Essence of the Moment: Meet Artist Keith Wicks

Written by Artie The Panda

Art has been the bedrock of Keith Wicks’ life since sixth grade, when he took first place in an art show in his native Bakersfield, California. From commercial success in L.A. and San Francisco — including a stint with George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic — to teaching and charity work, Keith has built his life around his passion.

Purity of Light

Recognizing the importance of sketching and seeing color values and temperatures, Keith is able to paint scenes with a gorgeous luminosity. Take his “Paris Waiter,” featured above. He recently framed the 30 x 40 oil on canvas in a French Grey Plein Air Wood Frame from Frame Destination. We’re delighted he chose this wide-faced, lightly distressed frame for this stunning piece.

A Focus on the Essence

When Keith is teaching his plein air students, he works with them on simplifying their approach to create a strong composition. You can see this method at work in all his paintings, including his 22 x 28 “Ready to Ride” below. Along with teaching, Keith cares deeply about ensuring public schools have access to art education. He founded Sonoma Plein Air Foundation and donates time, as well as paintings, to various charities that promote these efforts.

Ready to Ride Canvas Oil Painting
“Ready to Ride,” 22 x 28 oil on canvas.

See More of Keith’s Work

Keith’s online portfolio showcases collections ranging from still life to images of Japan and the San Francisco Ballet, along with opportunities to participate in his plein air workshops. His Instagram reveals works in progress, scenes from his workshop travels, and more. To discover Keith’s most trusted artistic tool and how his work reflects his personality, head to to the Q&A below.

Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with Keith Wicks…

  1. What is your background; how did you get started?
    My artistic journey started in 1971 at age 11. That was when I created my first oil painting, and I’ve been painting ever since. After high school, I started a design business that led me to owning a small advertising company in my 20s. But I found that the business of running an agency was taking away from my creative side, so I moved on and went to the ArtCenter College of Design and got my degree in illustration. I worked in many fields — multimedia, illustration, and fine art. I also became a drawing and painting teacher at Academy of Art in San Francisco.

  2. What role do you think the artist plays in society?
    Art is a mirror that reveals society at its best and worst.
  3. What has been a formative experience or the best advice you’ve received within your career?
    Follow your heart.
  4. In what ways does your work reflect your personality?
    I think I have a few things in common with my work: a sense of romanticism, luminosity, and the ability to capture a mood that affects us all in our everyday life.
  5. Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?
    Stress from the outside world can stop me from creating, seeing, dreaming of new images. The only thing to do is go into the studio and begin working; in no time I find something that starts the spark and pulls me out of the stress.
  6. What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)
    All the tools to make art are useless without imagination.
  7. Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?
    My work is always evolving. I move from one subject to another; that's what keeps me motivated. I may be painting cityscapes from some trip abroad and the next day start a figure or portrait.
  8. What is your favorite color to incorporate into your art?
    Vermillion. I have always like that color — as well as the name. I once named a gallery Vermillion Art.
Keith Wicks

All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.

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Last Updated June 15, 2023