Kevin Kehoe

Painter With A Camera

30 Years

Thirty years of non-stop hustling. Thirty years of mastering a competitive craft with constant creative challenges, where no two days looked the same. Thirty years of working his way to the very top in an intense environment.

Thirty years of visiting gallery after gallery in all the towns and cities he toured across the U.S. Thirty years of frustration knowing an inherent reservoir of talent was left untapped. Thirty years of inspiration seeing the expressive and meaningful creations of others.

Starting A New Chapter

After a thirty-year career in advertising, Kevin Kehoe turned fifty and decided to do some serious soul searching. After much contemplation, he knew it was time for a change and time to start a new chapter. Although Kevin had enjoyed a successful advertising career, the urge to paint continually nudged and beckoned him. He could no longer ignore the call, that gnawing at his heart. Of this experience, Kevin shared, “I knew there was this other door I never really opened and I never wanted to get to a point in my life where I had to wonder ‘What if?’” Kevin summoned his faith and courage and took a mighty leap.

In January of 2013, he found a space in the Heber Valley and put together a studio. After high school, Kevin had attended the Art Institute of Boston, but he hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in thirty years. He didn’t know what he wanted to create, what kind of paint he wanted to use, and ultimately who he was as an artist.

Instead of allowing the overwhelm to overtake him, Kevin got to work. He started with three small paintings highlighting hallways and stairwells in post-war buildings of the Chelsea Gallery District in New York City. He was inspired by the “light pouring in the vintage glass, the twenty coats of paint on the walls, and the colors.” These three paintings became the beginning of what he titled his Chelsea Light Series. They sold quickly, giving Kevin the confidence and experience he needed to move forward.

Hitting The Road

Kevin developed his particular art process, which doesn’t start in the studio at all. Instead, it begins with days on the road with his camera. While on his way, he waits to be “struck.” He describes being struck as having everything to do with the “beautiful relationship between landscape and light and person and place.” He never forces these moments, but patiently allows them to happen. “I think my true gift is being a really keen observer of the world we live in. What I see and what I feel about what I see, I allow to really take me. I know when it happens, and I know it’s a very special feeling when I get struck like that,” Kevin shares.

After a week to ten days of traveling, with miles and miles covered, Kevin will return home with hundreds of photos. He shares, “Out of 500 photographs that I’ve taken, if two are worthy enough for me to want them to become a painting, then that’s a huge victory.” A big part of his artistic process happens through the lens. Kevin shoots all of his own reference photos because it’s imperative to him that his work feels authentic and captures what he felt as he saw it.

Brush Strokes

After returning to the studio, with his photo reference in hand, his goal is to express “the true essence of the subject matter.” Each of his subjects has a story to tell. What he paints on the canvas is how he wants to remember it. He says, “I choose to paint realism because I know there’s a lot of unseen, underappreciated beauty in the world, and if I see something that I think is beautiful, that I think gets passed by or overlooked, I want to express that beauty.”

Kevin now has four separate and ongoing series that he’s developed: Chelsea Light; Western Therapy; Western Night, Western Light; and Of Horse, Of Heart. To some, Kevin’s work may seem to be quite contrasting because of the various subject matter: man-made structures to horses and western landscapes. There are reasons for his versatility. As a relatively new painter, Kevin doesn’t want to leave any doors unopened. He doesn’t want to miss out on creating something special. With an eye for seeing details and nuance that often go unseen by others, there certainly are many open doors. However, there are common threads that run through all of his work and define him as an artist. He describes the qualities that tie his work together as authenticity, soulfulness, and reverence.

Dreams Fulfilled

Kevin credits part of his success to his advertising career and his experiences in both the East and West. He calls his thirty years in advertising the ultimate boot camp to becoming a disciplined painter. He credits his work ethic and perspective to his Eastern upbringing, and values the West because it inspires and “ignites his heart and imagination.” He says, “The wide-open west is open wide with possibility.” Having life experiences in both the East and West, he describes as a beautiful yin and yang.

When Kevin took that leap back in 2013, he wasn’t positive where it would lead, but he was determined to go places. He had his sights set high. Now, he has seven and a half years under his belt. Seven and a half years putting in the work and expressing with paint what strikes him; tapping into his creativity and learning his personal style and artistry. Seven and a half years of following his intuitive nature and building patience and trust; using his talent to produce many inspiring pieces to share with the world. Seven and a half years since that mighty leap into the unknown. What has come of it? Kevin expresses, “The creative fulfillment and personal reward that I get from this is off-the-charts. It’s immeasurable.”

If you would like to view Kevin’s work, he will be featured in a Red Ledges model in the upcoming Showcase of Homes. His work can also be found in Altamira Galleries in both Scottsdale, AZ and Jackson, WY. You can visit his website at kkpainter.com.

