The Key to Happiness

Michael Key’s in-home gallery displays a unique mix of Picasso abstract meets Matisse Fauvism depicting pets, human portraits, and landscapes in nearly every color palette. The self-proclaimed colorist isn’t interested in moody, dark artwork; his style is positive and smile evoking. “Some of the most fun things I’ve done have been work for nurseries and kid’s rooms,” he says. “I think my style contributes well to that kind of work because I’m very into colors and how they work together.”

Only seven years ago, the Evansville native found he had a knack for painting. Previously, Key owned The Walkway Antique Mall (now Main Gate Bar and Grill) on Main Street where he sold other people’s artwork. He owned the shop for eight years before picking up a paintbrush, something he hadn’t done since childhood, and was surprised how fast he grew to love it. “You can always come back to things you loved doing when you were young,” he says.

On a whim, Key put a couple of his paintings in his shop, unsigned, and watched for a reaction from customers to confirm whether or not he should pursue his art. Turns out, he should — and did. After a few successful sales and encouragement from friends, Key closed his antique store in 2007 to focus more on painting.

Since then, the artist has been growing his client base, which includes a slowly but steadily expanding group of loyal clients who can’t seem to get enough of his colorful approach. Local resident Karen Eastridge has accumulated about 40 paintings of Key’s — several for herself, some for her kids, and others for out-of-town family members.

Even with this loyalty, Key, a server at Cracker Barrel, still is paying his dues as an artist. “I’m not a young person,” he says, “but I’m a young painter.” While he would like to make a living from his artwork, that’s not what it’s about to him. “It’s a goal,” he says, “but I’m not interested in being a starving artist.” Finding a passion has given Key a new perspective on success. “I’m living my dream being able to do that,” he says. “One of the greatest joys in life is reinventing yourself.”

To find out more about Michael Key’s artwork, call 812-484-5925.

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