Cindy Kane, Face, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches.


Piece of Work: Cindy Kane

“There is something calming to me about looking into the eye of a whale. Especially in troubled times.”

There is something calming to me about looking into the eye of a whale. Especially in troubled times.

As a young child growing up in northern Virginia, Cindy Kane came across a library book about the sculptor Louise Nevelson that had a lasting impact. “She wore huge handmade necklaces and black clothes and looked kind of fierce,” remembered Kane recently. “I was fascinated by her big wooden sculptures and her persona. I thought, ‘I want to be like that.’”

So Kane became an artist. A largely self-taught painter, she chose the real world to serve as her teacher as opposed to attending an art college. “I left high school when I was seventeen and never went back to a classroom again,” she said. She and her husband Doron Katzman were living on a houseboat on the Hudson River in 1996 when, on a whim, they moved to the Island. “It was an intuitive decision and it took a long time to find our community. But we did, and I feel lucky that we followed that crazy instinct.”

At her home studio in Vineyard Haven, built by Katzman, Kane creates upstairs, while he creates downstairs. Much of her inspiration comes from nature. “In my work, I oscillate between focusing on the tiniest minutia in the natural world and the largest of earth’s creatures,” she said.

Two years ago, Kane created a series of whale paintings that focused on the whale as a whole. Her newest endeavor, however, is more up close and personal. “I got a commission from the Granary Gallery to do a blue sperm whale face diving into black space,” said Kane. “I really liked the scale and wanted to explore it more.”

For the piece at left, titled Face, Kane wanted to achieve the right texture for the sperm whale’s skin. Utilizing a toothbrush, she dipped the bristle into hues of gray, blue, black, and white before spraying the paint onto the canvas over and over again. The end result is a grainy and textured whale that almost jumps out at the viewer.

“The main focus on these new pieces is I am trying to get a sculptural feeling in a two-dimensional space,” Kane said. “It feels more like I’m looking at an object.…I want to try to achieve that quality of an object coming out at you, coming out toward you.”

To view more of Kane’s work, visit the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury or go to