News Column

Painted love

May 23, 2014

By Bre Linstromberg Copper, Jacksonville Journal-Courier, Ill.

May 23--Sandra Keyser is an artist with family ties to Jacksonville, an eye for colorful, folk art-style paintings and a heart for the lives and landmarks of rural America.

Inspiration for her paintings often lies just outside the front door of Keyser's home in Hartford, New York, a "cozy and friendly (town), a lot like Jacksonville," she said.

Keyser has painted her neighbor's sheep pasture "about five times." She also painted a neighborhood scene depicting her own home, her daughter's home, and a nearby barn and farmhouse, the snow-covered Adirondack Mountains in the distance.

Keyser, whose mother, Betty Barnes, and uncles, Ed and Jim Barnes, lived in Jacksonville, and whose grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Burl Barnes, lived on Vandalia Road in South Jacksonville, paid a visit to the city in October.

During that stay, she was inspired to create paintings of several local scenes, each with its own small-town charm.

"I especially loved the Ferris wheel. To me, that has always been a landmark," said Keyser, who painted six Jacksonville scenes: the Ferris wheel in Community Park, Sturtevant Hall on the Illinois College campus, the gazebo at Prairie Land Heritage Museum grounds, the David Strawn Art Gallery, Jacksonville's downtown square, and the Prairieland Liberty Church.

"I had not seen the church until last year," said Keyser. "I thought it was beautiful."

Keyser began dabbling in drawing with pencil and ink about 40 years ago when she was bed-bound following a medical procedure. She soon took up oil and acrylic painting and has spent decades refining her skill and style.

"About 10 years ago, people started asking me for prints or to paint their homes or their dogs and I decided it was worth spending more time doing," said Keyser. "Now I enjoy it as a hobby and as a business."

Since her visit to Jacksonville, Keyser has made her acrylic paintings into notecards, sold in packs of six.

Now, she said, she is looking for a location in Jacksonville to sell her cards.

"I had done some landmarks around upstate New York and had put those on notecards," Keyser said. "I took a packet (to Jacksonville) and my cousin (Joyce Todd) just loved them. She said she thought (notecards with local landmarks) would sell great in Jacksonville."

Her Jacksonville-themed notecards are available through email at


Bre Linstromberg Copper can be reached at 217-408-2046 or on Twitter @JCNews_bre.


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Source: Jacksonville Journal-Courier (IL)

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