Guelph artist Jayne Keefe: Balancing comedy, the obscure and reality
By Barbara Salsberg Mathews
Jayne Keefe is a multidisciplinary artist: she draws, creates oil paintings, ceramics and mixed media. In 2018 she graduated with distinction from Concordia University’s Undergraduate program in Studio Art. Last spring, she moved from Montreal to Guelph to be closer to family and continue growing her art practice. Here’s how Keefe describes her art and how it has evolved:
Guelph artist, Jayne Keefe. Image courtesy of artist.
“I am often inspired by themes of the grotesque and exaggerated expression. In my art, I aim to find the balance between comedy, the obscure and reality. If the project I’m working on makes me giggle, then I’m content. Artists such as Thomas Rowlandson and James Gillray inspire my use of line and fuel my love of character studies.
Hot Dog Man. Stoneware ceramic and glaze. Image courtesy of artist.
“I see a clear distinction between my two art styles. One is a fun, goofy, and colourful style of illustration, predominantly of exaggerated figures such as animals, people and foods. The second style has heavy black lines and cross contour, largely inspired by flora and fauna. The materials I am drawn to are oil on board and pen and ink.”
Black Floral Design Pillow, available through Artofwhere.com/artists/heyjk
Image courtesy of artist.
Since moving to Guelph, Keefe has incorporated nature into her artwork. The images she weaves into her newest projects include trees, leaves, forests and mushrooms —subjects she had not explored before.
“There is such an environmental awareness and sense of nurture in Guelph that has me transfixed. Guelph feels like I've finally come home. There is a confidence that comes from being happy, and that confidence has definitely been translated into my artwork.”
I asked Keefe what supports she recommends for Guelph artists. She explains:
“Maintain a connection to your community after art school. Keep the conversations around art flowing. Branch out and keep asking questions, keep self-promoting, and most importantly, keep creating! There are many opportunities for artists in this city. Guelph Emerging Artist Mentorship Project GEAMP, is perfect for anyone starting out and looking for guidance. It's also a great way for more established Guelph artists to give back to the community by mentoring budding artists. I also encourage participation in Guelph open call exhibitions. The Art at Ebar, run by Eric Allen Montgomery, is a good start to being inspired and connect to the artistic community here.”Keefe also enjoys teaching art to seniors and encouraging their creative expression. This interest began in Montreal, where she worked with a number of seniors. Keefe described to me how she gently coaxed an elderly woman, Grace Côté, who had been been painting for years before she fell sick, and lost touch with her artistic side. As an arts facilitator, Keefe provided a safe space within where the seemingly buried artistic talents of this senior begin to flow again. Through step-by-step guidance and a lot of humour, Keefe helped Grace find her groove again, have fun and take pride in her painting.