Archive for the ‘M-J Kelley’ Category

New painting: Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps (detail, gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

What would ever make anyone draw, let alone paint such a thing? Experiences.

Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps is about maintaining one’s goodness and humour in a toxic environment. How do we retain a level of childhood innocence when we are constantly barraged with the evils of the world? Bad events and bad people try to drive the innocence from us — sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. Creating illustrative images such as this one helps me to retain the sweetness of childhood.

This painting will be on display until February 13th at the Hangman Gallery (756 Queen St. E., Toronto). For more information on the show: Red Envelope Show: What’s Your Rabbit?

Don’t Anger the Snowman!

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I haven’t blogged the whole month of January. I have definitely blown past the “Happy New Year” window. Still I wish it to all.

I have many sane reasons as to why I haven’t written – but those aren’t very interesting. It would just be a hum drum list that you would have read by anyone telling you why they haven’t responded promptly to your email, etc. So I will forgo the list. Instead I will tell you that I have been busy employing one of my strengths to resolve a problem.

Adults don’t like to be told what to do. But, when they do something wrong – say like walking across a neighbour’s property to get to one’s home because it’s shorter than walking around the block – something needs to be done. The question is, how do you do it without creating a quagmire of messy neighbour relations? This is the problem I face with my neighbours. It may seem utterly minor in the scheme of the state of the world, but it bothers me.

Being one who dislikes telling adults what to do, I avoided saying anything by putting up a symbolic marker in the form of a burlap fence. Surely this would deter me if I saw it blocking my shortcut. But no, instead the interlopers walked on my fence. Yes, on it. There were snowy footprints actually on the burlap.

Against my better judgment I went a-callin’. I knocked on their door twice. No answer. I left returning with my problem and no solution.

Then I had a really great idea. It came to me when the snow fell that evening. It was packing snow! I went out and I built a huge snowman. Two eyes, carrot nose, charcoal mouth, stick arms, and a sign. Usually snowmen don’t come with signs. But mine did. It said, “Please don’t walk on our property. This will anger the snowman, and he has friends!” Truly, this was effective. I had the sign up for 5 days. Then I decided to take the sign down because I thought it was no longer necessary. How wrong I was! Last night, my neighbours cut across our property and in doing so broke my snowman’s right arm – which was his writing hand. Now the snowman is very angry. I have put in a plea for help to the ice trolls. It won’t be pretty when they show up.

I’m trying to resolve the annoying neighbour issue with humour, which is what I do with my artwork. Somehow, I believe that a humour coating will help the bitter pill of being told how to behave better will go down more easily.

I’ll keep you posted.

Moving the Art Studio

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

If I wasn’t an artist I really wouldn’t have very many belongings; a few clothes, a few books, things to cook with, and things to live in. But enter the art supplies. I am amazed as to how many brushes, tubes of paint, canvas, paper, sketchbooks, paintings, art books, etc. I have acquired over the years. I am taking stock because I am moving home and studio – again.

My running joke about the studio is that by the time I get it all set up, it is time to move. So I don’t like to unpack everything. It only sets in motion the wheels for repacking.

Though I have moved many times, I can honestly say that I find moving exciting. This time though, it’s the most exciting because I’m moving to the country. There are horses, cows, chickens, and a sow with six piglets on the drive into town. Our new home is beautiful. The yard has tall trees and a huge garden. My studio is four times the size of my current studio. It has lots of windows and quiet time to think. I greatly look forward to the peacefulness and the creative work that it will bring.

But first I must find more boxes…

An Artist’s Statement

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

As I walked down Bay Street the other day I glanced at a poster stapled to a pole. The poster was offering a workshop on “getting to know who you are.”  I didn’t think I paid it any attention but still I found myself asking, “Do I know who I am?”

Yes, I silently answered. And then began the long process of wondering why I do. I think the reason is because I am an artist. Being an artist requires that I articulate why I do what I do. And that very process once written down is called an Artist’s Statement. Every show, gallery, event, etc. asks for one when I submit my artwork.  They vary in length and detail depending upon who’s asking, so I have to know the very long and the very short of why I create, which is a daunting task at best.

To do that I have to ask myself more introspective questions about my likes and dislikes, and my behavior and conditioning. Though simple questions, sometimes the answers take a while to ferret out. But all this is to say that knowing one’s self is an evolution just like artwork I create – as it should be.

