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Artist Thrives on Painting Scenes Showing Reclaimed Landscapes and Restored Natural Habitats

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

Tara Keating's EVENING THAW, mixed media on canvas, 24" x 24" -- View looks south across the fields of Indian Ridge Marsh Park towards Torrence Avenue bridge in January. The vertical lift bridge spans the Calumet River and is a striking landmark in the area. It was originally built in the 1930s and later rebuilt in 2011-2012. Scroll down for more art...

Artist Name: Tara Keating

Town: Chicago, IL

Medium: Acrylic-based mixed media on canvas; graphite/charcoal

Education: BFA in drawing and painting from University of San Francisco, CA

If Mother Nature had a daughter, it would be Tara Keating. Thriving on the wild and wonderful sides of nature, no matter what the weather, Tara loves the feeling of the wind blowing, the blackbirds singing, and sunshine on her face.

““I like to immerse myself emotionally in the landscape around me,” she says. “How the light shifts over the prairie and the marshes or shimmers through the leaves, Illinois is truly beautiful, but some people don't notice it.”

That says quite a lot considering Tara has lived all over from Hawaii and various western states to Texas and Germany.


While enjoying nature walks outside, “birding” together with her husband, she takes many photos and makes an effort to recall the feel of the day. Tracking the many types of birds that reside around or migrate through the lakeshore area, they have observed harriers, herons, egrets, pelicans, hawks, bald eagles, and more.

She prefers not to paint plein air because she wants to be “in the moment” while outside, observing and experiencing the sights around her without distraction. During winter months, she filters those outdoor photos through her memories to create works of art that capture her personal connection with nature.

“I don’t do just one thing,” she explains. “I like doing multi-faceted work in multiple directions with lots of play and exploration.”

When it comes to encouraging others, she offers this advice. “Don’t just mimic an art instructor. Follow the signposts your brain or body give you. When you get excited about something – a mark or a color – do more of it. Let go of judgment. Finding who you are as an artist means going through the messy stages exploring what you want to express. It’s in following those impulses that leads you to the core of you.”

Her nature artwork has led to multiple opportunities such as at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center where she created a 60” x 40” piece across two canvases depicting Pelican Island (see below). Additionally, her work reflects how post-industrial sites have undergone environmental remediation and habitat restoration. Her solo show, “The Reclaimed Landscape: celebrates this reclaimed natural beauty of Chicago’s southeast side, and is on display until September 30, 2022 at Big Marsh Park, 11559 S. Stony Island Avenue in Chicago, IL.

For more information about this exhibit visit:

PELICAN ISLAND; mixed media on two canvases; 60" x 40"


SEASIDE; acrylic on canvas; 30" x 40"

SUNSTREAM; 12" x 12"



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