Emerging Artists | Kelly Kotary

A Rocky Mountain passion

Kelly Kotary, The Enchanted Forest, oil, 24 x 36.

Kelly Kotary, The Enchanted Forest, oil, 24 x 36.

This story was featured in the January 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Colorado-based landscape painter Kelly Kotary lists Rocky Mountain National Park as her “hands down” favorite place to capture on canvas. Luckily for Kotary, the park’s natural wonders are not far from her front door in Loveland, CO. She can easily experience the abundance of trees, rivers, creeks, and valleys in summer, fall, winter, and spring.

When Kotary moved to Loveland several years ago, she would not have considered herself a landscape painter. “But I think it’s really hard to live here, surrounded by this incredible landscape, and not be moved to paint it,” she says. “I wanted to learn to paint outdoors and on location just to get that immediacy and the sense of light and color you really can’t get from a photograph.”

Kelly Kotary, Heading Home, oil, 24 x 30.

Kelly Kotary, Heading Home, oil, 24 x 30.

Lately Kotary has received an array of accolades for her plein-air efforts. In the past three years she has garnered top awards at the annual Plein Air Rockies show and sale in Estes Park. Although she has worked hard and earned a degree in fine art from Wittenberg University, Kotary is quick to credit her post-college art instructors, Susiehyer and Kevin Weckbach, for her recent successes.

An observer once described Kotary’s paintings as “realist landscapes and street scenes with elements of abstraction.” The artist agrees that the description is apt. THE ENCHANTED FOREST, a backlit autumn scene depicting brilliant yellow aspen trees, offers a good example of Kotary’s style, use of color, and what she is trying to convey. “I am a sucker for drama—especially dramatic lighting. And this scene had everything,” she says.

Once she gets past the mechanics of trying to make a good painting, Kotary says she also tries to portray the amazing features in a landscape by exaggerating them. “It may take a lot of time to exaggerate or abstract certain elements. But sometimes it’s just little tweaks that are needed—take the pretty landscape and crank it up to an 11 on a scale of one to ten. So it may not be quite a literal interpretation of something I think is amazing, but I hope I am conveying what is amazing so others can see it, too.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff

Deselms Fine Art & Custom Framing, Cheyenne, WY; Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery, Crested Butte, CO; Framed Image, Denver, CO; Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park, Estes Park, CO.

Featured in the January 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art January 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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