Kelly McKernan – Desinence

Kelly McKernan is a fine artist and illustrator based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a 2009 graduate of Kennesaw State University where she obtained her BFA with a concentration in drawing and painting. Kelly’s watercolor paintings are feminine and ethereal, drawing inspiration from her own experiences as a young woman with a penchant for idealism in pursuit of self-awareness. Her work is currently exhibited locally in Atlanta as well as with various galleries on the west coast. Kelly’s work has been printed in numerous publications, including Curvy and Semi-Permanent, and she has illustrated three published children’s books to date. She is also a member of the PRISMA Collective.

1xRun Thru Interview

Kelly McKernan – Desinence


1xRun: When was “Desinence” drawn/created?

Kelly McKernan: January 2012. This piece will be exhibiting with the “What’s Not To Love?” group show at Young Blood Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia from February 4th through February 25th.

1xRun: Materials the Run was printed on/drawn with?

Kelly McKernan: In the original painting, one of the watercolors I used has mica in it, so the original has somewhat of a glimmer. To help retain this look, the print will be hand embellished in a similar manner.

 1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execute on of “Desinence” came about?

Kelly McKernan:  I had just finished up a previous piece, “Clandestine” and I realized that I was really itching to create a striking, haunting image for a change. I knew this was mainly to be achieved in the eyes, so I set out to sketching wide-eyed girls. The first sketch I made with this goal became the piece and the next morning I set to creating the piece. Before I began the piece, (as with most of my paintings), I chose the title “Desinence.” I had seen it on Dictionary Word of the Day a few weeks prior, and I thought it fit the piece quite well and also helped to shape its outcome.

1xRun: How long did this piece take?

Kelly McKernan: About 20 hours over the course of 2 days.

1xRun: What is unique about “Desinence?”

Kelly McKernan: I think the expression on the young woman’s face and the effect it has on her viewers is probably the most unique part of this piece. Her situation is intriguing, and you can’t quite tell if she’s frightened and helpless or accepting her fate with regret on her mind. I think the colors and the style juxtaposed with the expression leave viewers unsure of what’s really happening here.

1xRun: Why should people buy this Run?

Kelly McKernan: I think the piece is quite intriguing and perhaps her viewers will want to purchase a print with aim to solve her mystery.

1xRun: Describe this Run in one gut reaction word.

Kelly McKernan: haunting.

1xRun: When did you first start making art?

Kelly McKernan:  I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember! I doodled on everything, ruined carpets with pastels, and announced to my art teachers on the first day of school every year that I wanted to become an artist.

1xRun: What was your first piece?

Kelly McKernan: I have absolutely no clue. But I think I can say which piece of mine was a real turning point into my current style: Suspension, which you can see at

1xRun: What artists inspired you early on?

Kelly McKernan: Very early on, I was strongly aware of the surrealists and their dreamy imagery, namely Dali and Magritte. I was also enamored with Toulouse-Lautrec for his expressiveness. When I went to art school, I discovered art nouveau and was inflamed with the works of Mucha, Mary MacDonald, Klimt, Aubrey Beardsley, and others. I had also uncovered fairy tale books of my youth around this time and found myself inspired by the illustrations of Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham.

1xRun: What artists inspire you now?

Kelly McKernan: Joao Ruas, James Jean, Tran Nguyen, Sam Weber, Ray Caesar

1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?

Kelly McKernan: I usually do, and it always changes, but lately I’ve preferred to listen to podcasts. My favorite is Radiolab.

1xRun: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why?

Kelly McKernan: I think it’d be Joao Ruas. I love that he works in such a wide range of media and imagery, but I *really* love the textures he achieves and yet his work still appears that it was created on a flat surface. I’d love to see how our styles and techniques could combine.

1xRun: If  you could collaborate with any deceased artists who would it be and why?

Kelly McKernan: Oh boy. I think I might go with Aubrey Beardsley. His linework and characters were so intriguing.

1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it?

Kelly McKernan: It was a print by Megan Frauenhoffer called “Bird’s Nest” and it’s currently hanging in a hallway in my home in a little red frame. I had previously been trading artwork as a means to start filling my home with it, but I loved this piece so much that when I had the opportunity to purchase it, I went for it.

1xRun: What was the last piece of art that you bought?

Kelly McKernan: A very tiny piece by local artist Lucha Rodriguez. She uses bubblegum-pop colors and shapes with quirky amoeba-like drawings. It has so much character!

1xRun: What else do you have currently in the works?

Kelly McKernan: I am a very proud member of the new PRISMA Collective of 25 international artists, including many of my own favorite contemporaries! I’m so honored to be included amongst them. We have a couple of mini shows in the works for 2012 and a large annual group show in 2013. I am also curating a show here in Atlanta at MINT Gallery in June wherein I’m pairing local favorites with international artist friends. I will also be published in this year’s Semi-Permanent book.

1xRun: Where can people find you across the internette?

Kelly McKernan:  My Website –  PRISMA Collective –  Facebook  –  Twitter –  Blog