I have been in the Art Industry for many years. As a young boy I was intrigued by the bright colors of Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras floats. I have drawn and painted for as long as I can remember. I pursued my art dream and graduated from Delgado Community College in 1991 with an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design and from Memphis College of Art in 1993 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts.
I have taught for over 14 years in the Jefferson Parish School System and I own an Art Studio/Gallery in Old Gretna, Keith Eccles Illustration & Design Studio, LLC, where all of my work can be viewed and purchased. I also offer summer camp for children, as well as adult painting classes. I have participated in extensive fundraising projects throughout the New Orleans Area. I was selected as one of the 12 artists in the Jefferson Parish Oyster Trail project. My oyster was painted for and now stands outside of Gattusso’s Restaurant in Old Gretna. I was selected and participated in the 2014 Artist as Entrepeneur Program. I have also participated as a vendor in the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
I have donated countless pieces of original art and countless hours of time for fundraising activities, including, but not limited to numerous schools and churches, Paws for the Cause, WDSU Shrimp Boot Raffle in 2010, Truman High School gym floor (as part of the NFL Play60 program), Hope Haven (painted pew and mentoring students) and many more. My most recent contribution (over 100 hours) was the 16ft by 100ft mural I painted in the Gretna Boys and Girls Club gym as part of the LeBron James/Sprite Foundation refurbishment during the NBA Allstar weekend held here in New Orleans in February 2014. I have inspired and touched the lives of countless students through my years as a teacher. I received Teacher of the Year three times – 2003, 2006 & 2009 - while a teacher at L.W. Higgins High School, as well as Outstanding Educator. I was nominated, chosen & Inducted into Delgado Community College’s first “Circle of Excellence” – a distinguished group of Delgado graduates who have gone above and beyond in their respective fields of work. I was chosen to paint and present to President Obama in the Oval Office in 2009 the Zulu Coconut that commemorated his inauguration and the 100 year celebration of the Zulu organization. My picture with President Obama & Senator Mary Landrieu currently hangs in the West Wing of the White House. My artwork has been exhibited throughout the United States – including, but not limited to, Los Angeles, Memphis, Washington, D.C. and New Orleans. I designed the new Command Coin for the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion Thirteen – Department of Navy and received a Letter of Appreciation from the Commanding Officer. Coins were presented to the Battalion while serving our country in Iraq. I have received the key to the City of Gretna for serving as the Grand Marshal of Grela in 2011. I also received recognition from Senator Heitmeier and from Councilman Chris Roberts for my various contributions over the years. My motto has always been “imagine yourself in art.”
Keith Eccles is a New Orleans artist living and working in the Algiers Point area.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Folk Pop Art
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans?
New Orleans is rich in heritage. I love that there is so much "creative vibe" within the city itself - bright colors, festive atmosphere. The ability to create large, colorful paintings goes hand in hand with the spirit of the city.
What particular part of your immediate environment, in your neighborhood specifically influences your work?
My day to day interaction with young people in the arts inspires me to create lasting images in my paintings that come from my life experiences. I also love living in the neighborhood in which I grew up as a young boy. There is no greater reward than to pay back to the people and places where I got my start. Home is where you hang your hat AND your brushes!
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I sketch and explore different techniques and processes with each painting. Some topics also involve research so that I can better authenticate and capture the true images. When I come to the conclusion that my idea is solid, I begin to sketch out my images onto my canvas or wood, and then I dump out all of my tubes of paint - I call it my "organized catastrophe of color.' Then, I generously apply my selected bright acrylic paint to the canvas. I complete my artwork with my signature bold, black outlining.
Where do you draw inspiration? I draw my inspiration from my life experiences growing up in Old Gretna, as well as my exposure to bright colors from a young age experiencing great artwork from the likes of Blaine Kern's float designs that were considered to be the greatest free show in the world - Mardi Gras. My many trips to Jackson Square on my bicycle as a kid where artwork hung on the gates of Jackson Square in abundance always fascinated me . I often visited Jackson Square just to watch the painters paint and to learn about the processes that they used in their creations.
Who are your artistic influences or gurus? Picasso,VanGogh, Juan Medina - to name a few. And, without doubt, my high school art teacher, Mr. Larry Moody.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
Everything Dr. John
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
Fishing in the bayou - otherwise, even if I am at a sporting event or school activity for one of my own sons or for my own students, I am still sketching and creating.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
Sunday mornings are my favorite time.- as the Commodores once sang - "I'm easy like Sunday morning." July is my favorite month.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
I am a licensed tattoo artist AND I Love to cook!
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Where You Can Find My Work
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y’Art Gallery by appointment.
My work can be viewed at my Art Studio/Gallery in Old Gretna by appointment.
Keith Eccles Illustration and Design Studio, LLC
906 Derbigny Street, Gretna, LA 70053
* only 10 minutes from Downtown New Orleans *