Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69

Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69, The Adoration of the Magi


While I have just stepped into examining KINGS already there are more than a few to admire. One of my favorites is  Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69, The Adoration of the Magi. The Magi are presented here as individualistic, peculiar, grotesque and sophisticated all at the same time. Hieronymous Bosch lurks in the postures. They are exaggerated in an illustrative way; elongated, appearing wise and carrying peasant worn faces of the Flemish Renaissance.  Robed in their own elegant style, their dignity overrides the bustling younger community around them.  Mary caped in sky blue welcomes the 3 strangers with open arms, as she clearly knows they have traveled to Bethlehem following a miraculous star, which has lead them to this nativity scene. Jesus is indulged by their presence and smiles back at them. Their fashion flows between jester, royalty and native non-western ceremonial attire painted in the classical palette of reds, blue, van Eyck green and soft warm whites. Within the ordinary the extra-ordinary (our ‘star’)  guides us. How would you cast the remarkable in your life?

Catherine the Great of Russia

Catherine II by J.B von Lampi 1780

Voltaire called her “STAR OF THE NORTH”. Catherine the Great was a strong proponent of European culture, of art, literature, the education of women and expanded the Russian Empire in western ways. My kind of King in Queen form. Gorgeous decadent color combinations in her attire. However, in her own words on fashion “I did not make beauty or finery the source of my merit, for when one was gone, the other became ridiculous, and only character endured.”  I get it but my mum was ‘royal’ and to her from style your character was born so I will lovingly disagree.

Diego Velasquez- Philip IV in armor

Velasquez- Philip IV in armor

 Look at his unusual  luscious lips, boyish hair and significant nose! A dandy underneath hard exteriors. Mean to Jews, expelled them from France, a nepotist, not a big fan. A fabulous portrait of light, flesh and color, however. Say no more.

Ferdinand VII by Goya

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes
portraiture of the King of Spain- Ferdinand VII

Something went wrong here. Head and body aren’t connected, his flesh discolors from face to hands, feels like he hopped into some fancy clothes without showering. Can smell his odor, even. Better to have a standin. The formalities of duty call for the ‘pose’ and back to  lordship we go. The background seems unfinished, the legs of the horses on the right are cut off, perhaps two paintings merged into one? Bloated with conceit Ferdinand loves himself, a power that had to pop. Definitely disconnected from his environs. Not impressed.

Portrait of a King- by sam tk

Portrait of a wounded king- by sam  tk

So forget all the grand posturing, really, who are we kidding? I protest! Acknowledge all the wounds that lie herein, I bring thee the opportunity to face them. Yes, we are wounded by our histories, of all our failures, of all our melancholia that forced us to bore into the earth and retrieve something new over and over again. All strata of society and culture need a cathartic release from all this bruising. Let time collapse our tragic past from all kinds of domination.

Instead, let’s turn towards the royalty we are. Inhabit our grandeur within, sing to it with all our heart, let it store within us like a long lasting preserve, a delicacy of profound sweetness. Measure ourselves with the grace of the small, for they smooth all our hard edges and ask us to dance with the gods.




shoe paintings

The Second Shoe BY SAM TK oil on leather



My paintings here are influenced by Rococo’s iconic corset and the ruff. I alter these examples by the fusion of simple and abstract cuts and shapes of garments into other imaginary surfaces, so that the finery of patterning in Rococo and l’ancien regime gets transformed into a less delicate and more turbulent sensuality…

I am interested in filling the threshold between garment as material object and as vehicle to the immaterial. Color, surface, texture and ambiguous space are key elements to the poetic interaction they tell. My paintings are done in oil on canvas, linen or wood panel, and the effect is one of direct, bold appeal which can be either playful or serious. I see clothes as objects that filter and consume energy in a process of transformation with the hope that through my work they begin a new identity, move through another passage, and become another idea.





oil paintings by sam tk- clothing as vessels

corsetry- vessels of energy- oil on linen, 4 ft by 4 ft

GARMENT DISTRICT is a series of paintings that reflect a formal and conceptual investigation into corsetry and ruffs from 18th century Europe. Clothing is vessel to me, as much as it is shelter. Clothing can protect and reveal. I am interested in exploring the corset and ruff as passages and conduits of energy where the boundary between the exterior and interior can either collapse or stabilize.






Garment District- paintings by sam tk



Ruff Connection- ruffian logic

RUFF CONNECTION- oil on linen – paintings by sam tk

All of these paintings from the Garment District series vary in size.  More are visible on my website at www.samtalbotkelly.com. If you live near Burlington, Vermont and feel the urge to make a day of art feel free to drop along Pine st to 431 at the Maltex Building to see them in person. Looking at art intimately is the real way to feel it out. Prices are there on site. You can also contact Kate at Burlington City Arts via email kashman@burlingtoncityarts.org. Parking is around the back of the site if you are coming from a day at the beach. There is plenty going on in that neighborhood, as it is an easy stroll to shop, eat and gaze.

I have plenty more to share with you next time!

THE BLOOD QUEEN’S development



Central Saint Martins- Cutting Edge Design


The following images are the preliminary research for the final Open Sesame piece. I was experimenting with calico through surface and form to see how it could convey ‘innerd’ like qualities.


IMG_0915IMG_0920IMG_0900IMG_0905IMG_0925IMG_0951IMG_0966IMG_0981IMG_0976IMG_0971IMG_0936IMG_0961IMG_0956IMG_0946IMG_0941Gross Clinic AT-1


This is a painting by Thomas Eakins titled The Gross Clinic done in 1875.


Check out the intensity on Dr.Gross’s face. He is in this performative moment between life and death, a pause on the gravity of this situation and the responsibility he has in forwarding this particular surgery successfully. He is teaching his students around him about surgery and in this case his patient has a bone marrow infection. With his skills and tools he can prevent gangrene and amputation. This is medical advancement.  Thomas Eakins is promoting the rise of the surgeon and new surgical procedures. The female figure counterbalances the weight of this serious moment that Dr. Gross stands for. She represents  the emotional  side of  this precarious moment. The expression of Dr. Gross is very much an embrace of both reason and emotion. We are not clear what he is thinking whether it is doubt or control. Or maybe it is clear to you the viewer?

How does this relate to my project OPEN SESAME?

Well watching my mum pass from our earthly realm to that which isn’t, the passage was in her consciousness, her body followed and was synchronizing with the process of ‘letting go’. Her moments of doubt and discomfort were part of the process. It was an incredible orchestration without control and more about TRUST. Open Sesame is about finding that comfort and support in the relationship between how/what we control or acquire and that which we are better off letting go and trusting to unfold in time. Our actions set forth a reality unique to us that time and the rest of the world has to absorb and respond to. We have to get attached to one another, we have to feel, we have to obsess, we have to probe into matter and doing this involves every ounce of our body, brain, guts and heart. This is our point, no?  The art of living really comes from trusting ourselves; our passions and interests, trusting that which we can’t control… letting go and trusting the outcomes of what we roll into motion for the world to see and experience.