Wisconsin painter Shelby Keefe chooses paintings for her collection that reflect her goals — and if they feature cars, so much the better.
“I am collecting work that I aspire to or have things about them that I want to assimilate into the way I like to paint,” says the artist. “I buy people’s paintings so I can keep learning by looking.”
The first painting Keefe chose to discuss was by an artist who she considers her favorite plein air painter and teacher: Jill Carver. “I have taken her workshop a couple of different times, and I bought this painting at one of them,” says Keefe. “I just love her style of painting. This painting is a beautiful rusty color and green at the same time. Jill used to participate in a lot more plein air competitions than she does now. At one event in Sedona, she says she recalls thinking, ‘I am tired of painting all this red rocks stuff.’ And then, ‘I ended up painting the red rock colors anyway’ on a car. Jill is a fellow artist and someone I look up to greatly.”
Next, one by California artist Mike Hernandez. “Mike did this at the Laguna Plein Air quick draw,” says Keefe. “It’s a gouache. Gouache is really different from oils — very matte — but he was able to get great brushwork and movement in this ocean scene. I’m very curious about gouache. Seeing him pull something off with it — it seems like the paint would be very unmovable. There’s no blending or smooshing allowed like with oils. But I’m blown away how he could get the color of this wave, where he got that turquoise. I like to study that color and try to see how he got the crest of that wave with gouache. Then there’s the calligraphic marks for the rocks, and the glow and the sparkle done with white paint. It was amazing what he is able to convince the viewers that we are seeing, with these very expressive marks.”
Last, Keefe turned to a piece by Frank Gardner. “Frank used to do the Door County event all the time, and I would do it with him,” Keefe recalls. “I got this one at the live auction quick draw. Frank does a great job with cars. This classic vehicle was parked in a perfectly positioned place, and he did it all in a two-hour quick draw. I was pleased to be able to take home a Frank Gardner. What a great way of simplifying a very complicated background. And I adore old cars, so it had a great personality for me.”