Kenneth Evett received his formal art training at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. After brief teaching stints at the Vesper George School of Art and Salem College in the 1940s, he moved on to enjoy a 30 year career as Professor of Art at Cornell University. His teaching style was marked by an articulate and eloquent way of talking about art. This talent was evident in the 25 essays her wrote on art and architecture for The New Republic from 1972-77. He painted five post office murals for the WPA program from 1937 to 1941. In 1954 he won a competition to paint three murals for the Rotunda of the Nebraska State Capitol building. He received three Yaddo fellowships between 19 59 and 1979. For 30 years he was represented by Kraushaar Galleries in New York City.
Kenneth Evett, photo by Lucile Dandelet
Kenneth's painting and drawing style moved through several phases, from densely painted realistic figurative works of the 30s and 40s, to the starker India ink drawings based on the Iliad and the Odyssey, to the sometimes apocalyptic sumi ink landscapes of the 50s, and back to intensely colored oil paintings of imaginary landscapes and mythic Greek scenes. An accomplished draftsman, he produced numerous drawings while teaching his life drawing class, using them as effective teaching tools. He began painting watercolors from nature in the 1960s, at first somewhat free in the brush work and light in tonality. As he explored this difficult medium through the 1970s and 80s, his images became more saturated with color, the draftsmanship more defined and the volumes of objects more pronounced. He traveled widely in Europe, the American West and along the coast of Maine, where he painted one or two watercolors each day, almost regardless of the weather, the terrain, or curious onlookers. Exposed to the elements and equipped only with a lightweight folding stool, a tablet of fine French paper, a few tubes of paints, a jar of water and a single 1" brush, Kenneth painted directly from nature, never once making a pencil sketch to guide his hand.
While always representational, though sometimes verging on total abstraction, his work contained an underlying concern for formal, structural organization. He was preoccupied with expressing the spatial relationships and rhythmic interplays between the elements of his paintings, relying on the visual weight of shape and color to achieve formally cohesive and organizationally dynamic compositions.