Artist Kelly Medford is Taking It To The Streets
September 4, 2013 by orvietoorbust
It goes without saying that painters of landscapes love the out of doors, but for one American-turned-Roman resident, Plein air painting isn’t only a passion it’s a way of life. Riding around the Eternal City on her “tricked out” bicycle – two saddle bags swinging in the wind and trusty easel strapped to her back – it’s just another day at the office for artist Kelly Medford.
I met Kelly outside a book event in Rome last fall and mistakenly took her for a college student studying abroad. Perhaps it was her fresh face and wide-eyed exuberance that makes Kelly seem much younger than her 36 years, but make no mistake about it – this petite powerhouse of a woman is an accomplished painter with serious credentials.
Kelly Medford grew up in Washington, D.C., the only child of two left-brained scientists. Her emotional, expressive and free-spirited nature set her on a different path with its share of serendipitous forks in the road and twists of fate along the way.
Fortunately for us Kelly’s travels eventually landed her in Italy where she was accepted into the prestigious Florence Academy of Art. It was in the Renaissance capital that she spent a year of intensive training in classical figurative drawing, honing her skills and developing her techniques. But painting indoors made Kelly feel isolated and itching to spread her wings so, in 2010, she traded the dimly lit, heavy-curtained and controlled environment of Florence for the warm, golden sun-soaked locations of Rome. You’ll most likely find Kelly on a tiny lane or hidden piazza painting beautifully evocative canvases of Roman life or the surrounding countryside.
Kelly loves to paint. Kelly loves the outdoors. Kelly loves to share her love of painting outdoors so Sketching Rome Tour was born. “I created the tour so that people could have a different way of experiencing and remembering Rome. It’s such a beautiful place with so much history, that to take a photograph doesn’t really capture how you feel about a place.”
No Experience Necessary. No Erasers Allowed
I recently met up with Kelly and her sketch group at their morning classroom, the Pincio balcony adjacent to the Villa Borghese gardens. My fellow students were Joanie, a teacher from Palm Springs (paints in her spare time) and daughters Becca (likes art a lot) and Vanessa (an excellent doodler).
Following a brief but enlightening lesson on technique and tips for using our handmade-by-Kelly sketchbook and kit, we fanned out to draw…rocks, leaves, sign posts, statues…I was having so much fun I didn’t want the tour to end, but sadly it had to end…but not before gathering as a group for a little “show and tell”.
Kelly urged us to continue our visual travel journals after the tour was over. “When you look at those drawings”, Kelly explained, “you’ll have a recall about the day, what it was like, who was there, the weather – just the place – and that’s why sketching is important.”
Memories, as I learned from Kelly, are extra-special when you can hold them in your hand.
For more information about how you can sketch your own Roman memories, contact Kelly Medford at Sketching Rome Tour
by Toni DeBella