Spiral Focus - The Calm in the Chaos

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Spiral Focus – 20” x 10”, oil and metal leaf 2017

My solo show is open at Red Cloud Indian Arts.  It will be up through November and I hope if you can, you will stop in to see it.  Here in this blog I wanted to share the concept for the show which includes the list of paintings.   For that list, I wanted something that, like the work itself, would remain in flux, continuously unfolding, communicating directly. And so I set out to create a story, a poem, reflecting and uniting all of the pieces as one.   

2017 marks my second solo show at Red Cloud. In 2014, at my first show I was painting about the death of my mother. Trying to release the pain, making my peace.  The idea for that show started with a painting inspired by a piece of Royston turquoise in an old ring.  That stone transported me to the safety of a cave full of light made of crystal and ice, where a pool of water stands. Symbolically for me it is the womb of the world.  It is earth center, the all mother.  That private place that keeps you safe, that allows your journey. I stand at the edge of the mountain and peer into the darkness, and I fly towards the light. I stop in that still point to listen to the silence, hopeful for the calm’s embrace, yearning to fill up the cup of my soul without coming so close to the flames that I burn up and vanish. 

Following the Hummingbird #2 - 30”x 24”, oil 2017

Following the Hummingbird #2 - 30”x 24”, oil 2017

Conversations with the Mockingbird – 30” x 40”, oil 2016

Conversations with the Mockingbird – 30” x 40”, oil 2016

Wisdom in the Trees – 24” x 18”, oil 2015

Wisdom in the Trees – 24” x 18”, oil 2015

This new show is my return to self. My mother is gone yet I remain.  It is everyone’s journey and yet we make it alone….

Interconnections – 24” x 20”, oil 2015

Interconnections – 24” x 20”, oil 2015

While following the hummingbird I stopped to have a conversation with the Mockingbird and she told me about the wisdom in the trees and the great interconnection.

Spiral Focus the Calm in the Chaos – 60” x 36”, oil and metal leaf

Spiral Focus the Calm in the Chaos – 60” x 36”, oil and metal leaf

Spiral Focus, Spiral Focus the Calm in the Chaos

Ravens Circle #1 – 8” x 16” oil 2017

Ravens Circle #1 – 8” x 16” oil 2017

Ravens Circle  #2 – 8” x 8”oil 2017

Ravens Circle  #2 – 8” x 8”oil 2017

Ravens Circle  #3 – 8” x 8”, oil 2017

Ravens Circle  #3 – 8” x 8”, oil 2017

Ravens circle one, two and three

While Clare rises with the owl.

Clare Rises – 30” x 24”, oil 2017

Clare Rises – 30” x 24”, oil 2017

Sky rider soars upon the Path of Souls contemplating the standing pool.

Sky Rider – 30” x 24”, oil and metal leaf 2017

Sky Rider – 30” x 24”, oil and metal leaf 2017

Path of Souls – 24” x 20”, oil and metal leaf 2017

Path of Souls – 24” x 20”, oil and metal leaf 2017

Contemplating the Standing Pool – 20” x 16”, oil

Contemplating the Standing Pool – 20” x 16”, oil

Reflections of the moon cast long shadows

Reflections of the Moon – 30” x 40”, oil 2017

Reflections of the Moon – 30” x 40”, oil 2017

Long Shadows – 30” x 40”, oil 2017

Long Shadows – 30” x 40”, oil 2017

while the Spiral River runs amid the caves of ice  ~  Yael Kelley -  11.10.2017

The Spiral River Runs – 60” x 36”, oil and metal leaf 2017

The Spiral River Runs – 60” x 36”, oil and metal leaf 2017

Amid the caves of Ice – 20” x 10”, oil and metal leaf 2017

Amid the caves of Ice – 20” x 10”, oil and metal leaf 2017

The show can be seen at Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery -  214 Beach Drive St. Petersburg FL 33701       phone - 727-821-5824 website - redcloudindianarts.com

 

Open Monday thru Saturday 10:00AM - 5:00PM  

The impact of Impact Returns

Kenwood Public Art Project- my bench at the southeast corner of Seminole Park, September 2017

Kenwood Public Art Project- my bench at the southeast corner of Seminole Park, September 2017

I just attended this past Thursday the Emerging Artist New Work Exhibition.  It was an amazing show splendidly presented and well attended.  It reminded me why we do what we do and suddenly punctuated the grant title that made this show and the grant I received, of which this blog is a required outgrowth, both possible.

IMPACT RETURNS…….

Elizabeth Brincklow (Engagement Director and Exhibition Coordinator) said in the program for the exhibition: “Together within the gallery space the totality of the new works create torque, meaningful tension and unabashed beauty”

These words evoke the evening for me exactly.  The performances and the installation of the visual work inspired passionate conversation that rang in the building as I entered and even before I saw the crowd, I felt the crowd.  The energy and the intensity of what that space and those artists projected upon the guests attending was electrifying.  

