Ocean Artistry: Mixed-Media Artist Captures the Colors of the SeaApr 20, 2022 08:50AM ● By ANN MARIE O’PHELAN
Artist Kelly Morrison got her first look at underwater marine animals as a child growing up by Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, New York. Her father, a scuba diver, designed and built underwater video-camera enclosures. This was pre-GoPro, well before waterproof cameras made it easier to capture the underwater world. The images he took impressed his young daughter and later impacted her artwork.
When Morrison moved to Southwest Florida, she fell in love with the water here and the creatures below it. Today her mixed-media artwork focuses on colorful depictions of fish, turtles, and other marine life. Based in Cape Coral, Morrison describes herself as an artist, color enthusiast, ocean lover, sunset lover, and someone who doesn’t mind getting paint on her clothes.
She has a series painted on wood, which she calls Timber Art. “Wood has always been a favorite surface, and fish was a favorite subject,” says Morrison. To create each Timber Art piece, she starts with a pine plank, cuts the wood, and then carves lines and paints in layers of color. Her style is whimsical, colorful, and fun, but with a bit of realism so you can tell what type of fish or sea creature the artist has captured. Even if the fish is bright orange or has flattened bottle caps and hand-made glass beads for eyes, it’s clear that it is a barracuda or a grouper.
“Some of my fish, such as Bridget the Barracuda, have masonry nails for teeth,” adds Morrison, “and Bridget also has a glass-bead eye.” She names each piece after the person who inspired it. For example, her bright green sea turtle Mike, with a purple heart, is named after her scuba-diving father, who loved his underwater adventures. Her Sunset Sue, a grouper with a sunset scene, is named after a friend who loves to take sunset pictures on Pine Island. The fish duo Noah and Christy are named after Morrison’s son and daughter-in-law. “They are the perfect couple, and the fish go together,” adds Morrison.
Her Timber Art pieces range in price from $44-$350 and are a favorite among collectors, especially those who love the water and the creatures who inhabit it. She also paints on canvas and has a jewelry line—both of which are inspired by Southwest Florida’s tropical surroundings.
Morrison’s work can be found in several local galleries, including Tower Gallery on Sanibel; 2 Islands Gallery on Captiva; Bokeelia Art Gallery on Pine Island; and Harbour View Gallery in Cape Coral. You will also find her artwork and painted wooden fish online at ArtworksbyKelly.etsy.com, and on Instagram, @artworks_by_kelly.
Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.
FOR MORE INFO
751 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel
2 Islands Gallery
14830 Captiva Drive, Captiva
Bokeelia Art Gallery
8315 Main Street, Bokeelia
Harbour View Gallery
5789 Cape Harbour Drive, Suite 104, Cape Coral,