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CHARLES F. KECK (1913-2003)

"Red Barn"

"Red Barn"

4" x 5 3/4", Watercolor on Paper 11165

"Sin Esposas"

"Sin Esposas"

15" x 22 1/2", Watercolor on Paper 20092

Charles Keck (1913-2003) 

Charles F. Keck was born in Wapello, Iowa on February 18, 1913. At the time his father was the owner of several businesses and his mother was an amateur painter and writer.

When he was six years old his family left Iowa for Corpus Christi, Texas, where his father intended to buy property. Their plans were changed by the hurricane that hit the area in 1919 shortly after they arrived there. The property his father planned to buy was completely destroyed. They moved to Los Angeles, California in 1920, where Keck graduated from Fairfax high school.

  From 1932 to 1934, he majored in art at Los Angeles City College, and was awarded a three year scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute where he studied with Millard Sheets, Phil Dike, and Phil Paradise from 1935-38.  In the late '30s through the early '40s he worked for Columbia Pictures as a background artist until being drafted to serve in WWII. While serving in the Signal Corps, he was stationed in Alaska where he produced a series of watercolors depicting Alaskan landscapes, genre scenes, and military life.

He served in the Signal Corps in Alaska but after a few months was transferred to Special Services, where with his friend, Howard Kosbau, helped to upgrade a small Army Newspaper, The Sourdough Sentinel , to a circulation of over 10,000. He served as Assistant Editor and also had a cartoon strip and a Ripley type feature, Fascinating Alaska, which he drew in collaboration with a friend, Luther Norris. Working on the newspaper in Alaska opened many opportunities to meet people and sell his work. 

He returned with his wife Eugenia to Los Angeles in 1945. He taught at the Hollywood Art Center School for several years before enrolling at UCLA to complete his Master's Degree in Art Instruction.


After graduating from UCLA, he taught art at Lincoln and Garfield High Schools in Los Angeles, retiring in 1982 after 26 years of teaching. He enjoyed teaching, and on vacations they would often take their four children on long road trips, stopping in beautiful places for Keck to paint. 


From the 1930s through the 1980s he produced works in various media, primarily favoring hand-ground pigments in watercolor and gouache.  He exhibited with numerous organizations including the California Watercolor Society, and the Laguna Beach Art Association from whom he received a First Prize in 1946.

He also painted in oil, pastel, and other media. He continued to paint for several years after his retirement from teaching. His paintings reflect the different seasons, moods, and landscapes of rural California as it was before the miles of housing developments. He also painted the urban scenes of prewar Los Angeles in 1938 and 1939. Like some other artists of his generation, he produced works of abstract expressionism in various media. 

Charles died on October 30, 2003 of Pulmonary Fibrosis and is buried in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.


Biography adapted from the biography written by his wife, Eugenia Keck.



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