DANIEL J. KEYS
From a very young age, Daniel displayed the talents of an artistic prodigy. However, his hometown in rural Fresno County, California, where both his parents were pastors in nearby Christian churches, was lacking a fine art teacher. Undaunted, Keys found the knowledge he desired through what was available.
Says Keys, “One day in church, my mother gave me paper and pens to keep me occupied. Neither of my parents are trained in art, but they noticed my potential – the way I naturally paid attention to color and shapes - so they bought me paints and made sure I had the time to pursue my learning.
“I’m fortunate that my parents believed I could figure it out. I’ve always been grateful for their faith in me.”
Today at 30, Keys is a rising star in American Representational Painting, largely thanks to his relentless passion for learning and the influence of his mentor, the renowned painter Richard Schmid.
Explains Keys, “Early on, I thought I wanted to work as an animator for Disney. But when I was 11, I received a gift of The Artist’s Magazine featuring an article on Richard Schmid and his painting. I was captivated.”
As Keys matured, his passion for painting also grew. By age 15, he knew his desire was to pursue a career as a fine artist. Yet, for several years he continued to paint “from images in his head,” rather than “alla prima” - from life. That changed when, at age 18, he presented his art for consideration to a local gallery.
Says Keys, “My work was rejected, but thankfully the owner saw my skills and was bold enough to tell me, ‘You should paint from life.’ I went right to the store and bought flowers and vases and set up my first still life, in my garage.
“When I began painting, my eyes opened. I found that seeing things as they really are is far different from what I see in my memory. It was an awakening and I was hooked.”
By 19, Keys began visiting Richard Schmid’s website daily, carefully studying every painting. Soon after, he purchased Schmid’s bestselling book, Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting, and redoubled his commitment to achieving artistic excellence.
“I considered Richard my mentor even before I met him,” explains Keys. “I had only hoped that I could one day shake his hand. I never dreamed that I would someday have the honor of painting with him.”
In 2009, Keys posted several of his paintings on American Artist Magazine’s online Blog and caught the eye of editor-in-chief Stephen Doherty, who requested an interview and showcased one of his paintings on the magazine’s cover. Several months later, Keys attended a Weekend with the Masters Workshop in Dana Point, California, where he met Schmid.
Keys remembers, “I had brought one of Richard’s catalogues, in hopes that he’d sign it. And, I also had my magazine in hand. Kristen Thies saw me standing nearby and asked if I was an artist. When I showed her the cover she said, ‘Come, I’ll introduce you to Richard.’ Then he said, ‘Is that your work?’ and asked me to join them for lunch. By the end of the meal, he invited me to paint with him and the Putney Painters.”
Today, in addition to regularly painting with Schmid and his wife, Nancy Guzik and the other Putney Painters, Keys teaches Still Life Workshops at the Village Arts of Putney. He has also become a sought after instructor at the Scottsdale Artists School in Arizona, the Salmagundi Club in New York City, and Painting workshops with Au Coeur Academy on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
In addition, his teaching skills can now be accessed through his new two hour DVD titled: “Antique Jar and Summer Fruit” produced by Daniel J. Keys, Ryan Mellody and Kristen Thies. To order click here
And, his teaching skills can now be accessed through a three-hour DVD called Lilies, Tulips, and Stocks, produced by Lilledahl Video Productions.
Says Keys, “Through Richard, I have become part of a lineage of artistic tradition stretching back in time, to his teacher, to his teacher’s teachers, and beyond. His knowledge is such a gift to me and other artists of my generation. My desire is to continue to spread this spirit of giving to my students.”
As his career blossoms, many have assumed that Keys would move away from his hometown. However no longer hindered by the lack of a teacher, he finds strength in his roots.
Explains Keys, “Through the Internet and social media, I have been able to access knowledge with amazing speed and efficiency. I have been able to stay close to my family and remain involved in my church, even as I have grown as an artist.
“In this way, my art is able to truly reflect those values that are closest to my heart – joy, beauty, devotion, and hope.”
In addition to the article in American Artist Magazine, Keys and his paintings have been featured in Art of the West, Southwest Art, American Art Collector, and American Artist’s “Workshop” and “Step-by-Step.”