Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Local Artist Spotlight: Keith Norval and Anna Podris

As we all know, artists in Raleigh are plentiful. We have quite the booming creative class, and it’s developing into a regional identity that will only continue to grow and set Raleigh on a path to be a major haven for anyone looking for a career in creative expression. Many factors contribute to this rise – a well known design school, a revitalized downtown, a lower cost of living, a large number of galleries, and a sizable young population thanks to a large university in the city. Also, large studio spaces such as AntFarm, ArtSpace and the Bonded Llama are giving emerging and established artists places to make and show work, and develop their skills. Couple that with city funded arts centers, such as Pullen Arts Center, and Sertoma Arts Center, which provide low cost classes and workspace to residents of Raleigh, and you have much of the necessary ingredients to foster and display amazing artwork.

Two of my favorite artists here in Raleigh are husband/wife Keith Norval and Anna Podris.

They share a studio in Artspace and produce some of my favorite things, and I always try to make it to their studios on First Fridays. Both Keith and Anna are painters, and although their styles are complex and unique in terms of color palette, subject matter and presentation, their work is similar in a lot of ways. Both Keith and Anna attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, in Savannah, Georgia.


Keith’s work, which spans oil paintings, drawings, murals, screen printing, and recently, pottery, features a predominately animal cast. Usually these animals are personified to some extent, with underlying messages about a large range of topics. What I really like about Keith’s work is how colorful it is – every painting is exploding with color and energy and it’s really entertaining! Below are some of my favorites (all are from the artist’s website)

Fishy Fish (20″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas)

Chicken Nerd (4″ x 5″ Oil on Canvas)

My Tree (16″ x 16″ Oil on Canvas)

King Piggy/The Pork King (12″ x 16″ Encaustic and Oil on Wood Panel)

Black and White Cow (6″ x 6″ Oil on Canvas)

Rhino and Snailey (20″ x 20″ Oil on Canvas)

Keith’s artist statement:

My paintings take advantage of humor.
(The absurd rears its ugly head.)
The process is as important as the artwork itself.
My work is changing and dynamic.
Tumultuous materials explode in a rush of energy.
Elements of the familiar arise with the repetition of characters and situations.

Familiar actions and themes surface as the pieces progress:

Business vs. life
King vs. subjects
Surprise and outrage

Painting becomes an examination of relationships.


Anna’s work is also in painting, and drawing. She works in oil, and encaustic painting. Her work is mysterious and displays landscapes, architecture, people, animals and thoughts. Perhaps she explains it best:

My paintings are the interior landscapes of my mind; the figures are archetypes of inner necessity. The paintings happen without a plan. I paint in a stream of consciousness way; letting the work unfold. Then I take a step back and edit the image so it is coherent in its form and idea.

A painting is not done until it resonates mystery. Ideas turn in on themselves. Some shapes are lost entirely in the process of editing. I sometimes scrape paint off, revealing these hidden forms. Because of this process, the meanings become layered and somewhat enigmatic.

My process is intuitive. I let my thoughts take their own shapes. The act of painting is meditative and sublime. I am dedicated to the transcendental value of art.

Here are some of my favorite pieces (more at the artist’s website)

Dog Town (30″ x 36″ Oil on Canvas)

Life Below the Surface (24″ x 36″ Oil on Canvas)

Fascination Street (18″ x 24″ Oil on Canvas)

Hybrids (24″ x 48″ Oil on Wooden Panel)

The Heck-Andrews House (48″ x 36″ Oil on Canvas)

West Harrington Street (24″ x 29″ Oil on Canvas)

Yellow Dog Red Dog (10″ x 12″ Oil on Canvas)

You can see more of Anna’s work, specifically works in progress, at her blog.

Keith and Anna are currently living in Raleigh and working at Artspace, where they share a studio. You likely have seen their work, both have been on Raleigh’s Buses, thanks to the wonderful Art On The Move program (which is a fantastic idea, please don’t let this disappear) Keith has his work on a cover of the Independent, as well as in Porter’s Tavern, the Pit, Gravy, and starting December 2009, at the Cameron Village Public Library.

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