Shelby Keefe


Even as a young child, Shelby Keefe knew she was an artist. Coming from a family of artists and crafters

in rural Wisconsin, she was encouraged to draw and paint and always had plenty of inspiration for

making her artwork. After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1981, she embarked upon a career

in graphic design. Moving to Milwaukee for school opened a whole new world for her, and Shelby fell in

love with the urban landscape.

Though most of her time was spent as a graphic designer and single mother of two boys, she was

always passionate about painting and made time to create her work. By doing group exhibitions, art fairs,

and commission work, she gradually gained the attention of enough collectors and was able to retire from

graphic design in 2005 to work full-time as a fine artist. As her reputation grew, she became sought after

as an instructor, teaching workshops around the country and serving as faculty for the annual Plein Air

Convention and Expo.

A consistent award-winner, Shelby has participated in museum shows, top-tiered plein air painting

competitions and has attained Signature Status in Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society,

and American Women Artists. She has galleries in the west and her native Midwest.

Artist Statement

“I am passionate about drawing and depicting my subjects with honesty as well as expressiveness. My goal is to create a fresh perspective to the recognizable world without being predictable or mundane. Being comfortable at rendering in oil paint, I enjoy tackling complex subjects from cityscapes to the figure in the ala prima method of wet on wet.  Utilizing a vibrant underpainting technique of complimentary colors, my oil paintings are complex, but not overly-worked. As I continue to grow as a representationalist painter, I plan to develop my ability to say more with less.”

Awards and Accomplishments of note:

2017, Matisse Award of Excellence, Vanishing Landscape Award and Judges Choice Award, Olmsted Plein Air Invitational awarded for one painting: "Arrested Development"

2017, Second Place Award, Lighthouse Plein Air, Jupiter, FL

2016, Third Place Award, EnPlein Air Texas, San Angelo, TX

2016, Distinctive Merit Award, 18th Annual Laguna Plein Air Invitational, Laguna Beach, CA

2016, First Place Quick Draw Award, Plein Air Easton!, Easton, MD

2016 Second Place, Lighthouse Plein Air, Jupiter FL

2015, Grand Prize Winner, EnPlein Air Texas, San Angelo, TX

2015, Awarded $20,000 Dorothy Dreihaus Melins Fellowship for Midwestern Artists, at OPA National Exhibition

2015, Featured Artist, SouthwestArt magazine, March issue (also on the cover)

2015, 2014, 2013 Faculty and Presenter for the Annual Plein Air Convention, Monterey CA

2015, 2014, 2013, First Place Winner, Shorewood Plein Air Festival, Shorewood, WI

2013, First Place Winner, 2nd Annual Plein Air Salon Competition, (awarded $15,000 and the cover of PleinAir Magazine)

2012, Awarded Best Painting with an Architectural Subject, Easels in Frederick, Frederick, MD

2012, Awarded Best of Show and PleinAir Magazine Award Wayne Plein Air Festival, Wayne PA

2011-2012, Pfister Hotel Artist-In-Residence   (

2010, Poster Artist, Lakefront Festival of Arts, Milwaukee, WI

2010, Featured Artist, “Channel 10 Great TV Auction”, Milwaukee, WI

2006, Commemorative Poster Artist for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival; Denver, CO (poster received national recognition with a Bronze award)

2002, Selected to create 3 paintings for Professional Dimensions’ Sacagawea Award honoring pioneering women, Milwaukee, WI  (commission)

2001, Awarded Best of Show, Cedarburg Plein Air Festival, Cedarburg, WI


Collections/Commissions: (selected)

2012, United Performing Arts Fund, commission to create 16 paintings for 2012 campaign, Milwaukee, WI

2010, Hide House Lofts, Milwaukee, WI, 2 paintings

2010, University School of Milwaukee, WI, 1 large-scale painting

2009, West Bend Mutual, West Bend, WI 

2008, Northwestern Mutual, Franklin, WI, 3 paintings

2006, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, WI, 1 large-scale painting

2006, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI, painting used for commemorative poster

2005, Foley & Lardner Law Offices, Milwaukee, WI, 6 paintings

2004, Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee, WI, 4 paintings

2004, Acuity, Sheboygan, WI, 3 paintings

2003, Tripoli Country Club, Milwaukee, WI,  2 paintings 

2003, Ozaukee Country Club on Ozaukee county themes; Mequon, WI, 19 paintings 

2003, Radisson Hotel, Milwaukee, WI, 2 mural-sized paintings

2002, McNally, Maloney & Peterson, Milwaukee, WI, 4 paintings, 

2001, Bradley Foundation, Milwaukee, WI, 3 paintings

1981-2015, numerous patrons; rural and urban landscapes, and portraits (commissions & purchases)



2016, 2015, 2014, Sedona Art Center, 3-day plein air painting workshop, Sedona, AZ

2016, 2014, Easton Studio, 4-day studio workshop, Easton MD

2015, Lafayette Art Association & Gallery, Lafayette LA, 4-day workshop

2015, Carmel Visual Arts, Carmel, CA, 3-day plein air workshop

2015-2006, Oil and Acrylic painting workshops, Peninsula School of Art Faculty, Door County WI

2014, 2013, Madeline Island School of Art, 5-day plein air painting workshop, Madeline Island, WI

2003 to present, Oil and Acrylic painting workshops for adults (in-studio and plein air), Milwaukee, WI

2012, 2011, Oil and Acrylic painting workshop, Cedarburg Cultural Center, Cedarburg, WI

2002-1996, Painting and drawing classes, Studio San Damiano, Milwaukee, WI 

1992, Painting classes, Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI