Sunday, April 17, 2011

Kelly McRaven

My next visit was with Kelly McRaven in Williamsburg, I was lucky enough to have two sessions there. Kelly's studio is so satisfying. Maybe it's the array of colors on her palette or the many cans of brushes, or all of the paint tubes with their ends in the air. Most likely, though, it's just the wonderful paintings that inhabit her space.

Cluttered painting tables make the best still lifes. They all look so familiar, but are as different as each artist they belong to.

Kelly: Look at this one, I just bought it. Sometimes you just get tired of how small some brushes can be. 

McRaven is working on two large scale paintings and a set of smaller ones. Oil on canvas. She uses found imagery, magazines or random photos she finds. They act as a springboard to her melodically painted abstractions. She shuffled through to find the pictures that matched the paintings. They were all torn and stuck together with paint. She told me their stories. Sometimes she will paint the same image over and over again. A curiously obsessive act. By the 5th time, the guy in the painting below is looking very peculiar. A blur of the truth. He becomes a new, even weirder character then the one she started out with. I love that. Those multiples get me everytime.


Kelly: I picked this picture because of  it's symmetry or because of how much I like his hands. Look at his hands!

I was lucky enough to see her make a big move on one of her larger works, it was like observing an animal in the wild; when you get to see them doing something that you know they do, but could never imagine witnessing.

Kelly: I find that when I finally let go with a painting it gets a lot easier to paint it.

We talked about how hard it is to figure that out and how wonderful it is when you do. My time in McRaven's studio was perfect. She is one of my favorite painters to talk to and learn from. And the paintings themselves, dude, they are really fantastic.

Check McRaven's paintings out at

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