Tim Kelly Empowered by creative license, many plein-air artists like to move things around in their paintings, and even add or exclude elements. Tim Kelly, on the other hand, follows what he calls a “documentary approach” when working outdoors. “I don’t move a telephone pole here or there,” says the self-described purist. “I’m trying to get an accurate report of a scene to show I was there.&rldquo; For Kelly, who completes all his plein-air works from direct observation, the best part about this approach comes when someone instantly recognizes the location of a scene he has portrayed, whether it’s a landscape, lighthouse, boat dock, or back alley.
The Baltimore, MD, artist worked as a professional illustrator for many years before discovering a passion for plein-air painting just 10 years ago. Today he completes most of his plein-air work at juried events like Plein Air Easton, where last July he took home four top awards, including Artists’ Choice, for his portrayal of a stately old Victorian house titled THE QUEEN OF EASTON. In his studio, however, Kelly focuses almost exclusively on figurative works, many of which feature glammed-up burlesque performers from the Baltimore area who model for him in his studio and at the life-drawing sessions he attends. With these portraits, the artist takes a more experimental approach to design. “The thing about burlesque is that it’s all about expression,” says Kelly. ““Their costumes, the color, the glitter, the showiness—it’s just fun, like an ice cream sundae.”
Across all his works, Kelly wants his brushwork and mark-making to be visible. “I want my work to look real, but it’s fun to look at a painting when you can see the artist’s process,” he says. “How it’s painted is as important as what is painted.”