Schooled in the arts in Melbourne, studied and practised artist Keith Burt now calls vivid West End home.  

Keith Burt’s most recent works, Headland, is a collection of en plein air paintings produced at Point Arkwright near Coolum on the Sunshine Coast. En plein air is a French term which references paintings done in open air usually in Impressionist style. Made famous by the Parisians Manet, Monet, Courbet and Renoir, Impressionist painting is a vivid style popular in late 19th Century. ‘Impressionism’ typically featured landscape and flâneur lifestyle.

Keith relished the rawness of his latest en plein air experience. It was a departure from his two previous exhibitions featuring ‘still life’ paintings involving a large amount of time in the studio.

working2“The location is very in the moment; it’s battling the elements. Sand gets blown about and one painting in particular fell face down in the dirt, but it survived, retaining dirt; it has become a successful piece of art,” he said. “I was attracted to the area not only artistically but by its subject matter also; the movement of waves crashing onto rocks is a completely different challenge to a still object in a room. It has helped to loosen up my painting style, to become quicker amongst the elements — the rocks are static and the waves are constantly moving, it’s an interesting relationship between the two when you’re staring at them for hours.”

Keith settled on the location after a friend offered accommodation in return for a picture. His collection is made up of 30 paintings so you can imagine he is grateful for such a friendship and the kind gesture. He said, “I visited about 10 times or so and stayed a night or two.” Smaller pieces in the Headland collection were done on location and others were completed in the studio from sketches and photographs.img_1942

Many of the paintings are dark in tones with characteristics of untamed mother nature and you can almost smell the sea and feel the spray of the ocean on your face. “On a sunny day I start painting around lunch preferring to paint as the shadows get longer or anytime during an overcast day,” Keith said.

His inspirations for this collection are simplified landscapes or cityscapes by Arthur Streeton, Clarence Becket, Euan Mcloud, and Beau Morris. In regards to his own work Keith says, “Painting is an emotional process. While you’re painting it you have to believe it is going to be successful. There is no science to painting. Sometimes the paintings are successful; other times at some point you must realise it’s not going to work.”

Keith’s neighborhood is central West End and he frequents the cafes every now and then to get out of the studio as well as heading to South Bank galleries for inspiration. He has contributed paintings as illustrations for The Big Issue and Spectator magazines in the past so this latest project has been something completely different for him. Keith’s work has featured at Metro Arts in Brisbane CBD as well.

Words by Steven Zoricic
Images supplied by Kieth | Images of Studio by Tahlia Moloney