Kumiko Buller Portraits




I used to wonder what was the difference between the wall size paintings in the Rothko Chapel  in Houston and painted walls.  Rothko's paintings in the sanctuary have no shapes, no lines, and they just look like walls. The answer is energy.  Rothko's paintings have tremendous serene energy there whereas painted walls would have very little. I discovered this idea of art from  Kimura Aiko sensei, my blind acupuncturist who enjoys art by moving her hand over paintings.  She might appreciate  art more than  sighted people, because nothing distracts her.   For me art both visual and performing is energy and art form is  a vehicle to deliver life energy.


Pastel portraits come with a stigma of seeming obsolescense in the age of iphones capable of instantly capturing perfect images in  anyone's hands.  But I don't think there is anything obsolete about expressing the unique energy, the unique spirit/presence of  each person.  That is exactly what I want to do in portraiture. I want to creat a painting in which viewers can FEEL the unique energy, presence of the subject. 


What is my method?  Very simple.  I just make, break, make, break, make break, ... until it "jells".  And it's really not my doing.  I feel it just happens through me.





I was born and raised in Japan. My father was a shirt maker and my mother became a calligraphy teacher after he died of tuberculois at the age of 35.  My parents loved art and enjoyed drawing.  They both left me some of their drawings of me as a baby.   The very special pencil drawing of me sleeping in which you can feel her soft hair and almost hear her breathing,   the only one signed by my father,  particularly, inspired me  to  study at the Art Students League  late in my life.  I studied   with Ronald Scherr whose portraits of President Bush, Sr. and Jr. are  in the National Portrait Gallery and I discovered pastel in  Harvey Dinnerstein's class.  I'm happy to report that I was granted a merit scholarship and that I have been a recipient of awards such as  the Art Spirit Foundation Gold Medal, Jane Impasto award,  Mortimer E. Freehof award, and Windsor Newton Award.  My work also appeared in the Pastel Journal.


 A high point in my career came when I was commissioned to create a portrait of Kurt Masur in his private life, the music director emeritus of the New York Philharmonic.  I sketched the maestro at his residence while listening to him play the piano, feeling as if I had suddenly been transported to another world.  As always,  I wanted to capture him just as himself n his own world not as a world famous conductor and humanist. When I was invited to present the finished portrait to him in his dressing room at Lincoln Center, the maestro simply whispered , "I feel it."   I was totally gratified.



Why pastel?


I  love pastel  because it is vibrant and immediate but also because it gives me freedom to directly explore colors on the paper or board.  It allows me to revisit a particular area countless times, going back and forth, if necessary, to arrive at the desired effect.  Another advantage of pastel is that ,unlike oil or water color, it does not crack, yellow or fade over ages  because it does not require major vehicle to bind pigments. I believe it is  an ideal medium for portraiture.




                National Academy of Design (Nicholas Markotos School Summer Scholarship), New York, NY

                The Arts Students League of New York, Certificate of Completion in Painting (Joan M. Rosenberg           

                Memorial Scholarship), New York, NY

                Marquette University, MA in English, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

                Meiji Gakuin University, BA in English Literature, Tokyo, Japan


Exhibitions & Awards

  2016         Artists of the Rivertowns, Square  Peg Gallery, Hastings on Hudson, NY

  2015         Small Works, Upstream Gallery, Hastings on Hudson, NY

  2012      Art Takes times Square, Times Square, NY

  2011        The 128th Annual Members Exhibition, Salmagundi Club, New York, NY

                   Small Works Exhibition, Manhattan Borough Presidents Offices, New YOrk, NY

  2009        The 126h Annual Members Exhibition (Jane Impastato Award), Salmagundi Club, New York, NY

                Contemporary Expressions (Certificate of Merit), Salmagundi Club, New York, NY

  2008       The 125th Annual Members Exhibition (Mortimer E. Freehof Memorial Award), Salmagundi Club

              A Variety of Gifts, Trinity Museum, Trinity Church, New York, NY

                  The 36th Annual Open Exhibition, Pastel Society of America, New York, NY 

                   Portraits in Pastel, Martucci Gallery, Irvington-on-Hudson, NY

  2007      The Beholder’s Eyes: Contemporary Art Invitational (curated by Katherine Chapin),

                Salmagundi Club, New York, NY

                   The 124th Annual Members Exhibition (The Art Spirit Foundation Gold Medal Award)

                Salmagundi Club, New York, NY

                    61st Beaux Arts Finale, Westchester County Federation of Women’s Clubs (First Place), 

                    “Garden Room” Gallery, Katonah

                   Pastel 100 Competition (Honorable Mention), Pastel Journal, April, 2007

  2006        Merit Scholarship Exhibition, Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center, New York, NY 

                  The 20th Annual International Juried Show, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ                    

                  The 123rd Annual Members Exhibition, Salmagundi Club, New York, NY

  2005        National Juried Exhibit, The Pen & Brush, Inc., New York, NY

                   Focus on the Figure 2005: National Juried Exhibition, Hopper House Art Center, Nyack, NY

  2004        The Contemporary Portraits, the Rye Arts Center, Rye, NY

                   The Dishman Competition (Honorable Mention), the Dishman Museum,

               Lamar University,  Beaumont , TX

                    The 32nd Annual Open Exhibition, Pastel Society of America, New York, NY 

                    The 62nd Annual National Juried Exhibition, Audubon Artists, New York, NY

                    The 108th Open Juried Exhibition, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, New York, NY

                    Kumiko Ueki Buller Portraits, Martucci Gallery, Irvington-on-Hudson, NY

  2003         Women Artists Residing on the Eastern Seaboard (Windsor Newton Award),

             the Pen & Brush, Inc. NYC 

                   Viewpoints (curated by Sarah Bancroft of Guggenheim Museum),

             Northern Westchester Center  for the  Arts, Mt. Kisco, NY               

                  The 61st Annual Juried Exhibition, Audubon Artists, New York, NY

                  The 31st Annual Open Exhibition, Pastel Society of America, New York, NY

                   River Gallery, Irvington-on-Hudson, NY



              Signature member,  Pastel Society of America, 15 Gramercy Park S, New York, NY


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