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Artist Profile: Kenneth Vincent

“Tisbury hay bales” • 8” x 10” • oil on canvas

Landscape artists living and working on Martha’s Vineyard are often thought to be born with a quiet reverence for a dramatic tree line, with paintbrush in hand. Not so for island painter Kenneth Vincent, who says that his foray into landscapes, and into the world of fine art in general, happened almost by accident. 

As a young graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Vincent had planned on working in editorial illustration, but when finding a steady gig proved a challenge he took a day job as a janitor at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital instead. When he realized he could make more money designing a mural for the hospital walls than mopping floors all summer long, he began to consider a career shift. 

“I was driving around, and I was at a little crossroad,” he says. On a whim, he pulled into the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury and boldly announced his intentions to owner Chris Morse. “I said, ‘I’m a painter, I grew up on the Vineyard. Would you show some of my work?’ Fortunately, Chris is a really nice guy,” he laughs. Luckier still, Vincent was able to drive home, bring back a few paintings, and show them off on the spot. 

“I like geometry and
organizing space, so
whatever strikes me
is where I paint.”

When his first collection didn’t find an immediate audience, Vincent asked fellow painter and gallery manager David Wallis for advice. Wallis, with whom Vincent now shares studio space in the old West Tisbury police station, told him, “You’re from the Vineyard. You should try painting landscapes.”

“Racing the Light” • 24” x 36” • oil on canvas

Fifteen years later, Vincent, now 42, has developed a reputation for capturing lush island scenes with a focus on bold color and strong lines. Though each landscape and memory holds sentimental meaning for Vincent (whose up-island family name graces the iconic Lucy Vincent Beach, and has been fishing and farming on Martha’s Vineyard for centuries), he insists that he could paint anything, anywhere. “I like geometry and organizing space, so whatever strikes me is where I paint,’ he says. “What I paint is important, but it’s trying to figure out the geometry behind it, and trying to figure out a way to make it intimate… that’s what’s most interesting to me.” 

These days, he gets most of his inspiration from being out in nature with his sons, ages 12 and 7, and from teaching art to students at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School. “I grew up here during a major transition time for the island,” Vincent says, recalling the big tourism boom of the 1980s and ’90s. Because of that, some of his landscapes lean toward the nostalgic, while others present a more documentarial perspective, but all achieving a special sense of place. “A lot of it is just trying to be in the moment, now that I have kids,” he explains.

This summer, visitors to the Granary can expect to find Vincent’s new work exploring a new color palette—purples, oranges and pinks—and some fresh material as he celebrates his 15th year at the gallery.  “I’m playing a lot more with color and light, and I’m trying to do scenes I haven’t done before,” he says.

“Beautiful Day” • 18” x 24” • oil on canvas

Kenneth Vincent’s paintings can be seen in a group show with
David Wallis and Cindy Kane opening at the Granary Gallery on July 8. 

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