BIG THINGS AHEAD: KELLY

September 2, 2010

portrait of kelly by howard cao

kelly tunstall comes into metier every so often to say hello, usually with adorable, squirming, blue-eyed baby brixton in tow. i’m always impressed by her sweetness and positive energy considering her busy artist/mom schedule. when she mentioned she was working on some new paintings for a show at giant robot in new york, i thought she would be a perfect candidate for BIG THINGS AHEAD.

the ladies in kelly’s paintings are long limbed, well-dressed, and always emanate a certain magical mysteriousness. painted with dainty strokes, opaque layers and delicate textures, each woman is intriguing, her giant eyes and mona-lisa-smile masking a rich history right beneath the surface. for this show, kelly employed snapshots of friends wearing necklaces as inspiration and painted portraits in her signature style. tracy and i were even included in the show!!

she’s also been working more with husband ferris plock, whose bolder lines and goofy characters add another narrative dimension to her portraits. together they create wacky worlds in which kelly’s wispy dames and ferris’ toothy dudes go on adventures and morph together into hybrid mermaids and monsters. but their greatest collaboration to date (in the “real world”) is baby brixton! it’s hard to be an artist and arguably harder to be a mom, but to do both and still maintain some kind of normalcy is really impressive. the whole family went to tokyo early this year for a show at ftc tokyo and both are in the upcoming fecal face 10 year anniversary show. big things are definitely ahead for kelly and clan, and we can’t wait to see what happens next in their world. out and about, indeed!!!

see more of kelly’s work here, ferris’ here, and their joint efforts here. and don’t miss kelly’s show at giant robot in new york, this friday, september 4th!

Name: kelly tunstall
Age: 30
Hometown: Tualatin, Oregon

Where are you right now? My studio/house

What do you do? I am an artist, designer, wife, mother, and daughter.

Where are you going? We’ll find out! But in the short term, New York.

What will you be doing when you get there? Showing my artwork at giant robot’s gallery. The work is focused on ladies that I like that I run into in daily life. Most with great necklaces. I think I am going to do a self portrait too.

How did you decide to go in this direction? I needed a show to think about after having our baby. I asked giant robot, and they obliged.

What led you to make this decision? Well, I was feeling a little –um- just lacking a sense of where I fit into the bigger picture. I just needed to place myself in a context.

Do you have any expectations? Mmm. Not really. Showing up and bringing great work. My work has always been about painting imagined archetypes or family stories or personal ones. This is just a small stretch from that. I hope to expand from whatever I do for this show wherever it takes me.

Are you excited? Nervous? Terrified? Thrilled? I’m at a crossroads of those things, but not terrified. I know everything will be ok. I’m more introspective than anything. I just took my son who is not a year old yet to my home town, to the house I grew up in and we spent a little time there. My mom has a bunch of my art from many different times in the house, so I couldn’t help but compare and contrast and see how far I’ve come but also how I started. So much support from my family and my husband, so I’m pretty humbled, but I feel good.

What are you looking forward to? Painting!

What are you scared of? Uh. See above.

What happens if it doesn’t work out? Failure is not an option. It’s just to what degree I succeed and whether I embarrass myself. I just don’t want to disappoint!

What is the worst thing that could happen? Nothing.

What is the best thing that could happen? I like leaving that one up to the future to decide. I just hope the pieces end up in good homes.

Did you ever think you’d be where you are now? Hm. No, I had an inkling I’d be at the very least a creative of some sort.

What did your friends say when you told them? I’m always doing stuff- but I think it’s been fun to share some of the progress with the ladies that I’ve chosen to paint. And I think I surprised a few…

Have you ever felt like this before? Nope. Every day is fresh. Looking forward to the next, not that that’s unusual but things keep unfolding and now I’m seeing the bigger patterns. I know I’m not that old, but I feel great about getting older. Things feel so rich. This series has helped me enjoy the beautiful things and people around me.

What are you leaving behind? I think Ferris and Brixton will stay at home.

What will you miss? See above.

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