Julie Keaten-Reed



My artistic career has followed an unconventional path. Likewise, the artwork is unconventional, a hybrid of Western and Asian traditions. My education in art began early, surrounded as I was by the works of my grandmother, Carley Craig. She was a lifelong artist and a master of diverse media and genres. Growing up immersed in this creative milieu I developed a sensitivity to aesthetics and an appreciation of form, color and line.

As an adult, my interest in art took a back seat to other career and life goals. But in the 1990’s, while living in Nagasaki and working as an English teacher at a Japanese university, I found myself deeply moved by the art and lifestyle of the Japanese. My five-year stay there utterly transformed me. I felt my old love of art emerge again, but this time with a desire to be an active participant rather than just a spectator. I was in my mid-thirties by then, but an irresistible need to create led me to pick up a brush for the first time since childhood.

The conflicting impulses of following the Asian art aesthetic which I admire so much and the desire to explore themes from my Western art heritage led to the blend of styles and techniques I use today. I merge figure drawing with Japanese brushwork; I re-interpret traditional Chinese bird-and-flower paintings with a modern, American sensibility. What I do spans cultures and fits into no neat category: it’s another example of contemporary art of the Twenty-First century.

For subject matter I look to dramatic landscapes, serene still life studies, quirky animals and expressive abstractions. With only black sumi ink - a Japanese, carbon-based ink - and select use of color, I strive for the art of suggestion, of subtlety, the art of leaving out. The goal of my work is to be simple and natural, to be unpretentiously lovely.