Matthew McKeeby is a painter who counts among his earliest memories sitting on the floor in front of a bookcase, studying animals in one of Edward Hicks’ "Peaceable Kingdoms" on a book cover. In the late eighties he began reproducing Hicks’ art as gifts, and requests for commissions soon followed.
"I always imagined myself in the painting. It surprises me that it took so me so long to create my own," he said.
American folk art design is natural for him, having grown up in a family of collectors. Currently he is working with his wife to restore a circa 1800 home in rural Berlin, New York. The ongoing project provides a living workshop in decorative painting, from Porter style murals, to stenciling and faux finishing.
"I’ve always admired the limner tradition," McKeeby said. "Artisans who could take on any painting job, be it a portrait, decorative work, stenciling, or framed art and turn out work that is energetic, bright, and pleasing to both artist and customer impress me. It’s a vanishing tradition that deserves to be revived."
Working as "The Berlin Limner," McKeeby creates both reproductions and original work in a variety of forms. Projects have included portraits, fireboards, pole screens, murals, and painted slates alongside traditional works on canvas, linen and board. Portraits of Native Americans are a specialty, as are biblical scenes and depictions of farm life in the mid-1800s. The artist actively pursues commissions, as it is particularly gratifying to provide customers with a work suited to their specific taste.