I had some very interesting conversations as I experienced the show.  One of which I am still pondering.  The question of how we as artists stay true to ourselves while making our vision accessible to the public.  How do we connect…..How do we impact? And I kept turning Impact Returns over and over in my head.  Thinking that really it is quite an ingenious title for the program.  Creative Pinellas says on their website:  “We called our 2017 grants program “Impact Returns” to reflect the increased number of grant opportunities for artists and arts & cultural organizations and the resulting beneficial impact for the entire arts community and the citizens of Pinellas County.”

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 Ok…. But my mind went to  Impact as the explosion that is Art on the senses….how color or movement or sound engage us deeply, completely, surprisingly. And I think Returns speak to what it gives to the community and what it gives us as artists.  Returns are what comes back when we take the chance to engage with the public, the nonprofits, the government, the people inside the process and outside of it. It is the Impact that understanding, cooperation and support create in building a livable, sustainable community. Artists make that happen.

Thank You Creative Pinellas! It’s been an honor to have been selected for this year’s grants program.  In the last two blogs before the grant ends on December 1st, I plan to catalog the 15 new paintings and the show that opens November 10th, the public art project I participated in and the White Raven Project that I am currently involved with.  I have tried to use every moment and every dollar to engage, communicate, create, sponsor, facilitate and support my community through my art.  These are the Returns and the Impact from me as a Returning Artist.  

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The impact on the studio 

Words simply fail to communicate the profound gratitude I feel to be counted as one among this community of Artists and Makers.

Website at dyaelkelley.com

Seeing Transformation - part of the spiral

Like me, do you look back on a trip or an event and feel as if it were someone else, not you, who made that journey?

Skyrider 30" x 24" oil and gold leaf

Skyrider 30" x 24" oil and gold leaf

Events, conversations, and places I have been, fade so quickly.  I return and within hours, I wonder…”did I really go there?”

At last the show has almost arrived, it opens November 10th at Red Cloud.  I have been painting since May.  Fifteen new paintings and a performance of the play written about White Raven Speaks is about to unfold. The time of writing through this grant draws to a close.

Detail of Spiral Focus - The Calm in the Chaos 60" x 36" Oil and varigated gold leaf -  one of the final two paintings. 

Detail of Spiral Focus - The Calm in the Chaos 60" x 36" Oil and varigated gold leaf -  one of the final two paintings. 

Until this morning, I was still at work on the last two canvases, still seeking their stories and secrets, still focused on the light and the shadows. There had been many nights spent wondering whether or not I was going to finish.  Dreams waking me to return to my easel over and over. At last I could finally see the end.  And then the work was done.  I set down my brush and I looked around the studio. And I thought how did I get here?

 I had written earlier about the first 6 paintings for this show…which I like to call the “Crazy Six”.  An interesting beginning in this journey spent trying to listen to too many voices all at the same time. Yet here at this journeys end, it is these final two paintings, that seem at the heart of the show, as if the last are the first and it brings me full circle around, but from within the spiral I look up to see the beginning from a different place and while following the spiral I am able to see the place above aligned with the place below it, coming round over an again never ending simply continuing.

And I realize it is I who is someone else….

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I hope you will join me for the opening of my show Friday - November 10th - 6-10PM at Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery 214 Beach Drive.  The Play White Raven Speaks at 7PM under the stars outside the gallery. 

Information on my website: dyaelkelley.com

We are all a part of the Spiral

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Hurricane Irma was coming straight for us.  For days the forecast had narrowed until everything pointed to St. Petersburg.  Strangely, having grown up here with my grandmother always saying this peninsula was protected by the Indians who left their mounds here, I felt like it would somehow turn, at the last moment, like it always had.  That did not prevent me from boarding up my house, laying in water and food, planning to lose electricity, having two escape plans and knowing exactly how far away the shelter was.  It seemed in those last days of preparing that time slowed to a crawl. And as the hours passed and the storm crept closer, people began to show their true natures.  It reminded me of the nurse at the cancer ward who told me “now you will see who these people really are and it will surprise you.  The ones you thought were nice may not be, people you thought little of will shine, people will turn away… cancer makes people real”. I think hurricanes do the same.

Family called, friends called.  People thought I was crazy for staying.  I thought about my mother’s saying, “If it’s your day to die and you hide under the bed, the bed will fall on you.”

Tree falls during Irma view from our porch

Tree falls during Irma view from our porch

It did turn… in those last hours and I worried for those people who at the last found it was coming for them.  It came for all of Florida in one way or another. 

Next day after Irma

Next day after Irma

After the storm, on that first evening, a spontaneous gathering of the folks who stayed on our block occurred on the street.  Everyone emerged seemingly at the same time from their boarded up houses, laughing, chatting, sharing wine and stories.  I looked around to see most houses still intact, trees down, everything scattered, yet the breeze was so cool, the light very special, people’s faces so warm, so kind. And I knew that this was a very special moment, one I would remember, and these neighbors were now much more to me. Nature had changed us.  For a very short time the whole world was just our tiny block cut off by a big downed oak, the dogs running and playing in the street just as we did. 

