Kim Keever drops paint into a 200-gallon aquarium and takes photographs. The results are a range of colorful clouds of paint that change by the second as they float and swirl around the water. “I can choose the colors I use, but after they fall through the water, a certain short distance, they go their own way and I have no idea what is going to happen,” Keever explains of his process. “It is like a painting machine.”


Kim Keever has been experimenting with atmosphere and color since he arrived in New York in the 1980s determined to be an artist. He had always been interested in art but decided to go to engineering school, like his father, instead. He made his way through most of graduate school and worked as a thermal engineer for NASA but one day he decided what he really wanted to be was an artist.

Ever since then Keever has been experimenting in his apartment to create lifelike atmospheres. He started using cigarette smoke to add texture to air but eventually decided a 200-gallon aquarium filled with water was the only way to achieve his vision. He calls this his true breakthrough as an artist.

At first he submerged landscapes in the water creating surreal sceneries. As his art has progressed he has introduced a bevy of different objects in the water to interact with the dripping paint. His latest pieces include clusters of balloons that are suspended mid-tank as the paint billows through the water. But he won’t be working with balloons for long, Keever is constantly reinventing his work with new and surprising elements in his wondrous water tank.

The New Yorker


I saw a video of Picasso and he is painting. I think he is in his 80s, and he looks so happy. And it was so inspiring to me, it made me feel like when I am in my 80s I want to feel that way. And I knew I wouldn’t feel that way as an engineer.

I can choose the colors I use but after they fall through the water maybe a certain short distance they go their own way. I have no idea what is going to happen. It becomes literally like a painting machine.

I always liked making art and in first grade I discovered compared to the other kids that I was really good at it. And my father told me you’ll starve as an artist. He was an engineer actually.

So I kinda of put it out of my mind. But I always continued to make art. I ended up going through engineering school no less, and graduating and getting most of my graduate degree in engineering. I was doing my graduate work with NASA. Before I realized that art is what I really want to do for the rest of my life. Come hell or high water.

Various friends and family always tried to talk me out of it. “Well, why don’t you get a job a real job. You can do your art on the side.”

I reached the point in my life where I felt that this is what I really want to do with my life. There may be other lives I don’t know.  But this is the one I know I have for now.

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