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Kelly  Gilleran

Kelly Gilleran

Woodland Park, United States

Keepin' the Dream Alive!!!

After a my best month yet, I just wanted to take the time to say thank you to anyone who has purchased my work, followed my work, or even so much as looked at any of my works.

A little over a year ago I ran away from Connecticut to the beautiful foothills of the rockies in Colorado. Prior to running away I was working as an artist assistant for a fairly popular, commercially successful artist. For the most part, I was not an assistant, I was a ghost painter. For a year and a half I slowly became more and more jaded about the art world; that you could be critically successful or you could be financially successful, and in some cases you didn’t need to touch your own work to do so. It was decent money, but it made me hate myself and painting. It killed me that paintings I was making were selling for $20k+ when I was paid about $200 for them, and it killed me even more that someone else’s signature was at the bottom. It was demoralizing. To make matters worse the last thing I wanted to do after painting all day was come home and work on my paintings.

At the beginning of 2013 I quit my job. I stopped doing the large-scale high-concept resin paintings I was working on in college, because if I had learned anything under a contract of 200 paintings per year, it was that being prolific was nearly as important as being good. I would flip through the pages of my 50’s & 60’s National Geographics, look at the hand-painted advertisements and think about how I was born in the wrong era for my skill set in terms of employment. I thought about all those nameless artists and how I wished I could just have a job painting idealistic images; how if I was going to be nameless at least lots of people would see my work, and at least my work wouldn’t be listed under the name of someone else. The first food painting I had done was the “Cheeseburger” it was fun to paint and it got such a happy reaction out of people, I had also done a “Mouse Trap” painting that also got a good response because of the nostalgic quality, so I figured vintage-inspired idealistic food paintings would be a good start. I knew these paintings would be something that I could do lots of without getting bored, and something that people would innately respond to on some level.

After a two month hiatus and a hefty plan to run away to Colorado, my old boss begged and pleaded for me to return. I consented because he was going to be the one who would foot the bill for me to run away. When I went back I started incorporating food into his paintings, because frankly food is more fun to paint. Four months later his work was being praised as “his best yet” and I was on my way out of a place I had lived for 23 years. I was running away from all the people telling me what I “should be doing with my life.” I was running away from painting; painting was my way of controlling the world and it felt as though everyone had taken that away from me.

I started workin’ in a Casino as a dealer, which afforded me 3 days off. After a little painting hiatus, I missed it, and I began to work again. While it’s not ideal to work a day job, I’m happy that I’ve found something sustainable and I’m finally getting results from my labor. I feel like I’m getting a lot closer to people knowing my name, and, who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able to quit that day job.

So thanks for all your support everybody, you’re keepin’ me believing that this whole artist thing is possible!

Journal Comments

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