I don’t wait well, but life is really about waiting to see what happens.  We do all we can but then we wait, and good or bad it never fails to surprise.

Detail- photo in the dark -Spiral River , 36"x 60" painting for the upcoming show

Detail- photo in the dark -Spiral River , 36"x 60" painting for the upcoming show

What did I do while I waited?  I painted. The paintings are like the storm - calm and turbulent, sharp then soft, all movement - spiraling. Darkness amid striking light.  Did the hurricane find it’s way into those canvases? How could it not?  Certainly it occurred to me that over the last year I have been focused, almost obsessed, with the spiral, painting it over and over.  I have been saying in this blog as I recorded events occurring that we are all a part of the spiral. 

For a brief time the spiral was both outside and inside me.  I stood on my porch and felt its power.  And it was both beautiful and terrifying.

Meet me on the other side of the storm. 

I hope this day finds you safe. 

website - dyaelkelley.com

Nothing is lost, if Someone Remembers

Green Wind Song - D YaeL Kelley 2015 collection of Jamie and Angela Markus

Green Wind Song - D YaeL Kelley 2015 collection of Jamie and Angela Markus

Stories have power! Nothing is lost if someone remembers.  Tell their stories in words, in music, in paint.

They connect us to the past, the now, and the future.

With so many friends and family in Texas, Hurricane Harvey has filled my thoughts for the last several days.  Remembered news pictures of Katerina, my own experience of Agnes as a child, my grandmother’s stories of the great hurricane of Miami 1926. Her house was the only one left standing for blocks, she said because it was made of stone. She was a new wife 20 years old. She and my grandfather had come to Miami for work.  After the hurricane she turned her house into a big kitchen and cooked for her entire community while everyone pitched tents and rebuilt around her.  She was an amazing woman, already a seasoned survivor.  An orphan, who at six, came to live with a family who had lost their only child.  She recalled to her grandchildren that she had nothing by the clothes on her back and a hand written note our family still has.  It had her name, her age at last birthday and that she had had measles, whooping cough and small pox.  She had no birth certificate, no pictures, no one, just hope for a better future.  She continues to be the standard I weigh my life against.  She had so much love for people, for life, for every new day and every opportunity.

 People amaze me in how we have the ability to continue to move forward in terrible times.

The earth has such power to create and to destroy.   I have problems with finding balance.  Balance between living joyously and losing myself to despair of all the hate, death, sadness, and cruelty that is this world.

Raven's Flight  - D Yael Kelley 2015 - Private Collection

Raven's Flight  - D Yael Kelley 2015 - Private Collection

But always in the darkest of times it is all of the people like my grandmother that inspire and give me hope.  I stand amazed at the power of stories - how they matter, how they change you.  

It is my greatest hope that my paintings can touch people, ignite their stories. It’s why I paint, to engage, to be able to have a conversation soul to soul.  My painting Raven's Flight is about freeing my mother’s soul from the tethers of life, Alzheimer’s had imprisoned her, at her death she was at last free again but I held her so tightly, mourned her so deeply I also had to let go so she could fly.  It was purchased by a gentleman who was battling cancer.  He and his wife were facing their own letting go and anticipated flight.  I asked them where they planned to hang it?  “By the bed” was their response.  Such a private place.  We shared that moment. He has since made his journey.  And when I think of that painting now it is more than just my mother’s story, it is his story too. 

Nothing is lost it someone remembers.

 

We are all a part of the spiral ...

Website - Dyaelkelley.com

 

Hurricane Harvey

I would normally be posting my bi monthly blog about now.  However considering the devastating disaster unfolding  before our eyes in Houston and southeast Texas, I simply have no words.

I know that this will only get worse as the days and the rains continue.  My heart goes out to everyone.  My thoughts and prayers to my family and friends in the area and for each and everyone effected.  Even though I am not there, there are many opportunities to be of help.  I need to focus on that. 

 

 

Six of One

Detail Path of Souls 2017

Detail Path of Souls 2017

A few blogs back I posted a picture of 6 canvases I was painting simultaneously. It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Note to self …..are you crazy ?  What were you thinking????

To be fair, what I was thinking seemed perfectly reasonable.  Six pieces all inspired by one stone (a spider web Opal). That particular stone took me to a very special place when I looked at it. It made me think of the Cherokee myth of the Little People, I imagined them in the trees of a primordial forest in the Smokey Mountains, a place I know well – the mountains not the primordial part.   Because I paint in oils, there is only so much work I can do on one canvas in a day before I have to stop to allow drying time.  Otherwise I achieve wonderful mud tones. Working on six would allow me to paint many many hours without having to stop. My technique involves layer upon layer of thin oil glazes and I incorporate dry pigments (interference and pearls), gold and silver leaf, and I love to experiment on the fly.  So if I wanted all six paintings to work with one another on a single shared theme, they would all have to be painted at the same time because I cannot recreate 20-50 layers the same way twice.  Seems a rational thought …. Right?

