"High Country Bears" 30 x 40
Mark Keathley was born on April 23, 1963. He spent his early years growing up on the family farm in East Texas and has always dearly loved and enjoyed the glorious and diverse world around him.
Those early years in the country have definitely had a lasting effect on what he loves to paint. Vivid memories of chasing lizards, exploring the creek, raising chickens, making forts in the thick brush, hunting with his father and grandfather, and whatever else could be dreamed up are the inner strands that help to make up the colorful collection of memories that make up his boyhood. Although, at the time, he was unaware of what was happening to him, he can now see what that kind of life, in his particular family, has given him. He now has a deep appreciation for a simpler life where raising and providing for his family, thoroughly enjoying his wife (and best friend), and doing the work that was given to him are his daily delights. As a child, however, his daily delights were trying to get that big bass on a hook, or to see how high he could climb in the old sweet gum tree. There was always something different to do, but there was a common thread that found its way in almost every situation. “Look at that!” he would say calling attention to the colors of the trees, or a young colt kicking up his heels as he would bolt from the corral. He was constantly paying attention to the beauty of that late evening sunlight on the grand pine trees and soft pastures of grass.
Rarely did something beautiful escape his notice. At an early age he was taken with the desire to capture those perfect moments in time when a fond memory just wasn’t enough. Upon discovering his mother’s box of oils and brushes in the attic, a spark of interest and determination was kindled. The fan of encouragement from family and friends, the flame of accomplishment moved him in the direction of art as a career. He says his first landscape, at age twelve, “was a tribute to green…and not much else”, but he continued to pursue those scenes with charcoal and pencils as his tools. At fifteen he was given a starter set of acrylics, wildlife magazine subscription for subject matter, and the rest is, as they say, history. He has painted nearly every day of his life since.
Combined with this love of beauty, is a God given talent, and a rigorous schedule of painting. These things have enabled him to succeed as an artist, and one able to give something for others to enjoy. At the age of 20 he spent a year of Christian mission work with relatives in South Africa where he learned that people would actually pay for his artwork. He went back home with the determination to become a professional artist. His work as been widely enjoyed and respected. Whether sitting in a booth at an arts and crafts fair (in his early years) or high atop a city building at a one-man show, the public has loved what he does. He has won many awards including the coveted “popular award” twice at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Show (1987-88), as well as gold and silver awards for both acrylic and oil paintings. He also received the gold award for a painting entered in the Old West Museum show in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1991.