Kelley Somer’s rich oil paintings are born in her kitchen—while making dinner, she’ll find herself caught up in the reflection of an orange slice against her brown marble counter, or the contrast of a stack of white plates on a worn wood table. Photographs capturing impromptu still lifes like these line the walls of her Utah home studio.
“It seems that the traditions of cooking and entertaining are experiencing a revival, as we are all discovering that eating takeout on the run isn’t liberating, but is instead alienating,” says the full-time artist, wife and mother. Although her formal education is in physiology, Somer has turned to oil painting to express themes of home and nourishment.
Her basic palette usually consists of the same seven colors of buttery oil paint, applied with a knife, not a brush, with an intentional hand. Her still lifes depict traditional subjects with a “contemporary attitude,” exaggerating color and contrast.
Having only turned to full-time painting in 2009, Somer is just beginning to come into her own. “As I continue to gain confidence in myself, my canvases are getting bigger in scale, and my palette knife strokes are getting looser,” she says.
Somer’s original paintings sell for $680 to $2,400. She exhibits at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, Colo., the Sausalito Art Festival in California and the Sun Valley Center Arts & Crafts Festival in Idaho.