Katherine Keeling became an artist by sheer chance after friends took her to a painting workshop at La Jolla's Athenaeum 12 years ago.
As an investment banker and management consultant, Keeling's mind was far from the art world that day, but she enjoyed the class so much that she kept up with her painting exercises.
Based in La Jolla since 1980, she also continued doing freelance consulting work, and she took along her paints and brushes as she traveled to New York, Chicago and the Pacific Northwest.
Keeling, whose work is currently on exhibit at the La Jolla Riford Library, became more intentional about her art training in 2001 and began taking summer classes at Chicago's Art Institute.
"My professors at the institute were all inspiring and, because the classes were very small, I got a lot individual attention," said Keeling, who credits her professors for showing her how to create and experiment with her work.
During her studies at the institute, she enjoyed spending many hours in the museum and had the opportunity to work part time at the "Studio of the South" exhibit, which featured the work of Gauguin and Van Gogh.
She went on to study watercolor landscapes/seascapes with Ron Ranson in England and then spent a summer at the International School of Art in Todi, Italy.
Keeling, who works in watercolors, oils and mixed media, slowly developed her style that blends both impressionistic and expressionistic elements and favors soft, pastel shades that take the form of everything from sailboats to hot air balloons. She finds inspiration from watching the parade of everyday life.
"If you really look, you'll see something that inspires you whether it's a sunset, kids playing at the beach or vendors at the farmers market, or just people walking their dogs or biking by," she said. "There is so much worth capturing if you just stop and smell the flowers and listen to the music."
She cites architect, George Lykos, as her mentor.
"He didn't train me, but I could always stop by his house and show him my work and he would critique it," she said. "I'm fortunate to have known many artists, more talented than me whom I've had the opportunity to paint with and they helped me along."
As for master painters, Keeling cites Turner, Sergeant, Kandinsky and Picasso as her favorites.
Keeling has collectors of her art in Europe, Canada and Asia, but she also believes in giving back to the community, so she does a lot of small exhibits. One of her pieces at the San Diego Civic Center gave people something pleasant to look at while they were waiting in line to pay their taxes.
"I work hard and I'm enthusiastic about what I'm doing," Keeling said.
"I would like to get more exposure so I can share my art with more people through traveling exhibits and galleries and become self-supporting."
Keeling recently exhibited 12 oils and watercolors in a two-person show at the Civic Center in downtown San Diego and showed two juried pieces at the new Museum of Bonita.
"Magic of the Sea," Keeling's one-woman show of 26 oil paintings, is on display at the La Jolla Riford Library through Oct. 15.
Visit Keeling's web site at