During March Wollongong artist Donald Keys finished the 20th painting in his now completed collection of portraits of contemporary artists called Art Heads.
It is the end of a three year project for Keys who is a highly respected landscape artist.
He decided to do Art Heads when fellow artist Mertim Gokalp was painting him.
The original idea was to feature the present crop of artists whose work he admires and who inspire him.
At one stage the collection was going to be called The Present Crop.
His goal has always been to not sell the individual artworks but keep the collection together to tour.
The official opening of the launch exhibition is at Shoalhaven Regional Art Gallery on May 20.
Artists who portraits he painted include Mr Gokalp as well as Sally Ryan, Carlos Barrios, Christine Webb, Dongwang Fan, Paul S. Miller, Vince Vozzo, Edmond Thommen, Mia Oatley, Anita Larkin, Auguste Blackman, Justin Pearson, Robyn Werkhoven, Matthew Quick, Eolo Paul Bottaro, Arja Valimaki, Richard Claremont, Paul Ryan, Filippa Buttitt and Christabel Blackman.
“I only finished the portrait of Christabel Blackman a few weeks ago,” he said.
“It feels good to reach this point. The official opening of the exhibition is being held on Saturday, May 20 from Midday to 2pm”.
It is the first time all 20 paintings will be on public show in one place at one time.
A limited edition book has been published explaining the whole process and journey he has been on as well more information about the artists.
“I have printed 100 of them and already sold 40 and signed some of them,” he said.
Keys has not stopped his landscape painting while doing the portraits.
My next major project will be focusing on Wollongong’s steel industry. There is a dynamic contrast between a factory landscape and that of the sand and the sea. Yet I find both fascinating.Donald Keys
And he has already started work on a new series of paintings sure to attract plenty of interest in the Illawarra with its industrial past. It is particularly focused on BlueScope Steel.
“My next major project will be focusing on Wollongong’s steel industry,” he said.
“There is a dynamic contrast between a factory landscape and that of the sand and the sea. Yet I find both fascinating.”
Keys said the art industry response to Art Heads has been good and he has been getting requests from other artists to paint them.
And some more artists now want to paint him.