Rick Kelley's wildlife and African art is a visual journal of his life's travels, experiences and adventures. Every creation evokes a fond memory of the wildlife Rick admires, preserves, and respects. Rick Kelley's approach is to capture the emotion in each animal, whether it is the serenity of the loon, the majesty of the bald eagle or the stealth power of the gray wolf. These visions and strong emotions coupled with Rick Kelley's scientifically and proportionately correct images have made him a nationally recognized and critically acclaimed wildlife artist.
Rick Kelly began his quest to be an artist out of a love for nature at the early age of ten. He continued to paint through school, and after graduation Kelley took advantage of his father Don Kelley's transfer to Montana. There he used Montana's beauty as a backdrop and inspiration for his work. After studying at Eastern Montana University, Rick set out on his own. Less than ten years later in 1980, he began painting professionally….. full time.
Preserving a Strong Commitment of Giving
An avid outdoorsman and naturalist, Rick Kelley donates much of his artwork to conservation fund-raising efforts and other charitable organizations.
To date, over $12 million has been raised in Kelley print sales for Ducks Unlimited, a non-profit wildlife organization. "Ducks Unlimited is an outstanding organization that is impressive in their dedication to protecting wildlife and natural habitats. It is an honor to have my art work supporting such a worthy cause, " said Kelley.
Gateway to Freedom
Rick's passion for embracing wildlife conservation was highlighted during the 1988 whale rescue near Barrow, Alaska. In October 1988, humanitarian Eskimos discovered three California gray whales trapped by ice near Barrow, Alaska. Wildlife management biologists, with the assistance of the resources of the North Slope Borough and citizens of Barrow undertook to free the whales from this ice prison. Soon the rescue effort elicited the support of numerous state and federal agencies. Environmental groups and oil industry representatives offered assistance as world attention turned to the trapped whales.
While the weather became more frigid, whale rescue workers had great difficulty keeping the whales' breathing holes free of ice, jeopardizing their survival. Volunteer rescue workers came from as far as Minnesota to provide some assistance. Their presence allowed the additional time needed to assure the whales' release. The rescue attempt became an international effort when a Soviet icebreaker was called upon to open the ice completely giving the whales' a "Gateway to Freedom."
Cost continued to mount for the conservation group. Hearing of the ordeal, Rick composed "Gateway to Freedom," in an effort to raise funds for the trapped whales. More than 2,500 prints were sold with a donation made of $25,000. "Gateway to Freedom" pays tribute to the many heroes of the incredible whale rescue.
An art gallery owner in Colorado made Rick aware of a 9 year old girl named Kristi with cancer. Kristi's mom was a single parent and was having a hard time paying medical and living expenses. Rick immediately wanted to do something to help the family. Through the gallery owner, he contacted Kristi and asked about her favorite colors and animals. Rick Kelley composed "Kristi's Garden" that included the little girl's favorite colors and animals with special emphasis on the color purple, bunny rabbits and butterflies. Rick gave the original to Kristi and galleries across the country sold the prints as a benefit for Kristi. Enough prints were sold to cover all of her medical expenses. Sadly, Kristi has passed away but her legacy in art lives on. "I was so moved by this little girl's story of strength and bravery," Rick says "This piece is my homage to Kristi's courage."
On Freedom's Wing
Perhaps his most important piece ever, "On Freedom's Wing" was Rick's response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Frustrated like most Americans with the cruelty that was bestowed on his country, Rick felt he had to do something. The seemingly simple search to buy a flag to be able to proudly display it on his house became an exhaustive ordeal; all stores were sold out of American Flags. Shawn Kelley, Rick's wife, suggested that he paint his own flag. Taking her suggestion, he went to his easel and poured out "On Freedom's Wing." "Usually I have in my mind what I am going to paint before I start but with this piece everything seemed to come automatically. It was like something divine was guiding my hand as I was painting, I cant explain it can you?" Said Kelley.
Rick further recalls, "I remember when I had finished painting the flag in the mountain. . . I knew I had truly created something special."
After completing "On Freedom's Wing," Rick immediately decided to donate 10% of all proceeds to the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. "I knew I would sell a few prints which would make for a small donation to the Red Cross; I'm still shocked that four months after I finished painting "On Freedom's Wing" I was able to make a donation of $40,000. I'm so glad I could help out."
American Heritage - Bald Eagle By Rick Kelley
Cape Fear By Rick Kelley