When Keith Sutton tackled his first oil painting, he didn't even have his feet on dry land! As an established Fleetwood Trawler Chief Engineer, his first studio was an engine room of a trawler; a studio popularly called "rock and roll studio" by the press who appreciated the difficulties of painting at sea. To compensate for the 'rocking and rolling' of the trawler, Keith had to strap the canvass and himself to the pipes in the engine room and despite the adverse conditions, he managed to produce many works portraying the arduces lives of fellow fishermen.
On leave from the trawlers, Keith continued to paint in the cellar of his where his work developed and his choice of subject widened. With his bold use of colours and his inventive style Keith's work became widely acclaimed and he was instantaneously sponsored to exhibit his work at Fleetwood Corporation. At this stage, Keith decided to take up painting as a full-time career and courageously gave up his employment as a trawler man.
His exhibitions in Fleetwood were a great success and were praised by the public, the media and by a host of celebrities, even the noble Sir Francis Chichester and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh honoured Keith's talent by accepting a 'Sutton Original'. But perhaps the most unforgettable 'Sutton Original' of all was not painted on canvas but instead, surprisingly on a Morris van!!! Keith adorned his van in Willow Pattern style and won widespread acclaim in newspapers, magazines and on television.
But alas it was to be his Willow Pattern van that was to take him in search of new 'painting grounds'. Fleetwood had become too small for all his generous talent and he opted to move across the Pennines to the ostentatiously active seaman's port of Hull. His new Hull studio in Beverley Road was an immediate success and in a short time Keith was exhibiting in Hull's Feron's Art Gallery and Associates Galleries.
Successful British artists have a reputation for being wrapped within themselves and their work almost to the extent or hermitage but artist Sutton was quite the opposite. In the true spirit of art he is totally integrated with the people in his community and serves them in a multitude of ways - a people's artist. In the early days in Fleetwood, he established himself as a successful children's art teacher, teaching children in the techniques of oil painting in his garage! As popularity for his classes grew, he became in need of a larger studio and was awarded a room in a local Fleetwood Hotel by a group of admirers to embellish his role as a teacher.
Keith taught people of all ages from the very young to the not so young and the handicapped. His success has been remarkable, he even tutored students for their G.C.S.E's and even professional art teachers. His awareness of his fellow man is not only reflected in his painting but also in his practical help. From the part-proceeds of his painting sales he has raised funds for many charities. He carried out a marathon painting session of 37 paintings in 12 hours -all framed and sold.
He was completely self taught and had no formal qualification in Art but his knack for detail and colour understanding was recognised by all. He continued to serve his community until he died on 04.09.2002. Keith always wanted to have his ashes scattered at sea and he got that wish. His ashes went out to sea on the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry with his family on board, his ashes were scattered overboard to the sound of his favourite singer Elvis Presley playing in the background. His memory will live on in his paintings around the world.