&ldquo;Prairie Grass&rdquo; by Keith Burnett of rural Lanesboro is Iowa Pheasants Forever&rsquo;s art of the year, and prints of the painting will be sold at Carroll County Pheasants Forever&rsquo;s 27th annual banquet and auction Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Carrollton Centre. Burnett&rsquo;s art works can be viewed on his website keithburnettart.com. <span style="font-size: xx-small;"><em>Daily Times Herald <br />photo by Larry Devine</em></span>
“Prairie Grass” by Keith Burnett of rural Lanesboro is Iowa Pheasants Forever’s art of the year, and prints of the painting will be sold at Carroll County Pheasants Forever’s 27th annual banquet and auction Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Carrollton Centre. Burnett’s art works can be viewed on his website keithburnettart.com. Daily Times Herald
photo by Larry Devine
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Keith Burnett of rural Glidden loves the outdoors.

There’s the hunting and fishing. “My dad and grandpa took me hunting and fishing since I can remember,” says Burnett, a native of the Denver suburb of Westminster. “We went pheasant and quail hunting in Kansas. We have a lot of family there, and I went for 20 consecutive years. We had really good times out there.”

And there’s the nature walks near his home in a wooded area 2½ miles southeast of Lanesboro, just a couple of hundred yards from the North Raccoon River.

“I take walks all the time just to enjoy nature,” Burnett says. “I don’t have to have a gun or bow in my hands.”

Even when inside the more-than-century-old home that he and his wife, Melissa, rebuilt and live now with 16-year-old daughter Jordan, a Glidden-Ralston High School sophomore, Burnett has outdoor scenes on his mind. It’s the inspiration for his art.

“I’ve been drawing wildlife since I was about 3 and painting since I was about 12,” says the 35-year-old Burnett. “I started taking it seriously in my early 20s, and I’ve been evolving a little bit ever since.

Burnett, who delivers fuel and is a contractor for Community Oil, adds, “I hope by the time I’m 40 I can be a full-time artist.”

For the last several years Burnett has put his artistic talent to use for the outdoors that he loves. Prints of his artworks have been sold at Carroll County Pheasants Forever’s annual banquet and auction. The chapter uses profit from the event for wildlife, conservation and education projects.

And Burnett recently stepped into the spotlight of Pheasants Forever art when his painting “Prairie Grass” was selected the Iowa Pheasants Forever 2011-12 print of the year. Burnett’s painting was chosen at last year’s Pheasants Forever state convention in Des Moines, and “Prairie Grass” prints will be sold at Pheasants Forever chapters’ fundraising events across the state.

Burnett, who paints in a studio in his home, says he works from various photos and “Prairie Grass,” Iowa Pheasants Forever’s 25th annual print of the year, features a combination of scenes: Pheasants are taking flight from tall grass in the foreground, and in the background are a wind pump, bare tree and rain clouds rolling in.

Burnett describes the scene: “The wind’s just starting to pick up. You can see the rain coming down a little bit in the background. Another 20 minutes, and the rain’s going to be on top of you. And it’s making the birds a little bit nervous for getting huddled into their roost, a hiding spot, I guess.”

Burnett was living near Brighton, in eastern Colorado, when he compiled these scenes.

“I was driving down the road to work one morning and saw storm clouds rolling across the prairie,” he says. “I added the pheasants from other photos I’ve taken over the years.”

“Prairie Grass” will be just one of the wildlife-art prints  that will be sold at Carroll County Pheasants Forever’s 27th annual banquet and auction Saturday at the Carrollton Centre. A variety of hand-crafted furniture and decorative items will be featured, as well.

Tickets to the event are $50 ($30 membership and $20 meal) and $20 for additional meal guests. Tickets are available from any chapter board members, including president David Greteman at 830-6009, Tracy Buck at 830-6475 or Kenny Snyder at 790-2660.

The banquet room will open at 5:30 p.m. for social time, and food service in Charlie’s Steakhouse will begin at 6. The live auction will begin at 8.

Burnett says his goal with “Prairie Grass” and his other wildlife art is to “bring a photo to life or capture an experience I had day out hunting.”

He says of the outdoors, “It’s what I live for. I spend every moment I can outdoors fishing, hunting, taking photos. I just love to be outdoors, and I’ve always loved wildlife.”

Burnett says he probably put more than 100 hours of painting for 1½ months into “Prairie Grass.” Burnett paints in oils and right now has three paintings in the works. “I let a couple of paintings dry while I work on another one,” he says.

The three paintings include a scene inspired from photos taken in rural western Kansas. Burnett says he may enter the painting in national Pheasants Forever competition. The painting features an old abandoned house, the sun rising over hills on a frosty morning and several birds flying out of their roost. “They’re flying to fields to get breakfast, I guess,” Burnett says.

Burnett’s paintings can be viewed on his website keithburnettart.com, and he can be contacted at 712-6600547.

Besides doing wildlife art, Burnett also enjoys painting Old West scenes of cattle and cowboys.

“Everything I do probably will be outdoor art,” he says. “That’s just what I love, whether it’s painting a sunrise or a cowboy riding off into the sunset.”

Burnett says the ranch-style home that he and wife Melissa (Wassom), a Sac City native, bought and restored is an ideal place for his painting. “It’s a couple of hundred of yards from the river, a good environment to sit and paint,” he says.

Burnett is grateful for the opportunity to help Pheasants Forever raise funds for wildlife habitat, conservation projects and education programs.

“What they (Pheasants Forever) are doing now is more important than ever, trying to get the birds back,” he comments, adding that the habitat projects benefit all types of wildlife — deer, turkeys, songbirds.

Burnett says he’s looking to doing volunteer work for Pheasants Forever projects in the future and plans to have the chapter do plantings on his 5-acre farmstead next year.