Six started vine charcoal sketching

Six started vine charcoal sketching

Crazy six midway - 20 layers in pieces,  now each spiraling clockwise daily as paint is applied. Pieces are no longer synchronized during painting.  Small piece at the right is actually 3 canvases also spiraling clockwise and no longer synced.

Crazy six midway - 20 layers in pieces,  now each spiraling clockwise daily as paint is applied. Pieces are no longer synchronized during painting.  Small piece at the right is actually 3 canvases also spiraling clockwise and no longer synced.

Over the last year or so I have been painting ideas in series. Usually I do two or three canvases at once and it has really worked fine.  In fact, it’s really stimulating to approach an idea from several directions and canvas number, size and dimension change things up.  I also paint in a spiral with no up, down, left or right.  I turn the canvases over and over allowing each canvas to find its own direction if there ever is one.  I sign my work on the side so as not to force a sense of where or how it goes and I do not wire or I cross wire because there is often no right way to hang it.  I want my work to move and to be in motion.  As humans, we are moving, time is moving, and our internal and external worlds are all remaking themselves simultaneously at every moment.  That is what I am trying to capture on canvas…. somehow not freezing it, allowing it to continue to evolve each time it is viewed.  Hopefully making you ask questions, interacting, changing and surprising you each time you look at it.

Detail Reflections of the Moon 2017

Detail Reflections of the Moon 2017

Well……… the last several weeks with these paintings has been like experiencing multiple personality, mushrooms, peyote, and waking dreams, all simultaneously! (I have personal experience with some but not all of these).  I think my brain is going to explode… ok , maybe it already has. If you get the idea it hasn’t gone exactly smoothly …… ding ding ding , you get the prize.  In my artist statement I say “ I start a painting by moving the paint around until the painting begins talking to me.   It’s like having a conversation.” When six paintings are all talking at the same time really loudly it feels like sitting around the thanksgiving table with your whole family there and everyone needs you to hear them first.

The takeaway.

Detail of Sky Rider 2017

Detail of Sky Rider 2017

1.        I won’t try this again very soon, but the experience was educational and I learned a lot about what I can and cannot do.  Experimenting and struggling with our work keeps us growing. 

2.       Never forget its only paint! If you do not try you learn nothing.

3.       You can always throw it out in the shed, throw a towel over it, or make it face the wall. When you are “in the moment” these are very satisfying ways to express your frustration without breaking anything. 

And finally when you keep pushing, working and not giving up they do come around.  For me finally these six are finished.  And I am taking a week off to relax recharge and get ready for the next set. 

I am really excited about the new idea I have and I can’t wait to get started….

I have a solo show at Red Cloud in November, opening on Friday the 10th.  Come see " the crazy six" Live, complete and in person, as they will all be at this show along with several others. 

Until the next blog……  Keep following your path! 

 

D YaeL Kelley website

That face you show

The Lost Face of New Orleans - 2005, oil 20" x 20" by D. Yael Kelley  

I believe you can reach up and put your hands into a river that circles the earth and touch the creative flow as it spirals through this place we call Alive.  That color, words and sound are right here, bright drops dangling waiting to have a purpose. Absolutely everyone has access. You need only take the time to still your mind and experience the reality of it. And if you do, you can do something amazing.

That is my bright shiny side speaking, the romantic optimistic me I aspire to be. That face you show. I believe everything I just wrote and I believe my purpose in life is to make and experience art.  I want to be transformed and to be transformational.

Night Ravens Flight - oil 14" x 18" 2015 

Night Ravens Flight - oil 14" x 18" 2015 

Then there is the other me. 

The dark, moody, and reclusive one. Her moto is “Burn it down” She is a realist.  Ever asking the question “why are you doing this when there are so many others who are better, more expressive, more dedicated to their craft” "STOP………. Just stop."

Between the dark and the bright one I stand and paint hoping to find with work, practice and a bit of luck something that is true. Because I understand one thing about myself.  I must paint.  Whether anyone else is watching or listening. 

I LOVE Shelley, I have all his work, several times over, and I often carry his poems with me.  I cannot exactly explain the affect his words have on me, how they reach into my heart, soul and head all at the same time.  Every exquisite line paints a picture in my head.  I want to end this latest post with his poem Ozymandias because it always resonates with me which ever face I am wearing.

Ozymandias

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
We are all a part of the spiral"

We are all a part of the spiral"

White Raven Speaks

White Raven Speaks - Second Horizon 2016 oil 40" x 30" 

White Raven Speaks - Second Horizon 2016 oil 40" x 30" 

The internal world, the mind I live in and the inner landscape that I imagine or that imagines me. 

