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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Dirce Kennedy: Contemporary Portrait Painter

Jul 29, 2015 05:32PM ● By Richard Kennedy

Artist Dirce Kennedy loves people. They fill her home, in fact. Like our Florida sunshine, their portraits permeate her walls – clients, friends, random folks, children, models, celebrities and even pets.

After rising around 6 a.m. and completing her morning routine of coffee, breakfast, exercise, meditation and checking emails, Kennedy begins her daily work, seeking through her brushes to honor nature. The canvas becomes her instrument to eternalize the human being. 

“The process of change from a blank white canvas to a finished painting is what I like best,” she says. “My motivation is to portray the human beauty. Earth colors and human skin colors are the same. Paint such as watercolors, acrylics and oils offer me the possibilities to create the shape and form. When my work is completed, these shapes and forms illustrate the inner spirit, personality and expression of the subject – the many layers of life’s beauty.”


 “Ah! Portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come.” 

– Vincent van Gogh 


Growing up in the south of Brazil, land of the Gaucho, Kennedy’s interest and passion for art began at two years old when her artist father first gave her drawing materials. By elementary school, every report she turned in was accompanied by her drawing of the subject. Private art lessons from her father, school teachers and other local artists and immersed her into a world of imagery.

Then, her education took a different direction when, for an extended period of time, painting took a hiatus, and Kennedy’s other passion – social science – took precedence. Her milieu expanded from Sao Paul to all of Brazil, then Europe, Japan, Korea, the United States and settling in Los Angeles. After endeavoring to absorb each ethos, she fully opened her heart and mind to an accepting worldview.

During the last seven years, Kennedy has once again fully embraced her art, first in Los Angeles then, since July 2011, here in Sarasota where her passions for social science and painting have formed a deep alliance in her portrait painting. She seems to have an genuine innate understanding of her subject, simply from quiet observation of the subject or studying their photographs and, whenever possible, from direct conversation which Kennedy approaches in a relaxed and sincere fashion – all making the portrait process easy.

Kennedy’s portrait style pays homage to history, however, with a fresh and contemporary approach, fitting comfortably with today’s lifestyle. This is evident in her works of celebrities such as Willie Nelson, Taylor Swift, Frank Sinatra or Chaser, the World’s Smartest Dog, as well as with clients, friends or models. 

Since in Florida, her paintings have been exhibited locally in over 60 juried shows including at the Art Center Sarasota, The Uptown Gallery Sarasota, The Manatee Art Center, The Venice Art Center, Ringling College’s Englewood Art Center and, Ringling College’s Longboat Key Center for the Arts where she has received numerous awards.

Recently, Kennedy has exhibited solo shows at the Player’s Theatre in Sarasota, the Mitchell Gallery of Ringling College’s Englewood Art Center and an upcoming show at All Angels by the Sea in Longboat Key, opening August 1, and running through  September 30.

Dirce Kennedy offers commissioned portraiture of individuals, families and pets. For more information on her paintings, visit


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