Kristin Eyfells Filled Canvases With Colorful, Radiant Portraits
July 22, 2002|By Jon Steinman, Sentinel Staff Writer
With her oils and pastels, Kristin Eyfells had that uncanny way of turning a blank canvas into an explosion of personality. A native of western Iceland who came to Central Florida by way of San Francisco, Eyfells became one of Central Florida’s artistic lights.
Shows of her works dazzled art lovers in Orlando, Tampa and Northern California. Eyfells, 84, died Saturday. She had suffered a stroke in 1999, and according to her husband, Johann Eyfells, “It had been downhill ever since.”
Her artistic legacy, however, endures — and not just in her Oviedo home, where countless canvases brimming with her talent are on display. Fascinated by the face and its potential to convey character and meaning, Kristin Eyfells’ faces radiated. While many of her faces were those of the famous and important, not all were. In 1994, a monumental visage by Eyfells dominated The Warehouse Gallery’s “Women at Work” show. In a 1994 review of her work, an Orlando Sentinel correspondent wrote that, “Kristin creates in each of her works an individualized compromise between the abstract and the organic.”
Realistic and playful might be another way to describe her paintings, which captured her subjects with a photographer’s clarity even as she danced around the natural order of things. Colors exploded unexpectedly, and in surprising places: country crooner George Jones’ chin, photographer Ansel Adams’ eyelids. The Eyfells, husband and wife, sculptor and painter, even staged shows together. They lived and breathed art through 53 years of marriage.
“We met in Berkeley, where I was a student,” said Johann Eyfells, 79, a retired University of Central Florida art professor who helped create UCF’s art department. “She was a student in fashion-design school. We married, and after we decided to move to Florida to complete our studies. The weather was the main factor. I am a sculptor, and I enjoy working in the outdoors.”
Kristin Eyfells earned a degree in psychology from the University of Florida before the couple relocated to the Orlando area. And, according to her husband, it transformed her work. “She really concentrated on faces,” he said. “I’m sure she was interested in capturing the character, the invisible energy of the subject.”
Kristin Eyfells produced much of her work out of the couple’s home. And while he was the teacher in the family, she also made time to teach as well at the Maitland Art Center, Johann Eyfells said.
The couple had no children, and their relatives all remain in Iceland, Johann Eyfells said. Baldwin-Fairchild Funeral Home, Goldenrod Chapel, is handling arrangements.