I was born in 1955 and grew up in a quiet home with my Mother and Father. Our home was filled with deeply religious art, much from my Aunt who had become a cloistered nun. My earliest memory of creating Art is an attempt to draw Saint Patrick with my box of crayons when I was about 4. In my first days of Kindergarten I was plopped in front of an easel, but didn't know what to do - I know what to do now. During my Elementary School years my Father brought home a drawing book for me, together with small amounts of white paper, which I used to create comic stories - 20 single page episodes until 1966, 8 booklets until 1968, and a final 6 page adventure until 1973. I believe my Mother was behind the books on painting and the art supplies I regularly received at Christmas and Easter during the 1960's, including the easel I use until today. I would always study what was available from the Art Supply sections of our local Department Stores. With the encouragement of my Parents my talent in Art developed all through Elementary School, and I began to receive the highest grade possible in Art on my Report Cards. My oil painting skills were developed through 'paint-by-number' sets on dogs, cats, and landscapes. My Father was so impressed by these that he used his limited woodworking skills to meticulously craft frames for them. At this crucial time educators entered a strange period of denial, perhaps feeling uncomfortable with my focus on figurative art. Despite my obvious talent and love of subject, I could not get recommended or accepted into my feeder High School Art Class. When I questioned my 8th grade teacher about this she glared at me and snapped, "You should worry about your other grades!". In my Sophomore year applicants to Art Class were required to make a charcoal interpretation of a poem read aloud about watermelons. Of the 5 applicants mine was not satisfactory. This led to my leaving parochial education, although I remained close to the Church in all other ways. I was accepted into Central HS for my Junior Year, and was finally admitted into Art Classes for my Senior Year, learning many Art skills from my teacher. I graduated from Central in 1973 with a "B" in Art, but my confidence had been shaken by the earlier experiences. My Art Education became side-tracked by an opportunity to try Engineering as a major. This only proved what little inclination I had towards the Sciences and soon developed into an interest in Drafting as a compromise between talent and opportunity. My already developed gift for drawing saw me successfully graduate the American Institute of Drafting. I was gainfully employed for years as a Senior Draftsman and, after returning to Drafting school for Computer Aided Drafting, as a CAD operator. But whatever job I held my artistic talents were quickly recognized and during the 1970s and 80s I created hundreds of artistic signs from the very small to the very large, including a few murals and play scenes.
You may enjoy visiting sites of other artists whose style I have admired from my slightly out of date but still interesting'artistic links' page.
My paintings are included in many private collections, and have been shown at Woodmere Art Museum, the Cheltenham Art Center, through four Gallery shows in historic Olde City Philadelphia, were represented by Swan Gallery in the Philadelphia suburbs during 2006, were shown with 3 shows during 2007-08 at 1 Shot Coffee house in Philadelphia, and over 40 of my paintings were shown through 2 shows at Goldfish Gallery in 2009.
In Spring 2006 I was asked to design the scenes for the play at our local Elementary School - the same school where I had attended Kindergarten many years ago. It was quite a creative experience guiding 25 talented kindergarten through 6th grade students (including our, at the time 7 year old, daughter) through a week of painting.
our daughter, 2006
My work is priced through shows at galleries, museums, art centers, places of interest, sometimes a benefit auction, and through my monthly Web Gallery, but if you are interested in a particular painting you may inquire by email:
Amidst so many changes it became apparent that an Artist is who I am, not simply what I do. An Artist's life holds many opportunities for diversity, from signs and banners for neighborhood events to creating websites for the World Wide Web. A still-life painting can still be challenging and I carry a pocket sketchbook to capture fleeting moments in subways and parks.
In 2006 Lorna received her Associate in Arts degree with honors from LaSalle University in Philadelphia.
Since 1989 we have lived in the United States and have 5 beautiful children.
Patrick and Rose at UArts in 2007
Patrick at UArts in 1997
Computers continued to become more 'user friendly' and as the Drafting Boards disappeared from Corporations, so did I.
Earlier I had begun courses at the Philadelphia College of Art, now The University of the Arts (the largest Art University in the USA), where Instructors shared many valuable insights, from direct painting methods to sophisticated techniques of the Masters.
