September 25th, 2023
Kenneth Peloke’s artistry beckons viewers into the hauntingly beautiful world of hyperrealistic Western wildlife oil paintings. With meticulous attention to detail, he captures the essence of the wild, rendering creatures and landscapes in astonishing precision. Peloke’s work transcends traditional realism, evoking a sense of awe and reverence for the untamed beauty of the American West. Each stroke of his brush breathes life into his subjects, inviting us to immerse ourselves in the untamed wilderness of his canvas.
Kenneth Peloke’s artistic journey is a tale of deep-rooted passion and unwavering dedication. It all began at the tender age of 5 when he first picked up a pencil to sketch images from his beloved black and white Westerns, igniting a lifelong fascination with the symbolism of the cowboy— an embodiment of freedom and audacity. As Peloke puts it, “I’ve always been drawn to the cowboy imagery, that sense of freedom and recklessness that we can do whatever we want. I’ve always wanted to go do my own thing and not follow the crowd and I think now it’s coming through my heart; the sense of freedom from the animals I paint, and the recklessness and free spirit of the cowboy in my Western pieces.”
Growing up in a small isolated town in upstate New York, Peloke enjoyed a “free-range childhood.” Surrounded by fields and woods, he cultivated a profound connection to nature that continues to inspire his work: “When I’m now driving up north through Utah or Wyoming, and seeing just a cattle in the field, just grazing or sitting in basking in the sun, it immediately takes me back to where I came from, that feeling, and knowing they are feeling the same thing that I was feeling. So I try to paint that. There’s just something about horses running, and I think I’m always just trying to move forward like that…not even really knowing what you’re doing, but just moving, exploring.“
Although Peloke occasionally works in acrylic paints, his preference is for the fluid and versatile medium of oils, a realm he’s mastered over the years. For him, it’s all about the ability to shape and mold the paint until it mirrors the emotions he intends to convey. This affinity for oils carries a nostalgic tinge, traced back to private oil painting lessons during his formative years. The lingering scent of those oils and the backdrop of classical music from his private boyhood painting lessons still hold a special place in his artistic process. Peloke reflects, “I remember the smell of the oils and [my tutor] teaching me things. She always had classical music on. I still listen to classical music when I paint. There’s a connection there that I will never get away from.”
Despite limited formal training during his college years, Peloke boldly embraced this lack of constraint, allowing his creativity to flourish across a spectrum of techniques and tools. His resourcefulness, stemming from humble beginnings, has become a hallmark of his artistry. As he candidly puts it, “Because I didn’t have a lot of formal training when I was in college, I wasn’t afraid to just do what I wanted to do. I work with all sorts of tools, I’ll paint with Q-tips and a paper towel. For abstract work, I might use cardboard, a drywall scraper, and an old broom. I think it’s a good thing that I wasn’t technically trained for years – if I felt like I had to paint a certain way, I think that may have restricted me.“
These early lessons in resourcefulness continue to influence Peloke’s creative process. He often revisits and refines his work, a habit born from the necessity to make the most of available materials during challenging times. “I go back through and I erase parts of my work,” he shares. “I learned it through trial and error when I couldn’t afford panels. I would erase a lot of my work if I didn’t truly love it, and I learned that I liked how it looked and felt.”
A pivotal moment in Peloke’s life and career was the moment he became a father. Peloke states that in spite of societal pressure to pursue a more traditional path, he found that fatherhood presented the fierce drive and persistence necessary to pursue his passion. Peloke somewhat jokingly states, “I have this weird brain, where if someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m going to find a way to do it. My back was up against the wall. There were a lot of things going on: I lost my job, there were all the wrong reasons to do art, but I just always believed that I can make anything happen. It was great because I was home with the kids because I had a home studio. I didn’t want to be away from the kids. I would work all night in the studio to make things happen and there was this force that pushed me to work as hard as I could.” The challenges he faced as a new father and new artist turned into opportunities as he poured his energy into his art, thanks to a home studio that allowed him to balance family life with his creative endeavors.
Although Kenneth Peloke lived much of his early life on the East Coast, he moved with family to the West decades ago and has called it home ever since. The allure of the American West has firmly taken hold of Kenneth Peloke’s heart. The Western landscapes’ mesmerizing sunsets have left an indelible mark, and he now considers Arizona his home, drawn by its enchanting desert beauty. While his current mini-farm in Arizona with a few horses and chickens is a start, he dreams of one day owning his own full-fledged farm one, revealing with this dream, his deep love for nature and his connection with the animals he depicts.
Peloke captures his wildlife subjects in two distinct, yet interconnected styles: one a more hyper realistic style with a vintage effect and the other a more abstract style reminiscent of silk screen and graphic design. Kenneth Peloke’s artistic journey is a beautiful dance between these contrasting styles, all harmoniously coexisting within him. As he aptly puts it, “I think that they are both within me and they both have to come out.”
His studio is his sanctuary, a place where he seamlessly transitions from one artistic expression to another. There’s a dynamic ebb and flow to his creativity; when one style begins to wear, he gracefully shifts to another. Peloke’s versatility knows no bounds, as he embraces and adores various art forms. He eschews the notion of being pigeonholed into one genre, acknowledging the allure of diversity. Even in the midst of highly detailed work, he finds solace in abstract creations, granting himself the much-needed artistic respite. With time, he looks to combine these two styles more and more, finding new iterations of beauty, grace, and freedom.
Peloke is now thrilled to now be represented at Gallery MAR. Peloke says, “It’s exciting and it energizes me to create new and stronger work. It’s so refreshing to be working with a high standards gallery and someone who cares so much about her clients and the art and is passionate about that. I’m very passionate about my work, and it’s wonderful when that’s reciprocated.”
Peloke’s latest collection is now on display at Gallery MAR, a testament to his dedication to his craft and his enduring connection to the wild world he brings to life on canvas.