Friday, April 20, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Kay Polk

Kay Polk of Dallas, TX, is this month's Spotlight Artist. Kay will be giving a portrait demo in oil at our upcoming Meet-and-Greet here in Dallas on May 5. If you would like to be "in the spotlight," please email Anna at to submit your information.

Kay Polk is an award winning portrait artist with more than thirty years of experience in portraiture and fine art.  Working out of her home studio in  Dallas, TX,  Ms. Polk is nationally known for her charming portraits of children and signature art style in the mediums of oil, pastel and charcoal.  Professional accomplishments include achieving signature status in Knickerbocker Artists NY,   The Pastel Society of America  NY,  and  The American Portrait Society.   Ms. Polk is also a past president of the Pastel Society of the Southwest and for a number of years,  had her own teaching Atelier in Dallas and Houston.  

Artist Kay Polk
At the recent May 2006 Portrait Society of America Annual Conference,  Ms. Polk’s work was chosen as one of twelve top finalists for the 2006 International Portrait Competition, held at the same time as the conference where she was then selected as the Second Place winner for the 2006 Competition. In 2002, Ms Polk was given “Special Honors” for that year’s international Competition.  Kay was honored by the American Society of Portrait Artists in 1998, as one of Ten Finalists chosen for their Annual Portrait Art Festival in Montgomery, Alabama.    Her portrait of  "Virginia", 24"x30" pastel, was awarded Second Prize in that competition.   In May 1999 and again in May 2000, she took home The Best Portfolio of the Year award at The Portrait Society of America’s Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.   

Ms. Polk is represented by two national portrait brokers: Portraits South Inc, The Portrait Source Inc. and maintains between a one and two year waiting list for her portraits. Her work is available for viewing on an appointment basis or at

Interview with our April Spotlight Artist, Kay Polk:

1) When and how did you first become seriously interested in Art?
As a child.  My mother died when I was 6 yrs. old and I had an Aunt that used to care for me. She was an amateur artist and would help me paint and draw anything I liked. It became a life-long love and place of welcome and peace. I studied portrait painting through high school and college, continuing studies with individual professional artists after schooling. My "art" was just a natural part of my life and has brought me great pleasure and satisfaction.

2) What is your training, and what medium(s) / subject matter do you work in?
I studied portraiture with Dallas Portraitist, Ramon Froman in High School, then later at the University of Texas, Austin.  I did special studies with Emily Guthrie Smith PSA Hall of Fame, Ft. Worth, who became my mentor and guide. I've studied with a lot of the wonderful artists in the US, like Dan Greene, Burt Silverman, Ray Kinstler, John Sanden, George Carlson and Kevin Macpherson, and more.  I especially like working with children and family portraits but have done a wide variety of commissioned work of both "the living and dead"!  I also enjoy still life, floral, and landscape but figurative work is my favorite! I work in Oil, Pastel, drawing media and enjoy them all

3) What do you try to express in your work?
The two driving forces in my work are color and light, with a desire to capture the simple beauty in people, places and objects.

4) What artists/professionals have been your biggest influences?
A lot of my own "self-taught" artistic influences came mostly from the Impressionists as their sense of light & color rang true to my loves as well.  Artists such as Cassatt, Sargent, Zorn, Sorolla, Benson, and some of their contemporaries.

5) What do you do to gain new inspiration for your work?
 I love to stretch and try new techniques, new ways of applying paint (for me) and what some mixed media presents.  I search the books and museums for different but similar directions in artistic expression and just generally like to balance the commission work, which is 80% of my work, with about 20% of fun & experimental, even though few ever see my experimental work, it is necessary for keeping my "work" fun!

6) What would you like to be doing with your art ten years from now?
I think I would like to be experimenting even more, less dependent on portraits and trying for new avenues in art-making!  Still keeping it as fresh as possible.

7) Do you set goals for yourself concerning the making of your art?
I do!  I believe in goals. Setting of goals, both simple and short range as well as more complex and long-term, as the reason I've been able to last so long in this career.

8) Are you happy with your job choice as an artist? Do you have any regrets in this career choice or things you would have done differently?
I am happy with my choice to become a full-time professional portrait artist and studio artist as well. But it has not been easy.  I especially like the teaching and mentoring segment of my career.  As my professional experience allowed, I enjoyed sharing my knowledge and discoveries with others.  My only regret might have been to spend more time in national, top-ranked art institutions during my younger years. But I have the blessings of children, grandchildren and a diverse it's not all bad the way everything turned out.  I feel very fortunate!

9) Any fun or interesting facts about yourself that you'd like to share?
Anything fun or interesting about me should probably be kept to myself!! :0)

10) Best piece of advice for other artists?
 "The World stands aside for the person who knows where they are going".  Strive to know yourself and where you want to go, then do the work!

Kay shared so many wonderful images for us to see that I decided to put them in a slideshow. Enjoy her beautiful work!

More about Kay:

RECENT ARTICLES AND BOOKS featuring Kay Polk and her work are:

 “Portrait Society of America’s Award Winners Showcase” The Art of the Portrait,  International Artist Magazine,  August/September 2006
The Pastel Artist’s bible, edited by Claire Waite Brown, Quarto Publishing, London, England, 2006.
 "Master Pastellists of the World: United States Showcase"  Pastel Artist’s International Magazine Nov/Dec 99/Jan 2000
"The Artist’s Life" by Carole Katchen,  Artist’s International Magazine, Ap/May2000
"Arbitrary Colors" by Linda Price,   AmericanArtist Magazine  September 1997
Keys to Painting Faces and Figures,  compiled by Rachel Rubin Wolf,  North Light Publication, 1999
Painting with Passion  by Carole Katchen,  North Light Publications,  1994


The Greer Garson Theater,   SMU,  Dallas,  Texas
Texas A&M University System  Hirshfeld-Moore House    Austin,  Texas;
 The Kathryn Heard Craig Museum ,   McKinney,  Texas;
Count  and Countess Nostitz of North Carolina and Austria;
Dr. and Mrs.  Malone Hill     Austtin,  Texas;
Mr and Mrs Sanford Gottesman      Austin,  Texas;
Mr and Mrs Philip Keevil of New York and London;
Mr and Mrs.  William Roche of New York and Ireland;
McStay Investment Counsel  of Dallas,  Texas;
Owens Ranches, Inc. of  Texas and New Mexico ;
………………….to name a few 

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