Her work is continually influenced by her traditional background and the “plein air” experience, setting up her easel and capturing the immediate mood or drama of the moment. Many of the classical masters, as well as contemporary master plein air painters, have had a strong impact on her work. Jo’s curiosity, sincere appreciation of the natural world and desire to experiment with strong composition and design, have led her on an exciting journey with huge canvases and large brushes.
“I feel it is essential for the artist to experiment and try new techniques. This is how we grow, and let’s hope we never stop growing!
Jo Ridge Kelley was born in High Point, North Carolina, and raised on a dairy farm in the Quaker tradition. Surrounded by colorful hills and meadows, creeks and ponds, there was a bountiful natural world just outside the screen door. Jo escaped the household chores whenever she could to head across the pasture to sit by the creek and observe nature firsthand, many times sketching in her sketchbook. As a teenager, she studied painting with an excellent local landscape oil painter. She began painting on a regular basis and sold her first paintings. Jo attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she earned a degree in fine arts and art education. She taught drawing and painting at the high school level for several years and continues to teach painting workshops in oils and watercolors from her Waynesville studio and en plein air (out in the open air). Her work has been featured in several regional and national publications, including American Art Collector magazine.
The original paintings by Jo Ridge Kelley are held in private and corporate collections throughout the country and across the globe.
Jo lives in Waynesville with her artist husband, Ed Kelley, and their two amazing studio dogs.