Exhibit strikes a chord

Father of four has his artful jazz series on display at local cafe.

May 08, 2010|By Nicole Charky

Ken Stratford isn’t trying to shock and awe with his paintings. He is simply a dad who likes to paint while he raises his four sons.

The artist’s figurative gentleman jazz series is on display at Penelope’s Cafe in La Cañada Flintridge. The 48-year-old Mission Viejo resident fell back into painting more frequently as his children grew up.

“I’ve been painting since I was young,” he said. “It’s been a lifetime thing. I took quite a few years off just because I’ve been raising kids. And now they’re a little older, and I’m getting back into it now.”


His work mainly encompasses glazes with layer after layer of paint stripped from canvas; however, he never uses the same method twice because the routine would bore him.

“It’s a technique, but it’s not a technique that I adhere to at any given time,” Stratford said. “I go off the beaten path. I don’t have any rules that I try to follow. Each painting I start, I feel like I’m starting over because I don’t remember how I started the last one.”

The amount of time he paints each day varies. When he starts a project, he works on it for two or three days at a time.

Stratford’s work arrived at Penelope’s Cafe after the artist’s wife ate lunch there one day and asked the owner and former Glendale neighbor, Larry Moss, if her husband could exhibit his work there.

“Penelope’s is a great little place to go have lunch and hang out,” Stratford said. “I’m fortunate that they have my work there. The standard going into galleries is an expensive process for galleries. They aren’t really interested in finding artists. I’m thankful to Penelope’s for supporting the arts like that.”

Stratford studied at Pasadena City College and Laguna College of Art and Design. He thought he should be a technical painter, but then he decided it wasn’t for him.

“I was an illustration major, but at a certain point I decided I didn’t want to be confined by the rules that it took to be an illustration professional,” he said. “So I decided I was going to do the fine art thing by myself. I think I had just taken up to one painting class at that point.”

The artist pursued landscape design and raising his sons.

“Four sons, all of them are creative — that’s the curse,” Stratford said. “I’d like to lead them in that [artistic] direction, but I want to see them with a degree.”

Stratford is working on a new set of paintings to be completed by midsummer.

“The one I’m working on is of young people,” he said. “This shows the innocence of young people and where they’re heading. I want to convey an innocence of young people. They get enough with MTV. I want to show innocence of young people just trying to live their lives. I want to show a moment of that.”

Penelope’s will show Stratford’s work through June. Stratford sold two paintings Tuesday, one for $1,300 and another for $450.

“It works because his work blends right in with the cafe and the bigger, bolder colors,” Moss said. “The best part of it is it’s fun and it’s different. You don’t see this kind of work all the time. It’s more unusual artwork on a larger scope.”

To view Stratford’s art, visit Penelope’s Cafe, 1029 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge.

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