Name: Kelly Jane Tracht
Company: Tracht Art (original artwork & home décor)
Location: Jupiter, Florida (originally from Clearwater)
Dream superpower: I would wave a magic wand and clean up all the waterways around the beautiful state of Florida so that all [marine] wildlife we are so blessed to enjoy would live in a clean, happy environment like I imagine they do in my paintings. My hopes are that we can find real life solutions to these problems very soon.
How long have you been making/creating paintings? When did you get into art?
I was painting at the age of four; it just flowed out of me and still does. It was a natural gift and I am so grateful that my family recognized and nurtured it in me. They spotted my artistic ability when I was young and set up a little “studio” area for me in the Florida room of our house. In the 1990s, I ran off to the Caribbean and started painting full-time. The first time an English tourist handed me several brand new hundred dollar bills for a local scene I painted, I was hooked. I knew I would never be the same and would pursue life as a professional artist no matter what. I pinch myself everyday that I am living that dream.
What is your inspiration for your work?
I am so inspired by wild animals, color and Florida. It is the most beautiful place on earth in my opinion, and deserves to be celebrated – which is what I try to do with my art.
What other artists have inspired you?
So many, but my number-one largest influence and favorite artist is Henri Matisse. I relate to him so much and his connection with nature. I don’t think anyone has captured the innocent, colorful and light-hearted aspects of nature the way he did. I am forever in awe of him. If I get in a slump, I just go back and look at his work. It never fails to get my creative juices flowing again.
What project are you working on now?
Well, it is super top-secret but it has to do with creating an object that will allow people to enjoy many of my artworks and learn about the local color and wildlife of Florida that I love.
What is your favorite thing you’ve ever created?
This is a tough one! Because much of my formal background is in architecture and design, I’ve had my hand in many different kinds of projects. But because I’m such a fabric fanatic, I have to say I love my art pillows. Every time the fabric is transformed into one, I get a big high from seeing the finished project. It’s like magic to me and it’s such a fun way to enjoy art. Also, the pillows are made from recycled content, are cruelty-free and are 100 percent made in the USA – so they really represent what my art is all about.
What is your favorite medium to work with? What medium would you like to try but haven’t yet?
Right now, my favorite medium is watercolor, which I hope to do more of in the future. It is so fresh and spontaneous, which is what I’m after in my finished pieces. I definitely have an inner sculptor in me trying to get out, so someday I hope to pursue that in the form of larger public works projects. They’re a great way to bring awareness to what’s important about our environment in Florida.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard about art/creativity?
One of my favorite professors in college told me to “think on paper”, which really means don’t be afraid to fail – just get it on paper! That has served me just about everyday of my life as an artist. It’s amazing. Just get the idea, no matter how rough, on paper. I can’t tell you how many times I have flipped back through sketchbooks and gotten ideas from years ago that are still great ideas today. Sometimes it’s hard to funnel or channel the ideas when the creativity starts to roll, so remember to “think on paper.” It’s the only way for a visual artist; that’s my motto.
What do you try to communicate with your art?
Matisse called it “essentialism.” I think I would call it a “spontaneous encounter”. Life has those fleeting moments when we are confronted with something beautiful and it just leaves a mark on you and you’ll never be the same. If you’re in Florida waters and a manatee or a tarpon swims up to you and interacts with you, you’ve now had an encounter with a being that is so different and special you will forever be changed. Or if you are on the beach and you see a turtle nesting or a nest hatching, this will impact you and connect you to something bigger than you and it will bring you such joy. These are the moments I have experienced living in Florida, and they have impacted me so I work to express them universally to others. I hope my work starts a conversation about the importance of protecting these wild things and moments which get us out of our box.
Where is your favorite place to see art?
Art is everywhere! But if you want to go for the gold, the tops for me is The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It houses a collection of Monet’s that has enchanted me for years. I could sit and stare at them for hours – and I usually do! The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach has had a few shows in the recent years showcasing Georgia O’Keeffe and I could never get tired of her amazing work. She was a true painter and used the subject of nature to communicate. I hope to visit her museum in Sante Fe soon. And don’t forget Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Coral Gables, which just had a huge Chihully exhibit. I love it when cultural institutions do shows on artists like this; I think it brings something to the table that’s missing in our current times. There are many nice museums in Florida that we like to visit in Boca Raton, Vero Beach, Tampa and Orlando to name a few. I also visit galleries that showcase representational works – which is what I like. There are some nice galleries in Scottsdale, Arizona and Laguna Beach, California. And don’t forget the amazing Florida art shows! I love to leave my booth and check out the other artists and am usually happily surprised by the quality of the work. Honestly, I will sniff out new art to look at wherever I go! There is no place too big or too small to find art, so keep your eyes open, snatch up the pieces you love and enjoy the bounty!