As part of our new artist interview series, we had the opportunity to chat with plein-air painter Keiko Tanabe. Her work has been featured in many exhibitions around the world and her paintings have been published in leading art magazines in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Keiko spoke to us about her beginnings as a painter, how she stays engaged, and what her day is like as a professional artist. Check out the interview below!
- Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
I was born in the city of Kyoto, Japan and grew up in Japan. I came to the US to study at UCLA back in 1990. I’ve been living in California ever since, now residing in San Diego.
- What draws you to working en Plein Air, and how did it feel when you did it for the first time?
I never actually thought of painting from a photo so it was natural for me to go outside because I wanted to do landscape. My very first plein-air experience was when I was 6 years old (and I enjoyed it), and I participated in many outdoor painting events for children. I think those experiences gave me the idea that a painting was supposed to be done from life. My first plein-air experience as an adult was enjoyable but I was not happy with the painting I made.
- As a professional artist, what does your day-to-day look like?
I make calls and check email and respond to the important ones first thing in the morning. Then painting or teaching most of the day. Late afternoon and evening hours are for taking care of business (email, shipping, social media, website management, writing articles, video editing, accounting, etc.)
- What has kept you engaged and committed to your craft over the years?
Passion. Joy of creating. Being helpful and watching other people discover joy (through teaching).
- How have you grown as an artist in the past five years and what are the major contributing factors to your growth?
I have been trying to be more truthful to myself in my art while searching for better ways to express myself. I feel that has liberated me from conventional thinking. I also have been trying to take materials more seriously, taking more time to really learn how to make them work for me.
- What materials do you most commonly use?
Paper (Fabriano, Arches, Saunders), Paints (Sennelier, Holbein), Brushes (various Asian brushes, Escoda, Cheap Joe’s, etc.), Pencil (Cretacolor).
- Do you have any advice for up-and-coming plein-air artists? How can they make a name for themselves?
Go out and paint as often as you can since the great outdoors is your main studio. Do your best while working outside and have fun. Learn to self-critique your work and learn from mistakes so you will do better next time. If you seek recognition, participating in juried plein-air events and competitions, or at least joining a plein-air painters group will be helpful.
- What are your website and social media links?
My website: www.ktanabefineart.com.