Keith quit painting for 15 years so he could support his family working in corporate finance but he was not happy at all. He missed painting each time he saw something beautiful. Finally, he was able to start his dream in 2019 by founding Sentient Academy and find his way back into the art world.
Now Keith tries to find time for painting outside of my busy schedule. He knows many others like himself, that have a career but deep inside they crave the creativity. Keith feels so fortunate to know them and help them find motivation to create.
What’s your preferred medium to paint? Have you tried different mediums before?
I have tried oils, acrylics, pastels, charcoal, graphite and even print making, but I really love the wet-in-wet approach with oils and the process of print making. I can’t really draw but I can paint with brushes. I love oils because I can push paint around, lay down thick textures or lift out paint to create depth. I found my way around the paint brushes to create different strokes instead of cross hatching with drawing tools. I can create a lot more interesting marks using all corners of a brush and pressure thanks to my calligraphy training back in Taiwan when I was a kid.
Favorite living artists?
There are so many but if I really have to pick one, I would say Michael Malm not only because he is one of the most humble person I’ve ben with such great talents, but also because his work is so simplified but rich in textures and colors. He is one of our Sentient Academy instructors so I got to know him and even watch him paint closely over the past year. I have learned so much from him to appreciate art work in general because of him.
To be honest, I have not visited enough museums to speak to this.
What’s the meanest thing someone has said about your art? How did you respond?
I always remember this comment “Keith, when I see your art, I see Walmart. Generic!” In fact, that came from my mentor when I just started learning. I did not have any prior training before but I jumped right into oils and portrait painting. He is a great and honest mentor so I opened myself up for his feedback. After that comment, I asked him to show me how not to be generic and he did. That was my turning point as I followed his advice to measure everything carefully and look for the shapes. I was able to improve greatly after that.
Who was you biggest supporter when you decided to pursue art as a career?
I would say my first art professor Dennis Martinez and portrait painting mentor Del Parson back at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah. They always believed in my artistic abilities and helped me with supplies, resources and techniques to push myself to become the best art student of the year.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to make art for a living?
I would advise this person to not only focus on the art skills but also learn about the business side of things. I’m not talking about just the operational knowledge about getting into the galleries, shows, taxes or stay motivated. I’m talking about the financial knowledge to understand how to run a business and plan for the future because this is not a summer job, this is a lifelong career. Learning how to analyze your business data can greatly help you discover opportunities to grow year after year instead of blindly copying other’s success formula and stay in the trial and error stage.
Keith's Favorite Trekell Products:
I love the Legion and Opal long flats and long filberts. Also the linseed oil soap is awesome so I feel like using brand new brushes each time!
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