Portrait and figurative artist Keith Maiden’s interview

Keith’s art is as bold and refreshing as some of his opinions, and dripping with sentiment. It’s also just very very cool. He’s gathering momentum as a painter and gaining a loyal following on his path to becoming what he defines as an artist. Here’s what he had to say to us.

Art Pistol (AP): What’s the first thing you can remember painting?
 The very first thing I remember painting to any sort of standard was a portrait of the king, not a monarch you understand, but Elvis Presley. I was about 15 and did it for a lifelong Presley fan…me mum. It has taken pride of place above her fireplace in a council house in Wolverhampton for best part of 35 years…and I hate it. I have tried over the years to move it, cover it up, offer to paint a new one, but she loves it and I guess it will remain there for many more years.

AP: When did you first realise you were an artist?
Keith: I think the word artist is totally abused. I think a lot of people pick a brush up, paint and then consider themselves an artist. The word has no credibility anymore. There are thousands of average painters out there calling themselves artists. When do you become a professional artist? I consider myself at the moment an amateur painter and until I get myself recognition and respect as a painter then I can call myself an artist.

AP: How would you describe your art to someone that has never seen it before?
Keith: Different, unusual, in the way it is created, not necessarily the subjects. I have spent the last 12 months creating a style that I think is unique, it is an unusual mix of acrylic, ink, graphite and enamel paint. I do not want to be likened to other artist or their styles. I have painted all sort of subjects over the last 12 months, but now have decided I want to specialise in one subject and be recognised as a portrait and figurative painter.

AP: Is your work on any famous person’s wall?
Keith: I did produce a portrait for ex Chelsea/Italian football player Zola, which I guess hangs on his wall somewhere. I have also had a couple of write ups in local newspapers, but nothing more really. There is time though as I have only been seriously painting over the last 12 months after I lost my job….so still time. David Beckham if you are reading this and fancy a family portrait, please get in touch via this website.

AP: If you had the opportunity to change something in the art industry what would it be?
Keith: High street gallery commission – not Art Pistol by the way (who ask considerably less). Most charge 40% + 20% vat. So if I supply a piece of art for say £100 then £60 goes to the gallery, say £10 for the frame, £5 materials, £2 petrol taking it to the gallery that leaves the artist with £27 if I spend say 6 hours producing it then I make minimum wage….ridiculous?

AP: Do you have any other interests or talents that you’d like to share?
Keith: Other talents….are we talking party trick type talents or real talents…if it’s party trick then, I sit on the floor with my legs apart…no, no better not, another time maybe!! I consider myself an excellent cook, I have just finished building a small oak frame house, I love dancing, but pretty naff at it, I like to paint with tea and a real ale mix which works so well. Nothing else obscure really.

AP: Describe yourself in 3 words, one has to be a colour?
Keith: Black, real, funny.

AP: Tell us your perfect scenario for painting.
Keith: LOCATION: Upstairs lounge of my new house with views over Shropshire hills.
WEATHER: Raining (never feel like painting when it’s sunny).
MUSIC: Stereophonics (grew up with their music, seen em 7 times- my favourite band).
SNACKS: Nobbys nuts (chilli-can’t stop eating them).
EMOTIONS: It’s very rare I get down, so my emotions are happy.

AP: If you weren’t an artist you’d be..?
Keith:  Rock star, like Kelly Jones, lead singer of the Stereophonics, or I would apply to go on Strictly Come Dancing to try and improve my moves!

AP: Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?
Keith:  Yep….get a real job. Seriously, it is the best job in the world, but the way I see it is if you have to make it pay as an income and you have no other access to money other than what you earn from your art then it is really hard for the majority of artists, I only started a year ago because when I was younger I had mortgage, family etc and just couldn’t afford to be an artist. I am following my dream now at 50 because I don’t have as many commitments as I did 25 years ago.

AP: And finally, what are you working on just now?
Keith: I am working on a portrait as I intend to enter it in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2013 open competition….I will be shortlisted and then win, I will then become famous, sell loads of art, make loads of money, and then call myself an artist!!