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David F. Kelley Falmouth Artist

The Cape Codder Posted Jul 21, 2008 @ 08:55 AM

Falmouth painter merges art and athletics
By Sarah Murphy

FALMOUTH - For most of his life, David Kelley has expressed himself through two passions: art and athletics. Kelley started drawing and painting as a child in New Haven, Conn., and his early artistic muses were the star players of the New York Rangers. "I was always creative," he said. "I used to spend hours drawing the players. One time I made my own hockey game out of sticks and painted it." Kelley played basketball and baseball, and felt just as comfortable in that environment as he did in the world of art.

"Playing sports helped me develop a sense of identity. My baseball career really blossomed when I was in high school. We always had scouts in our area because they were checking out the Yankees and the Dodgers," he said. "When I was 17, I was offered a contract to play outfield for the Cardinals." Kelley didn't think he was good enough to play professionally, so instead, he went to Providence College (turning down an athletic scholarship to Villanova), where his mother's cousin was the dean. He studied political science. He said he was never really encouraged to follow either of his passions as a profession. "Everyone told me I should get a job at the telephone company, in case there's another depression'" he said.

After college, he took a six-week course at Rhode Island School of Design, which was offered with the stipulation that if the participants passed, they'd be admitted to the school as sophomores. Kelley passed the course, and began studying graphic design and painting. The two subjects would define his career. Kelley used his art skills to gain entrance to his other favorite world, sports. He has worked on projects such as behind-the-scenes photography for sporting and special events, program cover illustration and arts projects for players and organizations. He worked for the Women's International Tennis Association, and in 1990, he designed the Women of Tennis annual calendar. "I knew my baseball skills had probably gone as far as they could and I think I always knew in the back of my mind I'd be an artist," he said.

Kelley also designed a personal holiday card for Martina Navratilova. Some of his other well-known clients include Virginia Slims, Houghton-Mifflin and Volvo. He also illustrates medical and scientific textbooks using Adobe Illustrator. As a fine artist, Kelley has recently focused on pastels, many of which are displayed in his Falmouth Heights gallery. "It's a medium that gives me more control than oil or watercolor because I'm not using a brush or palette knife," he said. He also likes to do portraits. "Something magical happens when you're doing faces and portraits," he said. "You tend to breathe more. It's very spiritual."

Now, Kelley is again combining his favorite passions. He is about to paint a baseball-themed still-life which he will sell to benefit the Cape Cod Baseball League. The winner of numerous awards, Kelley attributes his success to RISD. "Sometimes when doing graphic-design work, designing a cover or something, I'll think to myself, 'how would Picasso do it? And how can I approach it and make it my own?' I learned that kind of creative thinking at art school," he said. He said students of any field would benefit from an art course. "It teaches you how to create something out of nothing."

For more information and to see David Kelley's work, please visit www.davidkelleyoriginals.com.

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