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Meet Kar-Keat

Born and raised in the tropical city of George Town, Penang, Malaysia, I have always been interested in drawing from a very young age. It wasn't until I was fourteen, that I started formal training under renowned Penang watercolor artists Choon-Ghee Tan and Chuan-Jin Chai. As an active member of the high school art society, I enjoyed regular group plein air sketch outings. The picturesque character of old fishing villages, colorful Buddhist temples, historic streetscapes, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Penang, made for a dynamic environment filled with amazing sketching opportunities.

I came to the U.S. in 1995 to pursue my undergraduate studies and was able to make use of my creative abilities in different avenues such as rendering and designing built environments. After graduating, I worked in award-winning architecture firms, before deciding to pursue a Master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Minnesota to expand my design knowledge and skills. Returning to school while working full-time made for many long hours in the studio. Painting and sketching took a backseat to my professional pursuits but I never lost my love for art. In 2017, I decided to make time for my childhood passion again by conducting plein air painting sessions on my own and joining regular sketch outings hosted by the Urban Sketchers-Twin Cities Chapter. Today, I run my own art and architecture studio. I am fortunate to gain insight and mentorship from world renowned watercolor artist Cheng-Khee Chee, who happens to be my father-in-law. I currently live with my wife Yen who's a jewelry designer, son, and daughter in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

My work has a realistic quality, with bold confident strokes in some scenes, as well as soft, more delicate lines in others. My drawing skills have come in handy with my current architecture profession, where I develop design ideas and construction details through sketches. You can see the influence of my past drawing skills, woven into my current work. Through my sketches and paintings, I aim to create a mood that makes the viewer feel as though they were present at the very spot I sketched from. As a storyteller, hoping to share glimpses of other cultures and parts of the world through my art, I've enjoyed attending International Urban Sketchers Symposiums in Porto and Amsterdam in the last few years, where friendships, energy, and the excitement of sketching has made me feel right at home. As one of the former administrators for Urban Sketchers Twin Cities, I have enjoyed organizing sketch outings and meeting sketchers who share the same passion in drawing and painting as me. 


Solo Exhibitions

2022     Impressions of the Twin Cities in Ink and Watercolor, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins, Minnesota


Invitational Group Exhibitions and Exhibitions

2022     Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Studio: Here Artist-In-Residence Public Demonstration Program, Falcon Heights, Minnesota

2023     The Plein Air Experience: Flora and Fauna, Minnesota Marine Art Museum Group Exhibition and Public Demonstration Program hosted by River Arts Alliance, Winona, Minnesota


Juried Exhibitions and Awards

2020     Audubon Artists 78th Annual National Exhibition

2021     Georgia Watercolor Society National Exhibition

2021     Minnesota Watercolor Society Annual Spring Exhibition

2021     Rhode Island Watercolor Society Spring Online Exhibition

2021     North Carolina Watercolor Society Spring Online Exhibition

2021     MPLS ART Sketchbook Project 2020 Exhibition

2021     Audubon Artists 79th Annual National Exhibition, Frank Webb Award in Watermedia

2022     Transparent Watercolor Society of America (TWSA) 46th Annual Exhibition

2022     Minnesota Watercolor Society Annual Spring Exhibition

2022     Society of Watercolor Painters (SWA) Annual International Exhibition

2022     41st Annual Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors

2022     Audubon Artists 80th Annual National Exhibition, Gold Medal Award of Honor

2022     Hopkins Center for the Arts Fall Juried Members Exhibition, Award of Excellence

2023     Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Competition, Second Place in Class 3 Watercolor/ Gouache/ Tempera, Minnesota Artists Association Award, Victor Gilbertson Watercolor Award, Don Biehn Recognition Award

2023     Hopkins Center for the Arts Fall Juried Members Exhibition

2023     Audubon Artists 81st Annual National Exhibition, Frank Webb Award in Watermedia

2024     50th Annual Northern Lights Juried Art Exhibition, White Bear Center for the Arts  

2024     Minnesota Watercolor Society Annual Spring Juried Exhibition

2024     Fabriano in Watercolor International Exhibition



2021-2023     Adjunct Instructor for Architecture in Watercolor course at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus, College of Design, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Interior Design 

2022-2023     Workshop Instructor at Interior Architecture Department, School of Design and Communication, College of Fine Arts and Communication, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point


Permanent Collections

2021     MPLS ART Sketchbook Project 2020 at Minnesota Museum of American Art



2021     Minneapolis - Saint Paul magazine Home and Design 100 

2022     Architecture Minnesota Enter Print Annual