top of page

Artmaking, Joy & Fear













Like many people, I was fearful of sharing or showing my work to others outside my immediate family, and it took many years before I felt confident enough to exhibit my art and also offer instruction in art making.

Why Drawing?

Why not? Drawing is immediate; pick up a marking stick and start making lines, shapes, and tones. You can draw as fast as you think or not; just draw. Drawing is the first step in artmaking, the foundation of understanding the Elements and Principles of Design and Composition.


I think a drawing can be like a painting. The way the graphite is applied can be brushed. Painting is associated with wet pigment that is applied with a brush. However, pastel is considered painting and is a dry medium. There are watercolor graphite pencils that, when wet can be brushed. There is an alcohol and graphite technique for applying graphite. So, yes, I think that a drawing can be a painting both in the process and in the final result. 


Why graphite and not charcoal, colored pencils, or pastels?

Life is full of color; however, I analyze shapes and forms in tonal values. Color obscures form. A good example of this can be seen in some Impressionist art where the colors define flat shapes, and there is an absence of form. Form is defined by shadows not light The world is in color AND 3D.

Charcoal is messy. I do not like messy; for me, the pencil is clean and precise. But I like making messy lines!


Blank Canvas

 I used to stare at my blank white drawing paper and try to visualize a drawing. It rarely if ever, worked. I would put down my pencil and go do something else. I reflect on high school art class when my art teacher had me stand at an easel with a large (20 x 30) sheet of watercolor paper and made me draw with a felt-tipped pen, no reference, just draw. The two drawings are on the "Early Works" page. They are, of course, trees. It wasn’t until the early 80’s when I struggled with artist block that I discovered energy drawing (intuitive drawing) and have, since then, made many drawings of various subjects both representational and abstract works some of which reside in private collections. Not only was I able to draw at any time, but I found boundless joy in the process. All my academic knowledge, experience, vision, and everything could be opened, examined, combined, modified, and enhanced through this process. Intuitive or stream-of-consciousness drawing allowed me to unlock, without fear, my potential as a creative. Fear, however, gripped me whenever I shared my work with others, particularly in art shows because on the one hand, I felt inferior, and on the other, my work is personal.


Trees, Dragons, and the Human Figure

Trees are awesome, unique, spiritual, and ageless. I have drawn trees since first grade. I guess I can say the same for dragons. The figure, well, is the most beautiful form in the universe to me (I was drawing nudes in high school). 


My Retrospective Show, 2018

This was the first time I had the


to see my collective work together in a

gallery and contemplate the many

moments or splinters in time that each

piece has frozen my thoughts, mood,

skill, and creative energy. To say that I

would change any of the pieces

would erase that history and those

moments. But then, seriously, the

finished pieces are not for me anyway;

they were the journey, the adventure

each piece took me on, the joy of their creation, and the journey has just begun! 

Solo Show Poster_JTK_small.jpg
Copyright 1994-2023 Joel T. Keener
bottom of page