Ken Layman

Nantucket, MA

Ken Layman began showing his artwork at Nantucket Looms in 1971, making him one of the Looms’ most prolific artists. Of the more than seventy artists represented today at Nantucket Looms, many have been students of Ken’s. Known for his billowy cloudy skies set above the Nantucket landscape, Ken is equally as talented as an abstract artist-if you are lucky enough to come across one.

Despite his undeniable success, Layman is a quiet, unassuming man. Describing himself as 'insular', he says the island life made sense to him when he moved to Nantucket permanently thirty years ago. Although he speaks quietly, it is obvious being in his presence that his work is his passion. "Painting saves my life. It's my reason for being alive. I'm 77 and I still feel I'm just beginning to paint". Perhaps the most incredible aspect of his work is the process by which he paints. Layman doesn't believe in painting from a photograph or still life, rather choosing to paint entirely from his own imagination. It's like I'm going to the movies with my life. I paint them from the part of me that I don't understand - and when they're done, I look at them and say 'that's what I wanted, needed to paint'. I've learned to get out of the way and let the painting happen, not to use my intellect at all".

Ken has taught at Georgia State University, Newcomb College, New Orleans and Wheelock College, Boston. His work hangs at the US Department of State as well as the American Embassy in Athens, Sao Paulo, Geneva and New York City. Today, Ken teaches at the Nantucket Artist Association, passing along his in-depth knowledge and philosophy of painting.

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