A Brush with Art: Focusing on what’s there but can’t be seen

A Brush with Art: Focusing on what’s there but can’t be seen
Sean Keany relaxes at his Leucadia home with a painting from his “Ports” series. Photo by Photo courtesy of Gray Richards

Sean Keany’s subject matter comes from internal chakras, radio waves among other unseen energies 

Artist Sean Keany creates images that reflect his expansive view of the world. Through his global travels, the North County native has experienced a variety of cultures and diverse perspectives, which he interprets through his abstract paintings.

In some respects Keany is also a product of his local environment. Growing up in the surf and skateboard culture of North County, where he spent much of his youth competing in surf contests and teaching at surf camps, Keany has an affinity for the beach lifestyle. With favorite activities that — in addition to art — include surfing, skating, music, and yoga, he feels fortunate to be immersed in what he refers to as “one of the most beautiful and forward-thinking places in the world.” His future plans, however, include art studies abroad and extensive foreign travel.

Keany humorously describes himself as “the son of artistically-inspired, beach-loving baby boomers.” His mother is Japanese-American with a 30-year career in interior design; his father an Irish-American with a master’s degree in art with an emphasis in theater set design. Keany surmises, “Art is in my blood.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in studio art from University of California Santa Barbara, Keany returned to North County to establish Sundial Farm, a greenhouse-grown hydroponic vegetable nursery, which provides sustainably-grown vegetables for local farmers markets, stores and CSA’s in Encinitas, Leucadia, Carlsbad, Vista, and Escondido. This “real world” enterprise provides business experience that serves him as a practicing artist.

His spacious studio, located in a refurbished greenhouse at Sundial Farm in Vista, provides ample space and natural light streaming through high translucent ceilings onto reflective white walls.

Painting on unstretched canvas positioned on the concrete floor allows Keany to feel spontaneous and unrestrained throughout the creative process. He uses an abundance of white pigment, plenty of water, and many layers of pure color in his large abstract paintings. He explains, “With all the thin films of paint, for each color to stay true, I consistently get my canvas very wet and then completely dry — lots of small acts of controlled spontaneity.”

The result is a striking juxtaposition of random action and precise concentric circles that allows the viewer personal interpretation of the image. Sometimes viewed as solar rays creating prisms of color in falling water, at other times as abstract maps of ports of energy across a planet, the paintings have wide aesthetic appeal.

In describing the genesis of his subject matter Keany states, “I focus on things that are there but can’t be seen such as sonar, radiating power from concentrated cities and spiritual outposts, a sky full of radio waves, or our internal chakras.”

“My paintings represent the silent and unseen part of communication that is not missed but that is not always noticed, whether it be between whales talking to each other, birds knowing the correct moment to fly south, human beings communicating over the Internet, or even the human race communicating better with all the other aspects of Mother Nature.”

“I want my painting to positively influence people’s feelings and make them remember how much more is out there in the world that can’t always be seen… for us humans to utilize and to change for the better.”

On the other hand, Keany adds with a smile, “They can also just be beautiful paintings made by someone excited about loving life.”

Sean Keany’s abstract paintings are currently on display in the “Extempore” exhibit at L Street Fine Art in San Diego. The show includes work of four other North County artists: Roger Chandler, Victoria Bearden, Pamela Fox Linton, and Sheryl Tempchin. An opening reception will be held 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 8.

Visit seankeany.com to learn more about Sean Keany and his work.

Kay Colvin is director of the L Street Fine Art Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, serves as an arts commissioner for the City of Encinitas, and specializes in promoting emerging and mid-career artists. Contact her at kaycolvin@lstreetfineart.com.

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