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Local Talent: Kirk Larsen

Kirk Larsen is one to watch. Recently named one of the hottest artists of 2013 by the Creative Arts Studio of Sea Cliff, Larsen has acquired numerous accolades and is continuing to build up an impressive gallery of beautiful plein air paintings that capture the beauty in the world around him. 

Larsen is currently working on a series of paintings for a May exhibit at the Hicksville Public Library. A longtime resident of Hicksville, and graduate of Hicksville High School, Larsen hopes to pay homage to his beloved hometown. 

One scene Larsen is painting is Cantiague Park in Westbury, a place Larsen spent many of his teenage days. His focus is the dome-shaped Ice Skating Rink, and as he unpacks his canvas bag full of art supplies and sets up his French easel on a bright, chilly day in late February, he comments that he’s tired. 

“The body sometimes does that to get ready for a painting,” he says. 

As soon as he is set up however, Larsen comes alive. Larsen’s green pencil flies across his sketchpad, his hazel eyes glancing up and down at the rink as he quickly takes note of the scene before him. 30 seconds later, he is done with the sketch, which will serve as a point of reference for him as he paints. The initial sketch is important, as it allows him to remember what the scene looked like as the sun moves, which will affect the lighting, color and where the shadows fall.

Though working outside poses several problems, such as the lighting and weather being generally unpredictable and ever changing, Larsen says he enjoys the challenge. 

“Outside feels better. It’s combining the joy of painting and the joy of being outside. The challenge of painting outside is always an interesting one,” Larsen says. “You can create so much beauty so quickly. It’s very much in that moment, you’re not even aware of anything else.” 

Larsen thrives in these outdoor environments. He has garnered national recognition for his plein air (a French term for a painting done outdoors in natural light) paintings and has participated in numerous major plein air competitions, including Easels in Frederick, Vermont Plein Air and Plein Air Easton, an event where temperatures rose over 100 degrees. 

Larsen says that even in extreme conditions, he enjoys competing. 

“It can be rewarding financially, but also allows me to find out what I’m capable of. Trying to do artwork at a level that’s comparable to the top people in the world keeps me on my toes,” Larsen said. 

Larsen says that one of the joys of painting is being able to connect with the beauty he sees all around him.  

“I see so much beauty in so many things and people. The potential in every person and in every place fascinates the heck out of me. So I’m taking in that scene and I’m connecting some sort of passion to it,” Larsen said. “The best thing about art is that I get to capture that beauty or drama or serenity and then even better, someone gets to take that home and have that joy forever.” 

He graduated from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, but says that many of the techniques he uses today are self-taught, or lessons he’s picked up from other painters.

However, Larsen has many titles in addition to painter. Larsen is an avid writer, musician and cook, as well as actor. He had a role in Men in Black 3 and will be in the upcoming film “Noah,” featuring Russell Crowe and Emma Watson.  Larsen is also a passionate sailor and loves spending time on the water, a passion that shines through many of his seascapes and nautical scenes. 

Larsen says that sailing competitively is much like painting outdoors, where a participant is just trying to do the best they can in the circumstances presented to them. 

One of his paintings, Clear Ahead, is currently on display at the Art League of Long Island’s 56th Annual Artist’s Exhibition. The painting is composed of images taken from when he was racing sailboats in Oyster Bay, on the Long Island Sound. The Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut also has several of his nautical works and seascapes on display. 

“I am addicted to sailing. I enjoy capturing the emotion of what I experience, of what I see. I want to let you know how it feels to be on the water,” Larsen said. 

To see more of Larsen’s art, visit his website, kirklarsenfineart.com.