The first time I saw Ben Keys, I was making breakfast and looking out my front window. I saw this artist set up in the plein-air style on my street, painting a portrait of my neighbors home. Since I had started my Wilmington Artists in Their Studios project, I noted to myself that I had to introduce myself to this guy and see if he would be interested in a portrait session. Well, since he was right out the door, you would think that I could get myself out there for an introduction. Wrong. Every time I managed to keep the thought in my head, I was sidetracked by another task and by the time I could get out the door, he was gone. This is common for me, but I was determined, and finally stayed focussed long enough to get out there and meet the artist, Ben Keys. We exchanged hellos and he was interested in and had been told of my project by Ann Cunningham, a friend and artist who I had already photographed. We met at his very cool studio near the beach and had a great session. Ben is enthusiastic about his work and carries that energy to the canvas. It was fun to watch him work and capture his energy in the ensuing photographs.

Like many artists, Ben left a business career to pursue his passion of painting. He has studied at the Torpedo Factory, the Art Institute of Chicago and the International School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture in Umbria, Italy. Several years ago he moved from Chicago to the Wilmington area to do a series of architectural portraits for a local construction company and stayed. Ben’s main focus is on the plein-air style and his easel has graced sidewalks in Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, Raleigh and Washington, D.C. His painting is inspired by French Impressionism and he applies it to landscapes and architecture in North Carolina and its surrounds.

Ben is represented by galleries throughout the country and his work is collected internationally. He has been featured in Encore Magazine, Metro Magazine, Exhibit C Magazine, Wilmington Magazine and has had articles written in the Raleigh News and Observer and the Lumina News.

You can view Ben’s work and achievements by going to his web site at BenKeys.Com Once you are there, linger awhile and get to know this dynamic artist. I know I am glad I finally made it out the door.