When I began writing this blog in April I said I wanted to explore.  What I have so far focused on is my process – the how and why I paint. 

But what about the quest and the journey?  The physical manifestation. And so an update on my current projects – 

I am very pleased to announce I have an upcoming solo show at Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery opening Friday, November 10th. . I have been painting daily for this show and hope to have 15 new paintings completed.

Detail of three corners of three new works in progress, they all fit together. 

Detail of three corners of three new works in progress, they all fit together. 

Sadly, I cannot share my new paintings with you here as my gallery loves surprises. This show will also be in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the opening of Red Cloud.  The gallery is planning some special happenings for the occasion. Red Cloud is one of the oldest continually operating galleries in the City.  I am really excited to be a part of the festivities.

The White Raven Project (WRP) will be a part of the show opening with an open air reading of the play by Elizabeth Brincklow, White Raven Speaks - Second Horizon. The evolving play based upon my painting White Raven Speaks has previously been performed at Fantastic Ekphrastic in St Petersburg and in Tampa as part of Carrollwood Cultural Centers - Evening of Short Plays.     

WRP is growing organically and new elements of the experience are unfolding continuously.  I have found collaborating with several women artists across disciplines to be absolutely electrifying.  The energy, conversation and creative impetus has super charged my own creativity and I feel the inspiration for new pieces to be flowing faster than I can hope to paint them. The mission of the project remains ….  “Fusing visual arts with performance, exhibition with installation through a shared community memory experience connecting us with our grandmothers and mothers as we entered their lives and they left ours. Speaking from our DNA.”

Stay tuned …….. Dyaelkelley.com

I’ll call you in 15 minutes

Across the Universe 2015, oil 20" x 24" D YaeL Kelley,  collection of Beth Jacobs and Jason Lingenfelter

Across the Universe 2015, oil 20" x 24" D YaeL Kelley,  collection of Beth Jacobs and Jason Lingenfelter

Studio time is like being suspended in a long ship at the edge of a black hole (yes…I am a huge Dr. Who fan for those that got that reference).

 Danny would leave for work at 6:00 AM, “I’ll call you in 15 minutes”. He makes his call at 12:00 noon.  “Its 15 minutes you need to eat now!”  He gets me and Yes Studio time is different.

Bear Exploration 2015, oil 8" x 16" D yaeL Kelley

Bear Exploration 2015, oil 8" x 16" D yaeL Kelley

 I often am told I am a very intense person. Soooo serious about my art that my friend and mentor Clint Hamilton used to introduce me at shows with “she gets right to God and Death”  “Enjoy”   

Artists in popular myth are often portrayed as eccentric, odd, and very, very intense.  It is said they see things differently. That it is by some sort of alchemy that they do what they do.  Fiction or fact?  For me it feels like fact. No matter, good story.

I told my mother I was going to be an artist at 5.  What does a 5 year old think an artist is?   I have no idea, but I was a very serious child. By 11 or 12 I had this romantic idea of "the suffering artist".   All the  stories I read seemed to convey all the great artists suffered.  And who were my artists?  Poe and Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Goya. They all died young and they were amazing!  I would lie awake at night and think “If I want to be a real artist, I must suffer.” Ah teen angst. This is also about the time I started to believe I would die before I was thirty…..which I also told my mother … as I was - a very serious child.  Let me just say that when I turned 30 and I was still alive, well it was a bit anticlimactic and quite frankly embarrassing.  Friends I hadn’t seen in ages checked in with wow …still alive?  They actually threw me a party; all the balloons and plates were black.

Flying through a hole in the sky, 2015 oil 10" x 20" D YaeL Kelley

Flying through a hole in the sky, 2015 oil 10" x 20" D YaeL Kelley

. And I was left with “ ah well, keep painting”.  Which brings me to my great realization:

I am very serious….. but I’m just kinda goofy. And maybe I think, maybe that’s ok.

Dyaelkelley.com

Art is a drug: Conversations with the Mockingbird

Conversations with the Mockingbird- oil 30" x 40" 2016

Conversations with the Mockingbird- oil 30" x 40" 2016

Mutability – 1. Liable or subject to change. 2. Given to changing; fickle or inconstant.

Like returning to a place, returning to a painting again and again trying to understand that each time it is different because you have changed.  Even if only a few minutes have passed your place in the universe is not the same. The impressions from the moment before have changed everything in front of you now.  The light has changed, the way you hold the object has altered.  Your mood has changed.

And so what if you choose to let go of everything that anchors you to the reality of a subject.  The reliability of this is a tree.

Or that is an eye.  This is up and this is down.  How then do you begin to paint? What if you abandon any notion of exactly what you are painting and instead STOP ……. And LISTEN to the conversation inside your head.  You focus on the immediate impression of color.  You imagine seeing the canvas from the inside looking back at you. 

What does a line say? How do you hold it under pressure and lay it down.  How does the tension of the slightest move toward horizon change the feel of that pressure? When is it calm and when does it scream?  Each change, each layer, each subtle manipulation is the conversation you are having. 

