Metal artist Bill Keen makes one-of-a-kind sculptures
Over 40 years, metal sculpture artist Bill Keen has been creating one-of-a-kind, hand crafted sculptures that have not only captured the attention of locals and people across the province but has also garnered national attention.
His work cannot be duplicated as these uniquely, hand-sculpted pieces are made from the ground up, using steel as the main medium, “welded, forged and bent into original designs” with intricate details.
Bill Keen started sculpture in Yorkton where he lived for two years. He and his family subsequently moved to Moose Jaw where Bill fell more in love with metal art. Starting out as an industrial arts teacher at A.E. Peacock Collegiate, he lit up with excitement while creating things handson and teaching students to do the same. “I’ve been sculpting for 47 years. I taught the industrial arts at Peacock, which was wonderful. It was a broad range of different areas and I loved it because it was creating things. The students loved it too because it was hands-on things that they could do.”
Keen’s love for metal arts blossomed even more and that’s when he entered his first metal artist national competition in which he was among some of the best metal artists in Canada. His award-winning streak began immediately as his work garnered national attention.
“Back then, I was kind of experimenting and one day I saw an ad for a national competition for metal artists. The theme for that competition was ‘energy.’ I thought, ‘well I’ll try to make something for this competition’ and I did that and won second place.”
It was after this competition, his passion continued to grow for metal sculptures. After that, Keen went on to create more works of metal art which he says continues to be very rewarding and fulfilling to this day.
“After that competition I realized that creating metal art gave me a lot of pleasure, so I decided to continue doing so and that’s what I did. I’ve been doing it ever since and it’s been 47 years now! I’ve done many shows to showcase some of my pieces.”
He continued, “Every piece is unique. It is all sculpted from scratch and no piece of my art can be duplicated because nothing is cut out. I’ve always created these pieces from basically material. My work is sculpture — started from a few materials and I make it into a sculpture. That’s the difference between my work and that of some other artists. The work I do is one of a kind because it is impossible to duplicate based on the process that goes into every piece.”
Keen says what makes his work even more fulfilling is having his wife Laurette of 50 years working with him in creating his sculptures. She is the co-designer on all the pieces.
“About 25 years ago, Laurette started working with me, which was really good because she would be my critic, and this made my work better. She worked closely with me. She also does the final touch to pieces like the painting. She has a great eye for color. We work extremely well together and now she has become an intricate part of our work. Everything I do now, she’s heavily involved.” Laurette says painting brings the sculptures to life which makes the pieces stand out more.
“He used to do a variety of work with different metals but for the last 15 or 20 years, he’s mostly using steel. He has also been sculpting a lot more trees because trees are more interesting, and people gravitate to them. Every sculpture is then hand painted which is what I do that would make the sculpture look more realistic, so that’s where I come in,” Laurette said.
“Her work compliments mine so much because she brings it to life,” said a proud Bill. “She breathes a lot of life into it.” Keen also spoke about his inspiration behind some of his most notable pieces. “I’m very inspired by the environment. Everything in nature inspires me… Trees help us in our environment in many ways and because of this, people tend to relate a lot to them.”
The sculptures are wall hangings or three-dimensional forms and vary from realistic to very abstract.
He said metal sculpting is a great art to learn because it is very fulfilling.
“I would encourage others to get into this kind of artistry because psychologically, it is so rewarding. It is invigorating to create something, and you are very pleased with it and others love it too. That makes it even more rewarding. I love my work… it’s a deep passion for me. I still enjoy doing metal sculptures”
To get in touch with the Keens, you can call 306-692- 4912 to make an appointment. Learn more at http://wckmetalartist.ca.