Artist Spotlight: Contemporary Watercolor Artist, Kelly G Chelena

A note about the Artist Spotlight Series
Each month, I’ll spotlight one artist whose work I admire. Below, you’ll find an interview with the artist and links for purchasing their pieces. This is a commission-free endorsement. The intention of this showcase is to make good, custom, and fine art more accessible to the consumer.

This month, I’ve interviewed my favorite artist (and dear friend), Kelly G Chelena. Full disclosure: Kelly was my neighbor for a few years when my family lived in Western North Carolina. We lived in a small mountain town with a surplus of inspired artists. Kelly’s modern watercolor paintings were among the most admired by locals and tourists alike. And for good reason! Kelly’s paintings evoke an ethereal presence in nature. Her work can appear both frenzied and serene, all at once. She has an amazing design eye (her home is also stunning) and commanding control over her tools. Please enjoy!

Teri: I have a few questions for you. Some about art, some about life. First, let’s start with your art – You’ve described yourself as a process painter and your oils are defined and abstract, for sure. How do you glean satisfaction from hiding objects and text that the viewer will never see?

Kelly: One of the ideas most central in my work is that we must find beauty in the struggles of life. Making my work very personal is key to motivation.  Putting little abstract thoughts in my work is cathartic.  If a person seeing my work doesn’t see these elements or know their origin, they still may see beauty and that is a goal for me.

T: Oh, I love that. Like, beneath all of this beauty, there’s something beneath the surface you may never know about. 

photo courtesy of Kelly G Chelena
photo courtesy of Kelly G Chelena
courtesy of Kelly G Chelena
courtesy of Kelly G Chelena

T: This one is cliche, but definitely interesting to me. What inspires you?

K: I am inspired by nature, current events, and introspection.  

T: If you weren’t a painter, what other form of art would you like to master?

K: I think I would enjoy sculpting.  I enjoyed the few classes in college that I had.  A fun way to get dirty.

T: You are a tremendous cook. Truly, you can convince my family to eat things they would refuse to eat for me. Each of your dishes, even food as simple as a turkey salad or cucumber sandwiches, is layered in flavor and surprise. Given the complexities of your artwork, I’m prone to believe you are the most process-driven person I’ve ever met. That said, is there anything you allow yourself to just be lax about? (Mine are cooking and making the bed. Both of those activities are a real task for me and I see no reason to participate.)

K: Hate cleaning the house! 

T: Ha! I feel ya there! What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

K: I become bored with tv shows and don’t seem to make time for them- but do love college sports.  I’m a sucker for movies- that is my guilty pleasure.  I am all over the map- Merchant Ivory period films, Jurassic Park, bad boy films(Sideways and 50/50), 12 Years a Slave- I seriously like anything that is well done!

T: Who’s your favorite author?

K: Lots of love for books- Barbara Kingsolver, John Irving, Ann Patchett, and Jennifer Egan to name a few!

Thank you so much for your time, Kelly! I really appreciate that you let me harass you like this.

courtesy of Kelly G Chelena
courtesy of Kelly G Chelena
courtesy of Kelly G Chelena

If you’re inspired by Kelly’s work, you can contact her through the resources below:

Quick note: Trager Contemporary is in the process of moving and is offering FREE GROUND SHIPPING (within the Continental U.S. only) on Kelly’s and various other artists’ pieces.    

The Gallery at Flat Rock
Contact: Suzanne Camarata Ball                                

Contact: Kelly and Josiah Trager

Kelly G Chelena Fine Art
413 N Wall Street
Hendersonville, NC 28739

More examples of Kelly’s work can be found at:

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