I move pattern around.  I allow a form to consume me, change me, and drive me towards a destination unknown.  The process is birth and death simultaneously.

Some days I move forward, some days I feel like I have utterly failed.  It’s frustrating and it is euphoric and I cannot imagine wanting to do anything else. Unlike other endeavors in my life; it holds me.

Art is a powerful drug.  It can kill you and it can heal you but I know more than anything else that it will CHANGE YOU.

Detail - Conversations with the Mockingbird

Detail - Conversations with the Mockingbird

Seeking The Still Point Silence

Following the Hummingbird, oil 40" x 30" In this painting I imagined my mothers spirit as a hummingbird flying into the light. 

Following the Hummingbird, oil 40" x 30"

In this painting I imagined my mothers spirit as a hummingbird flying into the light. 

Two weeks before my mother died, on a very lucid day, she asked me “what are you doing?” I love that phrase.  What are you doing? It’s how my mom would start so many conversations through the years.  No matter if I was in England, Arizona, Texas, 30 feet up a ladder painting, she would call and instead of hello, or anything else, it was always – “what are you doing?”

On this day my answer was – “running City Theatre”. Like many non-profits can do, that 60,70,80,90 hour a week kind of running.  I had made a pledge to myself when things got crazy.  I will put painting on hold and fully attend to the theatre with the hope that the universe would kindly return me to painting for my blood, sweat and tears commitment to keeping everything going during that wonderful time we call the “Great Recession” .

 “Are you Painting?  You should be painting, it’s what you do. “says Mom. Which was so lovely because at the beginning of my career as a painter my mother would ask when I was going to get a real job. Made only slightly better when I was a bit older and she declared at my first solo show opening which she and my Dad flew out for, that I must be good because several people had told her I was.  Which I took as a bit of a left handed compliment.  Later she would send unmarked letters to me with just pictures of things she liked which I would then paint and ship to her without letter or return address.  I would find these paintings hung at her house and when I would say “nice painting” she would laugh and say, “well it just arrived in the mail so I put it up.”  She had a great sense of humor. 

White Raven Speaks- The Second Horizon oil, 40" x 30" Layered canvas assemblage My mothers face looks on from behind the child as the universe spins.  

White Raven Speaks- The Second Horizon oil, 40" x 30" Layered canvas assemblage

My mothers face looks on from behind the child as the universe spins.  

“You should be painting it’s what you do. “  and then she was gone. But that 14 days in hospital, in hospice, without sleep, in a surreal world where the outside just ceased to exist.  In a place between life and death, waking dreams, watching her talk to loved ones long dead, seeing her eat from empty trays and drink from a straw that only she saw.   

 I started thinking………. What ARE you doing?  

  By 2014 the universe did let me return to painting full time.  When people look at my work from the 30 years prior to 2005 and then at what I am doing now they often ask how in the world did I go from that to this?  I have lots of answers, but that time with her, that moment when I thought I want “Still More” for her.  She was going where I was not and I found in that “The Still Point Silence”.  And since 2012 it’s what I have been living, breathing and painting.

What am I doing?

I am painting, it’s what I do.  

I hope everyone reading this is doing what you do. 

Living it, breathing it and seeing it, really seeing it! 

Yellow Corn Mother - oil, 30" x 24" The concept of release and return.  The latest painting in the Blue Corn Mother Series - Yellow Corn Mother combines the earth connectedness of the blue corn mother with the healing warmth of the sun and its life giving forces.  It is the morning light as it pours into the windows very early. The memories of things that cannot be forgotten but sometimes sleep. The smells, the colors and the feelings that can be seen in the clouds when the sun reflects off them after a rain. I hope that it evokes an all radiating light and warmth.  And asks the question “How do we connect to the universal mind".  

Yellow Corn Mother - oil, 30" x 24"

The concept of release and return. 

The latest painting in the Blue Corn Mother Series - Yellow Corn Mother combines the earth connectedness of the blue corn mother with the healing warmth of the sun and its life giving forces.  It is the morning light as it pours into the windows very early. The memories of things that cannot be forgotten but sometimes sleep. The smells, the colors and the feelings that can be seen in the clouds when the sun reflects off them after a rain.

I hope that it evokes an all radiating light and warmth.  And asks the question “How do we connect to the universal mind".

 

The Shadow behind the Light

Still Point Silence - oil and gold leaf 40" x 30" 2016

Still Point Silence - oil and gold leaf 40" x 30" 2016

David Morris wrote an article about me for Creative Pinellas last December.  When he reached me by phone about the article, I assumed I would be one of many artists interviewed and perhaps a line or two would make it into the article.  He was so interesting to talk to, that I actually kinda forgot our conversation was “on the record”.  What occurred was an interview in which I talked about things I do not usually share. Here is a link if you want to read it - http://creativepinellas.org/visual-arts/shadow-behind-light/

I hadn’t previously put myself under the microscope on how my physical body and mental attitude create my method of working. I am usually thinking about painting, not, why do I paint standing up?

