We were excited at the opportunity to interview Irish artist Brian Keating and discover more about his beautiful original drawings.
Brian’s shares his story with us and discusses his inspiration, love of cities and his picturesque home in rural France.
How did your passion for drawing and painting begin?
I’ve always been fascinated with shapes. I recall vividly the first time I saw an outline map of Ireland, I thought it was a side view of a teddy bear… I was three years of age. That was when I started cutting up old newspapers and coloured paper, using a small pair of plastic scissors.
I remember my very first day at infant school, walking along the corridor and seeing a very colourful “painting’. It was a print of “The Card Players” by Cézanne. That encounter put an end to my “Newspaper Period!”
So I suppose a map of Ireland and a print of a Paul Cézanne’s painting were responsible for my interest with art.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love the form and shape of buildings, from the simple stone cottage to the superb majesty of the great gothic cathedrals of Europe. Sentinels defying gravity and time. Buildings infused with the energy of life that evolves around them.
Life-force is my inspiration, I endeavour to capture a moment in time, hopefully retaining the movement, energy and direction within the image.
A lot of your artwork is based on scenes of Dublin as well as London – which is your favourite city to draw?
I’ve at least 20 favourite cities and when I’m visiting each one, it becomes my favourite.
Dublin, my home town is naturally very special. I love its history and people. The streets and laneways are steeped in history, no shortage of inspiration.
I’ve spent hours walking through London, sketching here and there, trying to capture the atmosphere and pace, especially Piccadilly Circus, Carnaby Street and Trafalgar Square, vibrating with energy.
Could you tell us what led you to live in France?
My partner and I, (She’s an impressionistic painter) decided to leave Ireland and what better place to go to…..?
Do you have a favourite drawing that you have created from your collection?
When I finish a drawing it becomes my favourite, until I finish the next one.
Your cityscape and portrait drawings are full of detail. Do you have to finish a drawing in one sitting, or can you revert back to finish off a piece?
There was a time when I would spend 20 to 30 hours on an A3 ink drawing, 5 hours stints over several days. One day I was explaining the shape of a particular building to a colleague and wasn’t getting the details across so I grabbed a piece of paper and sketched the building quickly. I was surprised at the result, It then became one of my techniques.
All of my “spontaneous” drawings are done in one sitting. My “graphic” drawings in two.
Tell us about your studio space or area where you draw.
My studio is situated on the top floor of my 500 year old house in a one-time Roman village in the south of France, It’s airy and the lighting is superb, the only sounds that break the silence are the birds and the church bells.
Could you name up to three artists’ whose work you admire?
Jan van Goyen 1596 – 1656
I love the spontaneity of his drawings, they’re so fresh and ageless.
Rembrandt 1606 – 1669
The “Master” of the masters. His attention to detail and his style of drawing that invites your eyes to gently peruse the image.
Alfred Sisley 1839 – 1899
I admire his drawings some of which can appear quite simple but on closer examination are surprisingly complex.
“Piccadilly Circus Tube Station” is such a vivid drawing – could you talk us through how this piece was created.
This is my favourite spot in London. In total I must have spent hours standing at the entrance of the station, always waiting for friends to arrive. What amazed me was the energetic feeling I’d experience taking in the people as they went their way. I’ve copious amounts of sketches, notes and memories of Picadilly Circus and it’s very easy for me to get this vibrant scene onto paper without thinking too much about it.
“Laurence Olivier” is a really fantastic portrait, and your use of colour works well in this piece. Could you tell us what the colour represents to you?
I worked from a black and white photograph for this one. I employed a graphic style to add drama and the subtle colours I used are somewhat reminiscent of the “Hand Colouring” technique that was used to create realism in the black and white photographs of that era.
If you could choose to exhibit your work anywhere, without limitation, what would be your choice?
I’ve had many exhibitions in street galleries. The great advantage of an online gallery like FineArtSeen, is that my art is seen by far more people from every corner of the globe and my work is not confined within four walls.
We hope you enjoyed reading Brian Keating’s story. Make sure you check out Brian’s collection of original artwork before you go.