Ken Knish’s Stylized Realism in Full Color

by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor

You may recognize Ken Knish’s name from the label of your Bend Brewing Company’s Cherry Balitc bottle or from his various appearances in the local arts industry. Regardless, Knish has a style reminiscent of an old 1950’s photograph, a style that has captured the attention of many in Central Oregon.

Knish grew up in Clevel , Ohio started painting in his early teens using a box of paints old brushes from his mother. “I’d practice painting techniques of portraitures on cardboard, wood, glass…whatever I could scrounge up.” His creativity was fostered by the talented family he grew up with: his gr father was a wood carver, gr mother a watercolorist, both sisters have careers in the arts his mother was an all around crafter.

His artistic interest exp ed in college when he majored in graphic design illustration at Kent State University. Local illustrators Derek Hess P. Craig Russel were a few of the artists Knish admired helped form his style. In his free time he would use pen, inks design markers to create illustrations until after graduation when he made the transition to professional commissions.

Knish left Clevel for Bend 16 years ago after a visit to the area. He was captured by the entire package: climate, altitude, attitude, natural surroundings, clean air, a winter season where locals would snowboard instead of hibernate.

Knish paints in a stylized realism, finding inspiration from a collection of old photographs from the 1940s to the ‘60s. He is constantly on the search for these bits of the past usually has luck in antique shops, thrift stores, swap meets old publications. He often gravitates towards portraits, enjoys creating unique faces a viewer might recognize as a family member, friend or famous person. Reactions to his art are why Knish enjoys painting.

He has created a studio space at home inside the shop where he restores old BSA – British motorcycles, a hobby he has had for the past 19 years. He restored his first BSA in his third floor apartment in Clevel through buying, trading selling vintage bike parts, his collection has grown to three bikes. On warm days, Knish leaves the studio paints in front of his house with a view of the three sisters.

Knish works as a pre-press graphic designer at a print shop in Sisters when he is not painting he can be found working on his motorcycles, searching for vintage records, playing drums in a jam session or restoring his log home.

He has shown his work locally at the Astro Lounge, Bend Brewing Co., Level2, Oxygen Tattoos, Art on the Go as well as various charitable auctions like The Americana Project, Deschutes County Historical Museum, Boys Girls Foundation COCC Meal of the Year.

In the future, Knish states, “I would like to focus more on stylized realism technique for commissioned portraiture, would like to experiment with l scape painting continue to evolve as an artist a person.”

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