Vernon Kerr Signature
Vernon Lee Kerr • 1938-1982 • California Artist


About Vernon Kerr

1956- Newsletter  |  1956-58- Vernon Kerr in the U.S. Navy
1961- Laguna Beach newspaper article 
|  1974- Mendocino Beacon article 
1980- Promotional Biography 
|  1982- Artist's Notebook  
1982- Obituary  
|  1984- Southwest Art Magazine article  |  Photos

From newsletter of Community Savings of Compton & Paramount, Calif. 1956:

Two Oil paintings purchased from Mid-Cities Exhibit

Theodore N. Ediss and Vernon Kerr are the artists whose works were selected to represent the 9th Annual Mid-Cities Art Exhibit in the purchase awards by Community Savings. The two oil paintings are "Northwestern," a seascape by Mr. Ediss, and "Earth's Abundance," a still life by Mr. Kerr. Mr. kerr's painting was the winner of a blue ribbon in its class.

Mr. Ediss, a resident of Lakewood, currently teaching in his own studio, exhibits at the Laguna Beach Art Gallery and with the Spectrum Club of Long Beach. Young Mr. Kerr [18 years old], who recently joined the Navy, also exhibits at the Laguna Beach Art Gallery, as well as in Whittier, South Gate and the Statler Hotel. ...

1956-58- Vernon Kerr in the U.S. Navy

1961 Laguna Beach, Calif. newspaper
(author unknown. Photo from family archives and not published in paper.)


Vernon Kerr [age 23] is a very talented and energetic young man whose enthusiasm for the Festival of Arts and Laguna Beach seems to be boundless since he, his parents, and his brothers and sisters moved here two years ago.

Vernon has already sold enough paintings on the Festival grounds to buy a truck and finance a trip across the country. The truck will be another way of showing his enthusiasm for his city since it will have "Laguna Beach" in large letters painted on the outside.

Vernon plans to meander across the country in his truck, painting and gathering impressions as he goes. He will spend some time on the East coast.

Despite his youth, Vernon shows considerable maturity in his art -- probably because he has been painting ever since he can remember and because his parents, Mrs. and Mrs. Roy Kerr, gave him every encouragement.

Even his years of military service did not interfere too much with his goal of becoming an outstanding artist. He was a naval illustrator while in the U. S. Navy and while he was stationed in Japan he rented a Japanese house, set up a studio, and sketched the Japanese people and the country side as much as possible.

Vernon has already received numerous honors and awards for his marines, portraits, and still lifes and the dedicated determination he brings to his natural gifts will undoubtedly eventually place him amongst the top artists of the country.

1974 Mendocino Beacon column "Coast Creators," by Ann Vrooman

He comes on strong and he knows it. Vernon Kerr is honest with himself. If you ask Vernon what makes him "go" he'll tell you it's "change" or a "challenge." His personality is multifaceted. I have never seen so much creative energy packed into one person. And it doesn't seep out in an occasional "happening," but rather fires out of him like bullets from a machine gun.

The man really moves. When he is getting ready for one of his large art shows in different sections of the country, you can see his bright studio lights on well into the morning, night after night. I've watched him load fifty or sixty huge marine oiIs or landscapes into his trailer. I know how hard he works.

His house sits directly in front of ours, and you could say we are within throwing distance. We've talked over coffee or a glass of wine now and then, and usually argue. I will admit I'm the one who loses temper. Vernon can sound terribly excited while his thinking remains cool. But he does enjoy provoking reaction, and I would say he's a master at it. On top of your reaction he's liable to laugh. Not always. But when I simmer down and we're not arguing, I have to say I do enjoy Vernon Kerr's sense of humor. Some people, when provoked by others, will allow that perhaps the others are working out their Karma. Well, I wish Vernon's Karma could come close to his own rapid pace. Just the same, if you remain cool and eventually prove that perhaps you are right, Vernon will respect your proof and is open to change.

