• Bill Keast

    bill keastMy interest in art developed rather later in life. I was in my second year of teaching English, History and Math in Stoney Creek, Ontario before I even knew I was vaguely interested.

    I submitted a portfolio to the University of Toronto for a summer program and here the hand of fate intervened. They lost my portfolio. Naturally they had to do the honourable thing and accept me for the program. Judging from the level of talent around me in that first year art class I would never have been accepted if it hadn’t gone astray.

    One of the most calamitous experiences of that first painting and drawing course was my use of acrylics in a painting which was to be the final culminating experience of the summer. It was an absolute disaster and I vowed never to touch the things again. How strange it is that today I work only with acrylics.

    In the end it was all very worthwhile. Fate would once more intervene when the art teacher at the school quit as I was preparing to get my Specialist Certificate in Visual Arts. The job was mine. I taught art for 22 years in 2 different high schools and enjoyed every single minute of it. But I also knew that there was something burning inside that needed expression. From that moment on I started getting up at 4:30 in the morning to paint before going to school. This went on for 5 days a week over that entire time.

    I liked the expressive quality of my early works but was never too very sure of how they reflected my nature. Others weren’t too very certain either. A local female reporter, in reviewing the show, talked disparagingly of my “misdirected breast fixation”. I never did figure out whether she was referring to flaws in my personality or in the physical nature of the subjects.

    Over time that aspect of my personality that appreciates the stability and the predictability of the concrete came to dominate my painting. The works found in my next public showing with David O. were composed of large flat areas of colour and strong outlines of form. “Harlequin Three”, done just one year after “Grey Queen” is a good example.

    More importantly, the works started to lose their “edgy” quality. I had come to realize that I wanted to hang images that comforted and delighted. Hence the move to decorative realistic paintings.

    My paintings now hang in collections throughout Southern Ontario and in Mexico, Germany, Japan and the United States.

    ARTIST’S WEBSITE:   www.paintingsbykeast.ca

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