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raw artist Michel Leah Keck

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"I don't like to be labeled or asked to categorize my work. My work is always ever changing. My work has been classified as outsider art, folk art, abstract art, expressionistic and even pop art! It is what it is.. it changes from day to day. If I'm forced to put myself in to an 'ISM' than my ism of choice is RAW-ISM."
Michel Leah Keck

American abstract artist American Expressionist Artist

the raw artist

Michel Leah Keck Artist Interview - March 2006

+1 ::: Why are you an artist Michel?

I believe everyone is born with a talent.. or a gift.. I think creating art is mine.

+2 ::: Could you tell us some more about your paintings?

My paintings are mostly abstracts.. they are instantaneous and impulsive and always painted very rapidly. Many collectors/viewers have said my paintings to them are dark yet uplifting simultaneously.. and I think that is the best description of my works.

+3 ::: How do you start a painting, particularly your abstract works? And how do you know when the painting is finished?

Starting a painting is very automatic for me.. And if I am not feeling I leave the studio or work on whatever I feel like I should be doing. The only consistent in my studio is the music. Music is always playing before I begin any of my paintings or other works.
I just know when a work is done.. I think many artists will know this feeling. You just know when a work is complete.

+4 ::: What artists have influenced you, and how?

Two artists that have influenced me are Thomas Kinkade and Matt Lamb. I can hear the critics moaning already at that response. Well at least the Kinkade part. I am very impressed with how Kinkade marketed himself.. how he created an empire. That drives me.
Matt Lamb influenced me in another way. Very funny story about Matt Lamb and how I found out about him. I was looking for self taught artists and found his work online. I am not one to care about an artists credentials. I don't care if they exhibit, or where they exhibit. I'm not impressed with the schooling of an artist, etc. I see art and I either like it or don't. Well I saw his art and wrote to him.. not having ANY CLUE about this man's celebrity in the art world. So I ask him if he would like to be in an art auction my husband and I are putting together. Well I get the sweetest e-mail back from them.. (Not Matt, but someone who takes care of his stuff and saying that he would really like to be able to but is very busy, etc). That was a couple of years ago. It wasn't until a few months ago that I saw a book on ebay.. "Matt Lamb The Art of Success".. looked at it and sure enough it was the Matt Lamb I so boldly emailed! LOL! (I purchased the book art of success for $5.00 -- got to love ebay!) So I get the book in the mail and start reading about this man's life and my first reaction was of course feeling like a complete idiot to think I ever emailed him in the first place to ask him to participate in our auction! My next reaction was feeling a connection to 'I give a shit... kiss my ass' attitude that he has. I have that attitude myself.. along with a bit of his Irish temperament. So I was very inspired by him and his story. It is just nice to see someone who refuses to kiss ass get ahead in the art world. It makes me know anything is possible. So that's it.. those are the two artists that inspire me most.

+5 ::: What other interests do you have (besides painting)?

I love anything about being outdoors.. hiking, camping, biking, just spending time outdoors with my dogs. I have an 8 month old german shepherd that loves frisbee.. And we've just started building an agility/obstacle course for him. So I'm sure when that is done that is where a lot of my free time will be spent. I have several artistic interests besides painting. I love the collage and assemblage works that I do. Those are probably my favorite works. But I've been doing a lot more photography and digital art lately which I love too. The digital art is just endless possibilities and the combining technology and art has been something I've found myself really drawn to lately.

+6 ::: What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

If anything gets tough in the studio I usually go out to play with the dogs. I used to have some 'tough days in the studio' but that ended when I realized I have control over it.. if I don't feel it I simply go do something I want to be doing. For me I've found it to be that simple. If I'm not enjoying it.. I don't do it

+7 ::: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

The business side can be a bitch. Very thankfully I have a fabulous husband who helps me run this business. Without him I couldn't accomplish half of what I do. He takes the phone calls, does the paperwork, answers some emails, etc. There is still the stuff I have to do... newsletters, a great deal of emails, working the web sites, and listing my auctions (I sell my art on ebay). How I handle it is remember it is a business. I set my goals, I write down what it will take for me to meet them, then I make it happen.. And I don't quit at the end of the day until the work I need to do gets completed. It is long hours and hard work, but I put in what I need to get out of it what I want.

+8 ::: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I'll still be creating art.. I think.. I don't know for sure as I am always all over the place. But it is what relaxes and centers me. I do know that in ten years I will have built our fine art giclee division of my company to one in which it will sustain my income and allow me to do the things I want to with retirement (mostly traveling, etc). I would like to own art galleries in Chicago and New York... with studios there as well. Besides being an artist I am also an art collector. I am drawn to the works of self-taught artists. I would like to open galleries in Chicago and New York to promote the works of other self taught artists.

+9 ::: Could you talk about your latest series of paintings and what you are trying to achieve with them?

I don't really have a 'latest' series of paintings.. And I never know what I am trying to achieve with anything I create.

+10 ::: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

To any artist just starting out I would first say... ENJOY what you are doing. If you enjoy what you are doing it shows through your in work in my personal opinion. Next I would tell them set your goals.. then create a plan to help you reach your goals. Also.. know your limits. Some people can put in the 110% to promote themselves, others will have no desire to do anything than create their art. If you can't promote yourself then you need to find professionals that can do the work for you. For those artists who feel they are stuck as a slave to the gallery system I am living proof you don't have to remain a starving artist because the art critics or galleries don't find your work 'appropriate'. I'm not saying self promotion is easy. It is probably one of the most difficult things I've done.. but it is possible.

More artist information can be found at the website of the artist.. Michel Leah Keck
View more artist interviews at here.. Art Interviews

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