concentrated on using the two smallest brushes with long handles that she manipulated at the end of her wrist, with her elbow resting on the paint stand. “I try each one for a second or two,” she explained.


When asked if she worked from photographs, Kristin said, “It’s so much easier to work from a model than using a photograph. If I have to, I can, in the case of someone who wants a portrait of a loved own, but painting is working in a three dimensional space. You can’t understand that from photos — only from life. To establish the proportions, you need a sense of space.”


Her background color was a mixture of burnt umber and Venetian Red. She prefers Venetian Red to Alizaron Crimson, choosing the cooler pigment, as she mixed her colors on a paint palette by adding small amounts of different hues to her base color. On the small table, as she worked in a centuries old tradition, her iPhone rang, timing the first 20 minute pose. It was time for a rest for both model Nicole and painter Kristin.


Some Thoughts

Sitting in the quiet, watching Kristin work, was like being in church. Time slowed down as the portrait emerged out of the canvas, in the three dimensions that define life.


“Sometimes sitting makes me concentrate as opposed to standing. It all depends on my mood.” 


Sunday, she appreciated being able to sit while painting.


A “busload” of visitors dropped into the Koenig Center. They were members of the LI Chapter of Brooklyn College Alumnae who had scheduled a lunch at Canterbury Ales and a tour of Raynham Hall Museum followed by a visit to the Koenig Center. 


Tracy Dellomo, an Oyster Bay Main Street Association board member, said her father, who was on the board of directors of Brooklyn College, received information about the alumnae group’s visit


Tracy said her husband’s firm, Engel & Volkers, a real estate firm in Locust Valley, has hosted Kristin as she demonstrated portrait painting. “People really enjoyed that,” said Tracy. 


Tracy said Engel & Volkers have been involved with several art projects in Locust Valley. The next one is on Oct. 19, during the Locust Valley Harvest Festival when they will be hosting a student art show at E&V. 


Eva Mullarkey, one of the “watchers,” has posed for Kristin at Engel & Volkers. Eva is the granddaughter of Tess Mullarkey, former provost of C.W. Post College.


Kristin said it was pleasant painting at Engel & Volkers, which she has done twice. “Everyone is drinking and talking and it is easy to just sit there and paint,” she commented.

Student Life


The TSA offers classic art classes for adults and youth. Sheila Brech, who is studying portraiture with Kristin just retired from a career as a psychotherapist. 


“She worked in the world of the head,” said her husband Tom Hallen. 


Never having gone to art school, Sheila still is a painter. “I never majored in art,” said the C.W. Post graduate who has created 16 to 20 paintings that were shown at the university, a community college and at the Unitarian Fellowship. As a Suffolk County resident, she saw the plight of the migrant workers who were living in the woods after being evicted by government from overcrowded apartments.


Her paintings sold when they were exhibited at the North Gallery in Setauket. Her next project was to paint trial scenes from the Riverhead Courthouse, in a murder case three years ago. 


“I wanted to see what a 16-year old killer looked like,”  she said. She had been a prison therapist and said she is reading Orange Is The New Black. It is a memoir by Piper

Kerman, a Smith College alumna, with a career, a boyfriend and a loving family who was sentenced to 15 months in a federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut for delivering a suitcase of drug money 10 years before. The cover of the book shows a pair of orange slip-on sneakers, favored by the inmates.  


While people were enjoying the program inside, outside, OBHS board member Frances Leone was watering the lawn at the Koenig Center. She is working on a landscape project with the Main Street Nursery for the area of the grounds facing the parking lot. The OBHS is currently exhibiting now through Oct. 6, the paintings from the Plein Air competition at Planting Fields. For information call 516-922-5032.