Sunlight softly filters through the branches of a mulberry tree, creating mesmerizing shapes of light and shadow. A young Valoy Eaton stands below the tree captivated by all he sees. Now, at age 82, that fascination with light, shapes, and shadows continues to be an integral part of him. He says that when it comes to being an artist, “The seeing is really important.” His ability to see and appreciate his surroundings, along with good old-fashioned hard work, has earned him his livelihood and a 50-year career as an artist.

Beginnings

Born into a family of musicians, Valoy didn’t get much encouragement in the visual arts as a youngster. However, he did enjoy drawing as a young boy. He recalls what a treat it was to get out of months of school during the 5th grade to create an art piece for the roof of the school featuring Santa and his reindeer. It won 1st place in a community Christmas contest.

Art certainly wasn’t Valoy’s main focus in his youth. The Eaton family lived in Vernal, and money was tight. Valoy recalls, “We were on the edge of poverty, and I felt my best chance at going to college was to get a scholarship to play basketball.” The sport became his driving force, but something else also caught his attention — a beautiful girl in one of his classes named Ellie. Ellie was a cheerleader and the student body president. Valoy told his mother that when he got married, he wanted it to be to a girl just like Ellie. Both of Valoy’s high school plans worked. Several colleges offered him scholarships to play for them. And following high school, he got to marry his dream girl, Ellie.

A Call For Change

The newlyweds headed to BYU, where Valoy played basketball for Coach Stan Watts. At the same time, he majored in art and minored in PE. After four years playing ball and earning a bachelor’s degree, Valoy secured a job at Cyprus High School in Magna, Utah, where he taught and coached. Life was good. The Eaton family was growing and now had a couple children in tow. Valoy was spending much of his spare time playing golf and basketball with his buddies. Everything seemed to be going just fine. However, one person wasn’t satisfied with the situation.
In Valoy’s words, “Ellie got fed up.”
In a moment of brutal honesty, Ellie told Valoy that she didn’t know if she could be married to someone with so much artistic talent who only wanted to have fun. Initially, Valoy was shocked, but as the shock wore off, he ultimately knew Ellie was right. Valoy took this truth Ellie shared with him and used it for motivation to start “painting truth” as he calls it.

He started working harder at painting than he ever had. He would occasionally even work through the night on his art, only to shave, brush his teeth, and head back to his teaching job. The Eatons decided together that Valoy would quit teaching just as soon as he was making as much money with his art as he did with his day job. That day came in 1972. The Eatons packed up and made the move from Granger to Midway, where they bought a little fixer-upper on the corner. Valoy had spent a lot of time painting on the river in Heber Valley and knew he would love living in the area. Ellie was Valoy’s right-hand gal, a true business partner, helping him any way she could. He made art. She sold the art. She also was a model in many of his paintings and became a great art critic. Valoy credits Ellie with doing as much, if not more than himself, to create the success he has enjoyed as an artist.

Crowning Achievements

As he looks back at a career that spans over 50 years and 3,000 paintings sent out into the world, Valoy considers his crowning achievements. Without pause, he lovingly mentions his family. He and Ellie are proud parents of five children, grandparents, and now great grandparents. When it comes to his art, though, the single thing he’s most proud of: “That I stuck with it.” He never gave up even when it wasn’t easy. He also considers getting into the National Academy of Western Art in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City a significant milestone that pushed him to the next level in his career and gave him national recognition. Valoy feels he may be remembered most for the, almost sixty, works of art he has displayed across the world in the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Valoy and Ellie, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wanted to donate paintings to various temples. With this goal in place, the couple spent their summer vacations traveling all over the U.S. going to temple sites so that Valoy could paint a local scene for each temple. In six years, the Eaton’s donated twenty-four paintings to the church’s temples. Valoy now looks at this time with his beloved Ellie as some of their most precious memories together. Ellie has since passed away, but her influence lives on, continuing to inspire Valoy.

A Bit of Advice

Valoy has plenty of his own inspiration to share. For those wondering how to take the leap from hobby to career, he offers a no-frills approach with straight-forward advice: “Work hard and start selling.” If you really want to make a living with art, Valoy shares the formula that’s worked for him: “Paint to please yourself to the maximum. There are always going to be people who don’t like your work, but make sure that you do.” And when it comes to those creative slumps that we all occasionally find ourselves in, Valoy says, “Make time to think. Realize you’re in a slump. Keep working at it. Throw some paintings away if needed. Compare where you’re at now with where you used to be.”

Valoy can no longer put in the same amount of hours painting that he used to, but he paints for at least an hour each day. Valoy’s walls are covered in many beautiful finished canvases, but they also hold many paintings that hang unfinished. He says starting is the easy part, but it’s the finishing that remains the real challenge: adding those delicate touches that give his work life. Those walls serve as a reminder of the starting and finishing that each of us must do: the goals recognized and completed, the dreams that remain unrealized, and the work yet to be done. In art and in life, “The seeing is really important.”

You can see more of Valoy Eaton’s artwork on display at Edelweiss Gallery in Midway and online at valoyeaton.com