Inspired People – Keely Willoughby

Inspired People

Artists are inspired people. But what makes them create what they create? What lights the fire that produces such wonderful work? Here are a few questions that will hopefully inspire some answers.

This week we have Keely Willoughby. I met Keely while I was in college,  eighteen years ago. She was a close friend who inspired me with her colourful creations. Back then she was painting furniture psychedelic colours and she has always had a strength of character that I’ve admired. We lost contact with each other for a while – she moved to the US, while I moved five streets away from where I grew up, and while I struggled to find my art, she continued to create in her own determined style. I’m really happy to have her here, and to share with you her tale of cats, dogs and creepy bugs 😀


The Artist

Keely WilloughbyWho are you? What factors in your life have led you to create?

Keely, 38 years young, Trekkie, Mum to 18 month old little boy and owned by 5 cats.

I was never any good at Math and so my teacher in Primary School said “Keely you can’t subtract to save your life, but you can sure draw….go do that instead”. I guess that’s what led me down the colourful path of creation.

Where are you from, where do you live, and how does your location influence your art?

I was born in the U.K., raised in Australia and now reside in the U.S. Heading back to Oz real soon this year. I don’t think my location has ever really influenced my artwork as I mainly paint cats and dogs for people. Of course I went from bright colourful outback imagery for the backgrounds to mountainesque forest type scenes!

Were you ever distracted away from your art and creating by the need to make a living? Have you ever stopped creating?

I took a long break before and after my Son was born. Real life and then a newborn on top of that took up my time and I mainly concentrated on my other great love with is The Sims 2/3 (which I create for that too). Whenever I have worked though I have always found the time to paint or draw. Commissions were a nice way of plumping up that paycheck and of course I love to do what I do. In fact Christmas is always a busy time for me for private requests and I used to take three months off before December 25th to get all orders completed.


The Art

What do you create? Do you have a niche or do you spread your creativity across several disciplines? Do you have a preferred subject?

Blue dingo by Keely WilloughbyI paint cats and dogs and occasionally parasites and other creepy bug type things. I am commissioned to do portraits of pooches and kitty cats more these days. I just paint and don’t really create anything else…..I dabble in photography, but find that hard to squeeze in. I love to paint cats and parasites….I don’t even own a dog, but I seem to paint more canine friends for people.

What inspires you to create? Do you have any techniques to find inspiration?

(LOL), without sounding crass….money. Immigration is expensive! Seriously though…I love that mixture of folky/pop arty vibe to paintings and that always inspires me to have more of that in my portraits. There are quite a few artists I have always adored in these types of painting styles so I guess I would say they inspire me to improve and create the best art I can possibly do.

Parasites by Keely WilloughbyHow often do you create? Do you procrastinate? How do you balance between the things that have to be done versus the things you want to do?

Every weekend (with my commission list at the moment). The weekdays with my Son are too hectic and just doesn’t work.

YES I PROCRASTINATE. Once I get going I can pretty much complete a painting in a matter of hours. It’s the getting to there that is always hard for me and I have no idea why.

I’ll get back to you when I figure out that fine juggling act.

Where do you create?

My cramped little coffee table in our computer room. A tiny little area where the paints live and is toddler proof.

What do you enjoy doing the most?

Painting small teenie tiny paintings. It’s fiddly and tends to be more time consuming, but I love doing it. ACEO’s are fine too, but for some reason little 2”X2” square paintings are my biggest joy.

Dogs by Keely Willoughby

Do you have any advice for other artists?

Flea to be me by Keely WilloughbyNever think you have lost it just because you haven’t painted, drawn etc for a while. It’s there, but sometimes real life takes over and that’s okay too.

Always step back from a piece if you don’t like it or are not happy with it. It helps me tremendously if I do this and sometimes I even re-start the piece!

Sign your artwork big!

Where can you and your art be found?



3 responses to “Inspired People – Keely Willoughby”

  1. Gumnut, I always enjoy and am inspired by this series of interviews!! I have been reading and following along, but haven’t posted many comments in some time, just wanted you to know I’m still here 🙂

    Keely, thank you for reminding me that just drawing a few things is ok and doesn’t make you any less of an artist!

    1. Gumnut Avatar

      Hey, Christie.

      That is great to hear, thank you so much. I am so glad you are enjoying the series. I have a nice line up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned 😀

      (up far too early in the morning)

  2. What a lovely unique style! I admire the patience of working on a small scale (speaking as someone who needs lots of patience with her art!). Thanks for sharing this x