Rick Kelley’s wildlife and Patriotic art is a visual journal of his life’s travels, experiences and adventures; Every creation evokes a fond memory of the wildlife Rick admires, preserves, and respects. Rick’s approach is to capture the emotion in each animal, whether it is the serenity of sea life, the majesty of the bald eagle or the mystery of the gray wolf. These visions and strong emotions coupled with Kelley’s scientifically and proportionately correct images have made him a nationally recognized and critically acclaimed wildlife artist.
Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Kelley’s journey of becoming an artist began at the young age of ten when his love for nature and intuitive creative insight began to evolve. Moving around quite often due to his fathers’ job with the railroad, he found himself living in Montana on more than one occasion. While there,he was greatly inspired by the late Western artist, C.M. Russell, his use of color and storytelling technique were intriguing to young Kelley.
kelley was recognized more than once during his school days for his incredible talent at a young age. In his junior year he was selected by the governor as one of “the best 100 artists” in the state of Minnesota. Additionally, he was awarded a scholarship to attend a program at the Museum of Arts. These early recognitions would prove to be just the beginning of future awards that followed over the years. After high school, Kelley began studying at Eastern Montana University, and with the support of the head Art Professor, he was ready for the next step in fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a full-time professional artist.He began publishing his own work in 1981 and continues to this day with Kelley Fine Arts, Inc. With pieces being requested by former presidents, dignitaries and public figures. An Avid outdoorsman and naturalist, Kelley donates much of his artwork to many conservations fund-raising efforts and other charitable organizations. Through multiple organizations, he has helped raise millions in funding to protect and preserve our natural habitat and wildlife. “It is an honor to have my artwork supporting something I am incredibly passionate about” says the artist regarding his contributions.
Kelley’s passion for embracing wildlife conservation was highlighted during Operation Breakthrough, the whale rescue near Barrow, Alaska. In October 1988 three California gray whales were discovered trapped in the ice. Wildlife management biologists and with assistance from the North Slope Borough and citizens of Barrow undertook the task to free the whales from this ice prison. Soon the rescue effort elicited the support of numerous state and federal agencies. Environmental groups and oil industry representatives offered assistance as world attention turned to the trapped whales. The rescue attempt became an international effort when a Soviet ice breaker was called upon to open the ice completely giving the whales their freedom. Kelley was contacted to create a piece in support of the tragic incident and to raise money for the effort, “Gateway to freedom” pays tribute to the many involved in the rescue attempt.
In 1990, Kelley was selected with five other artists to visit Africa, where he would experience an entirely new scenery for his pieces. This three-week voyage allowed the artists to garner a vast amount of personal experience with the wildlife and natives, offering a plethora of photographs and creative material for future pieces. From that point forward, Kelley had a great love and respect for African Wildlife Art, and his collection reflects this passion. His ability to masterfully create an image that captures the true beauty, power and grace of his subject is partially owed to his travels. Firsthand experience gave him the opportunity to observe wildlife in a variety of settings and in its natural habitat.
Like all Americans, Kelley was devastated with the destruction and cruelty that was bestowed on our country during the tragic events of September 11, 2001. After the sorrow caused by these events, he knew he had to do something to help ease the pain our country was experiencing. Feeling compelled to help in some way, he created “On Freedom’s Wing” in attempts to bring comfort and unity to a country desperately needing that. “When I had finished painting the flag in the mountain…I knew I had truly created something special.”Upon completion of “On Freedom’s Wing,” Kelley donated $40,0000 to the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. Because of the attention from the piece, multiple news outlets reached out for interviews with the artist
In 2006, a desire for new adventures and a warmer climate took the artist and his family to Southwest Florida, where they currently reside. This move gave him adifferent perspective for his painting style as he discovered a new admiration for Sea life. Kelley has since expanded his portfolio to include a variety of native bird species, water life and ocean views.