South Shore Branding Session, Jenny Kelley

I was lucky enough to visit painter Jenny Kelley in her home studio a couple of weeks ago for a South Shore branding session. It was so great to spend some quality time with her and observe how she works. Since her studio is in her house, much like me, she works with constant interruptions by little people. 🙂 Jenny has painted murals, portraits, and is currently specializing in flowers. We have a very special painting of hers hanging in our house and it is definitely a treasured possession! After our visit, I emailed Jenny with a few questions that I wanted to share in an inevitable blog post (and here we are!).

It’s amazing when people dream of becoming something when they grow up and then that dream actually comes true. When I was a kid, my dream professions included teacher, President of the United States, archaeologist like Indiana Jones, and Disney animator. I have become none of those (although I guess technically I taught for a couple of years). Jenny managed to follow a true path, starting with her first job, continuing to art school, and then out in the “working world.” Her work is stunning.

1) Where can people see your work in person?

I currently show my work at Arden Gallery (129 Newbury Street, Boston) and Tree’s Place Gallery (Orleans,MA).

2) When did you know you wanted to paint? What’s your medium?

It’s funny because I don’t remember ever *not* wanting to be an artist. I started painting in earnest around age 11, copying impressionist paintings by Mary Cassatt and Bertha Morisot, and also drawing pages and pages of Disney characters. My parents let me paint anything I wanted on the walls of my room, so I painted imaginary windows everywhere.

I currently paint in oil on linen boards.

3) What initially drew you to painting flowers?

When I was 15, I got my first job working for Joan Peters of Osterville, an interior designer and artist. I painted furniture, lamps, and tiles to match all different beautiful fabrics and it was so inspiring and fun. I think a lot of my love of flowers comes from working for Joan and being around so many beautiful textiles and other objects. Joan is famous for the fabrics she designs, especially her Nantucket baskets and hydrangeas fabric and her series of toile patterns (Cape Cod toile, Nantucket toile, Boston toile, etc.).

I attended RISD and majored in painting. Originally, I wanted to become a portrait painter and my senior thesis was all giant family portraits. I love painting people but it can be challenging setting up models.  When I got married to my high school sweetheart Thomas in 2011, he saw that I was having a creative block and he was the one who suggested I start painting flowers in still life setups, and then my work started to really develop.

4) Do you have a favorite flower to paint?

I can’t say I have a favorite flower (it’s usually whatever I’m currently painting!), but I have developed a passion for painting dahlias in the last few years. I love the variety of textures and colors they come in, and they also are very good models!  They barely change at all as you paint them, unlike peonies which never stop moving and changing. I’m also very into pansies right now!

5) Where do you find inspiration?

I will forever be inspired by artists like Cassatt and Morisot. I adore the work of the Pre Raphaelites too, especially Millais. And inspiration can come from anywhere, even walking through the entrance of Trader Joe’s and seeing all the flowers there!

If anyone is looking to find inspiration and be more creative, I would highly recommend the book “The Creative Act: A Way of Being” by Rick Rubin. I can’t tell you how helpful his ideas have been to my current way of thinking.


During Jenny’s South Shore branding session, we captured her at work, surrounded by her tools of the trade. She started painting two of tulips the night before our session and added the finishing touches while I was there. I had the privilege of watching her add the third tulip to the canvas. The detail in her work is awe-inspiring. The care and technique that goes into each brush stroke is amazing. Check out some of the photos from our morning together!

Three photos show a person painting tulips onto a canvas on an easel. The background includes a vase with similarly arranged tulips and a window letting in natural light. A woman paints a tulip on a canvas. The collage also shows a hand holding a tulip and a top-down view of paintbrushes in a jar. A woman painting flowers on a canvas in an art studio, using an easel and various painting tools. The artist is wearing a blue long-sleeve shirt. A person with brown hair paints orange tulips on a canvas placed on an easel, with a window in the background. A smiling woman with a ponytail, wearing a blue-striped shirt, paints on a canvas positioned on an easel inside a room. A woman painting tulips on a canvas in a home studio, holding a brush close to the artwork. Another close-up shows the brush painting a tulip. There are tulips in a vase on a table nearby. A woman painting at an easel is shown in two images. A close-up of a hand mixing paint on a palette appears in a third image. Side-by-side photos of a woman in a blue-striped top, who is painting on a canvas. One photo shows her smiling while focusing on her work, and the other has her looking directly at the camera. A woman with bangs and blue eyes looks towards the camera, partially obscured by her easel.

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Margaret Belanger Photography | South Shore Branding Session, Jenny Kelley

Meg Belanger