Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Keni Arts Way of the Wrecking Ball - barber shop

GUEST ARTIST: “En Plein Air With Keni Arts”

My name is Keni and I’m in Los Angeles, California. I launched an illustration studio in 1985. I called it Keni Arts & Illustrations. Since then, I’ve dropped the ‘illustrations’. People now know me as Keni Arts, or Keni.

Keni Arts painting En Plein Air

Let’s back up about 22 more years to 1963. I was in Jr. High school, living in a small Kansan town. My art teacher, Miss Wilson, took her class outdoors to paint in the park. I was the kid who set up on the sidewalk and painted cars and buildings instead of flowers. I remember being very nervous initially, but it didn’t take long ’til I fell in love with painting ‘en plein air’ (even though I didn’t know what that term meant at the time.)

I’ve been painting on the street corners and dusty roads for over 50 years. I moved to Los Angeles to go to college. I managed to get kicked out of school (by one of my art instructors), so I went to Hollywood and worked as a scenic artist and set painter. I retired in 2011, with a bunch of memories and a box full of lunchtime drawings and paintings which I did with a small kit.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Keni Arts of hollywood backlot Captain America

I titled the series ‘Hollywood Backlots’. It is hundreds of small sketches and watercolors of people, props and sets depicting the entertainment industry.

Here’s how I work: I sketch in permanent sepia ink on Arches watercolor paper. I attempt to complete paintings on-site, though it doesn’t always happen. Even when I think I have finished a painting, I’ll often see something that needs some attention after I get home.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Keni Arts of glasses and paint tubes

However, I have to be careful not to overwork it, thus destroying the spontaneity. I scan or photograph my paintings, then label the files by year, month and day, including a brief description. Along with the original file I keep on my computer, I backup on an external drive and to a cloud service. I do a painting almost every day.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Keni Arts of Edwardo in Rose Garden

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Keni Arts of luggage and paint kit in Ghana

I enjoy the tools of art. I’m always making modifications to my kits. I finally decided to design one that incorporated everything I’ve always wanted in a kit. I hope to make it available to artists soon. I travel around the world with my kit as an ambassador for Christ (missionary). I capture urban and village scenes and the hearts of curious onlookers.

In January of 2015, I founded a plein air painters group called ‘Art Out ’. We are creative people from all walks of life who get together to sketch and paint various locations around Los Angeles.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Keni Arts of Gamble House

Most recently, I launched ‘Art Out Nations ’. Its purpose is to display unscripted paintings and drawings from around the world; those done en plein air/outdoors (cityscapes, landscapes, wildlife etc.). We would love to see your portion of our planet through your sketches of paintings.

Keni Arts
Hollywood Backlots
Art Out
Art Out Nations

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12 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “En Plein Air With Keni Arts”

  1. Your paintings are lovely to linger over, Keni. You capture just enough detail to give personality to a place and leave just enough vague to add some mystery. Thank you for sharing your art.
    Thanks, Charlie, for inviting Keni to Doodlewash.

  2. To be able to do the kind of art you do on the fly is admirable. I wish I had that ability. I have to take time with my paintings (I’m old and slow :), but I also work with acrylic and I paint on wood canvases which are part of my art. When I started painting over 30 years ago it was with water color, and I still love that medium. Acrylic is more time consuming, but to me equally rewarding. Plus, as I said I make my own canvases any size I want. So, when i create something i keep the canvas in mind as well. If your curious, swing over to my blog and have a quick look see. Anyway, your work is indeed impressive! Paint on.

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