Bryan Kneale

“Self-Portrait” by Bryan Kneale, 1955

Bryan Kneale (born 1930) is primarily known as an abstract sculptor. However, I chose his “Self-Portrait” from 1955 for today’s featured image because of the tale he is telling. Without using words, we immediately know something about him. The subject’s gaze is contemplative yet wistful, with a touch of sadness around the eyes. One hand curls around a coffee cup taking warmth from the ceramic, while the other, held flat and drawn oversize, emphasizes its importance. (Is he a lefty?) There is a hint of awkwardness to the pose. The left leg is slightly twisted and childlike. I love the way the painting looks like it is a lithograph* but it is not. (How did he DO that?) I love the somber colors, the mustard-colored jacket. The way everything looks grungy and worn. A thousand-word story in one simple painting.

* Lithography is a printing technique similar to woodcut but the artist draws the image on a specially treated stone, rather than gouging out a channel for the ink to lie in. You can get subtle shading and gradations of tone using this technique. Woodcuts are more linear (one dimensional.) A good illustration what the different printmaking techniques look like can be found here:

Biographical info on the artist can be found here:

A collection of his paintings can be found here:

Today’s Music Selection: “Hard Times” by Ray Charles

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