As the class painted from life models or still life the Professors would walk among students giving critiques of their work. Some teachers would bring books of Artist's work, showing us example after example. This became my key to knowledge and I spent many hours in the school and public libraries, until assembling the private art library I have today.
I continued with my Art education to become a Fine Arts graduate of The University of the Arts, and have been listed with their Alumni Honor Rolls while still visiting the school and public libraries.
sketching outdoors, 2005
In November 2005, at the Professor's request, I gave a presentation of my work for Lorna's Art History class at LaSalle University discussing my style and motivation, and answering many interesting questions from the students.
I have often enriched my paintings with short poems and in Spring 2007 participated in Cheltenham Art Center's Spoken Word Night, reading one of my poems on-stage.
While on a visit to the mystical islands of the Philippines in the 1980s
I met my lovely wife, Lorna.
We fell in love on the island first recorded by the earliest European explorers as "Zee-Boo".
Within a year we were married with a Catholic Mass in her native country.
Charles & Lorna
Her native, intrinsic beauty
highlighted by her daring use of modern fashions and cosmetics inspired almost all of my work during the 1990s.
The following year I was asked to design 2 additional scenes for a new original play, again having help from a handful of students.
With the new millennium Lorna began studies towards an Art Degree which created a plethora of inspiration. The number of our paintings has exceeded 200 and has resulted in many shows and exhibits of our work.
George and violin in his school's String Orchestra,
After spending so much of my life reading books
it seemed time to have my own book published. My book
"Over 100 Oil Paintings by Charles Keenan"
was released during 2008
and is an overview of my early methods and motivation.
Soon I began composing smaller books, or booklets, each containing 20 images of my newer, more imaginative paintings. The first "Journeys" was published in 2009, the second "Myst" and third "Quiet Changes" in 2010.
( click on the covers to learn more )
In June, 2011, after a year of solid work, I released what I consider to be my masterpiece of painting and poetry "The Sands of Time". Each of the 21 researched paintings are small but highly detailed, and each is accompanied by an original poem.
Early in 2012 I became a member of the Facebook group
"The American Artists Gallery".
The amount of encouragement and guidance my work has received, sometimes on a daily basis, from some of the 200+ members has been epic. I hope you read my interview with them, and appreciate the beauty and depth that my new Metaphorical style is achieving.
As I mentioned, in addition to developing this Web Gallery I am always looking for brick-and-mortar venues for my art, where the prices must be higher. To have a painting on your wall that is also included in a book on your coffee table is quite a conversation piece, but art is not for the faint-hearted. If your emotions are stirring over one of my paintings please email me
During much of 2013 I battled an illness, but in early 2014
I released a book of short stories I had written.
Our children have all shown varying degrees of artistic abilities, from an occasional helping hand with my art to a scholarship to art college, from helping with a hallway mural at school to a graduate of a creative and performing arts high school, from singing a popular song off the radio to middle, high and all-city school orchestras and performing at the world class Kimmel Center and performing in Europe.
Our daughter, Rose, after performing at the Kimmel Center, 2014
George performing in our city's
Kimmel Center, 2011
The remainder of 2014 was a time of recovery for me as my family and I took a number of day-vacations to familiar places and cooked some backyard barbecues. I corresponded and met with adminstrators at The University of the Arts, and I began painting again. After I had completed a half dozen brand new paintings even the President of UArts mentioned how pleased he was that I had returned to my passion.
While I did complete a few fine art paintings in 2015, much of the year was dedicated to corresponding with area galleries, museums, schools and even the National Endowment for the Arts. I meticulously collected images of all 297 of my paintings and loaded them (each with title, medium & date) onto a Flash Drive. After I was confident with the collection I downloaded it onto CDs and mailed one with an explanation to a handful of 'friendly' venues.
While waiting for responses to my submissions I was commissioned by a city program which uses the arts to encourage voting. Together with 60 other area artists we each completed an original sign within some guidelines. It was great seeing all the other signs and seeing them all put to use during November 2015's elections. The group intends to use the well-made signs over and over again in years ahead.
In 2016 I completed enough new paintings to produce a CD titled
by Charles Keenan
"300 oil paintings
completed 1993- 2016"
which I have given to patrons and a few prospective patrons. I then came to feel that there should be some sort of break from my earlier work and by the end of 2016 I attempted a more symbolic, metaphorical style while altering my painting signature.
