Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Couple of Apples 5 x 10 Oil on Panel

This little Korean Tea cup has been a little friend of mine since I first started to paint back in 1998. My father in law was stationed in Korea in the 50's and, if I have my story straight, purchased it while there.  If you've followed me long enough (I tend to remove paintings from the internet after 3 or more years) you may have seen the teapot from this set show up in quite a few paintings as well.  Old friends I enjoy painting. Recently sold this painting via a friend sharing one of my Facebook posts on his feed.  Different world from when I first started doing this but a fun way to have someone find out about my work.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dried Flowers 10 x 5 Oil on Panel

I got stuck in the studio last week due to various family care issues and lack of planning on my part.  Even though the weather was fantastic I was stuck inside with very little painting time.  It doesn't always go the way you want it to, but often a forced change of routine allows the brain to come up with creative solutions.  This little painting was a surprise.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Tree's

We have had no rain in Tuscaloosa for over 8 weeks. Bad for the plants, great for keeping the extreme color contrast of blue and orange in check.  I certainly enjoy the bright colors of fall, but the dull colors this fall, in my opinion, make better paintings. Here is my shot at if from last week.

The magic painting hat at work.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Not even really sure why I painted the Buoys.  Their red, which is always fun and the light was interesting, but it wasn't exactly the type of painting I expect people to respond to.  The best part or the experience was my middle daughter drawing with me while I painted.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Black Warrior River Color Studies

I really hope there are some artist who read this blog.  I am a painter with life circumstances that make my free time almost non-existent.  So when I do have time, I paint.  This leaves me very little time to dialogue about painting which I've always found valuable. So I may be talking to cyber-space, but this post has artists in mind.

When painting on location I am trying to keep my values between a dark mid-tone and white. Obviously, this isn't about a finished painting, it's about learning. Specifically, learning how to make contrast changes with color rather than dramatic value.  It would be easy if the world were full of bright color changes but the reality is that the world is full of grayed down color. You might not believe that at first. You can see just how grey it is by taking a small strip of cardboard or paper and painting your purest primary colors in stripes along the strip.  Take the strip outside and place it in the same light thats falling on your landscape.....grey, gray, grey!

The studies below are all either 6x10 or 6x8.  Each was done in about an hours time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Never The Same

I am not a systematic painter.  I’ve tried to be that way.  There are some really stiff paintings in my portfolio that came from trying to develop a process for myself that can be relied on in every situation. Surely if I were more systematic I would produce fewer experimental pieces that end up in the trash. This year I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that inconsistency is a part of who I am; one painting is thick, one is thin, one gets lost in abstraction, another gets over rendered.  I really don’t care how I get there, I’m just trying to get closer to whats going on inside at the time. There are so many things in the painting below that were just spur of the moment choices…fencing with the painting gods.

Three Glasses, 9" x 11", Oil on Panel, by John Kelley

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Getting it Right The Third Time

"The light that never was on sea or land, the consolation and the poets dream"  - Wordsworth

This quote sums up what I'm always after.  I get this picture in my mind ( often in the place of emotion in my mind) and I'm never really satisfied until I bring it to my canvas.  It can lead to frustration, but good paintings often come out of this ambition.

The painting below was done on location and painted in about 30 minutes. During this golden hour what you are looking at changes literally every five minutes. Experiencing this gave me a clear picture of what I wanted to paint back in the studio. The most shocking part of the study was that at the time I did not realize how much warmth was reflecting onto the canvas from the trees behind me.  As soon as I put it in the truck I was stunned at how cool my greens actually were.  Not the plan.  All a part of the learning process.

Back in the studio it became obvious that many of my warm/ cool relationships were off.  One likes to think that if I would have had more time I would have been able to notice this while painting.(who knows, maybe genius would have struck after another five minutes!) I solved much of this in the next painting by going to some larger extremes in value, but this is still not the minds eye vision that I'm hoping for.

I'm planning to go back (with both paintings as reference) in order to get closer. So maybe I'll get it right the third time.

Monday, September 5, 2016


"Adversity has the effect of drawing out strength and qualities of a man that would have lain dormant in it's absence" - Herodotus

Painting is always hard and sometimes presents obstacles that seem impossible to conquer.  By faith I push through looking for the fulfillment of this Herodotus quote. The strength that is drawn out is seldom in the painting itself but in the persistence that leads to a great painting years down the line.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Cloud Study 9" x 11" by John Kelley

I painted this in 95 degree heat, 75% humidity, under only my hat.  You west coast folks have it made.

Cottondale Storm, 30" x 30". Oil Painting by John Kelley

I've been driving through this intersection for 23 years and never once considered it a subject suitable for a painting. Creation can make even nondescript strip malls and gas stations visually compelling.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Heart of The Artist

"I want people to say of my work: that man feels deeply, that man feels keenly, in spite of my so-called coarseness... I should like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart" - Vincent

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dried Roses by John Kelley

They were sitting on my air conditioner and struck me as rather poetic. This is cropped from a 9 x 11 oil on Panel.