Artist Interview - Ken Goshen

Who are you and what do you do?

I am an NYC-based artist and educator with a background in classical painting and printmaking. My preferred media are oil, pastel, charcoal, and graphite.

Why do you do what you do?

My passion is bringing together traditional techniques and a contemporary outlook. I want to (as Newton said) see farther by standing on the shoulders of giants.

What inspires your art?

Classical timelessness, Renaissance luminosity, Baroque drama, Neoclassical theatrics, and video games from the 90s.

How and when did you get into art?

When I was 5 I used to draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for hours every day. In retrospect, it’s very appropriate that they are named after Renaissance artists.


How has your practice changed over time?

I don’t draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles anymore. I transitioned from an illustrative style in my teens, to a classical style in my 20s, and these days abstraction and eclecticism are gradually making their way into my work.


What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?

A portrait of my friend Adaam that took 2.5 hours. I suspect the longer I work on a piece, the less likely I am to love it.

What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?

Don’t be afraid of making bad artwork. My teacher David Nipo used to say every bad painting is another rung in the ladder we climb towards success. We learn far more from our bad paintings than we do from our good ones, so it’s necessary to make lots of bad work in order to grow.


What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?

Understand that every painting is abstract, no matter how representational it is. Even the most realistic portrait is composed of shapes and colors - and shapes and colors are always abstract. Keeping this axiom in mind while you work helps with measuring proportions, color selection, composition design, texture control - it helps with everything.

Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?

Sandpaper - I love sanding my paintings. You can even use wet-sanding to arrive at a beautifully smooth surface with a ghostly image of former mistakes.


What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?

Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook. It’s not too dark, it’s not too light. It’s not too smooth, it’s not too textured. It works well for quick sketches, it works well for ambitious projects. It’s just right, and it does it all.

What art materials could you not live without?

Lead-based white oil paint. Lead-based materials are hazardous though, so anyone reading this should make sure they paint very cleanly before purchasing any.


What types of colors are you drawn to for your art and why?

I love the relationship between complementary colors. Many of my paintings are composed with one set of complementaries playing a key role.

Who are your biggest influences (or who were when you started doing art)?

Aram Gershuni and David Nipo, who were my teachers and mentors from 2010 to 2013. Without them, I don’t think I would be a painter today.

What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?

“What brand is that paint/paper/pencil?”


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