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Love To Look: Kellie Newsome

People love to look at other people. And in the case of Kellie Newsome, people are certainly viewing her works, and the subjects stare right back. "I paint people because I like challenging myself.  I feel like everyone can connect to portraits and, with the splash of color, they are drawn into the painting," she says. In her works of scientists, actors, musicians and other celebrities, Kellie has found a way to represent these well-known individuals in a style that bursts with color and pulses with life using Atelier Interactive Artists' Acrylics.

Kellie constructs her pieces by using a wide range of source material. This allows her to develop an original composition that is not strictly based on a single photo, but instead is an inspired mix of her own making.  She prefers a ¾ pose, making the face the largest part of the composition, and the background minimal and contemporary. She selects individuals who are icons and the best in their fields. Instead of sketching or doing studies, Kellie begins by applying paint directly to the canvas. Her surface is usually around 30" x  40" or larger. She doesn't paint on a solid toned ground but one that is filled with different colors. She paints from dark to light, often with a big splash of Pthalo Turquoise to designate the darks. Other typical colors are Cadmium Yellow Light, Cobalt Turquoise Light Hue, Napthol Red Light, Quinacridone Magenta, Permanent Green Light, Dioxazine Purple, Toning Grey Pinkish and Carbon Black. She premixes with primaries on her palette, but mixes on her surface when it's time for more subtle tones and gradations.

Kellie starts with a standard 5-eyes-wide, 7-eyes-long, proportional approach to the face. "All faces are very similar.  When you familiarize yourself with these similarities, it is easy to recognize what is different about your subject.  This is important when creating the likeness of the subject."  In fact, when choosing subjects, she goes for those with distinctive features that she can distort, exaggerate and intensify, pushing the paint in a contemporary process.

One of her favorite Atelier mediums is the Gloss Medium, which she uses throughout the painting's development.  This not only works for thinning the viscosity and helping the paint glide on the surface, but gives Atelier Interactive a glossy sheen which helps her judge the tonal differences. She can make corrections as she goes, as opposed to waiting until after the piece is varnished to see areas that may need enhancing.

"Practice is the best tool in creating portraits and is what's going to help you understand facial proportions," Kellie tells artists who take her Vibrant Portraits classes offered throughout the southeastern United States.  Kellie often uses this analogy, "Painting portraits is like being a weight lifter. One can not wake up one morning and lift 1,000 pounds, but if you practice and nurture the skill, anyone can grow the artistic muscles." Now that summer has ended, she is taking a break from her heavy workshop schedule to focus on holiday commissions and creating works for an upcoming solo show in March at Malone Gallery in Troy, AL. To view more of Kellie's works and her workshop schedule, visit