Brian A Keen Fine Art

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Biography

Career.

I grew up in a Buckinghamshire village in the Chiltern Hills.

After primary school, I spent seven years at Dr. Challoner's Grammar School in Amersham. This was followed by three years at City University, London where I studied Electronic Engineering.

After gaining my BSc, I began my career as a Design Engineer working at Marconi Instruments in St. Albans. There I worked on Telecommunications Test equipment. Microprocessors were just starting to be used in embedded systems and I soon migrated from Hardware to Software Engineering.

After 11 years, I left Marconi and joined Crosfield Electronics in Hemel Hempstead where I worked on realtime software controlling Printing equipment.

After just a few months, I joined the Communications Division and relocated to Milton Keynes. Here, houses were more affordable and I was able to get on the property ladder.

Later, as desktop publishing systems became cheaper and more powerful, sales of Crosfield's high-end graphics and printing systems declined. The company began to experience financial difficulties and the Communications Division was closed. I found myself commuting back to the main site in Hemel Hempstead.

I worked on software for Image setters and Scanners for a few years. During this period, Crosfield was taken over by Fujifilm to become 'Fujifilm Electronic Imaging (FFEI)'. I eventually left the company and joined 3Com in Hemel Hempstead to work on Data Communications and Networking equipment. I became made redundant when 3Com relocated their R&D activities to China.

After being out of work for a while, I decided to try contracting. I set up my own limited company providing Software Engineering Design and Consultancy services. See my business website baksoftware.

So far, much of the contract work has been back at FFEI in Hemel Hempstead. I was working there at the time of the Buncefield Explosion (11th December 2005). The FFEI building was totally destroyed. Luckily it was around 6:00am on a Sunday morning, so no one was injured. The blast was loud enough to wake me up in Milton Keynes some 25 miles away. The company managed to survive the disruption and is now operating from another site nearby.

Painting and Photography.

I have enjoyed Painting and Photography as hobbies ever since Secondary School. Both provide a way to express how you see the world. At first, both hobbies allowed me to escape from working with computers. Since the switch to digital, this is no longer the case for photography. More time is now spent in front of a computer than in the darkroom.

Photography.

Photography requires a combination of technical know-how and creativity that I find appealing. It has taken me to places I would probably never have seen otherwise.

It can be an expensive hobby - particularly when you factor in travel and accommodation.

Photography has been through an enormous change with the introduction of digital techniques. It used to require a big investment in time and money to produce good quality images. Many people did not have the luxury of a darkroom at home. Now it has become much easier and cheaper. Anyone can buy a digital camera and upload images to gallery web sites such as flickr.

The most important lessons I have learnt over the years are to keep compositions simple and avoid distracting backgrounds whenever possible.

Photographic Clubs.

Although I have visited a few local photograph clubs as a guest, I never actually joined as a member. This is partly because of some clubs obsession with competitions. In my view, art and photography are so subjective that competitions make no sense. Who is to say if one persons portrait photo is better or worse than another persons landscape? or if a black & white print is better or worse than someone else's colour print?

Painting.

My prefered media are oils and watercolour. I have tried other media such as acrylics, pastels and pastel pencil.

I usually only use watercolour for landscapes. Watercolour painting requires more careful planning than oils and mistakes are harder to correct.

Oil painting is usually a lot more time consuming than watercolours. I use oils for both landscapes and portraits. Portraits are easier in oils because it's much easier to correct mistakes. I use acrylic as an underpainting in a similar way to how tempera was used by the great masters.

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