MuffinKelly_MuffinARtWhen did you first start painting?

In the summer of 2001 when I moved from Alabama to San Francisco.

Why did you start painting?

I actually just wanted something to go over my bed in my new place and couldn’t afford any art so I went to the art store and picked up a few things. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at first…a few Budweisers later… wahla, I’m an artist!

What was the first painting that you did?

This will have to be a two-part answer because the first painting that I did was for my sister when she received her masters from UNC. I did it as a gift and didn’t really consider it embarking on a massive art career. I just wanted her to know that I was proud of her.

My first real painting was titled “Stretch” from The Man Room Series. That was the painting that I did to go over my bed. A friend of mine came over and suggested that I sell it in an ArtSpan charity auction. Right… I just wanted something to go over my bed so why would I auction it off? All in all my arm was twisted and I handed it over to ArtSpan. They asked me what I wanted the bidding price to be and I said, “A hundred bucks.” Again, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It sold that night for $600! I couldn’t even bring myself to go to the auction so when they called me the next day I was in shock. I will never forget my conversation with the people from ArtSpan. They said, “Little girl from Alabama you are going to be an artist!” They asked me to enroll in Open Studios, which was three months away. I agreed and started painting like a mad woman. I guess there was a lot inside of me that wanted to get out because I haven’t stopped painting since…

Art is truly the greatest accident to ever happen to me.

What inspires you?

Ahh…mostly everything in life. I get inspired a lot by the dreams I have at night. Just watching two people walk down the street together and wondering how they know each other and what purpose they are serving in each other’s life also inspires me. I like the tiniest moments in life when I’m standing alone outside of a party and I can hear everyone laughing and talking from the inside. Being with my family and friends. Being amazed at what wonderful friends I have. Being honest. Being free to be me.

What is your favorite painting that you’ve done? Why?

Very very hard question to answer. I love them all. They are like my children. “Swallowed Hearts,” and “Finally Free” come to my mind a lot.

Though I guess I’d have to say that “Stifled” is the one piece that is personally very close to my heart. I was going through a very emotional time in my life where I had let go of my past. I was looking towards my future. And I was careless in between. I learned to find solid ground to stand on and I learned exactly who I was and what I was made of during that time. “Stifled” will always remind me of that special time in my life where I transitioned from what everyone wanted me to be and became myself. I came to the realization that I only get ONE life and I’m not going to let my life be dictated to me by people that want me to be something I’m not. In other words I found myself. I honestly didn’t even name the piece myself. My buddy, Hadleigh, came up with the word. It was brilliant, it fit, and “Stifled” was born.

What emotions do you go through while you’re working on a piece?

It really depends. Sometimes I’ll be all serious but most of the time I’m bouncy and dancing around with a smile on my face.

Where did you get the idea to attach a poem to each piece?

I would always write down what I was thinking while I was painting so I could attach those emotions with that specific painting and at that point in my life. I thought what I had written down might be of interest to someone that wanted to feel the raw emotions that I felt and to capture that moment along with me.

Who are some of your favorite artists and why?

All of them. Everyone on this planet is an artist in their own right. I can always find something enjoyable in what someone else has created or by someone simply being who they are.


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