Lynn Konner: creating art and joy
For My Beautiful Son Adam
Art by Lynne Konner, through Sept. 30
Artist talk on Thursday, Sept. 26, 6-8 p.m.
Berkshire Hathaway, 695 Bloomfield Ave., 973-615-5514
By GWEN OREL
When Lynn Konner makes a picture, using pastels, acrylics, watercolors, she feels her son Adam encouraging her.
Adam, who died last year at 27, is the reason the 63-year-old went back to painting after a long hiatus.
The Essex Fells resident had studied to be an art teacher, but never taught.
“I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust that I was a good artist then,” she said. “I never taught art because the truth is I was so cripplingly shy when I graduated college and I couldn't speak to anyone. I'm not like that now,” she added with a laugh.
Next Thursday, Sept. 26, she will talk about her journey, and how her son influenced her to take up the hobby that is now the joy of her life.
Moving her hands as she talks, Konner speaks very fast and energetically. She wants to share her enthusiasm for the idea that it’s never too late.
At Berkshire Hathaway, where her work is on exhibit, her pictures hang on the walls and in the conference room, where employees type on laptops and take a meeting. But the public is entitled to view the show when the office is open.
Konner worked as a school bus driver in the family business, the now-defunct Kevah Konner company, and also did the accident reporting. It was very stressful, she said.
But love of art was always with her. “I wanted to do it for years. I always talked about it,” she said.
And 40 years after she’d put the paintbrush down, her son said, “Mom, just get a piece of paper. Start drawing. Nobody has to see it.” That was three years ago.
Within the year, he was dead.
Painting is helping her to heal from that grief. “It’s a very good place to put my pain,” she said.
Konner’s first show was eight months after that, in the Montclair Public Library gallery.
Her second show ever, “For My Beautiful Son Adam,” is at the Berkshire Hathaway gallery through the end of the month. It includes pet portraits, still lifes, street scenes.
YOUNGER THAN 10
She and her son used to walk in the park, and he loved dogs, Konner said. And she loved to look at dogs out of the windows of the school bus with the children.
Using pastels for the portraits gives a sense that “you can feel the fur,” she said. People buy the portraits they commission, and then sometimes other people buy copies, called giclees, she said.
She also has a series called “Boudoir Fantasies,” imaginary, whimsical drawings of paintings. Some of the works, such as a big picture of doughnuts called “No Calories if You’re Standing...” are in a pop art style.
All the work in the show is sold with a mat and covering. Original works are framed.
Over the years, she did paint now and then — one painting in the show is 20 years old — but never felt in the right headspace to work on her art consistently.
Now she paints almost every day, usually for about three hours.
Retiring, she said, has opened up a whole new world.
“When I'm painting, nobody can touch me, nothing bothers me,” she said. “The fact that my son passed, I can handle it when I'm painting because he's with me, painting. I really believe that I only had the show because of my son. A lot of things that I wanted when I was younger are happening now.” She’s in shape, she said, and she feels good about herself, and all of that shows in the art.
“I don't feel old, it's really weird,” she said. “I mean I remember when I was 10 I felt really old. I don't feel old now, I feel like I'm just coming into where I'm supposed to be. But it's such a gift for people to pursue what they love, and to get joy from that. I'm so grateful that it's not too late. And we're doing something now. It's never too late.
“My son was particularly helpful to everyone. He was an amazing young man. This is the truth.” Konner describes meeting a young man at Adam’s best friend's wedding.
“This young man ... said he knew him from camp when he was 10. This young man lost his job after college and my son got him interviews and encouraged him. My son was an amazing amazing encourager of people and I hear these stories all the time. So I'm really proud of my son. And I am really grateful for him.
“And that's what this art represents. He's with me when I'm painting, when I'm doing anything, because I'm achieving these beautiful things. People tell me that my work is very happy.
“My son isn’t here. So we’re going to carry on, in a happy way.”