By Bonnie Stevens, FBN
See the full article here, or read it below…
Good luck will come to those who are prepared to greet it,” foretells the Trader Joe’s greeting card decorated with Chinese takeout boxes and fortune cookies. And, like her design predicts, artist Kellie Day has prepared for this moment, as aspiring artists are reaching out to her, now more than ever, to help them break open the fortune cookies of their long-buried dreams and paint their own bright futures.
Day works in mixed media and has no hesitation when it comes to tearing up poetry books, romance novels or music sheets, clipping logos from to-go boxes, assigning unicorn horns to wild horses, or adding purple spray paint to wintering elk grazing in the southern-most valleys of the Rocky Mountains. She is not so much a rule breaker as she is an artist who is happiest venturing outside the lines and inviting material of all sorts onto her canvas to coax beauty, contemplation and joy from fragmented pieces of the world around her.
And, that’s what she’s doing with the previously hidden talent of artists to be, mostly women in their 50s and 60s, who have heard their creative calling outshout the cacophony of the pandemic. From the chaos and uncertainty of the times, she is helping women restore order and reconnect with themselves, guiding them to a place that makes sense, beauty and money out of the layers of their lives.
Through her eight-week “Transform Your Art” mentoring program, Day has not only inspired, but sparked a movement of sorts. Women who are craving a life of creativity are signing up to push against their self-imposed boundaries, seek their authentic selves and allow their artist voice to be heard and celebrated.
Like her artwork, her live, virtual course is a carefully crafted blend – part technical instruction, part individualized training, part group feedback and part motivational coaching.
Art students give glowing testimonials about Day’s program and how they’ve found artistic success through her guidance. “So grateful that one year ago I began this journey with this group!” wrote Bev. “Just sold three paintings this week and moving to our new home this weekend so I can settle into my new art studio and paint again soon!”
Day encourages her students to throw out all their traditional ideas about art and how to be an artist. “You don’t have to have a formal art degree, and the art gallery of the past is gone,” she said. “Being an artist is not just about learning technique, like learning how to be a car mechanic. It is a holistic thing that involves your whole being – owning up to being that creative person you’re meant to be, believing in ourselves and getting over self-doubt. That’s the foundation and then we combine that with tools that make it easy and fun to start painting. So, it’s coupling the whole being with practical tools that helps make art and create professional quality paintings.”
Through “Transform Your Art,” Day says women are brushing through their insecurities and getting compensated at the level that their art deserves. “I just sold my first painting!!” wrote Errin. “And I was shocked when I courageously stated the price and they didn’t even bat an eye.”
Day’s art students speak of gaining great insight with renewed artistic strength, conquering insecurities with self-love and playfulness and learning how to trust their intuition and feed their soul.
“I joined this program because I finally needed to focus on myself. For most of my married life, I put everyone else’s needs before my own. This year, I finally made the decision to do something for me to break out of the box I put myself in. I am also proud of myself for taking the plunge and enrolling with Kellie,” wrote Kathe.
“I am most struck by the transformation these women report,” said Day. “One minute they don’t have the confidence to show anyone their art, six weeks later they are being featured in a gallery or commissioned for paintings or having an art show and building a studio!”
Many, like Nathalie Gosselin, call Day’s influence “life changing.” Gosselin is an international software project manager whose world took a sharp turn when she saw a Facebook ad for the art mentoring program.
“I can say I would not have become the artist that I am without Kellie. She was a really important person on my artistic path, and I will always be grateful for the support she gave me to go ahead and express myself as an artist and invest in myself,” said the French Canadian, who lives near Quebec City. “As women, when we start to do something for ourselves, we do not want to take up too much space – maybe just a small desk and a small cupboard. Now, I’m taking the whole basement for my studio, which has many tables and easels. It’s so easy when you add everything you need to paint and create.”
Gosselin made space in her week as well, working just four days a week for the first time in her career and devoting a full day to her craft. “I never thought that at 50 years old I would have the courage to take one day a week, a workday, to work on my art.”
Since painting with Kellie in 2020, Nathalie has sold 14 paintings through her website, laliegalerie.ca. “I was with Kellie in the program during my first sale, an acrylic painting of a racoon, splashed with color. I was amazed someone was ready to pay $200!”
