by Nola Kelsey
Some artist’s stories simply cannot be separated from one another or the canvas would be blank. I am not an overly emotional being. Not self-analytical, nor prone to spontaneous outbreaks of poetry, as many creative spirits appear to be. That was my mother, artist/poet/teacher, Avonelle Kelsey (1931-2009), a diverse, unstoppable force in the San Diego area art scene for nearly three decades. Born to create, Mom lived life in full color. Much to her dismay, I was born fully dressed in dull beige Zoo Keeper garb – all Zoology, all the time. Life science was my true passion. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed great art, galleries, etc. After all, I was raised in her studios. But my life was 95% wildlife, 4.5% art and everything else (if there was anything else) blurred inconsequentially off to the sides. Such it was for 44 years. And then it happened.
Upon Avonelle’s death, I became responsible for an astronomical amount of artwork. I also had a significantly pesky oath. In her final years, Mom repeatedly made me swear to protect her creations. Along with that responsibility, I had inadvertently become the keeper of her creative legacy. Shit! This was not zoology. Yet, it was evolution. She finally got me.
My transformation from science fanatic to artist obsessive was startlingly was fast. A year long art sale began with a growing intimacy to each of Mom’s paintings during multiple photo sessions. Sculpture were matched to her written works and/or paintings. Questions were researched for collectors. So much packing and shipping. Lastly there was the book. That sneaky, buggery book. I was already an author. Years earlier my inability to play well with others had taken me from working with animals to writing about them, mostly in the form of educating travelers about animals within the pages of detail-heavy travel guides focused on global volunteer programs. But then came Mom’s book.
Working with all those images of paintings it hit me like a ton of clay. The formatting, creating of marketing materials, cover design–that was what I loved about writing books. I produced travel guides so efficiently because I was anticipating getting to the next cover design. Good news, I actually hated writing! Bam! I was back in college studying Graphic Design within a month. Three years later, I can’t imagine not creating every day. As an artist I admittedly am a fledgling, still learning, still growing. I am also still 4.5% zoologist, communicating messages about nature and animals, care and conservation, but I have evolved to do so visually – much to my own dismay.
Nola Lee Kelsey is an American-born Digital Artist living in Southern Thailand. In addition to creating and selling prints from her own artwork, Nola also has a wide range of online shops where her digital images, and her late mother’s fine art paintings, are used to create a wide variety of uniquely artistic merchandise.
Nola Lee Kelsey Gallery: http://www.NolaKelsey.com
Avonelle Kelsey Gallery: http://www.AvonelleKelsey.com