Born in 1970 in Anaheim, California, Kelley currently resides and practices her art in Denver, Colorado. She is a self-taught acrylic and mixed media painter. Her work is a reflection of a life spent creating. Kelley’s early years explored singing and stage. Later, that same creative energy merged into a unique floral design studio, and from there, visual merchandising, window displays, and personal styling. Today, Kelley is inspired by a need to connect with the world around her, to have a voice, and to find and share deep beauty. Compositions are driven by nature, emotion, transformation, simple observations, patterns, architecture, and erosion.

Please visit Kelley’s website to view more.

Meet Kelley James

1. Tell us a little about your work and artistic practice?
I am an abstract painter with a background in floral design and fashion. Currently, my work is mostly acrylic and various other media on canvas paper or wood. I have always had an inherent desire to create. To take what is old and make it new. To find and transform what has been tossed away. To bind together collected parts and pieces. To tear apart and put back together. Abstraction, for me, is a language that everyone can speak, and connection matters.

Right now I like to work in two different styles, both abstract. One is atmospheric landscapes that invoke the idea or feeling of a place. After some reflection, I start with a basic concept but don’t know exactly where I will end up. Eventually, the work finds a life of its own and there is synergy.  I don’t want these pieces to be obvious. I like them to feel different but also vaguely familiar to the viewer and of course open to interpretation. These are often inspired by nature, places I have been, imagined, or felt.

My other more non-objective style is an exploration of emotion, being human, and expressing a thought or feeling. I love navigating and solving the challenges and frustrations that inevitably emerge. I hope to invoke a feeling of connection through my work and I paint to find these connections, both within and outside myself.

Both styles are explorations of color and are usually heavily layered and textured.

2. How has your creative process been impacted or evolved during the pandemic?
My practice has become much more focused and exploratory. A big change for me was moving my studio out of my home and into a larger space. In doing so I have been able to paint much larger, experiment, and take more risks as an artist.  This has changed the way I paint.

3. Where do you find inspiration?
Of course, I’m inspired by music, poetry, and nature but also by the human condition and our internal response and connection to those things. Aesthetically, I endlessly love trees, repeating patterns, organic shapes, paper, and old maps from other artists. I could go on…

4. Do you have a favorite piece of art that someone else has created?
There are so many! But if I have to pick one I’ll go with Mark Bradford’s “Strawberry”. It’s hard to put his work into words but it really moves me. I am also totally obsessed with fiber artists like Sheila Hicks and Vanessa Barragao. Mind. Blown.

5. Tell us about one of YOUR pieces that you have been the proudest of?
 I am really proud of Sweetwater, it’s creation was a turning point for me creatively. I love the depth and mystery in it and I love the palette. It went through a lot of transitions and there was a lot of learning in that for me. Sweetwater was sold to a buyer in Cabo last fall.

6. Who are your biggest influences?
True vulnerability is a big driver for me and an essential part of the creative process.  My greatest teachers and influencers are those that show their true selves – in life and in their work. That’s where the magic happens.

See Kelley's Work

Stay Gold
Acrylic and Pencil on Canvas
22” x 28″

48” x 24″

Wild Blue
Acrylic, Paper and Mixed Media on Canvas
36” x 36″