Art, // March 22, 2015
Kelly Singleton – ARTIST
Interview with artist Kelly Singleton —
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am Kelly Singleton, a wildlife artist from Havre de Grace, Maryland.
2. Why art?
I feel compelled to share the beauty I find in nature through my art.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
I can’t ever remember not wanting to be an artist. I always knew.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
Wild animals and birds, primarily predators. While I’ve explored many media over the years, watercolor and oil have become my chosen mediums for conveying the creatures I adore.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
I make frequent trips into local and national parks of the western United States to observe and photograph wildlife. Fieldwork is essential for what I do. It’s important for me to observe animals in their natural habitats and to see their behaviors. These trips fuel inspiration for new work.
The typical painting for me usually begins one of two ways. It either starts with an initial spark of an idea which I will quickly put down in a scribbled thumbnail sketch. Then, I will pour through my reference photos to search for images to support my idea. Or, I will come across a reference image I’ve taken that I really like and I’ll start to play around with the composition and lighting effects in Adobe Photoshop. When I have come up with a pleasing composition, I begin the painting.
The paintings themselves never start the same way. Sometimes, I tone the panel, sometimes I don’t. Other times, I sketch the entire image out in detail with pencil and sometimes, I just start drawing with the paint itself. It just depends.
I use thinned oils to block in the piece. Then I go in layer after layer, refining and adding detail as I go. My paintings depending on their size and complexity can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.
While painting, I almost always listen to music. I love rock music (from classic to hard n’ heavy) so this is usually what’s blaring from my studio. Most people seem to find it strange that I can concentrate on painting while listening to some of the stuff I do, but it helps me get into a zone.
My dog Bodie, (a boxer) is my constant companion in the studio. He sleeps behind my easel while I work.
6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
Favorite artworks – way too numerous to mention, but one real favorite is “Working the Leavin’s” by Greg Beecham who is one of my favorite artists.
Favorite artists – again, way too many to mention, but here are the artists I find most inspiring: Greg Beecham, Thomas Quinn, Robert Bateman, Andrew Wyeth, Casey Baugh, Mort Solberg.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
When someone is touched by my work so much they have to buy it. There’s no higher compliment.
8. What do you like about your work?
Without a doubt, the absolute best part of being a wildlife painter is the fieldwork. I love spending time exploring the national parks in search of wildlife. I’ve seen some amazing animals, such as wolves, grizzlies, wild mustangs, and moose. It’s always a thrill for me to have these encounters.
9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Find a way to support yourself. Be willing to accept criticism. Be persistent. Develop a thick skin, because rejection is just a part of the art world. Don’t take it personally. Study your subject. Look, really look. Paint so good that you can’t be ignored. I’ve heard Greg Beecham says this several times and it always resonates with me.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Still painting. Still playing outside. I am hoping to make a big move around this timeframe…I‘d like to relocate to be near the Rocky Mountains and the wildlife there that inspires my work.