Semester I Special: Anthropomorphism defines Kevin McGrath’s work

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Martha’s Vineyard inspires English teacher and librarian Kevin McGrath’s paintings and sketches. In addition, McGrath illustrates children’s books.

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”courtesy Kevin McGrath” align=”alignleft” width=”300″] Martha’s Vineyard inspires English teacher and librarian Kevin McGrath’s paintings and sketches. In addition, McGrath illustrates children’s books.
by Samantha Libraty
Paddling across the light blue brush strokes of the open water, the elephant and his grasshopper friend search for an island off in the distance.
The poster of librarian and English teacher Kevin McGrath’s painting, named “It was another fine mess he had gotten himself into,” hangs in the Library Learning Commons.
Outside of school, McGrath paints and sketches for his own enjoyment and sells his works.
McGrath said his love of art and painting began when he was very young and has continued throughout his life.
“It’s important that you do what you love to do. This is something for myself on my own schedule, something I want to do instead of something I have to do,” McGrath said.
He said, “I really like doing it for myself, but I have also illustrated some children’s books.”
McGrath has illustrated The Bike Ride by Nelson Goose and Leonard Beetle’s Sole Ride by Jodi Supino Elliot.
McGrath’s wife, Cynthia McGrath, who is also a painter and art seller, said, “I think Kevin enjoys it so much because he has such fun, silly thoughts in his head that it must be great to bring them to life.
“The greatest satisfaction has got to be making people laugh. The captions are so clever, and his work is so original that you just can’t help but laugh.”
Cynthia McGrath sells her artwork on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer.
“When Kevin got his own art show booth next to mine in 2001, you could hear people laughing all day,” she said.
Martha’s Vineyard was where Kevin McGrath said he first began to sell his art and take it more seriously.
Cynthia McGrath said, “I was living on the Vineyard and showing my own work four days a week during the summer at outdoor events. We had just started dating, and he went with me to Martha’s Vineyard.
“Kevin started sketching in a notebook to pass the time and have some laughs. He’d paint caricatures of some of my customers or create animals that looked like people or people that looked like animals,” she said.
[media-credit name=”courtesy Kevin McGrath” align=”alignright” width=”228″] English teacher and librarian Kevin McGrath often paints animals with human characteristics.
The first painting he sold was of a pig laying on the beach on vacation called “They may bake her in a pan or fry her in a skillet, but they’d never take away her vacation.” He sold it in Martha’s Vineyard in 2001. Anthropomorphized animals, which have human-like personas, are Kevin McGrath’s signature creative pieces.
“It all started with this pig who now hangs in a Superior Court judge’s chambers,” Cynthia McGrath said.
“The judge said the reason why she wanted to hang it there was because sometimes the tension gets so heated in the courtroom that when she orders the lawyers to her chambers, she wanted to have artwork there that would get them to lighten up,” Cynthia McGrath said.
Currently, McGrath’s large original paintings are sold for $400 to $900 at his wife’s Martha’s Vineyard art show, online and at other art shows in the area, he said.
His prints sell for $22 to $45 at shows and online.
Children’s books and original artwork are not the only displays of McGrath’s creativity.
Technology specialist Chris Murphy loved his artwork so much that he printed a few pieces on large posters to hang in Ware, he said.
Murphy said, “I am part of a group that put on a festival in downtown Ware in order to attract residents and outside communities to visit the downtown.”
Three posters were hung up on an empty storefront, he said. Unfortunately, these posters were stolen, but the store owners received other gifts in their stead.
“I really like McGrath’s artwork. I think it is funny and really good,” he said.