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Wednesday, September 23 News

Westport artist paints from the heart

WESTPORT — Capturing the powerful expression of love has been a goal for many artists, and Kerri Rosenthal has navigated her own way of conveying the strong emotion in her work.

“I just loved everything cute, colorful and pretty growing up,” the local art shop owner said. “I grew up loving hearts and being very inspired by Marimekko.” It also didn’t hurt that Valentine’s Day had always been one of the Westport resident’s favorite holidays.

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After picking up painting in 2009, Rosenthal opened her shop in Sconset Square in 2016 to sell her works. Since then, she has sold hundreds of art pieces and grown the business from three to 13 employees.

“It was an unbelievable thing ... that feeling of people wanting your work and appreciating your work,” Rosenthal said.

Artists like Basquiat, Picasso, and Helen Frankenthaler were some of the early inspirations to her colorful approach to art. Many of Rosenthal’s paintings use bright colors like the aforementioned art legends to encapsulate the emotions associated with feelings of happiness or love.

“These are artists who embraced color fearlessly,” Rosenthal said. “I was very attracted to that color.”

More Information

To learn more about Kerri Rosenthal’s artwork and lifestyle brand, visit www.kerrirosenthal.com.

As a result, some of her best-selling work combines bold colors and the most common object associated with love — a heart. Combining the two led to the creation of Rosenthal’s signature “drippy heart” paintings, which have received an overwhelmingly positive reception on social media.

It’s origin came years ago when Rosenthal completed a heart painting, but felt the project was incomplete.

“I had it over my fireplace and I just kept looking at it,” she said. “It just didn’t seem right to me.”

After moving the piece from above her fireplace and continuing to work on it, she noticed the paint starting to drip. Suddenly, she noticed exactly what had been missing.

“It expressed exactly what I was feeling at that moment for whatever reason,” Rosenthal recalled. “It felt right as a painting.”

The painting symbolized many things, she noted, including the imperfection of love and the inability of the heart to contain such an emotion.

“I’m sure I’ve painted over 300 drippy hearts,” she said.

The paintings are also a part of her Blocks of Love artwork — small Lucite squares depicting Rosenthal’s drippy hearts, which are signed by the artist. The drippy hearts brand has also expanded to include a variety of sweaters, shirts and accessories in her store.

From everyday people to celebrities, Rosenthal said many have been drawn to her art. Last year, co-host Hoda Kotb of the Today show mentioned Blocks of Love as one of the items she can’t live without.

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While the early success has been meaningful, Rosenthal continues to paint from the heart.

“Painting fills my soul. It makes me happy and has saved me in tough times during my life,” she said. “I think I pour it all in, and I think it comes out and people feel it.”