This week’s blog is about Keith Coomber, who I met through the Dorking Group of Artists. Keith is a lovely man, generous of spirit and always happy to help others, which is probably why he was such a great police officer. Keith is also a member of the small support group I run and as a group we provide all manner of advice and information we have gathered which we share to better ourselves and each other in what is a very competitive artwork, even in the small sleepy villages of Surrey.
What is your background?
I joined the Royal Air Force at 18 as an engineer, then after my service ended I decided to join the police force. I have stayed with them until just recently when I took early retirement so that I could concentrate on making an art career for myself.
What does your work aim to say?
I’m not sure that I am that deep, lol, when it comes to what I paint.
Instead I choose to paint what I like and what I enjoy looking at. That could be ‘big sky’ landscapes, portraits or my current favourite, bees. I am, however, taking the time now to learn much more and as a result I can see the progress with every piece I paint.
How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
I don’t really think it has yet although painting bees is a nod towards our current world concerns about the demise of these wonderful creatures without which we would all die. Otherwise though I do have some ideas forming which could lead to pieces about culture over the decades. Fashion and attitude of young people over years, directly linked to the music of their age. It is an exciting adventure and one I am really glad I am starting to be able to work on.
Who are your biggest influences?
Monet’s impressionistic work is what I have strived to do more of. Being an ex-engineer and police officer, detail is everything, so learning how to let loose and be ‘freer’ has been hard.
I also like Pollock, the other impressionists, as well as modern artists such as Perez. I have so much to learn but even more wonderful artists from whom I can draw.
How have you developed your career?
I have been fairly limited in what I can commit to as my job involved shift working so planning ahead for exhibitions has not been easy. However, I am now taking a far more proactive approach to getting involved in exhibitions and my first one this year is at Denbies Winery in Feb 2020 (3rd – 9th) as retirement has given me more time to paint and promote my art.
How do you seek out opportunities?
I am part of a couple of art groups and members within those groups are always happy to share their knowledge about up and coming exhibitions, so I pay attention to discussions within those groups. I am also part of a small support group and we are looking to put on a number of shows together going forward. Denbies is the first of what I hope will be many.
How do you cultivate a collector base?
This is a whole new area to me. I do have a list of people who have bought from me and many of them have bought a number of pieces, but I don’t think I am quite at the point that I can say that I am collected. Marketing and advertising my work are on the list of things I will be focusing on in 2020 helped by the small support group I am in. I am looking forward to learning all about what to do and how to do it with the hope that some of those past customers become collectors and well as attracting new customers to see and buy my work.
How do you navigate the art world?
With difficulty! Being very pragmatic and fact driven, as is my nature, I find a lot of aspects of this world a real struggle. One person’s art can leave me speechless in a positive way, yet another’s art can equally leave me speechless but for all the wrong reasons!
I’m not too old to learn new things, indeed I am looking forward to this new journey, but I can’t change who I am.
What you see is what you get.
I love art, I love to paint, and hopefully more and more people will like my work and want to take it home with them.
How do you price your work?
I try to be very competitive and sensible. I don’t really take too much notice of my time spent on a piece as in the past I have painted for fun as I so enjoy working on an idea or project.
I’d rather charge less, so someone buys it and enjoys it, than charge too much and it remains with me. Art isn’t art unless enjoyed by others in whatever way.
I will probably increase my prices a little in 2020 as I have been told that some of my pieces are under-priced and I am just learning that under-pricing can be as bad as overpricing artwork. All part of the new knowledge I will be taking on board this coming year.
Which current art world trends are you following?
None really, or should I say none consistently. I have been so busy working, but now that I have retired there will be more time for me to investigate the art-world on a deeper level.
I do try to see what’s hot in galleries, which sometimes leads me to try new areas of a similar style or subject. Putting my own slant on it, as it were. I am really looking forward to being able to discover other artists and see how their work influences, or not, what I am working on.
Keith’s work can be seen at Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking RH5 6AA, from 3rd-9th February 2020 as well as with the Dorking Group of Artists in their Spring exhibition at Betchworth Village Hall from 1st-3rd May 2020.