Sketches of a Set Painter
Keni’s first job in Tensile Town was in 1975. He was hired to build sets at The Hollywood Stage, a small independent studio specializing in television commercials and music videos. However, he soon found his calling with a paint brush in his hand instead of a hammer.
By observing others and asking a lot of questions, he worked his way onto the sound stages and backlots of the major studios (DIsney, Paramount, Universal, NBC, etc.). He joined their union (IATSE) in 1977 and worked as a set painter and occasional scenic artist.
Wherever he worked, whether on a movie or television series, he documented the highly specialized environment of show business in small sketchbooks he kept in his backpack. He did this during his lunch and coffee breaks.
Thirty years and hundreds of sketches and paintings later, Keni retired giving you a look inside the entertainment industry unlike any seen before. Welcome to the Hollywood Backlots, where you can see it here.
A Set Painter’s Paintings of Hollywood Sets, Scenes, Props & People
In 2001, Keni took a small watercolor kit (plus his oil paints) with him to Detroit, MI to work on the Eminem film, 8 Mile. He completed over 20 paintings in the Motor City. Many were of sets he painted for the movie. Others were interesting locations in the city he discovered on his free time.
Over the following 10 years, he completed more than 200 watercolor paintings of sets, scenes, cast and crew where he worked on various movies and television shows.
Most of those paintings have been assembled here online for you to enjoy.
People have been asking how they can purchase one of his Hollywood Backlots paintings or drawings. Well, no individual painting or drawing is for sale. We’re looking to place them in a museum, foundation, etc.; a space where the series will always be available for public viewing.
Click on the icons above to be transported to each of the galleries.
From the Artist’s Studio
Early in the 1990’s, Keni took a sketch from the series and did a larger painting in his home studio. In the process of completing the painting, he saw that working from the Hollywood Backlots series fulfilled several desires.
First, he could explore new ideas from the old series artwork.
Next, he could use techniques he learned in the entertainment industry. Some of the ‘secret sauces’ that transform cheap wood into objects that cannot easily be distinguished from their authentic counterparts: iron, stone, hardwood or other fine finishes. These are being incorporated into larger paintings. As well, Keni continues to paint in traditional media; oils, pastels, watercolors, acrylics, etc.
Finally, these finished works of art would be made available for sale to the public.
We know you’ll enjoy looking at the original Hollywood Backlots series. We also hope you will add artwork from Keni’s Studio to your collection.
Visit Keni’s Blog to go behind the scenes and hear directly from him about the artwork and its motivation.