Strange to consider the body as the brush. And the quirky, over focus, INFJ mind that inhabits this body as the method.  Odd to realize that a lifetime managing pain is the foundation upon which I make my living. 

The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo - my photo of the original from the current Dallas Museum of Art exhibition Mexico 1900-1950

The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo - my photo of the original from the current Dallas Museum of Art exhibition Mexico 1900-1950

When I think about the artists who have influenced me, Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, I think about their work but also how their world, their physical circumstances, and their personal challenges created the language that communicates itself through that work. Frida Kahlo wanted to be a doctor, her accident changed the course of her life. Yet in her work, the anatomy illustrations she studied occur over and over.  They lend a searing honesty to her images. She sees both intimately as an artist but also with the objective detachment of a physician. 

In the studio this morning I got 6 canvases going.  All different sizes, 30”x40”, 24”x30”, 20”x24”, 8”x16” and 2 - 8”x8”.  I am working from yet another opal (my last three series of paintings have started with impressions from looking at spider web opal).  The stone instantly transported me to a place with winged insect people flying among ancient trees in the morning sun, grandmother’s stories of the little people that live in the forest, me laying in the grass on a spring morning off the Blue Ridge parkway. 

Stillmore in progress - Painting in series simultaneously 2016

Stillmore in progress - Painting in series simultaneously 2016

I see all six paintings finished in my mind, I just have to peel away each layer one by one back to the first color then reconstruct. I anticipate 50 or more layers.  I will use gold leaf in several.  I am particularly excited about how the light will emerge differently on each canvas as this stone has many secrets to reveal.   I have the canvases arranged across the back side of the studio, all six at waist to head level so I can walk back and forth and back and forth.  I check the furniture behind me to make sure I can back up without falling over something because I have learned the hard way about that and have nearly tossed myself out my old second story studio several times.  I spent an entire day just arranging the paint, and brushes because with every new set of paintings I have to clean and completely organize my studio to enable my brain to reach a state of calm and focus with no distractions that break my concentration.

And so it begins again and I am fully present in a place of complete focus, no pain, no time.  The world of these six canvases becomes the whole world and the mind and body become one instrument to touch the canvas.   

In the studio...... 

In the studio...... 

Art and Death

I flew to Austin April 19th.  I missed Clare by two days.

 She was battling cancer, she had been fighting four years.

Clare rising with the owl, oil 24" x 30"

Clare rising with the owl, oil 24" x 30"

 Two weeks before that - April 2nd - Suddenly, a painting I had been messing with on and off for the last four years became urgent that I finish.  You know the painting…… that canvas that goes up after you finish a piece and you have no idea what you are painting next.  It’s been a globe, a bird, the sea. It’s been red, blue, and purple.  I have pitched it out to the shed, turned it backwards and thrown a towel over it.   But it always found its way back on my easel.  I would think – “this time I am going to figure you out. “  

Hal and I would talk. “How’s Clare? “ “You know” he would say.  “New chemo, next chemo, infusions more tests. She is fighting so hard. “Is she painting?  I would ask. I hope she is painting it would be good for her.”  

Owl - Lithograph by Nancy Wederstrandt ( Clare)

Owl - Lithograph by Nancy Wederstrandt ( Clare)

 And suddenly, I could not get that painting out of my head.  It became a big abalone shell and in it was the shadow of an owl, the waves crashing, a figure rising up. I called Hal….. “How’s Clare?” “You Know” he would say.  “She has been hearing owls outside her window, and asking me if I have heard them since I am only four doors down.” “The tumors are collapsing her lung, she is having trouble breathing.  I am worried that she may have only a few months left.”

The painting took over. I just needed to get one more color on, one more line.  A friend called and I always send her pictures of what I have going in the studio.  She looked at the painting.  She said “is this about your friend Clare?” And suddenly as if I had never seen it before because it was so close to me I realized …… of course it is. 

Of course it is.  Hal called he said “you better get out here.” “ I said I will book a flight.”  “Try to get here Tuesday or Wednesday.”

I booked a flight for Wednesday the 19th. I kept painting.  On Monday April the 17th I just stopped.. I actually removed that last few strokes I had applied.  I walked into tell my husband Danny that it was done. 

We are all part of the spiral, Mayfield Park Austin -  April 2017

We are all part of the spiral, Mayfield Park Austin -  April 2017

Hal called……. “You’re going to miss her by two days, she’s gone.”

Four years ago when Clare was diagnosed with Stage 4 uterine cancer they said 4-6 months.  She said to me, “when the time comes, please come to Austin, not to see me but to be with Hal when I am gone because I worry about him.”

A bit of history……..

