ART during the time of COVID
Hello friends! Well, it is a strange time to be an artist. Frankly, it’s a strange time to be alive. Who knew when our kids were sent home from school in March, and we all hunkered down in our homes, this adventure would last this long. So here we are... I will be honest, I have been fortunate during this time. This lockdown has presented its challenges and it hasn't been easy for anyone. But as Helen Keller would say, "If you keep your face towards the sunshine you cannot see the shadow." I'd love to share with you the work I've been able to do during this unprecedented time.
Work with Aurora Public Art
COVID-19 PSA Signage Design
My first opportunity came when I submitted a design for Aurora Public Art’s PSA Covid-19 Awareness Signs designed to bring encouragement to the community. I was so excited to get a chance to be involved with a local project here in Aurora. During the spring and summer you could see the 13 designs that were selected on election-size boards throughout the city and they were also available for a free download to display in the window of your home and/or business.
If you are interested in learning more about this project, the City of Aurora hosted virtual series called “Community Conversation” on Facebook Live and YouTube. One episode included a session called "Meet the Artists" that included the PSA artists talking about our work. My segment starts around minute 10:40 but everyone has great stories to tell.
Virtual Animal Draw-Along Art Lessons
As many of you know, my “thing” is animal art – so when I was contacted by Aurora Public Art to do a Facebook Live Draw-Along Art Lesson for Virtual First Fridays in May, I didn’t hesitate suggesting an animal from the Phillips Park Zoo (one of my happy places) as my subject. I won’t lie – doing a live drawing lesson was a little nerve wracking! But at the same time, it was a blast. We had a quite a number of participants and fantastic results.
|Tonka the Cougar|
After this first lesson, and as more summer activities began to be cancelled, this one time lesson morphed into a wonderful series focusing on animals from the zoo. I was so thrilled to expand upon this concept and as the participants learned – I was learning as well! They are still available at Aurora Public Art’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.
I am hoping to “spice” these lessons up a bit and add them to my own YouTube Channel and Facebook… so stay tuned this fall for updates!
Downtown Aurora Mural Project
One of my proudest moments during this pandemic was the Downtown Aurora Mural Project I was able to participate in. During the recent unrest we experienced some looting and damage to local businesses. In response many of them needed to board up their windows. Instead of having sad plywood everywhere Aurora Public Art put out a call for volunteer muralists to make art on the boarded up storefronts.
I was not the main artist but I worked with several local artists to help create this piece. All of downtown was transformed into a beautiful and positive place to be. You can watch this great segment NCTV17 did about the project and where you can spot myself and my fellow artists working on our mural!
It was a great experience and a perfect way to lift up the true message of the Black Lives Matter movement and promote a message of equality for all.
|Boston the Australian Shepherd, 8x10 portrait |
Last summer I suffered from a hip injury and wasn’t able to partake in any artisan markets. While this was an unfortunate turn of events, another opportunity came around. I agreed to do a pet portrait for a very good puppy pal of mine. This was such a rewarding experience I decided to start offering Pet Portraits!
|Pierre the Betta Fish, 5x7 portrait|
|Ernie the Bernadoodle, 5x7 portrait|
This work is different from my more graphic illustration work, but I love it just the same. I will also be donating a portion of my profits to animal rescues as a part of my mission to help keep animals out of the shelters and in forever homes. If you are interested in a pet portrait be sure to check out my Keller Pet Portrait website and get in touch! I have a variety of sizes and styles to choose from!
What’s Happening Now?
So that’s quite a bit of news! Sorry for the long post, but life has been topsy turvy. I recently underwent surgery for a torn labrum on my right hip so I'm in the rest and recovery phase. I’m not quite mobile - yet – but I hope to be soon! Of course if you know me, I can’t just sit around so once the painkillers wore off I took this opportunity to give my website a facelift. Be sure to check it out at JenKellerArt.com!
Thanks for visiting and reading this long entry! I’m hoping for the rest of my recovery to go smoothly and to be back at the “drawing table” before you know it!
Until then – be sure to stay safe, stay happy, stay healthy, and stay creative. 😊