Born in Wagga Wagga and having grown up in Sydney and the Lower Blue Mountains, Robert Keen has been creating art throughout his entire life. Robert said as a young lad he was always drawing. "I was told I could draw before I could walk," he said. "My whole family were artistic and while I wanted to go into commercial art after school, distance proved an issue and instead I got a carpentry apprenticeship and later joined the armed forces". Art would however always prove a strong calling for Robert after discovering the works of the great Sir Norman Lindsay. "I discovered Norman Lindsay when I was fifteen, much to my mother's disgust," he said. "I was intrigued by his ability to draw such fine and detailed work, which to my thinking was what I was after in my own work".
Self taught and with no formal training, Robert has etched out an amazing career as an artist since those early days, and continues to partake in his lifelong passion. "I started off with pencils, then onto water colours, a little oils and finally finding my niche with pastels and acrylics," he said. "These mediums allow me a greater scope in chasing the particular colours that I see in birds, animals, landscapes and last but not least, portraiture's. I have sold many of my acrylic paintings for their brilliant colours and fine detail along with commissions for portraits in pastels".
Robert's works have been exhibited in Queensland, New South Wales, and have seen Robert receive prizes and high accolades for his artistic visions including be named as a finalist in The Lexus Mortimer exhibition, four years in a row. "When entering in an exhibition I try to draw or paint to that region," he said.
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With a small private gallery at his home that is open upon request, Robert has also been tutoring budding artists across the Central West and occasionally in other large centres. With his main focus on teaching pastels, acrylics and graphite, Robert said that his advice to anyone wanting to be an artist is to practice. "It's all about practice. Learn to draw first, then get your lights and darks in the right order," he said". "Perspective and proportion are essential and draw the subject on a practice sheet to achieve these things before attempting the real deal".
With many works sold locally and overseas, it is not just in galleries that you will see Robert's work. Anyone familiar with Condobolin's "Utes In A Paddock" will have seen the Vegemite ute which is a stunning example of creativity with a nod to Australian culture. Robert said that he always look for ways to improve as an artist. "It has taken me all my life to get where I am and I'm still learning," he said. "I find drawing and painting a wonderful escape and a most relaxing pass time".