Like the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood or other groups of artists who choose to create a family or household, I am a part of a very close nit group of artists, who at one time, all lived, worked and played together.  We created whole events, shows and parties together.  We worked on projects, sometimes lived together in the same houses for years.  The group had members that came and went, some moved away, others moved back.  Some of us have never met, but we know each other’s stories, and have come to feel we know one another because we are all part of the household.  I returned to Florida in 2005, but like I said, you never really leave and everyone still knows what everyone is doing due to the households glue, Hal Simon.  Hal is a Cultural Anthropologist by education, a state museum’s curator by profession and a collector of artists by nature.  This amazing household of artists grew up around him. 

 

dyaelkelley.com

 

Shaking the Rainstick

Shaking the Rain Stick, 2015, oil on canvas, 16"x 20" (copyright D YaeL Kelley)

Shaking the Rain Stick, 2015, oil on canvas, 16"x 20" (copyright D YaeL Kelley)

To encourage the rain small frog shaped stones are buried at the lake. And as the rains fell a large puddle would form just outside our barn.  First eggs, then tadpoles and just before the mud puddle was dry - Frogs! And so it went spring after spring when I was young.  A gift of a beautiful piece of Varascite reminded me of those frogs.  I tried to capture the connections between the cycle of the seasons and the cycle of life.

I have been thinking about how to begin this blog all day.  How to release the energy? How to put into words what I see in color and form. It was this painting and all the emotions connected to it that kept spiraling around in my brain.

Embracing the Stillmore, 2016, oil and gold leaf on canvas 22"x 28" (copyright D YaeL Kelley)

Embracing the Stillmore, 2016, oil and gold leaf on canvas 22"x 28" (copyright D YaeL Kelley)

 I have been fascinated with the spiral over the last few years.  It has become the form that inhabits my work, subconscious and dreams.  The  connections of life, to people, to memory, to the earth, the sky, to our children and to our parents and grandparents spiraling down a shared strand of DNA. That is my inner world. 

It is currently what I am painting about and how I am connecting in the community. 

I would like to explore several things through this blog over the next months until December arrives. 

 My current project-  I am collaborating with several artists, all women, which in the current political climate feels very relevant. We are fusing visual arts with performance, exhibition with installation through a shared community memory experience connecting us with our grandmother and mothers as we entered their lives and they left ours. Speaking from our DNA.

My current process  - Which I like to say is  painting like a crazy person, looking for patterns and connections.  I am Seeking the Still Point Silence. I am listening to inner voices, searching for that perfect pure color, that exact line, the precise curve, stroke, movement of the brush. 
I have intentionally abandon traditional methods to search for what is beyond the lights. I am following the Hummingbird, conversing with the Mockingbird. 

And the journey has just begun...

www.dyaelkelley.com

 

D Yael Kelley

I live and work from my home studio in the Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood, St. Petersburg Florida. Drawing from an early age, I sold my first works at 14. It is my eclectic heritage; a colonial family with Cherokee, Scots Irish, German, Jewish and Quaker ancestry that strongly influence my current work and fuel my insatiable curiosity about life in general. Born in Ohio and growing up in Florida, I have lived in England, Arizona and Texas. While living in England, I attended Suffolk College of Art and Design situated in an old Victorian group of buildings that stimulated my imagination and artistic passions. The arts have been a lifelong focus with over 40 years as a professional painter and arts advocate. I have worked in the visual arts, museums and in the theatre. I was honored to be an Artist in Residence at both the Center for Contemporary Arts in Abilene, and at Diamond Art in Dallas, Texas. Serving as the vice-president of the Texas Visual Arts Association and working as certified instructor and demonstration artist for several major arts material manufactures that include Crayola Crayons, Winsor and Newton, and Daler Rowney. I have enjoyed many solo shows and group exhibitions throughout my career. I returned home to Florida after a 26 year absence in 2005 and worked with St. Petersburg City Theatre as its Executive Director. For a while, the theatre took me away from fine art painting although I painted sets and I continued serving on many arts related committees including the City of St Petersburg Arts Advisory committee. In 2014 I returned to painting full time and I am represented in St. Petersburg by Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery. My paintings are in collections throughout the United States, in Central America and abroad and I am currently a board member of the St. Pete Arts Alliance.

After years of working as a portrait and landscape artist my current work intentionally abandons more traditional methods for an expressionist approach to interpreting nature. I am seeking the Still Point Silence, listening to inner voices, searching for that perfect pure color, exact line, precise curve, stroke, movement of the brush. What do I want from my work? I want to stand across the room and see truth looking back from the canvas.

Anticipated Activities –

This grant will help fund activities associated with preparing for an upcoming art show. The show concept seeks to create an opportunity to work with other women artists of different disciplines in a collaborative manner to engage, create and remark on our journeys with our grandmothers and mothers as we entered their lives and they left ours.

Over the next 9 months I will create 12 paintings ranging in size 30” x 40” to 36” x 60” that explore this concept. I will use the grant funds to purchase lighting, painting supplies, canvas, and framing. 

www.dyaelkelley.com