Theme/Style – California Style, figurative art, landscapes, Abstraction
Media – Oils, casein, gouaches, watercolors
Artistic Focus – Charles Keck was a California Style watercolorist whose paintings portrayed the people, scenes, humor and overall lifestyle of the Southern California in which he lived. In the 1950s, however, Keck turned from the outside world inward, and the style and subject matter of his paintings changed to include partial and absolute abstraction representing inner thoughts and the experimentation that he avoided as a young artist.
Career Highlights –
- Charles Keck was born in Wapello, Iowa in 1913. After a brief period in Corpus Christi, Texas, his family continued west and settled in Los Angeles in 1920.
- Keck graduated from Los Angeles City College in 1934 and was awarded a three-year scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute which he attended from 1934 until 1937, studying with Phil Dike, Barse Miller, Millard Sheets, Stanton Macdonald Wright, and many others.
- From 1938 to 1942, Keck worked as a background artist at Columbia Pictures Cartoon Studios. During the same period he painted many watercolors depicting Los Angeles and Southern California life.
- His 1939-1940 travels to the Caribbean, Alaska, and Louisiana inspired Keck’s paintings of these areas.
- 1942 found Keck again in Alaska, stationed in Anchorage with the U.S. Army Signal Corps. While in the Special Services Division Keck held several art-related posts, including artist for the Army newspaper. He also won First and Third Prizes in an exhibition in Anchorage in 1943.
- Married in Alaska in 1945, Charles and Eugenia Keck returned to Los Angeles, where Charles resumed painting and in 1946 became an Art Instructor at Hollywood Art Center School, where he remained for eight years.
- Keck exhibited often before and after the War, at, among other places, the California Water Color Society, National Gallery, Washington, DC (where he won a purchase prize), Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity, and, most extensively, at the Laguna Beach Art Association throughout the 1940s – in a 2-man show there in 1942, and winning First Prize in 1946 and Second Prize in 1947.
- Charles Keck enrolled at UCLA in 1952, and graduated in 1954 with a Master’s Degree in Art with Teaching Certification.
- After 1954, Keck largely retired from exhibiting, but continued to paint prolifically for several decades and began to explore modern and abstract styles. In this year Keck also began a 26-year tenure as Art Instructor at Los Angeles’s Lincoln High School.
- Upon his retirement from teaching in 1982, Keck continued to paint, and avidly pursued photography as a hobby. He passed away in Los Angeles in 2003.