Kelsey Overstreet is an abstract painter and printmaker working with water based paints, oil sticks and spray paint. Born in 1981 and raised in San Diego, CA, she fell in love with painting in her early teens.
Overstreet is interested in process based abstraction with conceptual wanderings: exploring the pacing of impulsive movements with slow, meditative marks to portray the power and fragility of the body. The work is an act of sensory sharing between the artist, observer and a blueprint of what it means to be a human in the world today. Materials reflect relationship, conflict, connection, resolve, and beauty birthed from chaos.
She received her MFA in 2018 and has been continuously painting for twenty-five years. Overstreet lives works and resides in North County San Diego with her two children and husband.
"My art is a celebration of the beauty and complexity of the world around us, but also a call to action to notice and appreciate it. I am fascinated by the interplay between light and shadow, and I use this dynamic to create process-based abstract works that reflect the subconscious. In my work, I strive to find beauty in unexpected places, whether it's in the aftermath of a storm or in the detritus left behind by human activity. Through my art, I hope to encourage others to see the world with fresh eyes and to actively notice your surroundings. My process is intuitive and spontaneous, relying on experimentation and exploration rather than preconceived ideas or sketches. I embrace the unpredictable and the accidental, allowing my materials to guide me as much as I guide them. By working in this way, I create paintings that are dynamic and alive, reflecting the ever-changing nature of the world we inhabit. My art is a celebration of the present moment, an invitation to notice and appreciate the world around us, and a call to action to clean up and protect it. Through my process-based abstraction, I hope to create works that evoke the beauty and complexity of the subconscious mind and inspire others to explore their own inner worlds."
Tell us a little about yourself (where you are from) and your background in the arts.
I was born and raised in the captivating coastal town of Encinitas, CA, which instilled in me a deep appreciation for the outdoors. Throughout my life, I have found solace and inspiration in the natural world that surrounded me. It was during my teenage years that I discovered my profound love for painting—an art form that has become an inseparable part of my existence. Painting became my lifeline during the challenging years of high school, and its transformative power affirmed my calling.
Fueling my passion, I pursued a formal education in Art and delved into the realm of Printmaking while studying in Italy after completing my undergraduate degree. It was during this time that I embarked on a unique venture—a clothing line that featured hand-printed textiles created through the merging of etching and silkscreen techniques. What began as a personal endeavor to craft clothing for myself blossomed into a successful business, enabling me to live and thrive in Florence for a remarkable three years. This period shaped me profoundly, and I am forever grateful for the experiences and growth it brought.
Years later, driven by a relentless desire to refine my craft, I made the decision to return to academia and pursue my Master of Fine Arts degree. This commitment to further education has fortified my artistic journey, providing me with valuable insights and a deeper understanding of my creative process.
For a quarter of a century, I have dedicated myself to the practice of painting, and it has become an integral part of my identity. I am resolute in my commitment to continue painting, with unwavering passion, until the very end of my days. It is through this unwavering dedication that I hope to leave an indelible mark and share my unique perspective with the world.
What kind of work are you currently making?
I am currently preparing for a solo show that will open at Gallery Lulo in August. This particular body of work represents a departure from my previous pieces, as it embraces a more understated aesthetic. The majority of the artwork consists of raw canvas, which serves as a backdrop for the delicate tracings of shadows. The delicate tracings of shadows and ephemeral marks found in my artwork not only represent the ethereal nature of fleeting moments but also serve as visual metaphors for both the joyous celebration and the necessary process of clean up that are inherent in the journey of life.
What is a day like in the studio for you?
My studio is conveniently located just a short 10-minute drive away, allowing me to easily immerse myself in my creative sanctuary. I typically allocate dedicated blocks of time, usually around 4 hours, for my painting sessions. Balancing my artistic endeavors with the responsibilities of being a parent to two children and my jewelry-making pursuits requires skillful juggling and time management.
However, the thought of painting consumes my mind incessantly, so when I step foot into my studio, it's a moment of pure focus and determination. The moment I arrive, it's go time—the world fades away, and my artistic process takes center stage.
What are you looking at right now and/or reading?
I am currently immersed in a captivating class offered by NY Crit Club, exploring the captivating realm of Abstraction and the subconscious. This thought-provoking journey has been an incredible source of enlightenment, allowing me to delve into the profound interplay between spirituality and abstraction. Drawing inspiration from a myriad of sources, including the depths of Jungian and Buddhist philosophies, the transformative power of rituals, and the impact of artists who have shaped the abstract landscape, I am constantly expanding my artistic perspective.
Most recently, I have been absorbing the writings and books that offer insights into the extraordinary life and artistic contributions of Ruth Asawa. This deep dive into her work serves as a profound source of inspiration and guidance on my own artistic path.
Where can we find more of your work?
Simard Bilodeau: group show July
Gallery Lulo: solo show August
Ryan James Gallery: Seattle Art Fair