Don't Look Too Fast

Good Advice for All Artists

By Charles David Kelley

PHILOMATH, Oregon – When Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin lived together in the south of France they had many arguments. It is said that in one of the arguments Vincent told Paul that his paintings are too flat. Gauguin responded, "You paint too fast." Van Gogh was furious and shouted, "You look too fast."

I think that most people look at great art too fast and thereby miss important and profound insights communicated by great artists. I love the background stories about specific pieces by thoughtful artists. I have learned so much. A couple of weeks ago I posted on Facebook a few words about Rembrandt’s painting of the Bible and the depth of his understanding of its unique nature and power.

I want to explore more stories about more amazing paintings. I have decided to blog and post about these from time to time. I will call these posts, “Don’t look too fast.”

I hope you will take a look…but not too fast!


7 Quotes About Great Art

Fascinating Thoughts by Great Thinkers

By Charles David Kelley

PHILOMATH, Oregon – Not only do I love the arts, I love thinking about art.  The depth of this topic cannot be measured.  Over the years, I have collected quotations from a wide variety of artists, writers and philosophers on all every aspect of art that I can imagine.  I don't admire everyone that I quote here, but their thoughts are profound.

"Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world." – Edward Hopper

"Great Art is Great because it inspired you greatly. If it didn't, no matter what the critics, the museums and the galleries say, it's not great art for you." – Yoko Ono

"All great art is the work of the whole living creature, body and soul, and chiefly of the soul." – John Ruskin

"Supreme serenity still remains the Ideal of great Art. The shapes and transitory forms of life are but stages toward this Ideal, which Christ's religion illuminates with His divine light." – Franz Liszt

"Great art picks up where nature ends." – Marc Chagall

"I love Claude Monet‘s paintings (especially the Water Lilies series). When you see a Monet, you don’t look at the paint. You look between the brushstrokes and beyond the oil paint and canvas. His style is intentionally exaggerated and obscured to elicit in the viewer an emotional feeling.  This is how great art works. It does something to your soul, makes you feel like you’re actually there for a moment — not because of how it looks, but because of how it makes you feel. The art isn’t there just to look good. It’s there to make an impression." – Jeff Goins

"I love what Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh and Jesus all said - that love is really the driving principle of the creative act. In fact, they would say that great art is always inspired by love." – Erwin McManus

First a Hobby … Then a Bridge

What Started as a Hobby Continues as a Bridge

By Charles David Kelley

PHILOMATH, Oregon – I painted my first painting in 2004.  This little video shows the process.  I got hooked on painting that day and have since tried to make a new painting every week. I haven’t always succeeded, but I painted more than 400.  Special thanks to Aleksejs Naumovs, former Rector of the Latvian Academy of Art.  He was my first teacher.  We have since painted together many times.

And I must extend special thanks to Kaspars Zarins, also a professor at the Art Academy, and my friend and painting mentor for many years.

When I decided to learn to paint, it was for personal joy and expression. I had no idea that the creation of art wields such great powers of personal healing and restoration.  I was surprised at how my pulse and breathing slowed and how I lost track of time.  These are the healing things that happen when we go on restorative vacations.

I also did not know how my new hobby would lead to profound conversations and numerous meaningful friendships, in several countries. Five years ago, the organization I lead, Bridge Builders International, began to bring Latvian and Estonian artists together every summer for purposes higher than their art.

Finally, I continue to see how every new opportunity not only fulfills the purposes of an event or activity, it opens doors for more important and influential interactions not only with artists, but also art catalysts and thought leaders.

Painting is so much more than dabbing color on canvas. Little did I know back in 2004 when I painted my first painting that this interest would open so many doors and influence so many people.

Again, have fun watching this video.


Every Painting has a Story

PHILOMATH, Oregon – Picasso once said, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” If he were alive today he would keep a website.

The idea of ‘diary-keeping’ is one reason I have created this site.  Every painting has a story.  They remind me of the times, places, people, thoughts and emotions I experienced when the pictures were created.

I have played the piano since 1960 and through the years I have learned to play and love different genres of music. I love various styles of playing, depending on my frame of mind or mood.