For Harriet Morton of South Carolina, it was the heart of her 7-year-old self who took second place in an art contest that led her to Day. “I’ve always been interested in mixed media. I saw Kellie’s advertisement and watched one of her workshops, which I never do, and immediately set up a call with her. We just clicked and everything fell into place to take her program. I knew I needed some sort of support, but not an art class. I needed someone to give me a good kick in the heinie. She does that in a gentle way.”
For years, Morton operated an equestrian facility where she boarded and trained horses. Now, she paints them, along with dogs, birds and endangered species. This month, she is moving into a new home with a large studio. This summer, she will have her first gallery showing, scheduled at her alma mater, Erskine College.
“Kellie helped me find my style,” said Morton, whose work can be viewed at Harrietbmorton.com. “I would have never created these pieces. I would not have created any of this. It makes me tear up. I grew up in a family where you didn’t talk about yourself. With Kellie’s help, I pushed through and am able to say good things about my work and myself as an artist.”
Inspired by her artist mom, Day has been recognized for her talent since she was a child, winning art contests in grade school, including a drawing of an OREO in 8th grade, and ribbons in high school. Her need to reach beyond the boundaries spoke loudly to her while working in a cramped cubicle as a graphic designer for a fiberglass manufacturing company in the small Midwestern town of Joliet, Illinois.
“I was fresh out of college and suffocating in an office environment,” she said. Day’s path to expanded horizons came in the form of a magazine ad about wide-open spaces and expansive red rock monuments. The Forest Service was looking for a volunteer wilderness ranger for six months in the coveted Sedona Ranger District. Her housing would be provided and the job promised travel and adventure. Her savings would cover the rest and this, she decided, was the investment she was willing to make to change her life.
On patrol in the red rocks, Day’s adventurous spirit soared. Along hiking trails, she connected with members of Northern Arizona’s art community and found work in Flagstaff with Pilkington Advertising Design. Her love for nature and need to explore took her to Alaska as a mountain guide and surveyor. Then, to Ouray, Colorado, as an ice climber.
At age 40, she began to call herself an artist. Her paintings reflect nature, the outdoors and wildlife. Her style, values and personality have aligned with large national brands, like North Face and Trader Joe’s.
Flagstaff-based Kahtoola, maker of MICROspikes, hired Day to create artwork for the outdoor traction footwear company’s annual Kahtoola Uphill fundraising event, which supports Camp Colton and introduces children to the outdoors. By ripping up and repurposing outdated Kahtoola brochures, she portrayed a stunning scene of hikers ascending the San Francisco Peaks.
Day’s artwork also adorns the walls of restaurants like Karma Sushi in Flagstaff as well as fine art galleries across the Southwest, including the 610 Gallery in Ridgway Colorado, and the popular restaurant/gallery La Cocina de Luz in Telluride, Colorado.
Karen, a recent student of Day’s art mentoring program, states what many women are feeling. “During these times, our world needs all the creativity and beauty it can get. My art is my gift to the world.”
Day’s hope is to help others deliver that gift. Along with her “Transform Your Art” program, she currently is opening a DIY program and a cactus workshop this summer, along with the tutorials and videos on her blog. For more information, visit KellieDayArt.com.
The last time I used my superpower:
During a recent weekend workshop, it was brought to my attention that my role is as an instructor, but also as a muse for those who want to bring out their inner artist and creative flare. And that is my superpower.
Where I go for inspiration:
I call myself an “experiential artist.” I’m inspired by a great experience, like hiking or biking with friends or running on a trail through the aspens. The beauty of the day seeps into my brain until it comes out and has to be painted.
A book I recommend:
“A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson really resonates with me. I believe we are all here to lift the whole world up and we do that when we create good energy.
What I won’t settle for:
I refuse to live a mediocre life. I grew up moving around a lot, which probably nurtured my need for adventure. By continuously exploring, I’ve been able to evolve my art business and be very open to possibilities that are completely out of the norm.
My advice for beginning artists:
You have to be okay with watching yourself paint some ugly stuff for a while. The good stuff is coming if you keep going. FBN