Kraig Blue: The Human Condition

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By Carisa Carlton

The first thing you will notice about Kraig Blue is the passion he radiates. Passion for everything in life, and passion for life.

kraig blue artist

Growing up in the Ghetto, three homeless years in LA, losing two brothers in four years, jailed for protesting, beaten by law enforcement, losing friends to AIDS, and a passion for education created a character that cannot be matched. Blue is the man you want to talk to when you want to know what it’s like to fall down and pick yourself back up again with confidence. This persona beams through his vibrantly illustrative work like a great heavenly light. He lives a life worth illustrating, and it shows in his work.

Blessed by a supportive family who recognized his creative talents when he taught himself to draw by tracing coloring books at 5, Blue has nothing standing in his way to widely recognized success as an artist. Except himself, of course.

Who Cares What Color He Is?

Blue’s dream is to be known as an artist, not an African-American artist because he believes there is a persuasive racial ideology in American culture that creates financial biases, or at least provides different financial opportunities to artists. Blue argues, “Racial labels are not designated to every artist, but they are applied to African-American artists.”

I looked up artists like David Hammons and indeed the first sentence on Wikipedia was “…an African-American artist.” (I removed that label from the Wikipedia article.) Never do you see a Caucasian artist labeled European-American.

While I agree racism is still an American issue, every culture has its downside. The challenge is to use the downside to your advantage. And, no one seems to implement that better than Blue. He races through a playful, focused course allowing his passion to lead paintings of the human condition and the result is mesmerizing.

Blue’s Work

Kraig Blue artistDespite any real or perceived racial biases, Blue’s political, yet sensitive work stirs controversy and challenges paradigms. “Rwanda” was reused as a pen and ink illustration for a November 1995 Hunter College newspaper civil-rights article about Ota Benga, who was used as a human zoo exhibit in the early 1900s. Stress Magazine used a photograph of Blue’s painting “Assata” (Spring 1996) in the article “Assata’s Message” about Black Panther activist Assata Shakur who escaped an American prison and spent time in Cuban exile. “Grandfather” is a painting of Rain-in-the-Face, a Lakota war chief who helped defeat George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment at the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn. “Young Lords” is a painting of the Puerto Rican human rights movement of the 1960s. In each painting, Blue captures and conveys emotion with brilliant color and thoughtful line.

Blue self-studied quantum physics and the universal structure. When he realized every chemical element of galaxies, stars, and planets were the same chemical make-up as human bodies, his imagination soared to outer space, and the cosmic series “The Celestials” magically unfolded.

At the Rock Rose Gallery in Los Angeles, Blue held a one-man show featuring portraits of local LA musicians in oils in August 2006; he curated a Bob Marley tribute at Rock Rose Gallery in February 2008; and he painted a guitar in tribute to Les Paul in the Gibson GuitarTown public art project on the Sunset strip in 2010.

Kraig Blue plein airBlue came to Laguna this year to become visually bolder in his concepts. While studying at the Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD), Blue, who had never painted plein-air, won second place in the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) competition for the LCAD Next Generation scholarship award held on October 19, 2013.

Laguna Beach Life

When not painting, you can find Blue belly-riding his new surf board, or bouldering on the coast. Much of his emotions are vested in learning as much as he can at LCAD so he can teach fine art, and helping his family and himself recover from the recent deaths of his brothers.

If  you would like to commission a painting, now is a good time. To learn more about Kraig Blue visit his website.

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Author: Carisa Carlton

Carisa Carlton is the Editor in Chief of Laguna Beach Gazette. Learn more about Carlton at .

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1 Comment

  1. Hi there. I was wondering if you know how I can get in contact with the artist Kraig Blue? I went to his website but the contact form there doesn’t work. Any information you have would be helpful. Thank you very much.

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