Art Watch: Madeleine Kelly

Local artist excels at making the ordinary extraordinary

By Lele Galer, Columnist, The Times

UTColLogoGalerThe wonderfully talented local painter Madeleine Kelly is the subject of this week’s Local Art Watch. Recipient to numerous awards for her work, she is a signature member of the Philadelphia Watercolor Society and Maryland Pastel Society and the featured donating artist to last year’s Chadds Ford Art Show. Her art can be seen throughout Chester County, Main Line and Philadelphia. Please check out her website for a full list of her upcoming exhibitions.

“Shadow Barn”

The first things you notice about Madeleine’s paintings are her wonderful mix of textures and her brilliant use of color. Madeleine says. “I love to explore making a variety of textures. They add interest and depth to a painting and are enhanced when placed alongside a calmer or flat portion of the painting.”

If you look at her painting of the white barn , called “Solo,” you can see areas where the paint is solid and flat, and other areas that are streaked with solvent or surface-scratched with brush bristle. The textural aspects add life and interest to the composition and they show the presence of the artist behind the illusion of the image.  If you blur your eyes and remove all the textures, her barn image is still terrific; very solid, beautifully colored, but lacking in mystery and atmosphere. Textures help her solid forms to shimmer and brings more vibrancy to her strong color palette.



Madeleine Kelly has an exhilarating use of color and light. If you put one her paintings like “Solo” or “Shadow Barn” in a room, you would swear that sunlight was coming through the paintings. Friends of mine purchased one of Madeleine’s larger works and put it in their bedroom. They say that every morning her painting is the first thing that they see and it makes them feel happy when they start their day.

The two blues of shadow on “Shadow Barn” against the sunset kissed white barn are a breathtaking combination, and then she adds just a sliver of bright cadmium red as a dramatic pop. ” Color is my other passion” says Madeleine, “I love to experiment with large areas and little slivers of “outside of the box” color.  Using colors that aren’t necessarily found in realism but make a great point of interest without overwhelming the subject matter.”

Reflections of Heaven

“Reflections of Heaven”

I personally think that her use of color, light and form is the subject, and that is much more compelling than her subject matter. Her subjects are often barns which are colored boxes against a sky and ground – abstractions with which she can play with color, textures and light. She picks very safe Chester County subjects to paint, and then starts to add her magic to make the ordinary extraordinary.  She says that her favorite quote is from Oscar Wilde, “No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”  If you would like to see this artist’s work, please come to Galer Estate Winery this Thursday from 4-9pm. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Chester County Art Association’s new building fund.

Art Watch is a series of articles that highlights one local artist every week. Lele Galer is an artist who has chaired numerous art shows, taught art history and studio art, public art and has chaired, written and taught the Art in Action Art Appreciation series for the UCFD schools for the past 12 years. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wrote for the Asociated Press in Rome.  She has been dedicated to Art History and art education for most of her adult life. Lele and her husband Brad own Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square and she is President of the Education Foundation and co-Chairs the CCAA’s New Building Campaign.


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