The year 2017 found me completing 17 small new oil paintings that I am very pleased with. As the end of the year approached I was offered a show of my work at our local free library, along with the opportunity to give an hour long Artist's Talk one evening. The paintings, which all had a winter theme, were displayed in the library all during December.
With only a few days remaining in 2018 my heart is warmed by recollections of visits to the Cheltenham Art Center during this past year. I had been involved with the non-profit organization years earlier, but focused on the internet for a few years until realizing that things were really working out for me at CAC, so with the New Year I joined. My work was accepted into their 75th Annual Juried Painting Show in April and I was encouraged to return to their Saturday Studio Sessions. I soon mastered completing a pastel drawing on-site while at a dozen Sessions and during many visits to a nearby arboretum, and have a full portfolio of work to use as material for a long time to come. You can see all of the best drawings here.
Earlier in the year I was getting "up to speed" by using a very professional Facebook/internet group "Draw This" (www.drawthis.com) who offered live modeling and still photos on-line. Combining material from both "Draw This" and the Cheltenham Art Center's Studio Sessions I completed eleven small oil paintings of professional models in appropriate settings, which you can seehere.
I have already renewed my membership at CAC for 2019 and have downloaded some material from "Draw This" while looking forward to the New Year.
2018 was the year for the Cheltenham Art Center and drawings at Curtis Arboretum.
My artistic gifts have been put to good use throughout my long life, and this Web Gallery is a showcase for my creativity. My favorite medium became oil paints, and my first 300 oil paintings mostly revolved around my lovely wife of 30 years. After I completed 300 oil paintings I changed my signature and, because my wife was devoting so much of her time to her career, I began to use professional models. Below I have tried to explain the development and evolution of my work. Around 2005 I began simply adding a paragraph at the close of each year to summarize any events.
While it has become a bit long, I hope you enjoy my story.
Now it is very early in the year 2020 as I write a little about the art events of last year. 2019 was a year full of sketching & drawing. I developed a love of carrying my small & medium sketchbooks with a pencil & pastels to many events away from home (birthdays, barbecues, concerts, studio sessions of course, church, parks, bus rides...) and completing hasty but energetic & fresh drawings - and colorful drawings when I use pastels. I continued to attend Studio Sessions at CAC and once at Allens Lane Art Center where the poses were at a fast and grueling pace. I completed 12 brand new oil paintings, with a remarkable development surriunding one in particular. I have been a volunteer at our city's animal shelter for almost 4 years and am the Caretaker for a colony of vaccinated & neutered feral cats on our street. I decided to do a painting of an anonymous Caretaker feeding their colony over the holidays and to turn the completed painting into Christmas cards for my animal loving friends. It wasn't until Christmas morning that I first considered posting the image on some of the large, national Facebook animal groups. There was an immediate and astonishing response, and even many requests for a poster version.
(a photo from happier times in early 2020 with just some of our children, girlfriends, boyfriends, in-laws & grandchildren)
Now it is 2021 and I will write a little about the year 2020 and the covid pandemic and shutdowns. Daily life became more difficult as the virus spread, until in March there were major shutdowns to try and control the spread. I had 2 paintings ready to submit to a show when the show was postponed indefinitely. With only essential travel, I struggled with Still Life compositions at home and explored self-portraiture. In July 2020 I was welcomed into a California art group that held daily zoom Studio Sessions, and they accepted me as an artist and in August as an Art Model. It was a beautiful experience for 3 hours that I would love to write more about. I continued to participate in their zoom Studio Sessions for the remainder of 2020 as the pandemic was reaching record levels of cases.
I continue to occasionally participate in their zoom Studio Sessions as we all hope that 2021 will be the beginning of the end of the covid19 pandemic.
It is 2022 and we approach the 2 year anniversary of my country's shutdown/lockdowns of March 2020. The shutdowns ended, but every time we begin to return to anything close to normal we are hit with another covid twist.
In 2021 I modeled for an in-person masked 3 hour Studio Session which I find exhilarating and very worthwhile. I see the Sessions as a way to encourage artists to seek the truth without pretense or facade.
You can learn more about my career journey to both sides of the easel here