Artists at Inglemoor: Natalie Keys

Senior Natalie Keys takes time to plan out each of her art pieces before their debut.


Natalie Keys

A painting of an illuminated skyline completed by senior Natalie Keys.

Aditi Jain, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Senior Natalie Keys said her favorite painting is “Sinking Below the Skyline.” Since it was her first big painting, she spent a lot of time planning it. She said she found herself enjoying the end product as well as the act of painting itself. 

“I had a very specific idea about how I wanted it to turn out, down to specific colors I wanted to use. It didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned, but I kind of liked that — that things can gradually change,” Keys said. “It wasn’t my best painting technically, but I enjoyed the process of it.” 

Keys has been practicing her art since seventh grade and does some impressionism and surrealism. Mostly, she said she paints portraits and landscapes. 

“[A loose painter is about ] not focusing on every single detail. I try to focus on the feeling of the place, when painting landscapes,” Keys said. “I tend to be a little looser with my strokes. It is just the way I paint and makes the most sense to me.”

Keys said her parents and peers expected her to play sports with her height, but she stopped playing select basketball after about three years, allowing her to pursue art. She said she first noticed art on social media. 

“My interests really started when I saw art on Instagram that I really liked. I got inspired and then it came down to practicing…I thought if they could do it, I could, too,” Keys said. “Social media became a way for me to keep to a schedule. I kind of grew up with my art in a way. I realized I could have a message with my art.” 

Keys said one of her favorite artists on Instagram is Ruth Spear, who is known for her use of colors, lighting and shadows. Keys said she wanted to channel Spear in her art.

“It was something that I found that I was good at, and later, it became an outlet for me—almost therapeutic,” Keys said. “I get very hypnotic, and I will start painting and it will be five hours later. I will look up, and I haven’t eaten in 5 hours.”

Keys said she is completely focused when she paints, losing track of time and any outside thoughts, which distracts her from stressful things in her life.

“I experience a lot of anxiety, and [art] helps me slow my mind down and focus on the little details,” Keys said. “When I get stressed about something not turning out how I want it to, I step back and breathe. I paint with acrylics, so it is easy to paint over something I don’t like.”

Keys said her ideas come to her sporadically. She keeps a journal to write any ideas she can later develop into an art piece. She takes notes on her paintings and the paintings of those she admires to improve her skills. 

“I like the idea that a small little scribble can turn into a painting that takes 12 hours, which can, then, be on display in a gallery or museum. I find that unbelievable,” Keys said.

Keys’s art was featured in the Bellevue Art Museum in the ‘20 under 20’ show last March, the Kenmore Art Show at the Kenmore City Hall and the Everyday on Scene competition hosted by a nonprofit in Pioneer Square. 

“To me, this is validation. It is an event that I can invite my family to,” Keys said, “like an untraditional sporting event.”