By Elizabeth Linehan
North of Belgrade, where pavement gives way to hardpan and the heron and geese rest on their flights, Keith Anderson paints his haunting images civilization after man has left.
Calling his work "mystical by what's edited out," Anderson draws most of his influence from another 20th-century realist, Andrew Wyeth. In the works of both men there is a loneliness, a sadness that stays with the viewer far beyond the trip home.
"I was drawn to the leftover bits and pieces of humanity with animals juxtaposed around and through it," Anderson says. Completed works and those in progress line the tables and walls of his studio near Belgrade. Renderings of dark forests, abandoned churches and moonlight on a hillside give a feeling of quiet solitude to his paintings.
Combining brilliant detail with a touch of whimsy, one of Anderson's favorites is "Maxima of Orford Visits the King of Sallamanca." The painting shows Maxima, a Holstein cow that holds the world record for milk production, winding through the pillars of a great abandoned building.
Art broker Betsy Swartz calls Anderson's style "very moody. He evokes a lot of feeling." She describes his paintings as abstract with focal pieces in the foreground.
What sets Anderson's work apart is a combination of his background in architecture and the unusual painting medium he uses. Anderson works exclusively with egg tempura - the oldest paint medium known to man. Those familiar with the Greek masters will recognize Boticelli's "Birth of Venus" (affectionately known as "Venus on the Half-shell") also created in egg tempura.
Anderson likes the translucent quality that egg tempura brings to his art. Egg tempura is made from egg yolks and is mixed with pigment and thinned with water and a touch of vinegar. It's mixed fresh each day.
"I like the feel of it on the brush," says Anderson. Similar appreciation for the homemade medium was expressed by Wyeth, who liked the feeling of "dry lostness." Tempura, far different from the store-bought poster paints of the same name, brings a translucence and sheen to the art that can't be found with oils and acrylics.
Oil is more opaque, and with tempura, Anderson is able to go back and put layer after layer to get exactly the look he wants. The effect is ethereal.
Anderson first attended Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada during the early 1970s. In 1976, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota.
Feeling a strong connection between art and architecture, he followed up with a degree in architecture from Montana State University in 1983.
Anderson works in Bozeman as an architect, bringing structure and function into concert with nature.
Today, with his companion, Beatrice, and their yellow Labrador retriever, Anderson is carving out his own niche in the art world out of the rolling hills of southwest Montana.
Anderson's work is on display in several galleries, including Valentine Fine Art in Livingston.
The West Gallatin, 21x28 egg tempura on paper, by Keith Anderson