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Making Connections

Making Connections | Cape Cod LIFE August 2016

Photography by Kelly Cronin Bicknell

Winter is Kelly’s favorite season, and this sentiment is evident throughout her body of work, which includes many scenes of snowy streets and rooftops in Provincetown. In many of the paintings, the snow looks as if it would be cold to the touch. In her work, “Bringing Home the Tree,” an adult and child hold hands while dragging a Christmas tree down Atwood Lane in Provincetown’s west end. “I have used that lane as a setting for several paintings, which have always sold,” Kelly says. “It reminds one of old P-town.”

To start each painting, she always includes a solid foundation—traditionally known as the under-painting—in each of her pieces, a step that’s crucial to her process. “[Without this step] I would feel that the piece is not complete,” Kelly says. “I wish I used less detail, but it’s my nature.”

Raised in Paris, Kelly recalls that she was always inspired to create. “Even as a child, I was with a pad, drawing,” she says. Kelly moved to the United States with her family when she was 17. They settled in Rochester, New York, where Kelly’s mother’s relatives lived. After graduating from high school Kelly moved to New York City, where she earned a degree in fashion from the Traphagen School of Design. She then worked in the fashion industry for 20 years as a designer.

In New York she met her husband, David Kelly, through a cousin who worked with him in the financial services industry. The couple long planned to retire on Cape Cod, and bought land in Truro during the late 1980s. “We built our home in 1991,” Kelly recalls, “to be welcomed by Hurricane Bob. Fortunately, the storm caused little damage.”

Kelly retired from her career in fashion in 1989. Though fashion design offers opportunities for creativity, Kelly says, for her, the profession was more of a business than a pure, creative process. “I wanted to paint and answer to myself,” she recalls thinking. “I now realize that what I wanted to do all along—and what would have made me happiest—was painting.”

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