Friday, June 26, 2015

Cruise In--to See Reflection Paintings by Keith

Keith Russell, the July artist at Second Story Gallery, has a fascination with cars.  His car portraits show off each model's curves and details.  And even though the cars are standing perfectly still in his portraits, they look like they could go zero to 60 at a moment's notice.
1956 Buick Roadmaster

Perhaps Russell visualizes himself at the wheel.  He was born Feb. 15, 1955, just 45 minutes late for Valentine's day, and he says he's been somewhat late ever since. 

That tendency to run late is not why the artist's reception has been moved to the second Friday in July however.  It's delayed because the gallery, upstairs in the Camas Public Library, will be dark for First Friday due to the Fourth of July holiday. 

The car exhibit, called "Cruise In--to See Reflection Paintings by Keith," will be open for viewing during regular library hours starting July 2 and continuing through July 31.  The reception for the artist, with live music by Caryn Jamieson, will be held Friday, July 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the gallery.  This is a special date and time for the month of July only.

The month-long show featuring paintings of classic automobiles will coincide with the real car show taking place along 4th Avenue Saturday,  July 11, sponsored by the Downtown Camas Association.   In fact, Russell will be streetside at the car show offering more car paintings and letting people know about his on-going exhibit at Second Story Gallery.

Russell says his interest in art started early and remembers asking his mother for a variety of oil paints and brushes before the age of five, although he was told he'd have to make do with his color crayons instead.  But the young Russell had an inner drive to be an artist.  He took his older brothers' model car paints, grabbed an old paint-by-number canvas and used his toy horses as models without a lot of thought about the consequences. 

Russell says his mother was so impressed with his finished work that she protected him from his brothers when they got home from school.  And, somehow, his mother was able to work the cost of some tubes of oil paint and brushes into the family budget for his fifth birthday.

Throughout his growing-up years Russell says he took every art class that he could, including correspondence classes from Famous Artists School, financed with the help of his mother's Avon sales.  Throughout junior high and high school art classes helped to boost his GPA.  Russell went on to choose a rather artistic college major and has made a career of mechanical engineering.

The artist has resided in Camas for the last 28 years and has shown his work at several local businesses, First Friday events, Camas Days, and the Art, Wine & Music Festivals.  In 2008 he donated two portraits of Lewis and Clark to Helen Baller Elementary School where they are still being enjoyed by students and staff.

For the last six years Russell has focused his artistic energy on a classic car series, in acrylic and oil, using an impressionistic-realistic style.  He has developed a technique for capturing  reflections on the surfaces of cars that bring them off the canvas and onto the pavement.  He lovingly applies his paint the way collectors lovingly restore their automobiles.  “Classic cars are an American tradition and they are what I grew up loving;  they are history,”  says Russell, “the things that are the most fun to paint are cars and sunsets, or cars in the sunset.”

Artist's Reception
Friday, July 10
5-7 p.m.
Music provided by Caryn Jamieson