Kelly Brumfield-Woods is a Los Angeles-based painter who makes hard-edge, geometric paintings topped with heavy glitter, a dynamic material which is activated by the interplay of light and movement. Her work is informed by her interest in architecture, spatial perception and color theory.
Kelly has been included in exhibitions throughout Southern California, most recently a group exhibition, How They Ran, at Over the Influence Los Angeles and Luminosity 2.0 at The Loft at Liz’s and has been profiled in various publications. Next up, Miami!
In addition to gallery exhibits, Kelly was commissioned to create a room installation, the “Glitter Chamber”, for Saatchi Art’s Los Angeles art fair in March. She has an arts non-profit, The Art Carter, with her sister and hopes to find the time to get it off the ground in the near future.
How long have you been making paintings?
I don’t remember not making paintings. I think every child starts out that way, but I just never stopped.
You are known for your hard-edge, geometric paintings. What inspired your style of art?
I think it’s maybe the way my brain is wired, and probably a lot of it stems from my love of architecture. I’ve drawn floor plans as long as I’ve been painting.
I do have a whole other thing going on in the studio that is much more organic, tactile and unstructured and I’m hoping to find some time to continue exploring that direction. So far, no luck.
Did you begin in this medium? What others have you tried?
As far as painting mediums, I think I’ve tried all the mainstream ones and I love them all, but as long as I’m coating the paintings with the glitter, acrylic is my paint of choice. As far as the glitter goes, it was a very gradual progression, starting way back with iridescent paint to glitter paper to glitter paintings.
Is there an artist or piece of art that inspired you to become an artist?
My mother encouraged us to pursue our creative endeavors but there were a couple of “ah-ha” moments beyond that. There was an artist named Jim who lived in a beautiful, dilapidated mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and all day and all night, Jim made massive abstract 3-D paintings with squiggly spray painted lines. That was when I realized this could be a career. Was he actually making a living doing them? Now that I’m older and wiser, I think he probably wasn’t.
The other “ah-ha” moment was when I ended up working for a handful of our Venice artists and I got to see the good, the bad and the ugly, and I loved it and wanted to be part of it.
Who are some of your favorite living artists? Why are these your favorite?
There are so many favorite artists of mine, while the list gets larger all the time. Though, I really try to avoid looking at artists doing anything too similar to my ideas because I don’t want to contaminate my own thoughts. The guys I worked for – Billy Al Bengston, Charles Christopher Hill, Frank Lloyd – are favorites simply because I love them and they were a huge part of my first behind-the-scenes glimpse of the art world. Carmen Herrera because of her purity of design and color, Pia Camil because of the unstructured way she works, Sheila Hicks because she’s just “BOOM!” with her work, Nick Cave’s materiality, Shinique Smith with her colors and her message. Kerry James Marshall (those garden paintings!), Deidrick Brackens’ beautiful weavings. Mary Corse, of course, and not just her art but the way she works with such focus and how she sets boundaries so her energy goes to her work.
What was the first piece you sold?
Besides a small piece to my mother years ago, you mean? 🙂 I think it was to a friend. The first “big” piece I sold was, full disclosure, to my in-laws. It was a “paper painting,” which is what led me to the glitter paintings. My family has been very supportive, both as cheerleader and occasional collector. After that, it’s a blur, but a blur full of appreciation to each and every person who has ever bought one of my pieces!
Can you tell us about your arts non-profit, The Art Carter?
This is such a weird and great story. My sister, Kristin, and I ran into a man at a CVS in downtown LA who was lost, trying to get to his emergency, temporary housing and all the information was on his phone which had been stolen that day. He couldn’t speak, so he wrote notes. CVS was closing and he had nowhere to go so we put him in my sister’s car and put him up for the night at the Hilton Checkers in DTLA. We scrambled the next morning trying to figure out where he belonged and many phone calls later, we found out he was scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. meeting with the Skid Row Housing Trust (you don’t miss those meetings!) So we picked him up and got him to the meeting on time and now he’s in beautiful, permanent housing and is a friend. His name is Billy Carter and he’s an artist and our goal with The Art Carter is to deliver art supplies to people who may not have the ways or means to get supplies themselves, and where the art comes to you instead of, let’s say, a parent having to take their child to the art, whether it’s a Saturday morning pop-up in an inner-city neighborhood or a planned visit to a more institutional setting. I think art is an important facet of our human “wholeness” that gets ignored too often. Our goal for 2019 is to get it operational. There’s a lot to do.
You are featured in exhibitions throughout Southern California. How did that come about?
It wasn’t a straight trajectory, for sure! I positioned myself early on as an artist’s assistant and learned lots of valuable things but I didn’t know how to get my own work out there so I started out applying to juried shows. After a few years, I felt it was time to “graduate” from doing that and it’s just been rolling along since.
What is the most unique piece you created?
Oh, for sure the three “Glitter Panels” for Saatchi Art. I’d already been working on unstretched canvas and more organically, but this was a whole new level and I can’t wait to get back in to do more.
Do you have what you would consider to be a signature piece of yours?
Not one specific piece but my glitter paintings in general, which are hard-edge geometric paintings on canvas with heavy glitter.
I spend a long time working out drawings, either on paper or, recently, on the Linea Sketch program on my iPad, and then I prep the canvas by gessoing & sanding over and over. Once that’s done, I draw out the composition, tape it off and paint it section by section, so even without the glitter, there’s a whole painting under there but then I glitter it, color by color, section by section. Depending on how many colors and sections there are, this can take weeks.
What have you learned since first starting out as a painter?
Be appreciative! Trust your gut. Surround yourself with positive people. When you need to bitch, have a very small group of your closest, most trusted friends you can bitch to then let it go. Know where you fit in now and keep an eye out for where you want to be. Work well with others. PROTECT YOUR TIME IN THE STUDIO! Learn from your mistakes. And most of all, have faith it will all work out.