BJ surprises most people. She's a petite, often quiet woman with muscles of steel to do the work she does, and a loud, expressive voice through her art. Not only does she conceive of the concept for each art piece, she has the engineering and welding skills to create the prototype for each. Most of her tools were inherited from her father, also a master carpenter, electrician and architect. Her bending maching, welder and 200 lb. argon bottle, large vice, table saws and metal working tables are at least 70 years old.
Her father, the late Harold Keith, recognizing her artistic and mechanical talent early on, taught her how to use all of the equipment, and her exhusband, Ron Aikens, helped her refine her technical skills. He father had intended to send her to the Sorbonne in France when she graduated from High School, but having married early and raising four daughters, her artistic career was put on hold for a time. She didn't let that stop her, though. When her oldest girls were in High School themselves, she went back to school and received her AA and then did a BFA and MFA program at Cal State University, Los Angeles. In fact, she, her then husband, and her oldest daughter all graduated from college the same year in 1982.
Here and there through her metal sculpting career, she tried to incorporate her first love of painting, with techniques of painted metal, enameling and mostly burnishes and patinas.
BJ does all of her own metal work, from the smallest piece-work wall sculptures, to tabletop sculptures, to the tallest 8 foot large standing sculptures. Now, in her 70's, BJ does all but the latter, and in her free time, she paints large 3 foot x 4 foot canvases in oil. In these paintings, one still gets a glimpse of the metal sculptor background. As in everything, from cooking, to music, to metal sculpture to painting, BJ's unparalleled work ethic, creativity, vision and persistence insists that she excel in all.
Some of her work using paint on metal or enamel and metal were featured in the 2007 catalog page from the Artisan House, shared below.