We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Steller Hrad and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, what do you want your legacy to be?
To be a Reflectionist painter. I draw upon my memories, emotions, experiences and reflect them like a mirror on to the canvas. I focus on positive thoughts and energy to attract like-minded people to my work. I express my life journey in 3-dimensional paint on canvas. I believe life is three dimensional. Full of layers, memories and reflections and I hope that my paintings will create a pause, connection and conversation that enhances someone else’s path. My art journey started as therapy; a way to express sorrow, laughter, love and ultimately happiness. Releasing myself from the invisible chains of the impact of life through art has been cathartic; almost as if I’m starting over every time I begin a new painting. As the years have gone by, art has taken me to places I didn’t know I wanted to or was even capable of going. I continue to heal, grow and share my life with others through art.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I primarily paint in 3-Dimensional Oil and acrylic mixed media. 3-Dimensional Oil painting is full of layers and textures. It’s like creating multiple mini paintings within larger completed pieces. I use palette knives instead of brushes and I thank my parents for sending me to Sears for cake decorating classes in middle school! I love to experiment with different styles and techniques as I go along. I feel so connected to each piece and the very best part of being an artist is connecting with the patron who chooses my work for their personal space. The common ground that I share with each person flourishes as we share our individual feelings about the painting they chose. One of the proudest moments I have had was the opening reception for my solo show at Baker University, my alma mater. It was Homecoming Weekend and I had not been back to campus in 30 years. Having my husband, John, dear family members, sorority sisters, alumni and current students in the beautiful Holt Russell Gallery was surreal. I felt my parent’s presence with me more than ever, and I could feel how proud they were. It was truly magical. I’ve learned so much from others along the way and have been so fortunate to have some great mentors who have shared their expertise with me. I’ve taken those lessons, tips and tricks and redefined them to fit my style. I am always observing and stashing ideas away, drawing on those to create an experience that exceeds expectations for myself and my clients. I love talking with other creatives; sharing and learning is an important part of this wonderful process. Art has given me so much in the past several years; healing, victory, gratitude and answered prayers. Each day is a gift and a chance to listen, and I continue to watch for the path to present itself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So many choices in the metroplex! Bishop Arts is always a wonderful excursion and we have great friends who own Home on Bishop, and several other stores in the neighborhood, so we always stop in for a hug from them! Eno’s Pizza, Emporium Pies and some Dude, Sweet Chocolate for later makes for a fabulous day. I have paintings on display at Roche Bobois in the Design District, so a pop by there and a peek in many of the other wonderful galleries along Dragon Street. Trinity Groves also has so many great options; Amberjax, Kate Weiser and the Cake Bar. Our favorite Tex-Mex is at Muchacho by Chef Omar Flores at Preston Center. Another of Chef Omar’s that we love to share with friends is Whistle Britches. Saturday mornings often start with XO Coffee or 1418 Coffee in beautiful Downtown Plano, and then over to the Art Centre of Plano to check out the new HEB/Central Market Sculpture garden and the newest show inside the Saigling House. When my besties come to town we eat, shop, and repeat, repeat, repeat. A great mid-week pick me up is close to home at Urban Crust, Sea Breeze, Pie Tap, Meso Maya, Torchy’s and Rodeo Goat and they all have Plano locations. Montlake Cut, R+D Kitchen, Fachini and Lovers Seafood are always in our Saturday date night rotation. The Dallas metroplex has so many wonderful offerings, it is truly a foodie’s heaven and the list of places to try continues to grow.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost my husband, John. He is my toughest critic but biggest champion. Sharing the garage with my paints, easels and canvases without complaint, investing in whatever I thought I needed, and being at my side in every opportunity that presented itself. My art career has blossomed beyond my wildest dreams, all thanks to the support of John, my family, precious friends and wonderful people I have met along the way. The unexpected encounters that opened bigger doors and more exciting opportunities are a result of all of these amazing individuals. Suzy Jones and the ArtCentre of Plano took an interest in me at the very beginning after seeing an article in Plano Profile. I will never forget the first time I met Suzy. She said she would love to talk to me about doing a solo show at the ArtCentre. I walked away from that conversation floating on air and feeling blessed, thankful and astounded. The ArtCentre of Plano has a very special place in my life, and they continue to support, encourage and walk with me along this journey. I work full time and my boss is not only a collector, but a big supporter. He sponsored my first solo show at The ArtCentre and allows me to cover the walls at the office with my paintings. I am so grateful to every moment that has brought me to today. Each and every heart that I have met along the way has allowed me to share my journey.
FoldStudios, Kelly Steller Hrad