“Beauty is everywhere. Light and color and nature rain down as good gifts. My desire is to showcase this grace with celebratory brushstrokes, applauding all that is good and oh so lovely in our world.” — Kelly Pelfrey
In today’s interview we meet Kelly Pelfrey, South Carolina based artist and one of the newest artists to join the Shain Gallery. I recently had the opportunity to see Kelly’s beautiful paintings in person at the Shain Gallery (gallery hopping is the perfect rainy Saturday activity) and immediately reached out to see if Kelly would be willing to share an inside look into her artwork here on the blog. If you know me well, then you’ll know how excited I was when she said, “Yes!”
In this interview Kelly shares about how her native state inspires her, a sneak peek at the commissioned piece she recently finished, and what she enjoys most about working Sybil and the Gallery Girls at the Shain Gallery.
When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
I was VERY young. I won first place in a local art competition (for my age group) in my hometown when I was in kindergarten and it confirmed to myself and to my parents something that I already knew, creating art was a part of my identity. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love to draw or paint.
You graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2003 with a BA in Fine Arts. What was one of the greatest lessons you learned during your time there?
When I was 19, I lost my first son. He was stillborn at 24 weeks. God used an art project to heal my heart in so many ways. When I shared my project with my classmates, many including my teacher were in tears. I learned a lot about color, composition, design in college, but those things don’t compare to learning how creating Art can touch not only the recipient of a work of art but my own soul as well.
As a lifelong resident of South Carolina. What are some of the things that inspire you the most as an artist?
Oh! I am in love with the SC landscape. As a girl, I used to look out of my window on long car rides and stare at the farmland and how the sky and clouds would meet the treetops in the distance. Pecan orchards, daffodil fields, and oaks are hard to beat. But then when you see the marshlands and the beaches, it honestly makes me want to paint every time. My still life pieces are also inspired by my upbringing, here. There is something classic yet colorful about most Southern homes. When I see them, I think of some of the most wonderful and hospitable souls, whose homes smelled like fresh baked bread or a casserole ready to emerge from the oven.
Is there a particular or colors that you like to use in your paintings?
I love a good complimentary color pairing, like a blue-violet juxtaposed with a lemon yellow, or a deep teal with a coral or peach. And always blue. Blue is my favorite.
What is a typical day in the studio like?
Typically I wake early and get in an hour or so before my children wake up. Sometimes this time is used to tackle administrative tasks or shipping, but I do get two main painting sessions in the day. Four days a week, we have a babysitter come for 3 hours, and you better believe I paint, paint, paint, while she is here. I have a calendar which outlines when I’m working on my commissions or upcoming releases. I lay out my tubes of paint, set up my palette and dive in. During my children’s naptime, I paint once again!
I love the style of the interiors you capture in your paintings. Do you paint interiors from your own home, ones you’ve seen, or are they purely imaginary?
Great question. I have recreated scenes from designers who have granted me permission to use their images. I absolutely love following interior designers on Instagram. I have also created imaginary interiors as well, using a combination of inspiration and imagination. I love both!
Tell me about the piece that you are working on right now.
Well, today I’m finishing up a piece that is a commission for an interior designer of a vignette from her own home. I love how much ultramarine/royal blue is in this piece! It’s a large one 36×48” which is a delight!
Out of all of the pieces you’ve created, do you have a personal favorite?
This is so difficult. I have favorites (plural!). Three recent favorites would be “Radiant” from my Radiant Collection and “Flourish” and “Inheritance” from my Inheritance collection.
What has been the most rewarding part about teaching art to children?
When I used to overhear children light up with joy about creating a color for the first time, with paint! Man, that never got old. Or just seeing them truly delighting in the process, saying things like “This is the best day ever!” That’s what it’s all about. I absolutely love to see art bring joy.
Your work is currently featured at the Shain Gallery here in Charlotte, NC. What do you enjoy most about working with Sybil and her team?
Sybil and her team do an excellent job of connecting the Charlotte community with art. I love that they offer a wide variety of art in their gallery from abstract to highly representational and everything in between. It’s an honor to work with a gallery that has such a strong reputation for excellence. The other artists and work that they represent is just top notch. And as for the team on a personal level, they are all just so lovely, (very kind, very professional!).