Keith Rust- Roycroft Renaissance Artisan Interview

Posted by James Baldwin on

Modern Bungalow is proud to feature Roycroft Renaissance Artisan Keith Rust! Keith is masterful at capturing the spirit of landscapes, and conveying the essence that inspires the awe of nature in the viewer. Our store is one of a very few places in the country that carry his work, and we have framed giclee on canvas prints from both before and after he was awarded the Roycroft distinction. Find his work on our website here: Keith Rust Illustration

Below is a brief interview about his art and his inspiration:

Modern Bungalow: What medium do you work in?

Keith Rust: I create my paintings using acrylic paint on illustration board. I appreciate how quickly the paint layers become permanent as they are applied. I also appreciate how the medium lends itself to flat solid areas or thin glazes usually attributed to watercolor.

MB: What is the first piece of art you ever sold?

KR: My first sale was a commissioned painting that I created in watercolor for a local winery. They were interested in a painting to decorate a wall in their tasting room.

MB: Is there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist? 

KR: From an early age I was always creating art, but it was through my first art professor, Mr. John Kaneko, that I discovered a real love of painting.  With his recommendation, I attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to study illustration.  And after graduating with honors, I began working in the computer game industry as a game artist before advancing to the position of Art Director and Vice President of Creative Arts.  Eventually my interests shifted to becoming a high school art instructor and fine arts painter.

MB: How has your art evolved throughout the years?

KR: When I began my artistic career, my work was fairly photo-realistic. As I continued to paint, I appreciated seeing more of the painterly brushwork being revealed in my artwork. With my craftsman landscapes, the challenge was to reduce the scene down to the perfect shapes, colors and values that reveal the essence and mood of a moment in that local.

MB:Can you tell us about the process of making your art?

KR: I love traveling and capturing the spectacular beauty found in nature. I usually start off with an idea for the location I want to represent and then work on capturing the ideal composition as I scale and arrange all of the elements. After the design is finished, I begin blocking in the sky colors using layer upon layer of transparent acrylic washes. Once the sky is completed, I move to the background elements and then gradually progress forward. As the image comes together, I will often remix colors and repaint sections to better unite the whole. The final stage is to outline the middle-ground in darker variations of the colors and the foreground in black, giving the painting a sense of greater depth.

MB: What is your favorite part of the creative process?

KR: I enjoy working on the initial designs which I will let sit for awhile. As I revisit my ideas, I continue to adjust them until I am completely satisfied with the design layout and color scheme. Additionally, I love painting the skies and seeing the start of the painting emerge.

MB: What sort of message (if any) are you trying to tell with your art? 

KR: With my work, I am trying to represent a location that captures a certain atmosphere and feeling which draws the viewer into the painting where they can further explore the scene.

MB: What do you wish people outside the art community understood better?

KR: There is so much time, thought and effort that goes into each painting. Over the course of the 3+ months it takes me to create each painting, there are often so many adjustments in colors and shapes as the painting begins to evolve into its final form.

MB: What do you listen to when you’re working?

KR: While I am working on my landscapes, I usually enjoy putting on a blu-ray and just listening to the dialog from one of my movies or television series with a story line I can follow.

MB: Is there a piece of art you created that you can’t seem to part with (and why)?

KR: I find it difficult to part with most of my originals. When I put so much time, effort, creativity and myself into each piece, it is very difficult to part with them. Most of the originals are hanging in my home decorating my walls.

MB: What piece of work would you like to be remembered for?

KR: I don’t know that I have a specific piece. It is more my desire that people would find joy in viewing my work and hopefully capturing a place that held a fond memory for them.


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