D YaeL Kelley

Artist Statement

My grandmother was a storyteller. I like to say, I paint stories.

The stories I have to share are experienced through the impressions of color and form, but I hope the experience is like my Grandmother’s stories. They held my brother and me intent and captive, waiting for the next animal to appear, the next landscape to fully unfold before us. Her stories had many layers, twists and turns. It is the same in my paintings.

At first glance my paintings may look abstract, but they are not. I find my inspiration in stones like azurite and turquoise, in shells and in coral. I explore transcendence, inner journeys and earth connections. Working in oils, my method involves layer upon layer of thin glazes. I often start a painting with a basic form or animal shape. Once the initial idea is on canvas, I open myself to the painting allowing it to speak to me and guide me. It’s like having a conversation. The painting reveals itself. And like the wonderful stories I grew up with, it takes you on a journey. My work is deeply personal. It is my hope it might move and engage you.



Deborah YaeL Kelley comes from an eclectic background with all sides of her family in the US by the early 1700’s. She is of Cherokee, Scots Irish and German ancestry. Born in Ohio and growing up in Florida, she has also lived in England, Arizona and Texas. While living in England she attended Suffolk College of Art and Design. Her career in the arts spans more than 40 years as a professional painter and arts advocate. She sold her first works at age 14. She has worked in the visual arts, museums and in the theatre. She is a past president and artist in residence of the Center for Contemporary Arts of Abilene and past vice-president of the Texas Visual Arts Association among the many arts positions she has held over the years. Currently she serves on the board of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

Represented by Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery in St Petersburg Florida, her works are in collections throughout the United States and abroad.