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'I'm the tortured, anguished artist'

Jim Keayes spent his professional life dealing with absolutes. As a young man in Sydney, Australia, he was a civil engineer drawing buildings, a job he admits he hated.

Jim Keayes spent his professional life dealing with absolutes.

As a young man in Sydney, Australia, he was a civil engineer drawing buildings, a job he admits he hated.

Later, when he moved to Canada, he toiled as a stockbroker, sitting behind a computer and tossing about numbers.

In his spare time, he painted realistic subjects, which also bored him.

But one day, creativity took over and he splashed acrylics on a canvas. "I thought, 'Wow, I could like this' so I started painting abstracts."

The genre freed Keayes, allowing him to concentrate more on colour and composition rather than copying detail.

In his latest series that started in 2009, which he'll show in part at a solo exhibit, called Abstract & Landscapes, at Coquitlam's Place des Arts this month, the self-taught artist works with dark backgrounds and adds bright colours.

He doesn't have any idea what the result will be when starts, he said.

Instead, he lets his imagination wander as the paint sets.

"I put it on with a knife and see where it takes me," he said, adding, "My art is about this great joy I feel around colour and form.... It makes me feel so good when something comes out that I really like."

Still, he's stressed when a piece goes sideways.

"When I paint, sometimes it's great but, most of the times, it takes my soul away," the Burnaby resident said, half laughing. "It just eats me up. Definitely, I'm the tortured, anguished artist because, if it doesn't work out, I'm devastated for days."

Starting tomorrow, Keayes' will have 15 abstracts in the Mezzanine Gallery at Place des Arts while Jennifer McAuley will exhibit her Landscapes of Suburbia collection in the Leonore Peyton Salon.

PdA teachers and staff will display their work, called Art Feats, in the Atrium Gallery. The three exhibits, which run until Oct. 8, open with a reception on Thursday at 7 p.m. in conjunction with Ignite... An Affair With Art, an adults-only open house aimed to get residents to sign up for visual arts, drama and dance classes at the Maillardville centre.

jwarren@tricitynews.com