NORMAN — Longtime Norman resident Tim Kenney knows to the month when he decided that his future business card should say “artist.” A nephew working at a gallery in Santa Fe asked him to deliver a painting by American Impressionist artist Pat Matthews to a Texas customer.
Kenney, who worked for years in sales and marketing and most recently as a contractor, had many miles to ponder the possibility.
“I kept thinking about it and kept thinking about it for six weeks,” Kenney said. “I called my nephew up and said I had a vision that I wanted to be an artist like Pat Matthews.”
It was August 2009 and Kenney, then 52, didn’t know a palette from a portrait, but he had a believing wife of 30 plus years, and a supportive family.
He enrolled in classes at the Firehouse Art Center, watched other artists, like the one whose painting he first delivered.
“I started painting and I sold my first painting at a Chamber of Commerce auction,” he recalls. “We feel so blessed about what has happened. I had never picked up an artistic paint brush in my life.”
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In Your Dreams, a local shop on Main Street, ordered nine paintings to sell. Word began to get out. Now, Kenney’s work hangs in galleries in Colorado and New Mexico. He completed his first commission and once sold 12 paintings in a single day.
“I’ve never stopped painting and I still just can’t believe it,” he said. “Now, I say I’m an artist. Two years ago I couldn’t say that.”
The first weekend in May, Kenney will be introduced as the 2013 Celebrated Artist at May Fair, sponsored by the Assistance League of Norman. The May 4-5 event is the Assistance League’s annual gift to Norman.
Kenney’s work will be used to promote the fair and his booth will be prominent in Andrews Park in downtown Norman. Additionally, his work will be on display at a Norman Chamber of Commerce business after hours from 5 to 7 p.m. April 16 at First American Bank, 570 24th Ave, NW.
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Kenney paints outside, oil on stretched canvas, with a palette knife and an occasional brush. He draws inspiration from scenery in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Success, he says, comes from keeping the end in sight and never giving up on the vision.
“I called on 100 galleries with my work and 98 of them said no. I didn’t want to quit just before I was successful,” he said.
He shouldn’t be surprised. His grandmother began a successful painting career at age 65. He credits his wife and four children, his instructors and other artists for mentoring him.
At first, purchasers were friends and acquaintainces. Now, contacts come through his website, www.timkenneyart.com, and through the galleries.
“Now, I’m selling paintings to people that I don’t know,” he said. “I guess if you were to put a headline on my life, this could be called my second act.”