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Great State: Pen and Ink Architecture

GUTHRIE, OKLAHOMA — Except for the regular movement of his right arm Charles Keller stays still as a stature when he draws.

A pen and ink man hates to make mistakes.

“One little mistake and you might as well throw it away,” he says.

But the permanency of ink lends itself quite well to what Keller draws.

His latest sketch is an old Colt model Dragoon Pistol.

There is a lot of detail there, but look at the background, stone and mortar, as permanent as building blocks get.

Keller agrees, “To me it’s just a natural for pen and ink.”

The artist never did much drawing at all until he started going to Guthrie for groceries and errands a decade ago.

Something about the buildings here caught his exacting eye. “I just had to start drawing them,” he says.

He took a few pictures and then took them home to study.

“The shading is difficult,” he describes. “It takes a lot of practice to get it down.”

One of the first pictures he took was of West Harrison Avenue.

It took a while but Keller thought he got pretty close.

“Some of them are very difficult, but I haven’t found one I couldn’t tackle,” he says.

He bought and sold flowers for a career, but in lakeside retirement Charles Keller sought out things that wouldn’t wilt.

In changing times he came to appreciate the kinds of places that haven’t changed much over time.

Someone looking at his sketches a century ago would probably know right where they were.

“If I’m not happy with it,” he says, “then I can’t bring myself to show anybody.”

Over much of the past decade Charles sketched most of Guthrie. It’s buildings have stood the test of time.

Keller’s detailed artwork seems just as solid. “I really enjoy what I do,” he says.