Creativity touched Kenneth Ferguson’s life from a very early age. He was introduced to art by his mother, who did shows throughout the Chicago area during the 60s, 70s and 80s. While some artists experiment with various mediums and techniques before finding their niche, once Kenneth discovered watercolor three decades ago, he never looked back.

Today, Kenneth tells stories through historical portraits. He likes to work with material culture, such as ornamentation, and rather than painting a still life, he puts the material back onto the person and showcases what they would have looked like wearing those items in their time. Like his subject matter, Kenneth’s technique stands out, as well. He uses multiple overlays of controlled washes to both bring out the richness in color while permitting a high level of detail.

“My work has evolved over time,” Kenneth said. “I started off as you would expect with watercolor – more wet-on-wet, and looser. Over time my work got bolder, stronger and more defined.”

One new element he’s utilizing this year is incorporating a painted in border around the center of the painting to give its focus more breathing space. Then, to create cohesion, he brings part of the center of the painting out into the border.

“There are elements of history that I want to keep alive,” he said. “Often it might be something that was really well known but has been forgotten over time. I like to refresh it and give it a new look but keep it a work of art and not just a documented image.”

As an artist who finds joy in the storytelling aspect of painting, the Celebration of Fine Art offered Kenneth the ideal venue to share his works. In addition to including 99 other artists who live and breathe art, the show attracts more than 50,000 people every year from around the world.

“You get input from people you might not get in another kind of venue,” he said. “If you haven’t been into the big white tents before, you have to come in. We often hear people that say they’ve driven by and when they do finally experience it, it’s like nothing they’ve ever done before. They always seem to be happy with their experience.

See more of Kenneth’s story here: