Foreword by Professor Ken Howard,OBE
Professor of Perspective, Royal Academy of Art
‘Painting is always a challenge, the arriving at a personal language, the mastering of technique both of drawing and of painting, the sheer physical effort and commitment.
Keith Jansz took up the challenge when he became tetraplegic. He had lost the use of his hands and legs in a tragic road accident in 1995, and was paralysed from the neck down. He turned to painting, with the added challenge of painting with his mouth not his hands.
To begin with Keith needed help, encouragement and inspiration, and he received these from fellow artists in the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists. An active sportsman before his accident Keith knew what it was to push himself to his limits and this he now did with his painting, soon holding exhibitions of his work which attracted great interest and admiration.
Keith’s work is full of light and colour. Above all else it is full of joy.
In Keith’s own words
‘I love to feel my brush dance across the canvas and give back to me the sensation of movement which my body now lacks.’
More than anything else art must be life enhancing. Keith’s work is precisely that, because it is not only true for the viewer but the artist too.’
Ken Howard R.A.
Keith Jansz started painting for the first time since junior school after having run the London Marathon for Barnardo’s in 1995. Just two months later he suffered a broken neck in a tragic car accident, resulting in complete paralysis from the shoulders down.
After six months in the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Keith returned home to begin the painful process of adjusting to his new situation. Unable to do anything for himself Keith naturally experienced the depths of despair.
In December 1996 Keith’s mother-in-law gave him a book entitled ‘Painters First’, a collection of biographies of the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists. Keith was able to empathise with the artists tragic stories and was inspired by reading of their triumphs and successes.
Eager to encourage this spark of interest, Keith’s wife, Cindy, arranged a meeting with the mouth artist Trevor Wells who persuaded Keith to try painting by holding a brush in his mouth. Despite disastrous early efforts Keith persevered and in 1998 he was accepted as a Student Artist by the international self-help organisation, the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists. This achievement spurred Keith on to work with such determination that in 2000 he was promoted to a full Member Artist within the Association.
Since then Keith’s paintings have been sold as reproductions worldwide. He has held a number of solo exhibitions in the UK and Italy and his paintings have been exhibited in museums around the world including Lisbon, Madrid, Copenhagen, Shanghai and Atlanta.
Keith enjoys exploring the sensations of light in his paintings, from the sparkling reflective sunlight at the beach to the unique atmospheric light in Venice, and the long shadows of winter light on snow. He also enjoys the demanding discipline of painting the human figure, in pastel or oil. Like his heroes, the Impressionists, Keith revels in the challenge of painting ‘en plein air‘ to capture the most authentic effect, completing his paintings in the studio.