I approach painting the same way.  I love perusing great art museums where I am inspired by amazing masters.  I love to pour over my numerous illustrated books about the life and works of about 100 artists.  These artists continue to influence my style prompting me to try new things. Hence, my paintings do not all feel the same.  I like that.

Most of the paintings displayed here are for sale.  But many already live in their new private collections in Europe and the US.  I include them because they are still important to me, and they trace my journey as a painter. Kind of like a diary.


Announcing My New Website

HELSINKI, Finland – I am pleased to announce that I am finally ready to reveal my new artist’s website.  Apart from the professional help of Maris Prindulis I couldn’t have done it.  He helped me think through my purpose, strategy, design and a thousand other relevant matters.

Having started at age 50, I have been painting for about 13 years. Over the years, as all artists must do, I have a developed a certain “voice” that characterizes my work.

I adore color – vibrant color.  It simply speaks to me…and, perhaps, through me.  I have noticed that blue is my favorite color.  I’ve always thought so, but after 400 paintings, any trace of doubt has been removed.  I love all kinds of blues including turquoise and dark green blue and the deepest of blues that live in shadows.

I’m a “Big Picture” kind of guy.  I know details are important but when I focus on them the overall impact is diminished or even destroyed.  This doesn’t only apply to my art, but to many areas of my life.  Of course, I can’t simply ignore them and survive!

I paint paintings, not objects or vistas; my paintings never look like photographs.  Before I began to study painting I believed that paintings were good or bad based on how closely they could be compared to a photo.  But I’ve since learned that photos can capture a certain concrete kind of reality.  My job is to capture feeling and attitude while considering that same object.

I never know if a painting is going to be successful.  For that matter, who determines whether or not it is successful? Through the years some pieces that I thought were losers sold quickly, while others remain ignored year after year.  Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but so is impact.

I love painting skylines. I supposed this love began when I first painted Riga’s skyline with Latvian master, Aleksejs Naumovs.  I watched and imitated him. And I loved the result.  So, I made another and gave it to my mother, and more and gave them to friends. Then people began to buy them and now, whenever I paint a Riga skyline it is snatched up quickly.

This website shows sections of skylines, of Latvia, Europe and America. I hope you enjoy. Perhaps you would like me to paint the skyline of where you live?

This site welcomes you into a variety of colorful paintings, including florals which I love painting, and still life works, which actually also can communicate life and vibrancy.

Perhaps you need a specific painting for a specific place, like your office, conference room, living room or bedroom.  Check out my Imagine section.  And if you already have one of my pieces in one of your rooms, send me a photo of it on your wall and I will feature it in this section.  Make sure to include yourself!

So, welcome to my artist site.  Pour a cup of coffee. Have a seat, peruse and enjoy. And, don’t hesitate to contact me.



Latvian-American Painter

RIGA, Latvia – I have lived a colorful life. I grew up in the downtown Los Angeles home of my mother and grandparents who fled Latvia in 1944. I received extensive piano training as a youth and have bachelor's and master's degrees in cultural anthropology and theology. My friends and family call me "Chuck."

My first vocation was that of a pastor. For 21 years, I served churches in California, Texas and Oregon.  All the while I continued to develop my musical skills as a pianist and songwriter.

When the Soviet Union began to implode in the mid 80’s, I started visiting Latvia, first to provide encouragement and assistance for relatives. In 1994, I founded Bridge Builders International (BBI), a charity that builds partnerships between the US and Latvia to multiple areas of Latvian society…educational, spiritual, economic, health care and leadership development.

In the summer of 2004, I developed a friendship with Aleksejs Naumovs, Rector of the Latvian Academy of Art. I shared a private dream to learn to paint and asked Aleks if it was possible for a 50-year-old who never studied art, had poor handwriting and didn’t know how to draw, to learn to paint? Naumovs said it was possible if that 50-year-old had the right master. “Last year I taught our Prime Minister to paint; this year I’ll teach you.”

I was thrilled.  Two months later I began to study with Naumovs. A few months later, I began to study with the renowned Latvian master, Kaspars Zarins, also a professor at the Latvian Art Academy.

