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 Keith Ferris  (1929 - )

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Lived/Active: New Jersey/New York/Hawaii      Known for: aviation illustration, camouflage, easel and mural painting

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Ad Code: 3
Keith Ferris
from Auction House Records.
B-26 in flight
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The son of a career Air Force officer, Keith Ferris grew up with airplanes his boyhood love, and pilots his heroes. Fully expecting to join the ranks of the latter, he majored in aeronautical engineering and enrolled in Air Force ROTC at Texas A&M University. An allergic condition dashed his hopes for a commission, but not his determination to make flying a major part of his life - Ferris simply channeled his energies into art.

He became a major contributor to the Air Force Art Program and is a life member of the Air Force Association. He has painted for almost every major defense contractor and has had a variety of commissions for the U.S. Government. He has also flown in almost every type of jet aircraft in the Air Force, and has done so virtually around the world.

As a major contributing camouflage artist, he is usually credited with the elimination of brightly colored insignia on combat planes, the use of non-reflective low contrast colors in airplane camouflage, radical asymmetry, and a method of disruption that he has described as longitudinal, like a sausage sliced lengthwise. (Behrens, 140)

"The dawn of his art career coincided with the 1947 establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate service. He left Civil Service to serve with Cassell Watkins Paul, a civilian art studio in St. Louis under contract with Air Force Publications. When the Air Force ceased its outside publications contracts, Keith moved to the New York market as a freelance artist to serve the advertising, public relations and historical documentation needs of airframe, engine and avionics manufacturers and their advertising agencies, aviation trade publications, the military and aviation museums. He continues to serve this clientele.

Becoming a member of the Society of Illustrators in New York in 1960, Keith was introduced to its Air Force Art Program. He has served on SI's Air Force Art Committee for most of the years since. He served on SI's Board of Directors as Government Services Committee Chairman for over 15 years, as SI's Executive Vice President for two years, and continues as Honorary Government Services Chairman.

A 47 year veteran of the Air Force Art Program, Keith has flown in and participated in the missions of almost every jet aircraft type in the Air Force, and done so not only in the United States, but in Europe, the Atlantic, Pacific, Middle East, Southwest Asia, the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Southwest Pacific and Antarctica.

In addition to his administrative duties with the program, he has donated an annual minimum of six weeks of his time to the Air Force plus his 60 major paintings in the Air Force Art Collection. " (

Ferris became one of aviation's most honored artists. He has had his works exhibited at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio; and many other prestigious locations across the country.

His commissions include the 25-foot-high by 75-foot-wide mural in oil, Fortresses Under Fire, which covers the entire back wall of the World War II Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and the 20-foot-high by 75-footwide mural depicting the evolution of jet aircraft in the NASM's Jet Aviation Gallery.

Ferris is deeply involved in the history and technology of aerial camouflage schemes and is also an inventor who holds five U.S. patents covering deceptive air combat paint schemes. He now lives in New Jersey, where he continues to explore his life-long love of aviation, as an artist, lecturer, historian, model builder, and inventor.

Roy R. Behrens, Camoupedia, A Compendium on Art, Architecture and Camouflage

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