Acrylic and Oil on Canvas by UNC Asheville student Kelley Chamberlain


This exhibit is the culmination of Kelley Chamberlains' work toward a bachelor's degree in art.

The exhibit will be on display May 14 - May 30.

News Release

Artist's Statement

Painting is a form of self-exploration for an artist to gain insight into their own perspectives of their surroundings.  In creating my artwork, I enjoy certain methods and have visual preferences to the stylistic innate nature of painting.  Over time, I develop a system, which makes the entire experience of creating more enjoyable and satisfactory to me.  Learning about my vision and how I perceive and recreate shapes and colors, I choose to share images that I’ve captured photographically in an altered perspective through the artist’s eye of abstraction.  I’ve found myself drawn towards strong contrasting colorful busy compositions utilizing a horror vacui aesthetic.  My work is greatly influenced by Georgia O’Keefe’s soft abstractions of organic forms, and also contemporary artists Jane Abrams and Hilary Wilder’s ideas of compositional components as well as abstraction tactics. 

Through my journey, I have discovered my strong visual interest in soft organic forms, bright colors used unexpectedly to alter the mood and bring pulsating life to the subjects, and repeated shapes or patterning.  These conclusions lead me to start a series of paintings focusing on plant life.  Part of my artistic identity includes my possession and frequent use of a digital camera.  I photograph all sorts of interesting compositions I find in my environment, documenting visual experiences that I think I can make something better out of, or just feel that I need a record of.  I begin my paintings with a digital photograph, which I use to draw a plan based on reality to assist in the interaction between shapes, light, and space.  From a basic drawing and brightly colored under painting blocking in shapes with colors, I abandon the digital image and work primarily from the artistic flow of energy that comes from the act of creating artwork.  I consider contrasts in colors to define or embed forms, and consider the canvas to be something of a puzzle that I am responsible for both setting up and solving. Organization with the allowance of creativity creates this series of emotionally charged depictions of plant life.  Rather than being concerned with realistic depictions, I am painting an idea of my subject matter based on life experiences.

This series began with the two smaller dead leaf paintings, where I began experimenting with invented space around the subject to enhance the viewing experience to a higher level of vibrancy.  I began experimenting with both textured surfaces and different canvas sizes and formats to give myself challenges to overcome.  My palmetto diptych followed the leaves, where I was trying to stay within the realm of “leaves” but wanted to work with different shapes to attempt achieving a more narrowed focus than just leaves.  With that idea in mind, I began focusing on invasive species of plants specifically because their sprawling and luscious nature appealed to my aesthetic preferences.  In my attempt of invasive species portrayals, I painted the first Ivy painting followed by the bamboo painting.  These works have a greater sense of depth and allude to the idea of landscape and setting.  I chose to abandon this tendency because it was taking away from the subject itself, I returned to ideas of larger than life subjects with a shallow mysterious depth of field with greater abstraction regarding the negative space.  From the lessons I learned in these paintings about myself and in studying works by O’Keeffe, I painted my green garden leaf painting.  The under painting of acrylic on this painting was beautiful in itself, and upon positive criticism from multiple sources, I chose to integrate the “unfinished” bluer areas into the finished product.  This lead to a transitional element that gave greater depth to subject than I originally intended.  From there I pushed the notion of working in large scale formats and left layers of paint exposed and unfinished strategically in my Monster Leaf painting.  My second Ivy piece followed as an experiment in format and surface material, switching from canvas to paper.  The most recent piece are the Rainbow Leaves where I readdressed successful aspects from nearly all of my paintings along with an exploration of an experimental color palette as I strive for more sophisticated color combinations.  In the future I plan on continuing this journey of self identity within the context of creating artwork, possibly exploring new subject matter in an attempt to find the binding power of the artist’s stylistic identity. 

- Kelley Chamberlain







Updated 10 May 2010. Comments to the Library Web Team.

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