A drifter is one who travels or moves about aimlessly, an apt description for both the artist Kenneth Peloke and the wild characters he paints. Inclined to wander creatively since childhood, Peloke now finds himself drawn to animals who do the same, who embrace the freedom to roam: horses unencumbered by corrals; bison undaunted by property lines; wolves roving for prey; even cowboys on the range. All are wild souls disposed to cover wide terrain, a disposition Peloke shares. Having taught himself to paint and draw at age seven, he meticulously depicted the natural world around him and then layered his academic study of art and music into a deep appreciation for abstraction. While practical concerns led him to choose a career in graphic design, the sea of change that is fatherhood allowed him to rediscover the drifter-artist within.
“Art saved me,” he says. “People ask me all the time, ‘How did you become a painter?’ To be honest, I don’t know. I didn’t have a plan or direction. I followed my instinct." He identifies with the elemental priorities embodied by free-range animals—providing for their young and themselves, protecting their territory—“completely opposite from the world we live in today,” he says. “To be in a field, free and alone, I’ve always been drawn to that ideal.” Ideally, collectors connect with this notion and see his canvases as a conduit for reflection and an indication of personal achievement. “I feel blessed to paint,” Peloke says. “I hope my paintings inspire people to take a deep breath and give people a sense of satisfaction for all they’ve accomplished. I hope they provide a bit of an escape, even if only for a moment.”
Born 1978 in rural New York, Kenneth Peloke is the youngest of four children who were raised by a single mother. He began painting and drawing at the age of seven. His mother was usually unable to provide proper art materials, so Kenneth used crayons, pens, house paint, cardboard, the backside of scrap wallpaper, and even the walls in the house to sketch his drawings. He and his family moved to Arizona when Kenneth was nine.
Private oil painting lessons and a trip to Sedona, Arizona inspired him to paint landscapes which he painted throughout his high school days. Kenneth was not one for the books, as he spent many of his school days feeling lost, confused, or just dreaming in the classroom. However, during this time he entered many juried art competitions with success. Kenneth felt like he was starting to find himself through his art. While attending a local community college, he progressed to figure painting and drawing. But after a few semesters, feeling frustrated with his progress and lack of direction, Kenneth gave up painting and pursued a seemingly more practical road to an artistic career in Graphic Design. Although it turned out to be short lived, learning Photoshop, animation, and photography would prove beneficial in his future process for creating his wide variety of work. At just twenty-two and discouraged with an undefined career path in art, Kenneth took what ended up being a seven- year hiatus from art entirely.
The desire to pick up a brush again didn’t happen until he heard the news of his first child on the way. He was going to have a daughter and a flood of new emotions filled his heart and mind. He began painting abstract pieces, which he explained were inspired from non-subjective forms in his mind and raw energy. This presented an entirely new freedom for Ken that he longed for but never knew how to unleash. Now at 45, he is hard at work using both the subjective world and the bold abstract world together in his work. His latest pieces reflect a bit of all his background and Kenneth prides himself on being versatile. Ironically, Kenneth is colorblind, and although this used to present a challenge for him as an artist, he has learned to control his color palette to limit his frustration.
“Since I can remember, I always enjoyed taking things apart and rebuilding them. But at a young age, I found myself not remembering how to reassemble exactly the way it came apart. It became challenging and fascinating for me to create a new way to put things back together. I became obsessed with trying to make things different or improved, at least in my own mind.” Through experimentation and self-teaching, Kenneth has learned to use all of his past works- whether it is landscapes, people, animals, abstracts, design or photography- in his current work. “Being a self-taught artist, and also colorblind, led to years of frustration, but through trial and error, methodically over the years I have found what works for me. I work with many layers, different substrates, and all types of media. Instead of using colors to create depth; I use my surface. I feel it is the most important element of my work.
Variations, transparency, layering, and certain techniques all allow me to naturally generate the subtle inconsistencies in my paintings which make each piece unique and imperfect, like us. From this, the natural and realistic aspects of my work are achieved. Some effects are created by choice and others by chance...and I live to experience that little miracle when chance and choice unite to create a work of art that has the potential to move somebody just as much as it moved me while creating it.”
Peloke’s work has been featured in Western Art Collector, In Style Magazine, Mountain Living, Luxe, Western Art & Architecture and is displayed in both public and private installations throughout the world including China, Singapore, Australia, New York, Scottsdale, Jackson Hole, Big Sky MT, Park City UT and Sun Valley, ID.