An Artist’s Fundraiser

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Beauty Flower and the Skull Mirror (gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

The Little Art Show is a local juried art auction offering original and limited edition works donated by established and emerging artists (and no bigger than 8” x 10”). Event proceeds fund the operations of the Artists’ Network, a dedicated member-driven not-for-profit with a mandate of supporting visual artists and their practice through a program of professional development, studio and exhibition opportunities. The Artists’ Network operates the Hang Man Gallery and the annual Riverdale Art Walk.

I have donated The Beauty Flower and the Skull Mirror to this auction. This work is an imaginative creation originating from a pencil drawing, and is part of a larger series on surreal landscapes that I create. This small piece is a contemporary “vanitas” piece, representing the transient nature of vanity but with a live for the moment flair that seemingly exists in today’s society. It is painted with gouache on recycled press board.

This event will take place at Saturday, November 13, 2010 at the Mercedes-Benz Downtown 761 Dundas St. E., Toronto (Dundas & River) from 7 – 11pm. For more information about the show: The Little Art Show.

Teaching Art

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Today I begin teaching at LucSculpture School & Studios. I will be teaching Art Portfolio and Cartooning, Comic Art and Sequential Storytelling.

Art Portfolio is a “one on one” class aimed at improving a student’s body of artwork for school submissions. Artistic portfolios should display “observational art” such as: landscapes, still-lifes, cityscapes, self-portrait and human form. It should also include work that speaks to your personal experiences and culture, and reflects your thoughts and concepts.

Cartooning, Comic Art and Sequential Storytelling is a seven week class series that focuses on the basic framework and components of cartoon and comic art. These will be put into play by learning how to tell and draw a story sequentially without the use of words.

I once taught a similar cartooning class at the Kansas City Art Institute. I am so looking forward to teaching it again!

The Dreamcatcher

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Dream Catcher (gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

I begin my paintings with full drawings. In the long run it makes my life a lot easier than trying to sort out tonal or structural issues on the canvas. What I found interesting about The Dreamcatcher was that I drew it with no real image in mind and no in-depth knowledge of what a dreamcatcher was – other than the basic premise. It just kind of came to life. So when I showed a friend of mine the drawing, she said, “what colour are you painting the feather?” I said that I didn’t know. “Well,” she continued, “it means something.” Oh, ok. So off I went in search of the meaning of the coloured feathers.

What I discovered was it wasn’t so much the colour of the feathers, but from whom the feather came. So if a dreamcatcher had crane feathers, then it represented wisdom and knowledge. Feathers from a dove represented the offer of love. Based on the design of the feathers in my drawing, I realized that I drew feathers similar to a hawk or an eagle. Both birds represent protection.

Then I continued my research. I found out that the size of the “sacred hoop” is the size of the dreamcatcher’s maker’s left hand. And sure enough my painting’s hoop is the size of my left hand. There are other iconographical symbols in the piece that were created by accident, but interesting to point out. These would be the seven spokes or Seven Sister (Pleiades) which is the nearest star cluster to Earth, a hole for the spirit guide, and the added fact that the feather is not tied in a downward fashion. A feather tied upside down is for children – so the good dreams slide gently into the child while they are sleeping. It strikes me that this dreamcatcher was intended for adults.

When I actually figured out that I was drawing a dreamcatcher, I asked myself what would happen if a dream was caught and what would or should one do with it once it was caught. I think the feather design solved the mystery for me. Protect it.

Silent Auction

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

The Band (gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

The Band is a gouache piece that I painted a few weeks ago. I created it specifically as a donation to a jazz and blues silent auction. The proceeds from the auction are to fund art exhibit display fixtures for the Collingwood Library.

Social Commentary

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

M-J Kelley Studio's Hood Ornament

I begin each morning with a blank page, a sharp pencil and a cup of coffee. I never know what I will be drawing. So imagine my suprise when this turned up. Hood Ornament is a new piece that makes a visual comment about the connection between the brown pelicans, automobiles, and the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

I am finding that the greater the social commentary, the greater the animation or cartooning of a piece. It seems easier to comment in this manner. I now understand political cartoonists all the more.

Riverdale Art Walk

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

The Riverdale Art Walk was a great event. For starters it didn’t rain on the event but rained around the event. So there were puddles present but no runny gouache paintings for which I was relieved.

I had many friends and family members attend the event to show their support. Even my great Aunt Betty at the age of 85 showed up to cheer me on. That you can’t beat. I was delighted to see everyone and I thank them for being so wonderfully supportive. They even visited other artists and spread their joy around.

I met many fantastic people. They were very engaged with my work and offered much commentary. For example I heard “sweet, but edgy” “whimsical” and “very unique”. I was also asked quite a bit if I was working on a children’s book because my work suited that format. Indeed I am – a sweet but edgy children’s book.