John Keeling

Wednesday, September 1 to Friday, December 31, 2021

Book illustrator and former creative director for Hallmark, John Keeling specializes in custom portraits. Primarily working in watercolor, John is drawn to the medium for it’s freedom, transparency and unpredictability. His work can also be seen on calendars and greeting cards.


Talk about the work on view. What would you like people to know about it?

I use watercolor to capture the essence of my subject matter, whether it is a person, a place or an animal.  It's realistic, yet expressive.

Watercolor of dog carrying a waterfowl in it’s mouth.

How did you get started doing commission work? Describe your first commission piece.

Haha! Not sure I remember my first commission.  My first ones were back when I was in high school and most often portraits.  More recently, it was paintings of homes and pets.


Describe your creative process. How often are you painting and where is your studio?

I paint almost every day now.  My studio is in my home in Crestwood.  A few years ago, we converted our garage into a home gallery/workshop space just below where I paint. I've recently begun exploring more plein air painting— out of the studio, on location.


What is your most important artistic tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Coffee?  I have three brushes that are integral to creating my work: a large 1" mop for laying down washes, a #7 round that keeps an incredible point and a rigger for adding details.


Please list 5-10 books, movies and/or music that currently inspire you.


Wintering by Katherine May

Keep Going by Joseph Marshall III

Lead with your Heart by Allan J. Hamilton, MD

Devotions poems by Mary Oliver

Movies (don't see many movies... tend to love the classics)

Brokeback Mountain

Breakfast at Tiffany's or any other Audrey Hepburn film

The Goldfinch


Billie Holliday

Yo-Yo Ma plays Ennio Morricone

Mary Chapin Carpenter