We are thrilled to present the home and art of Kelley Estes, through her own words, and photographed by Caroline Allison, an artist in her own medium, photography (we first fell for talent in Garden & Gun). Thanks to both fabulous women.

Kelley Estes: kelleyestesart.com

Caroline Allison: www.carolineallison.com

Kelley Estes with her abstract oil painting and custom designed white lacquer console

I love the emotional and intellectual challenges of the creative process as it plays out across a variety of mediums. Classical training in drawing, pastel and oil painting, as well as sculpture and bronze casting has provided the foundation for personal and professional artistic pursuits, which eventually spilled over into interior and furniture design.

Bronze Ballerina sculpture, custom metal console with honed granite top, modern light fixtures, hand turned bowl by my father, Ken Gaidos

While raising a family, painting in oil and pastel were the main focus of my work. While not many artists work in pastel, if I had to choose, this might be my favorite medium simply for the immediacy of its application and the ability to layer color easily. Pastels allow the artist to work very freely, combining the techniques for both painting (as pastels are simply dried oil pigments) and drawing. I love working large, most particularly executing the human figure and large, almost abstract, landscapes, and pastels are perfect for this.

Modern Italian sofa, custom walnut coffee table, custom stools with linen zebra print fabric, set of bronze hands


Custom steel wood box, Italian horn lamp, Mies van der Rhohe

A few summers ago I was fortunate to live for a month in Florence, Italy, and study at the Charles Cecil Studio. Here I learned a Renaissance technique (one utilized by John Singer Sargent) known as “sight sizing.” Living and working in Florence for an entire month, immersed in art, culture and history, was exhilarating – a defining moment for me as an artist. This intense experience allowed me to push beyond what I saw or knew as an artist, and begin to really see.

Charcoal Nude Study, custom headboard and bed hanging, custom glass and steel bedside tables in master bedroom

One of the great, intangible mysteries of art involves the combined experience of intuitively seeing what is literally there –on the canvas or sculpture– balanced against what one feels upon encountering the work of art. In other words, a combination of the literal juxtaposed with what is edited out, or only suggested. Art is nothing more than an illustration when all of the elements are spelled out. And when meaning is implied, but not grounded, then art becomes a cheap substitute, a phony, unsubstantiated view of life.

Custom desk and fabric wallboard, antique chandelier in daughter’s room


Custom white lacquer desk, modern chair and daughter Andie’s silkscreen print

For me, moving between the two worlds of painting and sculpture enhances the quality of each medium. The draftsmanship of drawing trains the eye to visualize lines in space,  a skill critical to good sculpture, while sculpture equips an artist to better comprehend three dimensional forms and volume. The importance of understanding positive and negative space is critical to both painting and sculpture. Sculptors including August Rodin, Camille Claudel, Henry Moore, and Barbara Hepworth inspire and influence my work.

1930’s French Mirror, Custom rosewood console table, custom bench with white calfskin, custom lamp (wood base turned by Ken Gaidos), bronze sculpture “the embrace.”

My passion for another creative outlet, interior design, subsequently developed out of an interest in architecture. Understanding spatial awareness and enjoying the creative and editing processes provided an easy segue to interior and furniture design. My personal style is simple, somewhat minimal, and combines classical architecture with modern lighting, a mix of modern and antique furniture, and includes an abundance of art. Through word of mouth, I began designing interiors and unique furniture pieces for others, and quite often these others preferred to have an artist’s eye over a decorator’s formula.

Antique farm table, antique iron light fixture, custom walnut bench, modern Arne Jacobson chairs


Using my own home as the prototype lab for design experiments, I began creating pieces of furniture that I desired but couldn’t find in stores or catalogues. For me, furniture design requires a concept that is interesting and original, as well as practical, quality materials and excellent craftsmen to execute and bring the designs to life. I love purity in architecture, as well as purity of line and form in furniture design.

I love beauty in all forms of art. And if I were to adapt Shakespeare’s famous saying and make it my own, I’d say “All the world’s a canvas.”

-Kelly Estes

To find out more about Kelley, see her website: kelleyestesart.com