Feature Articles

March 2014

Carving Art Studio in Beaufort, NC, Features Works by Jo Ridge Kelley

Carving Art Studio in Beaufort, NC, will present an exhibit of works by Waynesville, NC, artist, Jo Ridge Kelly, on view from Mar. 1 - 31, 2014. A reception will be held on Mar. 1, from 6-8pm.

Kelley is well-known in the state and regional art community for her expressive plein air and studio landscapes and abstractions from nature. She has work in private and corporate collections all across the globe and has often been featured in American fine art magazines over the years.

The soft-edged, expressive paintings of Kelley are as much about emotional connection as they are about visual expression. Since childhood, growing up on a dairy farm in rural North Carolina, she has felt a deep-rooted bond with nature’s perennial beauty and power. Today, as a talented and accomplished artist, every stroke of Kelley’s paintbrush or palette knife is flowing with this lifelong passion as evidenced by the bold and powerful color harmonies and soothing organic textures.

“For me, painting is a way of sharing my love of the land, and hopefully conveying to viewers what it feels like to breathe in the sights, sounds and smells of a glorious landscape. I find making art a very emotional experience,” relates Kelley.

For Kelley, art is a means to express and share with viewers her innermost joy and gratitude for the myriad of forms and moods of the natural world, and also those emanating from the ever-restless topography of the human imagination. Her paintings are a convergence point at which the artist’s painterly interpretation meets a visual world colored by divine mystery.

Says Kelley, “When I begin a painting, I take inspiration from a beautiful light, color, form or texture and then continue working through observation. But the painting soon takes on life of its own. More often, I end up choosing exaggerated and unexpected color relationships and compositions that reflect my emotional response more so than what I’m seeing in front of me. I find it much more satisfying to be guided as much by my imagination and memory as my eyes.”

Kelley’s intimate connection with nature was nurtured by the day-to-day milieu of the dairy farm where she grew up. She was born in High Point, NC, and was raised in the Quaker tradition, living in the old home place of her grandparents which she shared with her parents and four siblings. Grabbing a sketchbook and sitting in a meadow or beside a creek, drawing trees, rocks and wildflowers, provided a respite from her daily chores. Art making offered Kelley an exciting creative outlet and brought her welcome praise from family, teachers and friends.

Kelley continued this artistic journey studying drawing and painting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, NC, and graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Arts. After college, she taught art at the high school level for several years and continues today to conduct annual private workshops.

After marrying photographer Ed Kelley, the two artists made their home in Waynesville and opened their own studio/gallery, Ridge Runner Naturals, showcasing their wildlife screen prints, original paintings and fine art photography. They also shared their gallery space with their daughter, a talented jewelry designer.

Kelley’s career reached a turning point in 2008 after spending a week-long mentorship in Canada with the En Plein Air Masters, working along side Kevin Macpherson, Kenn Backhaus and John Cosby, among others. This invaluable experience working with these contemporary Masters, has had a significant impact on Kelley’s work. Richer, more colorful grays, deep shadows and intense light are now expressed with a greater sense of confidence in her paintings. Painting in a bolder and more impactful manner, she enjoys experimenting with new color relationships and sometimes abstracted subject matter on ever-larger canvases. Kelley’s paintings, which can lean toward abstracted images with an expressionistic palette, evoke a rare combination of alluring calm and formidable power-characteristics shared by the landscapes which inspired them. She has gained momentum in her career and has now created a demand for her dramatic, moody landscapes and her vibrant “Water Dance” series.

For further information check our NC Commercial Gallery listings, call the Studio at 252/728-0243 or visit (www. cravingartstudio.com).

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