"Cut the red tape and get the job done" is a rule he lives by. He even admits to adhering yet to the old K-I-S-S cliche, which is simply: "Keep it simple, stupid." Vernon pays his bills, drives a hard bargain now and then, explaining that every dollar he saves is a dollar more toward art materials, which are his livelihood. He's a charter member of the barter system. There is, though, a very different side to Vernon's nature that too few people are aware of. He's a generous man. He will never forget a favor and he will return it twofold.

Although Vernon Kerr has asked that I keep this simple, say what I think, but don't blow up his art, you have but to meet the man and see his work, to realize his entire life is based on art. For over twenty year he has earned a living by art alone, and a good living. He supports four children. It is necessary, he explains, that he think commercially in terms of art production. If he could let loose some of the responsibility he feels he has shouldered for so long, he believes he could be very creative, that he would enjoy the play. Well, I maintain, as artists who respect his work do, that Vernon's work is creative. Vernon Kerr says: "Sometimes you have an idea and sometimes your skill overshadows your spontaneity. As far as I'm concerned, creativity should have spunk." How he can believe his paintings don't have spunk, amazes me. I can't help but wonder what we may one day see when Vernon believes he's "there."

Vernon worked in his own studio-gallery for twelve years and then built another at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where he lived for four years with his former wife and four children. He comes from an artistic background. His mother is an accomplished pianist and also has painted some beautiful florals in oil. His father was an architect and published some poetry. Vernon has taught many classes in art in Southern California and in Idaho. Here in Mendocino, he has already assembled a group of artists for Thursday evening sessions where they draw from the live model. He has decided not to teach any more, except for an occasional seminar.

When you ask Vernon Kerr if he likes Mendocino, he gets excited. "It's a magic place," he tells you.


Promotional Color Postcard biography, 1980:

With glowing color and luminous light effects, Vernon Kerr's seascapes and landscapes have earned him international fame.

Vernon seeks growth and perfection in his art; as a teenager he followed the example of the Old Masters and apprenticed for four years to Leon Franks. Later, after studies in the Orient as a Navy illustrator, in the Los Angeles Art Center, and with Sergei Bongart, Vernon operated his own art gallery in Laguna Beach, joined the Laguna Art Festival, and taught classes for several years. He and his family now live near the salt-sprayed bluffs of Mendocino, California.

Vernon Kerr studies the Old Masters and believes in their discipline and versatility. His creations embrace seascape, landscape (including snow and desert), still-life, floral, portrait, figure and wildlife. His ambition: Freedom to paint anything, anywhere, any time. "Painting is not fun unless I am learning something new, and Nature is my greatest teacher."

He has written a book for Walter T. Foster, No 183 How Vernon Kerr Paints Seascapes and Landscapes. With fifty prints marketed through three publishers (Haddad, Texas Press and International Art), Vernon Kerr's original paintings are a lasting treasure and a sound investment.

From 1982 notebook of Vernon Kerr:


Love is not dependency, idolization, sentimentality, craving, or physical attraction. Human relationships based on these attributes are strained, ready to break apart at any moment.

Genuine love does not start with an emotion -- it begins with a state of consciousness, of clear awareness, of deep understanding of both self and the other person. Emotions arising from this are legitimate natural fruit. Tenderness and affection are among them. WHEN AN EMOTION COMES FIRST, IT IS NOT GENUINE LOVE, ONLY A COUNTERFEIT, which is really craving, or passion, or a wish to FLEE FROM AN UNWANTED SELF INTO THE OTHER PERSON.

Mystical love cannot be based on desire or craving.

Try to see that the craving is not based an actual qualities of the other person, but rather in your idealistic imagination of him. He represents something you need, perhaps strength or security, or affection. But this ideal is merely a need in you which you mistakenly assume is a reality in him.

Try to see this. As you succeed, you will be astonished at how differently you see this so-called ideal person. He or she has not changed -- you have.

NOTE: According to his second wife, this was one of the last things he wrote in his notebook, which she retained after his death. She wrote to his younger daughter: "He was going through a lot of changes in those months after we separated. He was really trying to make a better person of himself; I'm sorry he didn't stay around long enough to succeed. He had fine ideals, and he really tried to be a good parent -- always try to remember that."

1982- Obituary

1984- Southwest Art Magazine article



Return to Vernon Kerr signature Homepage