On a cold, gloomy, and wet day in December, I interviewed local painter Keith Doles and my conversation with him certainly brightened that unpleasant afternoon. The most striking aspect of his persona is that he is deeply enthusiastic about fellow creators. His first reaction to meeting me for our interview was to introduce me to the work of the other artists at CoRK Arts District, a collection of studios for artists, writers, musicians, and other innovative makers. Although Doles has only called CoRK his creative haven for roughly a year, you would think he has been with CoRK for years given the intimate way he speaks of the artists he works alongside. After his passionate spiel on the artists of CoRK, we sat in his studio to discuss his experiences in relation to his art practice.
Older paintings from his representational period nealty lined the walls of his studio. Those paintings from the past are in stark contrast to his recent work featured in Yellow House’s show Life Under Construction. This change in style can be attributed in large part to a wrist injury Doles sustained in 2005. While recovering from the injury, he began painting with less restrained brushstrokes and since then his paintings have gradually become less realistic and more abstract.
During the interview, Doles stated that his abstract works of art give him an added sense of freedom and flexibility to convey his thoughts and emotions in a symbolic yet poignant manner. In fact, the two black paintings included in the Yellow House exhibition signify Doles’ physical collapse due to exhaustion while the brightly colored paintings represent Doles’ path to recovery following his collapse. Overall, he describes the evolution of his art as a freeing experience which has resulted in his paintings becoming more emotionally impactful to his audience and his contemporaries at CoRK. Between teaching at UNF and working as a graphic designer at a health care facility, creating art one to two days a week is a genuinely therapeutic activity for Doles.
Deconstruction and reconstruction are pivotal themes in Doles’ paintings. Doles explicitly describes his artwork as if it is a construction project and this conceptualization of his work can be traced to his childhood attraction to architecture, cityscapes, roads, and so on. At this point in his artistic career, Doles feels that he has finally merged his lifelong fascination with construction sites and his creative process. Amidst all the construction in his life, Keith Doles feels confident that the new developments in his artwork are greatly improving his life and the lives of others.