A Look at Two Lands
Expressing and describing the beauty of light has been the focus of Brian Keeler’s career in painting. Depicting the “topography of light” is the way he likes to describe this process, as this phrase communicates the way light plays across forms and describes their shapes. His work includes landscape, the figure, portraits, still life and allegorical work. While the subject of the painting is specific, in a certain sense the light actually becomes the subject for Keeler and the scene or depiction takes on a secondary or supporting role. He often chooses the “Golden Hour” as the time for portraying the motifs he selects, as this late afternoon or early morning light accentuates the drama of any given scene. His figurative painting and other genres also incorporate a marvelous appreciation for the way light can reveal the world to us.
Among other artists, patrons and the general public he is known as a colorist; it is the quality of his color that is one of the memorable aspects of his well-crafted work. His art also combines a unique sense of composition, proportional harmonies and draftsmanship, as these paintings, pastels and watercolors show an orchestration of the overall relationships.
The subjects of Keeler’s landscapes come from the area of the northern Susquehanna River region of Pennsylvania near his hometown, Wyalusing, PA and from Ithaca, NY and the Finger Lakes where he lives now. But his subjects also include other American cities, New England, Maine, Italy and more recently the Celtic lands of Ireland and Scotland.
Keeler combines these aesthetics of light and structural compositional dynamics in his work, and in his teaching and writing as he shares his love for painting in workshops in the US and abroad, most notably in figure and plein air courses taught in New York and Italy. He has become a passionate student of the Italian Renaissance, with over 20 years of teaching and traveling in Italy. He shares these art history insights in slide lectures as well as incorporating some aspects of the classics in his own allegorical works.
Keeler fuses the environmental and the aesthetic through painting and organizing events to protect the Susquehanna River. He organized a symposium to advocate for responsible stewardship in November of 2019. His artistic inspiration for the melding of art and ecology is Thomas Cole, the 19th Century American painter and leader of the Hudson River School of artists.
In 2016 an overview of his 30 plus years of painting was exhibited at the Roberson Museum, Binghamton, NY, called “Heliodelic Topography-Expressions of Sundrenched Forms- the Art of Brian Keeler. The catalog Keeler wrote for the show contains most of the 95 paintings that were exhibited.
Brian Keeler is the son of a Sunday painter and newspaper editor, the late William W. Keeler, whom he credits for sparking his initial interest in art. Brian received his early training at Keystone College near Scranton, PA and at a small art school in southern Pennsylvania, The York Academy of Arts. His paintings have received numerous awards over a long and productive career and his work is featured in numerous private, business, corporate and museum collections.
In 2013 North Light Books published a beautiful hard-cover art instruction book by Brian, titled “Dramatic Color in the Landscape.” The book is a compendium of his teaching and working methods and includes dozens of his paintings of the Northeast and Italy. In the spring of 2022 his second book was published by North Star Art Press, titled, “Light on the Figure- Aspects of Painting People.” This 172 page hardcover includes over four decades of Keeler’s figurative art, including everything from genre scenes to allegory and portraiture. The artist has also produced several art instructional DVD’s with the Artists Network and on his own.
Keeler lives and has a studio in Ithaca, NY, the Keeler North Star Studio, visit his Blog at www.keelernorthstarstudio. He also maintains a studio-gallery in his hometown of Wyalusing, PA. The largest collection of his work is at North Star Art Gallery, Ithaca, NY which has changing exhibitions of his work year round and shows his work on the North Star Art Gallery Facebook page. His work is also represented at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY, which specializes in his paintings of Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake. The Laura Craig Gallery represents his work in Scranton, PA, and the Argosy Gallery in Bar Harbor, ME shows a nice collection of his paintings of Maine/Acadia National Park.
When Keeler isn’t painting, you may find him out playing gigs (on guitar) with his gypsy swing band, Zingology and teaching lindy or Balboa swing classes before these events.