Kirk McBride and Lynne Lockhart share a love of art and a love for one another.
Written by Joe Willey | Portrait by Krista Valliant
Being a painter is a reclusive profession. How each one sees their surroundings is unique and isolated by definition — picking details interesting to them and ignoring others. Even creating a piece of art by laying a brush thick with paint on a board or canvas is a solo pursuit. But some are lucky enough to have another artist near, encouraging and pushing them forward to new and better work. Two professional painters living in Berlin, Lynne Lockhart and Kirk McBride, have an almost idyllic situation. They have found a way to paint alone — together.
Lynne and Kirk are married, and though they share a home, they have separate studios at the back of their property. The proximity of the two studios allows each artist space to work but makes it easy to invite advice or encouragement when one or both need it.
Convoluted is how Lynne describes her path to being a professional artist. Her first drawings were in crayon on walls in her family’s home. In grade school, she painted with the ready-made tempera used in many kids’ art programs. But Lynne has always been interested in animals, too. At Salisbury University, she double majored — in biology and art.
Working in oils, Lynne builds texture with vigorous brushstrokes, sometimes shoving her brush through the stiff paint to create a sense of motion, like a snapshot with a slow shutter speed. Her compositions highlight her wry humor, showcasing a point of view like the back of a pair of horses or children’s toys similar in shape and color to a painting of dancers by the revered French artist Edgar Degas.
Though the sources of inspiration for the two are varied, perhaps the most profound influence is on each is the other.
It was Lynne who urged Kirk to use oils instead of trying to replicate the qualities of oils in his watercolors. And like Lynne, he painted on the side, determined to paint more each year. His technique and understanding of painting came from talking to other artists at plein air events and visiting museums where he could search paintings for understanding. He has an affinity for illustrators who worked in the first half of the 20th century. A favorite of Kirk’s is N.C. Wyeth, whose energetic compositions and dramatic use of color impact his work. But McBride continually hones his skills by standing at his easel and painting.
Cloud paintings have been Kirk’s recent focus. The clouds dominate the image, leaving the landscape a stabilizing yet minor role. For an artist interested in the balance of light and dark, clouds may be the most natural subject.
No matter the subject — landscapes, architecture, figures — Kirk’s work is about light and dark. His paintings are known for vibrant color and how shadows play against the dynamic light. His realistic style never mimics photography. Bold color and confident brushstrokes tell the viewer this is paint.
Both Lynne and Kirk work steadily and constantly, spending time in the company of their paintings almost as much as each other. They have the space they need to create and the buyers to continue painting. Each has taken a variety of influences and used them to create work that is solely their own. Though the sources of inspiration for the two are varied, perhaps the most profound influence on each is the other. CS