“I have only a desire to paint what is my own – wholly and completely from within – along with the offerings of the earth and her daily miracles of color and light. When I begin a painting, I take inspiration from a beautiful light, color, form or texture and then continue working through observation. But the painting soon takes on life of its own. More often, I end up choosing exaggerated and unexpected color relationships and compositions that reflect my emotional response more so than what I’m seeing in front of me. I find it much more satisfying to be guided as much by my imagination and memory as my eyes.”
About the Artist
Jo Ridge Kelley is a contemporary plein air impressionist painter and lives and works in Waynesville and Asheville, North Carolina.
Her work is continually influenced by her traditional background and the “plein air” experience, setting up her easel and capturing the immediate mood or drama of the moment. Many of the classical masters, as well as contemporary master plein air painters, have had a strong impact on her work. Jo’s curiosity, sincere appreciation of the natural world and desire to experiment with strong composition and design, have led her on an exciting journey with huge canvases and large brushes.
“I feel it is essential for the artist to experiment and try new techniques. This is how we grow, and let’s hope we never stop growing! I enjoy going back and forth between mediums, especially when creating small studies. The exciting colors and textures that many times happen accidentally during this exploration process, are invaluable to the creation of larger works. The looseness and spontaneity of watercolor provide tremendous inspiration for my oil paintings. I am not interested in describing every detail, I want the viewer to feel like they are walking right into the scene, participating in the moment, feeling and experiencing all that their imagination will allow.”
Jo Ridge Kelley was born in High Point, North Carolina, and raised on a dairy farm in the Quaker tradition. Surrounded by colorful hills and meadows, creeks and ponds, there was a bountiful natural world just outside the screen door. Jo escaped the household chores whenever she could to head across the pasture to sit by the creek and observe nature firsthand, many times sketching in her sketchbook. As a teenager, she studied painting with an excellent local landscape oil painter. She began painting on a regular basis and sold her first paintings. Jo attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she earned a degree in fine arts and art education. She taught drawing and painting at the high school level for several years and continues to teach painting workshops in oils and watercolors from her Waynesville studio and en plein air (out in the open air). Her work has been featured in several regional and national publications, including American Art Collector magazine.
The original paintings by Jo Ridge Kelley are held in private and corporate collections throughout the country and across the globe. She enjoys creating large commissioned paintings of our mountain landscape, waterfalls, lily ponds and coastal scenes. She recently completed a huge canvas in oils of Whitewater Falls (72″ x 40″), for a new home on Balsam Mountain Preserve. A large horizontal painting of Cold Mountain (18″ x 72″), just off the easel, will also grace the walls of this elegant rustic home. “This is what I love to do and feel very passionate about” says Jo. “Bring the beauty and energy of nature inside, where you can feel the essence of the place, beside the water or sitting on a mountain top drinking in the inspiration. I want to share the joy of my experience being out there! My paintings tend to make people happy and give them peace…and that is a good thing. For me, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
Jo lives in Waynesville with her artist husband, Ed Kelley, and their two amazing studio dogs.