Thursday, February 11, 2021

DPW Spotlight Interview: Bebe Keith

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Bebe's painting "SK 072 Making a Face" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Bebe's DPW Gallery Page:

Bebe is a self-taught artist who likes to laugh. She loves creating and is always looking for ways to stretch and grow as an artist and as a human. For years she did stained glass mosaics, but then she tried making a mosaic with paper and was so excited that she sold all of her glass! Along with the paper mosaic collages, she is currently creating portraits with watercolors and loving it! She has been doing a watercolor every day since July 2020. (click to read more)

What did you want to be growing up?

An artist. I was that kid who drew all of the time. I remember a teacher that really supported me as well, and my family liked my drawings. But I ended up teaching elementary school instead. I guess I didn’t think that being an artist was a viable career when I got a little older.

SK 072 Making a Face
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Bebe's interview.

When did your artistic journey begin? 

After teaching for twelve years, I went back to school for graphic design. I was itching for something new to do and I always loved art, even though I didn’t really do it much myself anymore. While I was going to school for graphic design, I found that I had a lot of extra time on my hands (teachers are BUSY!) so I decided to teach myself how to make a stained glass mosaic.

I entered it in the fine arts competition at the Minnesota State Fair and it won a ribbon. It’s very competitive just to get in, so it was quite an honor. It was very encouraging and ultimately led me away from graphic design and towards fine art and a career as an artist.

I was soon creating mosaics for galleries, and then for public spaces like hospitals and clinics and libraries. This led me to start working with fabricators to make the work I design, such as glass walls, metal work, a suspended large glass sculpture and terrazzo floors. I’m currently working on a terrazzo floor design for a community college.

However, after years of making glass mosaics, I switched to paper mosaics a few years ago, and now I’m REALLY into drawing and watercolor and gouache and colored pencils and ink! And collage, still, too! I love learning and exploring and being creative!

If you are interested in seeing my public art, glass mosaic or paper mosaic collage work, you can find pictures on my website:

SK 218 Look Inside
(click to view)

She thought sometimes that the best way to see was to close her eyes and look inside.​

What mediums and genres do you gravitate to? Which ones don't appeal?

Last spring I decided to give myself a little at home residency. This is something I have to demand of myself – the freedom to explore. I am usually so focused on goals, such as making enough art for galleries or hunting for the next public art project and everything must be for sale. So I told myself to leave that notion at the door and gave myself a chance to explore new materials. I have always loved faces, but I have learned from galleries that they aren’t big sellers so I often stay away. So I decided to make faces. Mine, to be specific. I tried acrylic paint then oils. But I was completely sold when I tried watercolors! 

By then I was ready for some new faces. I joined Sktchy and in early July I decided that I was going to do a face a day for a year. I’m still in the middle of that project and still in love with faces and watercolor! 

SK 220 Circling the People I Love Best
(click to view)

Sometimes she wondered how long it would take to draw circles around all of the people she loved best.

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?

I’m developing it every day on Sktchy. I’ve always liked really graphic contrasts like lines and borders and patterns as well as a clean and fresh feeling. And I’ve always been over the moon about color! So I’m playing with those things and adding more materials like ink and colored pencils and gouache. I don’t want my art to look like anyone else’s art so it’s fun to be innovative.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to add a short narrative to each piece. You can read them if you click on any of my very recent work. I love writing and it adds a lot to the character and backstory to add that narrative. I hope people enjoy them!

Just this week I decided to print off some of the faces and cut them out and put them into a collage and use ink for embellishments. I love metal leafing, too. I love not quite knowing what is next! 

SK 234 Why He Started
(click to view)

He wasn't exactly sure how to proceed but he knew it was important to remember why he started.

Name an artist, well-known or not, who you admire. Why?

Every person who tries to make some art, without making excuses or cutting themselves down if it’s not perfect – they are my heroes! You have to be brave to be an artist and put something you made out there into the world. I admire everyone who does it!

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be?

Everything in my life has led me to the happy and fulfilled person I am now. I don’t regret a thing. My younger, creative self needed no correction! I just made art because it I liked it. A perfect reason to do it.

SK 233 Make a Difference
(click to view)

It was just a little thing and she didn't know if it would make a difference or not, but that little thing joined with all of the other little things and made a difference.

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?

I’m not a procrastinator. If I can spend a few minutes and take something off of my plate now, why wait? (I’m filling out this interview just minutes after I received it from Daily Paintworks!) ;)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

When my husband had open heart valve surgery a few years ago, I made a collage in the waiting room. The activity comforted me.

SK 232 Sharing Her Light
(click to view)

She felt the fire within her and warmed those around her with her flame, sharing her light with the world.

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art?

Like I mentioned earlier, I like not knowing what is next creatively. That being said, I have a show of the faces in July and may have a couple of other shows, both rescheduled and new. I continue making paper mosaic collages for galleries. And I have the terrazzo floor project this year, and potentially another floor after that. In my art, I just want to keep on being creative and see where it leads me!

What does success mean to you personally?

Being happy and healthy and creative. That’s success!

I would like to thank DailyPaintworks for being a nice option that makes it easy for people to sell their work, be part of a community and encourages daily art creation! Thank you!

Thanks, Bebe!

© 2021 Sophie Marine

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