“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt,” said the venerable Leonardo da Vinci. That adage especially rings true for works by Kelly Holden, a trained fresco artist who is applying classical elements to create large-scale murals for private residences in Miami. “I studied in Florence and it was a wonderfully moving experience,” says Holden. “I came back wanting to utilize the techniques of Michelangelo, Renaissance or not.” Once stateside, she worked in Los Angeles on theater sets, then transitioned into decorative arts, eventually collaborating with designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. During her eight-year tenure as his primary artist, she adorned the homes of movie moguls and celebrities. As a recent Miami transplant, Holden works with designer Deborah Wecselman, modernizing her skill set to evoke a contemporary twist on the fresco. Unlike the aged, multilayer paintings she has perfected, her new works use one color and a wash to create an elegant finish. “These projects may take me out of my element,” she says, “but I am excited that the timeless beauty of what I learned in Italy can be used in present-day design.”
LX: Work approach:
KH: My frescos have a timeless quality about them; they are rich in textural layers but subtle in their content, while my decorative art style varies, depending on what the client and designer are inspired by. This allows me to explore many different sensibilities, which I learn a tremendous amount from and find quite exciting.
LX: Design muse:
KH: My 4-year-old daughter Caressa is so inquisitive when it comes to art, music and pretty much anything from nature. I just love her spirit! We work together in my studio where she creates her own artwork.
LX: Greatest influences:
KH: The frescoes of Pompeii and Florence, especially the works of Andrea del Sarto at the Chiostro dello Scalzo and Jacopo Pontormo at the Capponi Chapel.
LX: Most people don’t know:
KH: My work involves math. You have to set up the stencils with absolute precision because the layers must match up exactly. The whole process is quite intricate; it can take a couple of weeks to finish a project with three or four different colors.