Wayne Keefe

South Slave
Fort Smith
Primary Art Type: 

Artist Story

I started painting in grade 12. At the time, I had a really interesting teacher who was capable of capturing everybody's interest. About eight years after graduating high school, I became interested in painting again. Since then, I have attended numerous watercolor and acrylic workshops and symposiums. This training has further developed my interest and inspired me to continue my artwork. I progressed from using oil paints to watercolor and then I took up acrylic, which I sometimes pair with collage-work. I have also conducted watercolor and acrylic workshops in recent years. 

A lot of my past work has been watercolor scenes, semi-abstract and semi-representational. I'm a bit of an impressionist with the vibrant colors and outdoor plein - air settings. I am currently painting northern scenes with acrylic paint, including pelicans, whooping cranes, churches and northern lights. I particularly enjoy painting whooping cranes. There is a great story behind the survival of such a beautiful, delicate bird. These birds can be difficult to access in the wild as they are nesting during their summer-time stay in Wood Buffalo National Park. For my crane paintings, I use a lot of external references and, more recently, photographs taken during a trip to Aransas National Park in Texas, USA. In this manner, I have adequate inspiration and reference material to complete these paintings to my satisfaction. 

As part of my present portfolio, I am painting a series of Northwest Territories churches. These churches are linked with a common theme. I thought: "What has always been used to bring people together in the NWT?" The answer that came to mind was water, especially in Fort Smith, To many people, water is life. It flows. It's a highway. It's a whole separate ecosystem. Water is meaningful in so many ways, and has always been one of my favorite things to paint. The river is a path and that is why I adopted that aspect as part of the "River Flows To A Church " series.

What I love most about painting is that it puts me in 'the zone'. For the artist, "getting in the zone" is meditative. I really believe that being creative gets you to that meditative place that is difficult to access any other way. A lot of the satisfaction I get from painting comes from the process of completing a piece that is both eye-catching and has a story-line. What I'm aiming to do more and more is to produce art that 'speaks'.

There are times when inspiration and art creation happens by accident.Sometimes I make a mistake when I mix paint, and it turns out to be a useful, striking color. Mistakes in line-work can turn out to be desired elements in the piece.These "mistakes" are part of the process and they can occur at any time with almost any aspect of artwork, such as line, value, color, composition and setting. As an artist in the process of creating, if you can let yourself go , experimentation and sudden unexpected glitches can bring in new desired features to the artwork In most respects, the artist controls the steerage or the direction in which a piece of art is created. I try to let loose the steering wheel as often as possible while maintaining some form of technical correctness. That, said even bending the rules on technical correctness can produce interesting, desirable artistic elements. Often, I will take note and record these pop-up ideas for incorporation into future artwork. 

Woodworking has ben another important medium for me throughout the years. I will probably always be a woodworker at heart. I like to create small cabinets, tables and hand tools such as wooden hand-planes. My favorite woods are maple, black walnut, and cherry. I started painting before becoming involved with woodworking. I questioned myself as to why I would pursue another medium in addition to painting but woodworking takes me to a different place than painting does. When I work with wood, I am technically more disciplined then when I paint. That is because, it seems, that catastrophic failure lurks immediately around the corner with technical miscues in woodworking. Tools must be tuned up and extremely sharp. With woodworking, I am more aware of the path to be taken to the finish product then I am with painting. 

Artist Bio: 

Wayne Keefe lived in Hay River for 31 years before moving to Fort Smith with his wife in 2017. An avid woodworker and painter, he is greatly inspired by nature and the forest creatures found in nature. He is constantly inspired by the work of other artists. Wayne often creates art with a storyline, which can allow the viewer an additional relationship to the artwork. 

Last Updated: May 26, 2020

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