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Sunday, January 9, 2011

An Interview With Kelly Riccetti

Besides being a very talented artist, Kelly Riccetti is also a fantastic photographer with a passion for birds! I'm convinced she has some magic spell she casts over them! Kelly has recently finished the 100 Paintings Challenge and we took some time to discuss the challenge and what she's learned over the last year about herself, about painting and where she's going next....

LF: Looking back over the last 12 months, what have you learned from completing 100 paintings?

KR: That quantity is sometimes more important than quality, and every painting you paint doesn't have to be a masterpiece. You have to make room for experimentation and mistakes, and you have to leave perfectionism behind. It is so freeing to just paint...not to paint for a reason. Before the challenge, every painting I did had a "reason." It was either a card for a friend or a gift. I rarely just painted to practice. It's so obvious...practicing is the only way you can get better and break through barriers, but it wasn't obvious to me!! Now it is...

The other thing I learned from the challenge was courage...courage to show inferior pieces to other people. Basically...you learn to quiet the ego so you can learn and grow.
© Kelly Riccetti
Poppies Meadowlark, Acrylic

LF: Painting 100 paintings in a year is truly a challenge—what made you decide to undertake the challenge? What did you expect or hope to achieve?

KR: I limited my 100 paintings to birds because I wanted to be able to paint them better. I'm always out photographing them and writing about them, but I wasn't able to draw or paint them quickly in the field. Since I had been away from painting for so long (almost 30 years), I needed to immerse myself in painting their physical form, their postures...their movements. I hoped to leave the challenge with the ability to accurately capture a bird's personality quickly. 

I've gained a lot of ground, and I'm so happy with the progress I've made. If I had not joined the challenge, I wouldn't
be as far along as I am, but I have so far to go, so I'm going to do the challenge again. Another 100 paintings in 2011. My goal is to do 100 paintings a year for five years. 500 paintings should get me back on track in the art world. The other day I told my mom I wasted so many years not painting--not letting all those paintings I could see in my head out. She
said, "Don't look at it that way. Just remember the past has led you to where you are now, and you're where you're supposed to be. Now don't stop painting!" My advice to any artist is take the challenge! It's the best thing you can you. Freedom to paint for painting's sake instead of for a reason will take you to the next level and let you live your art.

LF: Staying with a year long commitment, along with having an active family and work life is bound to cause some stress and occasional friction. How did you overcome obstacles and the stressors that might have easily derailed you? Any particular strategies you found helpful to keep you engaged with the challenge?

KR: Hahaha! This one makes me laugh. I'm pretty lucky. My husband and son are so easy going that nothing really bothers them, but I know one time they got a little irritated with me when I got a little behind in the challenge and had to work really hard to catch up. It was when I first started using acrylics, and I took over the kitchen with my paints and brushes and other art supplies. I spread newspapers everywhere because I didn't have an easel and needed a surface to paint on. Since I'm not very good at putting things away when I'm really busy, we went about a week without being able to eat in the kitchen (or do much of anything in there except open the fridge and microwave). I finally got a utility bucket to hold all the paints and supplies...and I also bought a handy little table-top easel so I don't have to spread newspaper all over the place. The sad part about the kitchen thing was I actually have an art room. I remember Rick saying, "Why aren't you using your art room?" I replied, "Ummm...there's more "life" down here so it's easier to paint, and...I can't move up there because it's a mess." (I'm sooooooo lucky I'm not dead.) From that I learned to set mini-goals and milestones--and stick
to the plan! 
© Kelly Riccetti

LF: What do you see as the biggest difference in the paintings/work you did at the beginning vs. the paintings/work of the
last few paintings?

KR: ...speed and freedom. My last painting is the largest I've ever painted at 18x24, yet I painted it in two sessions in just hours. The bird is convincing and I didn't even draw him on the canvas. I just "sketched" him in using raw sienna and a smallish paintbrush. At the beginning of the challenge it took me a long time to create a bird. It was almost a painstaking process to get the proportions correct. Now they come almost naturally. I'm glad you asked this question because I hadn't paid attention to how much easier it was to render my birds now!

LF: Kelly, what advice would you give to anyone who was thinking about starting the challenge today?

KR: ...without a doubt, do it! Don't think twice, just jump right in. A year from now you will be so glad you did it.
© Kelly Riccetti
Fishing Egret (Kelly's first attempt
at painting in public!)

LF: Any last thoughts you'd like to add?

KR: Don't be afraid to take on the 100 Painting Challenge. Doing it will wake the artist inside you up and will keep you from burying your talents in they everyday "busy-ness" of life. It will help you believe in yourself as
an artist... 

LF: Thank you, Kelly!

I am also pleased to tell you that we'll all get a chance to look over Kelly's shoulder as she goes for her next 100 painting in 2011! Please visit Kelly's blog to see some of her awesome photography.
© Kelly Riccetti
Raven, Acrylic


dora said...

This was a very inspiring interview with a wonderful artist. I am tempted to do this challenge myself after reading the post. Yikes! Congratulations and good luck on the next 100 paintings. I might be right behind you.

Teri C said...

CONGRATULATIONS KELLY!!!! I have watched your progress and so enjoyed all the beautiful birds you painted. You photo-ed birds are also a beauty to behold.

KUDOS to you for going another year. I will be so happy to watch you grow some more.

Elva Paulson said...

Congratulations Kelly! I'm especially impressed that you are going to jump right back in .... for those of you who are reading this, it just shows how important practice is and how much the challenge can help. If you are thinking about doing it-- go for it!

Mermaid's Palette said...

Congratulations, Kelly! I have a lot of paintings to go, but am enjoying the challenge!

Kelly said...

Thanks, Dora, Teri, Elva, Sheryl!!
Dora...go for it. You'll love it!!
Teri...I loved watching you as you flew through your 100!! Your cacti are always stunning.
Elva...you're almost there. I love all of your birds and wildlife scenes.
Sheryl...you've got a great start. I can't wait to see what comes.

Angel said...

Beautiful paintings !

Robin said...

She did a great job!