Robert A. Ketchens, Biosketch

Robert A. Ketchens, born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, began his artistic career with the United States Air Force. His military service as a Medical Illustrator in Biloxi, Mississippi and the USAF Hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, laid the early groundwork for his studies in fine art. It was during his tour of duty in Germany, when he found himself drawn to the various art museums throughout Europe, that his vision grew from being a medical illustrator into something much more.

Combining a longtime natural talent for illustration and freehand drawing, coupled with his ventures to the art museums and his newly sparked fire to learn more, he found himself enrolling in an Atelier run by a local German artist. It was here that he learned to master the practical aspects of easel painting. From canvas preparation, to color technique, to mixing and glazing, Robert’s experience and enthusiasm grew rapidly.

A large part of his training was to copy the paintings in the museums of Europe. This training, along with his personal experimentation in paint, laid the solid foundation that continues to enable him to transfer his bold and innovative visions onto canvas with absolute confidence.

In 1980, Robert was transferred from Germany to Fort Worth, Texas, where he experienced the masters of southwestern art, locally housed in the Amon Carter Museum. It was here he began to exhibit paintings that increasingly became more colorful and more intense than his earlier works produced in Europe.

By June of 1985, Robert had relocated to the Midwest, and in 1986 he opened a studio in St. Louis, Missouri and began to take an active role in the local arts community. After 20 years of service to the USAF, it was in 1990 that he retired from the field of medical illustration to give his full attention to fine art.

Robert is constantly creating art. He teaches privately and participates as an arts educator in several community arts programs in St. Louis, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, Young Audiences, Artworks, and the Regional Arts Commission.

Robert has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally. His art is in significant corporate and private collections, and he has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Robert has recently completed a large scale mural of the Olympian Jesse Owens, commissioned by Focus Films and located in the historic Old North area of St. Louis city. He has various works in progress, including a large scale mural project for the Missouri History Museum, and an exhibit at the newly opening National Blues Museum.