How I met Karl J Kuerner III

pastel painted plein air, 18 x 24", Annette Alessi

pastel painted plein air, 18 x 24″, Annette Alessi

Karl J Kuerner III is a well-known artist, a driving force in American Realism, who was mentored by Andrew Wyeth and studied with Caroline Wyeth. He is widely regarded as one of the three major living Brandywine Valley artists. He and his father Karl Kuerner Jr. own the Ring Farm on Ring Road off of Route 1 in Chadds Ford, PA. Andrew Wyeth quoted in Karl’s book, All in a Day’s Work, “My sister, Carolyn, and I always emphasized that an artist must paint what he loves; and Karl has done just that.”- Andrew Wyeth. Karl Kuerner’s site.

It was about 2005 when I felt the urge to take a professional art class to get someone else’s perspective and to learn something new. I signed up for an adult drawing and painting class at Darlington Arts Center taught by Karl Kuerner. I instantly enjoyed the class, the other students, and their inspirations it gave me. He was a different kind of teacher. He had a way of teaching a student how to teach themselves how to awaken, IF one had the openness to it. One day after an art spirit talk, I asked him if he would be my mentor. He replied, “I’ll be your de-mentor” – always making me laugh!! Karl always had something wise or funny to say and over time we became friends.

One day when I was walking through the the art center, I noticed a poster with a picture of Karl and Andrew Wyeth. After reading it, I realized that Karl was very close with Andrew Wyeth. So I went back into class and asked him why he never mentioned this friendship? His response was something like – “well I don’t want to brag”. Karl was always very humble. After this I realized that I had been studying with a well- known person, but also someone who was greatly influenced by the Wyeth’s, and I was finally able to see where his teachings were coming from! What a great honor to be nurtured by the Brandywine tradition!

Out of all the years I have been dong art, I had used every medium, primarily pastels, but in 2006, Karl introduced me to oils. The oil medium was so different than any other wet media – it didn’t dry as you were working. It took some time to adjust but eventually I grew to love oil painting. After 3 years into the class, Karl decided that I no longer needed his teachings. He wanted me to go out and “Just Paint”. Of course I was still holding on to the enjoyment of the class and wanted to keep going. He didn’t stop me, but slowly in time I knew he was right. I was finally ready to fly!

A photo I took one day while painting at the site of the Big Bend.

A photo I took one day while painting at the site of the Big Bend.

Through Karl, I met quite a few wonderful people such as George “Frolic” Weymouth, the founder of the Brandywine River Museum and Conservancy, gained a private collector from the museum, whom then introduced me to Helga, the famous model for Andrew Wyeth. Karl never formally introduced me to Frolic but he introduced me to Frolic’s 300 acres of land and property where he lived at the Big Bend. He showed me around Frolic’s property, his home, the chapel, the party barn, and the beautiful breathtaking landscape that I would soon be painting plein air! I created “The Home of Frolic Weymouth” and many more paintings from that site alone. One day while I was painting there, I had the chance to meet Frolic. He was a very down to earth and kind person. He even offered me a carriage ride with he and his friends that day. Read more about George Weymouth here!

It amazes me how one person leads to another, how one event leads to another, how the spirit just leads you through life, never knowing what to expect, always being surprised if we just listen.

"The Sky at the Kuerner Farm", Pastel, 36 x 24, Annette Alessi

“The Sky at the Kuerner Farm”, Pastel, 36 x 24, Annette Alessi

The painting shown is titled “The Sky at the Kuerner Farm” was created one day while visiting the Kuerner Farm. Karl and I were walking up the hill as I was taking pictures of the breathtaking sites, and Karl was talking about “Andy” and the spirit of art. Once we got to the top of the hill, I stopped him from talking, we both looked up and I said “wait look!”. We saw the most awesome and beautiful sky! I later found out that Karl was painting a miniature of this same exact scene! Of course it was his farm, but what are the odds of us painting just about the same thing with the sky, composition, crop, and so forth? This is what I mean by “the spirit of art”. We are all connected. But, we are not all awake.

Every year now for about 10 years, I have been exhibiting at the Chadds Ford Elementary School Art Show and Sale and it has become like a tradition for me. It was started by Betsey Wyeth 68 years ago today and is still keeping the sprit of the Wyeth’s alive. It is always held about the 3rd week in March on Friday evening from 7-10 pm and Saturday from 10-4 pm. Almost every year Helga will make her appearance and checks out all the art in the exhibit. This year Karl Kuerner will be speaking. So plan to make a visit and see what I have at my booth, as well as many other artists’ work! There will be plenty of wonderful hors d’oeuvre and treats to enjoy! It would be great to see you! See more details about the show on this link!

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