By Kelley Dawson
La Porte artist, Richard Kelver’s paintings are quite engaging. His painting of a simple roadside drainage ditch exhibits interesting depth and focus. A common scene we drive or walk by daily; yet Kelver’s unique perspective and lighting of the scene captures our gaze. The piece begs the question, “Why haven’t I paid more attention to my surroundings?”
Kelver’s works of everyday scenes are compelling and appear real; though he insists his works are more abstract than realism. Kelver quoted John Singer Sargent, “Painting is a beautiful lie.” “An artist can never reproduce; only interpret,” explained Kelver.
Like most artists, Kelver wants the audience to feel engaged. “Communicating to as many folks as you can. They may feel disgusted, happy, wonder, but the worst is no comment at all,” he said. According to Kelver, “Painting is about failure as much as anything and to be able to accept it.” It’s hard to imagine failure when viewing Kelver’s intriguing creations.
He started painting at the young age of ten. Kelver said there was no history of other artists in his family. He told, “They were mechanics and farmers. I was the first [artist] to break out.” After high school and an apprenticeship in Miami, Kelver was drafted to Vietnam. He then attended UT for a few years before moving to Galveston.
Prior to becoming a professional painter, Kelver worked as a sign painter and muralist.
He displayed works at his first one-man show in 1989. He proclaimed, “I’ve not painted a sign since.”
Kelver operated an art studio in Galveston for over 25 years and remained very involved in the local art scene. He shared he even had a brief stint in the film industry painting props for one of the Kenny Rogers’ Gambler movies shot in Galveston.
Kelver informed he currently paints almost exclusively with water color though has painted with oil and other mediums. His subjects range from architecture and landscape, but he paints people as well. Kelver disclosed that at one point every one of his paintings had a person in it as a “narrative of souls.” Kelver stated, “A lot of times I’m painting in one particular direction. I like the combo feeling of safe loneliness. Alone, but safe. Calmness is reached in the painting then, and I know it’s done.” He added, “The hardest part is to start a painting and know when it’s finished.”
Kelver taught art at the Galveston Art Center for almost ten years and now teaches at Upper Bay Frame & Gallery in League City. He also critiques works of fellow artists.
Kelver disclosed he often encourages his students to use their non-dominant hand as it somehow improves the art by activating other areas of brain and creativity. He confessed he often paints with his non-dominant without even realizing it.
“Making paintings is what I do. I’ve always enjoyed it,” Kelver said. He affirmed he’s fortunate; “if my life spikes now it’s because of me.”
View more of Richard Kelver works and class schedules at Upper Bay Frame & Gallery or visit www.upperbayframe.com or email artist at firstname.lastname@example.org.