Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Personal work: Busyness and Inspiration

I don't like talking about the meanings behind my artwork. I love it whenever people look at my drawings and start describing the story and what the characters are saying, and I don't want to get in the way of that. However, I also really like hearing about the meanings behind other people's artwork. Sometimes I'm not sure whether people would get more out of my artwork if I describe why I drew it or if it's best to let them imagine their own meanings.

I'm probably overthinking this.

I created this for a call for entries at the Land Gallery here in Portland. The theme is "work + play." I pondered this theme, and started thinking about the challenges of doing creative work as a career. The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is to keep the creative spark alive while also meeting deadlines. While struggling with less-than-awesome material. While waiting for that overdue paycheck to show up. While wondering if I'm going to have work next month. While viewing the work of other artists who are more successful and talented than I.

I wanted to illustrate that tension by representing inspiration as a fragile butterfly, and busyness as a cascade of everyday objects - things that represent time, money, distractions and responsibilities. (The Imogen Heap lyric "the many windswept yellow stickies of my mind" kept coming to mind.) Brightness and stillness in the center, darkness and movement in the outside. Magic sparkles for good measure.

I set up a light source and took some reference photos.

Inspiration has to be guarded and protected, so I wanted the composition and colors to have a womb-like feel to them. Why does the girl have pink hair?...I don't know. I like pink hair.

This is more conceptual than my usual stuff. I hope someone out there can relate to it.

You can buy prints of this illustration at my inprnt shop.


  1. Kelly! This is beautiful! I love it! The expression on her face is fantastic; even before i started reading the "story" behind it I could feel this moment of tension mixed with wonder and joy. Really excellent! Awesome job!

  2. And I am so sorry I just spelled your name wrong, KELLEY! I do know better! :(

    1. Lol, it's ok Sara! In my Spectrum wrap-up post I spelled your name with an "h" so we're even. :)

  3. Definitely one of my favorites of yours, I love her hair

  4. Great illustration! I think you really did capture the overwhelming nature of work all around and the fragility of that "spark". Love it, Kelley!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your process, and the beautiful outcome!

  6. Beautiful beautiful beautiful… Thanks for sharing.

  7. Wow, this is an amazing piece! Wonderful concept and execution. It really speaks to me - this is exactly how I feel - constantly trying to hold on to that still place where inspiration comes from, in the middle of the flurry of "real life." Also, her expression is perfect. Thank you for sharing this!


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