I met Kelly through a mutual friend. Kelly is an interior designer, and building portrait and landscape artist located in Brisbane.
Her love for capturing buildings began early. Her father a builder, Kelly developed an interest in buildings as a child and used to sketch some of her dad’s constructions. Later, she studied interior design at university and again was drawn to sketching buildings in many different forms.
Now a mother to two teenagers, Kelly continues to draw fast and furiously, both commission pieces and whatever takes her fancy. She often hunts around Brisbane, looking for interesting landscapes and homes to draw.
Below is Kelly’s drawing, Overgrown Overlooking, which captures the rustic homestead with views to the Brisbane River. It was awarded a finalist position in the 2019 Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing Artist.
Capturing spaces is important to Kelly. She explains more about the above artwork:
The view from the last house on Moray Street in New Farm – before the land drops away steeply below Wilson Outlook Reserve.
I was there on a winter’s day watching the sunset and light up the long grass and the trees and the city and that very last home.
It’s the views ‘between’ places that I’m most interested in.
The green spaces that frame our city, our lives.
As I was looking through Kelly’s paintings, I was rather struck by her gorgeous minis. They make such a thoughtful and stunning gift idea for the homeowner, especially when different elements are drawn out in a 9-piece series.
I love these landscape pieces too.
In the Home
Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Kelly’s home, and not surprisingly, Kelly has a lot of art displayed. It’s just wonderful!
She uses pops of colour by the way of decor and paintings, with just the right amount of neutral to balance it out. It’s exciting, yet comfortable; eclectic, yet ordered; bright, yet calming.
When Kelly and I were chatting about tips for creating comfortable and meaningful spaces inside the home, she suggested taking an item with an emotional connection, for example, a photograph of a favourite trip, a special card or colour you like to wear — and use it as inspiration. Using the item for reference, it is easy then to find a cushion of throw that will help tie it all together.
For example, Kelly found this striped tablecloth and used it as inspiration to paint her back fence. I love-LOVE it! What a happy thing to look out at in the backyard every day.
For Kelly, creating spaces is not about the material items, but about the way they make you feel. Home is an anchor, a place to bring you back, a place where you feel most like yourself.
I thought that a very beautiful way to put it — a place where you feel most like yourself. That is what I want my kids to feel about home: that they have a place to land where they feel free to be.
This is the essence Kelly aims to capture in her building portraits.
Home: a place where you feel most like yourself.
In the Studio
Upstairs is Kelly’s studio: a wide, open and light space where she can work. Now Kelly’s children are teenagers, she is able to have all her drawing items out, and can draw and paint as time allows. She produces artwork at an astonishing rate! However, she did acknowledge that when her children were very young, she did draw and paint less because it was easier to have expensive artwork packed away — it is just part of the parenting seasons. Although, she also found ways to incorporate her love for drawing with her children when they were young with achievable projects.
I like meeting other Kellys. It is interesting because in my experience, Kelly one of those extremely popular names, however for a very short period. I have never met a very young person called Kelly, and I have never met an elderly person called Kelly. It appears we are born, jammed somewhere between the 70s and 80s!
I find we often have so much in common and Kelly was no exception. As we chatted over tea, time flew by. We talked about family life, growing up with a builder as a father and our mutual quest for finding meaning in the small things.
It was such a pleasure to be in Kelly’s home and hear about how her love for buildings — representing that sense of home — developed over the course of her life.
It’s inspirational to meet people who develop and weave their interests into their everyday life. I aim to do the same.
You can follow Kelly on Instagram and Facebook.
Kelly’s website kellysouthee.com.au has examples of her drawings and paintings, and details of any upcoming exhibitions.