Since I am a theologian, some ask me if I paints for religious purposes. I believe I was made in the image of God who is the author of creativity and beauty. When I use my creative gifts to make something beautiful, I believe that God is pleased. I want everything I do, including painting, to honor God. I don't have to paint religious themes to communicate the life, joy, creativity and beauty that God has given me. This means that I am free to embrace and express beauty any way I feel. This freedom is a gift from God.

Artistically, I have created more than 400 paintings since 1994 and have had numerous exhibitions in the USA, Latvia and Estonia.  My works are in private collections in many countries around the world.

I love bringing people together so it was natural for me to begin inviting artists to come together for relationship, professional and spiritual growth and strategic purposes in 2013.  This has led to the establishment of the Imago Dei Artist Network in Latvia and the annual imagiNATIONS Artist Festivals in both Latvia and Estonia every summer.

I also lead a network of European artists from 22 nations who meet annually in Poland at the European Leadership Forum.

I have been married to Nancy for 41 years. We have four grown children and nine grandchildren.

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The painting above is: Pearl of the Baltics by Charles David Kelley, © 2006.

12 Reasons to Buy

CAMBRIDGE, England – Welcome to my world of vibrant paintings of land, cities, and skylines.  I am glad you have chosen to visit me.  As you look through these pages I invite you to imagine how some of these works may look in your home or office.  It could well be that one of my creations can add beauty and joy to your life.

In Europe, most families enjoy original art.  But in the USA the masses are far too satisfied with copies. I used to share that satisfaction...or I settled for it. Here are but a dozen reasons why I believe every home and office would greatly benefit from hand-made, one-of-a kind art.

    1. Everyone needs beauty.  When surrounded with beauty our lives flourish. When we offer beauty to those we love we communicate to the deep recesses of their hearts.
    2. Every space needs to be interesting. Your home or office reflects your personality and values. If cluttered with this, that and everything, they betray your lack order. If blank, your walls scream “boring”.  But if adorned with attention-grabbing vibrancy, people stop in their tracks.
    3. Important rooms beg for life. I suppose one can live with the bland…neutral sofas, carpet and walls. Yet splashes of the vivacious color transform sterility into vitality. This same vitality prompts spontaneous conversations. The subjects talked about have no bounds.
    4. Fine art inspires us to see the world differently. We can get into the heads of artists and imagine what they were thinking when creating. Or we can make up our own stories that live in the boundaries of the pictures. We can tell these stories to our children and grandchildren.
    5. “Happy walls make happy people.” So declare gallery owners, Lisa Diamond Katz and Shira Wood. Good paintings not only cheer walls, but render entire rooms cheerier. When this ensues, you will deliberately choose to spend more discretionary time there.
    6. For many businesses, schools and churches, conference rooms appointed smartly with imaginative art provide the perfect context for serious meetings leading to impressive results.
    7. Expressive paintings in your office can really humanize the space. Such art gives it character and warmth, transforming this space into a relational environment. Good for business. 
    8. The center of human warmth in many abodes is the kitchen. That which adorns these walls can greatly contribute to this intimacy. 
    9. Perhaps no room in the home calls louder for original beauty than our bed rooms. The right art enhances the importance of rest and closeness.
    10. Families come together for meals, conversation and laughter in dining rooms.  Shouldn’t our art contribute to these positive things? Art can inspire meaningful thought and dialogue as adults and children alike engage in conversations deeper than the daily mundane. 
    11. Hanging pleasant prints is a good start, but they lack the ring of authenticity. Originals always trump copies. Handmade anything beats mass-produced any time. This needn’t continue for vibrant paintings are available.
    12. I don’t think investment should be the main incentive for buying original art, but it doesn't hurt when a piece purchased ten years ago has doubled or tripled in value. What a nice bonus in the art of art collecting!

I welcome you to my world of vibrant paintings.  Have fun perusing. 

Many paintings shown here have sold, yet many are still available…at reasonable prices. The painting above is: Expression Dallas by Charles David Kelley, © 2018

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