The Humble and Dignifying Portrait: Framing Kevin Courter’s “Ashley”

Kevin Courter likes to keep an eye on our inventory of ready-made frames and make paintings for them. One day several weeks ago he dropped by the shop and found Eric Johnson joining up an 11″ x 14″ mitered frame in the vises—a dramatic, rather deep and massive 3-3/4″ scoop molding. He said he’d been wanting to do a portrait of a sheep and thought this would be perfect for it. He also requested that it have a gilt slip. We finished up the frame and got it to him, and a few weeks later he brought us “Ashley” to show in the Gallery.

Kevin Courter, “Ashley”, 2017. Oil on panel, 11″ x 14″.

Side view of the frame by Eric Johnson, better showing its shape.

Kevin understands frames and has a great eye for how frames and paintings harmonize. To make a painting for a frame might seem seem backwards to some, but we’ve forgotten that that’s the way things were typically done until sometime during the Renaissance. Also, Kevin says he enjoys having the frame to paint for because it’s a great motivator for him. In any case, the painting and frame are beautifully wedded, the frame having just the right amount of form and detail for the rendering. The gilt slip works especially well with the back-lighting. The frame has a nice width to signify the spirit with which Kevin painted Ashley. “When it comes to my portraits of farm animals,” says Kevin,

mainly sheep and goats, cattle and the occasional chicken, I like to give them a sense of dignity. I grew up raising a few chickens, geese, ducks and even a goat (his name was Scout) at our home in Sunnyvale. Many of the chickens were raised for food. It was great experience to learn where my food came from. These particular farm animals, and others, that give up so much for us, I consider the “Blue Collar” workers of ranches and farms. I approach each painting as if I’m painting a presidential portrait. I hope my paintings reflect a sense of respect that these animals so richly deserve. I also hope my paintings reflect these creatures’ sometimes playful nature. I know they make me smile. I hope they make you smile too.

“Ashley” is a dignifying tribute to a worthy creature, in all her kindliness and humility. And the frame, in unfailingly humble dark stained oak, suitably scaled to give this admirable creature her due respect, is our tribute to Ashley—and to the work of a painter of not only extraordinary talent, but gratitude.

Ashley, by the way, has gone to Ohio, to the home of a customer who fell in love with her instantly.

See Kevin’s website for more animal portraits…

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