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Making Connections

Denise Kelly

Photography by Kelly Cronin Bicknell

Cape Cod artist Denise Kelly enjoys the interaction of light and landscape—and more

Stepping into Denise Kelly’s home is like walking into a museum: interesting artifacts, including an ornate telescope, are displayed in abundance; large glass windows let in the afternoon’s fading light; and many of the artist’s framed paintings adorn the walls.

Upon viewing any number of Kelly’s paintings, one quickly gets a sense as to why the artist was drawn to Cape Cod. A critical aspect of Kelly’s work is the use of light and shading, as seen in “View from Miller Hill,” an oil painting that depicts a large hill on Bradford Street in Provincetown, overlooking a neighborhood in the East End. The Cape’s ethereal light has been a draw for countless artists over the years, and for Kelly it was a natural fit.

“There’s something about the light on the Cape,” Kelly says. “I enjoy observing the way the light interacts with the landscape. Truro lies between the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay, offering exceptional light and ever-changing scenery.”

During a recent visit to Kelly’s studio, an organized and well-lit space in the upstairs of her Truro home, the representational (or figurative) oil painter shared why she loves what she does and how she has found happiness in creating art. She also talked about her artistic process, gave details about several of her paintings, and attempted to answer the question: how did she—a native of France and a former New York City fashion designer—end up painting landscapes on the outskirts of the Cape?

For Kelly, life as an artist is about keeping her eyes open to the world around her, dissecting every detail, and then deciding what might make for a good composition. “I’m always tuned in to things I see around me,” she says. “Painting consumes so much of my thinking.”

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