Chris O’Kelley

From Life: All New Oil Portraits by Chris O’Kelley

Opening Reception: First Friday, June 7, 2019 | 6 to 9  p.m.

Exhibit on View: June 4 through June 30, daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This show grew out of O’Kelley’s love for portraiture that was first developed in high school under his art teacher, Kandra Orr. She introduced him to life drawing and drawing portraits from life. “We used to draw whoever was sitting across from us in class,” says O’Kelley, “Even as a freshman I immediately developed a fondness for depicting people’s character and emotions.”

O’Kelley developed an appreciation for impressionist and modern portrait painters like Manet and Cezanne. As a student, he would often go to the National Gallery monthly so he could study how the greats put their paintings together. “I would stare deeply at the brushwork and color arrangements,” the artist says.

Local artists, Ed King and Bruce Day have also been very influential in his portrait work. The recently deceased Day’s legacy lives on through having given O’Kelley a deeper appreciation and gusto for working from life and O’Kelley worked closely with King while creating paintings for this show. Often times both artists worked from the same model and O’Kelley says King’s “practical as well as aesthetic contribution has been invaluable to me.” All of the paintings in this show are oil on either canvas or board.

CHRIS O’KELLEY is the current president of Art First Gallery in downtown Fredericksburg. He took formal art classes all through school and college in the Fredericksburg area. He received a Bachelors of Arts in Art History from the University of Mary Washington, where he continued to take Studio classes up until his last semester. In 2017, O’Kelley had a solo show of new abstract work at Art First and he has shown his art around Fredericksburg dating back to 2012.

ART FIRST GALLERY , located at 824 Caroline Street, is open daily from 11 am – 5 pm. Take this opportunity to enjoy the abundance of great art created by local Fredericksburg-area artists. In addition to this month’s featured artist, you’ll also find art displayed by more than twenty local artists and gallery members.