Alas! I’ve returned from my fantastic voyage across the country and it’s good to be home. Nothing compares to the awesome beauty of Sedona. Don’t get me wrong, Hilton Head Island was a spectacular get-away that was inspiring and relaxing all in one. But there’s something about this desert home that keeps me going and makes me want more. Enough about me, though… let’s talk about me.


Have art, will travel.


I spent the last week representing Sedona Arts Center on a field expedition to South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island. Karin Jurick taught a truly inspiring painting class to 19 incredible artists in the Disney Studio at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. Karin’s paintings capture brilliant moments of every-day natural scenes. I loved the way she would take a simple photograph of people relaxing on the beach and turn it into a 6x6 masterpiece in practically no time. I also loved the fact that she was able to inspire so many artists from around the globe. From Switzerland to Calgary to the island itself – these artists were able to express themselves using Karin’s unique style and technique over the course of the week. It truly was an awe-inspiring week.


Now that the workshop is over, it has me thinking about travel and art (of course). I often try to convince Vince, the Director of the School of Arts at the Center to send me off to Hawaii to teach my December Self Publishing workshop. He tells me that I can, “teach that anywhere…” to which I respond, “EXACTLY!”


The best way to experience the new and fresh is to travel to a different locale. That’s exactly why Karin teaches at Hilton Head Island, San Francisco, and New York City. We know that it’s always best to paint what we know and see – but that should never stop us from exploring the great outdoors, the vast beyond and paths less traveled. This doesn’t mean that you have to travel across the country as I was lucky enough to do. You can simple take a hike to a different part of the creek. Walk ten feet further than you did yesterday then stop, observe, listen and absorb. The world is different from the tops of tables to the bottoms of steps and as artists we should explore every perspective and view that we can contort our bodies into.


So pack your bags, pencils, brushes and supplies. The world awaits your visionary eye.


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, teacher, marketing director and free thinker experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children.

Greetings, everyone! I have to admit that I’ve missed you. Now that I have returned from my sabbatical, it’s time once again for me to get into gear and get busy with the Sedona Plein Air Festival. This is year eight for the Sedona Arts Center‘s event and year number two for me as the Marketing Director at the Center. But that’s not all… This month is a busy month for me, for I’ll be taking a trek to Hilton Head Island right after the Festival is over – but we can talk more about that in two weeks.


It’s that fantastic time of year again, when the colors change and the air is crisp and cooler and 30 artists converge on Sedona to express themselves in Red Rock Country. I’ll be extra social this year, posting updates on where our artists are painting during the next seven days and pictures of their works in progress. This year’s a little different with a Plein Air Gallery showing the artist’s work all week long, with newly added works every day! So not only do you get to see them work on the spot opening day, you can experience the landscape through their eyes every day!


Artists have been painting outdoors for centuries, but it was in the mid-19th century that painting en plein air became increasingly popular. This was credited in part to the invention of the French Box Easel and the introduction of paints in tubes, allowing artists to take their work outdoors with ease. Today, artists trek into the wild to capture the brilliance of the landscape as they see it with their own eyes.  What better place to capture a moment in time than the beautiful red rocks of Sedona?

This year promises many free events starting with the Main Street Paint Out on Saturday, October 20 from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. This event always promises some excitement as crowds follow the artists as they work and then come down to the Center where they can buy those finished pieces at 4:30! The Main Street Paint out is immediately followed by the opening reception of the Plein Air Gallery where you can enjoy some wine and food provided by Sedona Arts Center’s Board of Directors as a special welcome to the artists.


The buck doesn’t stop there! All week long the artists can be found painting throughout the countryside.  On Tuesday they’ll be painting in Jerome, where you can check in at the tent in Middlepark to see where particular artists are located. Wednesday evening’s Keynote speaker is Kathryn Stats, whose free presentation “It’s Only Paint!” takes place at 7 p.m. at the Center’s Theatre Studio. Thursday the artists will engage in a 2-hour “Centennial Quick Paint,” a timed event from 10 a.m. to noon at the Sedona Heritage Museum (735 Jordan Road in Uptown Sedona). There will be models in period costume, historic equipment and stunning landscapes for the artists to paint.


Last but not least – this year’s event ends with wine tasting from noon to 4 p.m., featuring wines from Alcantara, Grand Canyon Cellars and Javelina Leap wineries. Tickets for wine tasting include five pirs for $10. Cheese and crackers are provided by a sponsorship from New Frontiers. Then the artists will unveil their best works from the week-long event that will be auctioned off at 4 p.m. And don’t forget the awards! This year’s awards include Best of Show, the Poster Award and Artists’ Choice and People’s Choice awards to name a few. (Visit for more information)


So as you can see, I’m busier than even I can imagine at this time. I’ll keep you posted this coming week on the excitement of the Sedona Plein Air Festival and then in two weeks we’ll explore Hilton Head Island together at an artists’ field expedition!


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, teacher, marketing director and free thinker experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children.

Imagine your world in monotone. Go ahead, close your eyes and see everything in varying shades of gray. Envision every flower and blade of grass, every red rock and sunset – without color. Now reverse that. When we think of the visual arts, we often drench ourselves in a fantastic rainbow of colors. There are times, however, when we can sketch our way into a monochrome world of inventiveness that lets our brilliant imaginations fill in the colorful details. These are the times I love best, when we dive in to art with all our senses: where, sometimes our world can be even more beautiful in black and white.


298733_278340202199637_1671035956_nAs an artist, I love to explore any technique, medium and style you can tempt me with. I look to great artists young and old, alive and long-since-departed to collect their drifting atoms from space and time to capture a small piece of their imaginative spirit and include it in my next work of art. I’ve systematically stolen their unique individual life forces and trapped them in my photography, sketches and paintings. I can almost convince myself that all our collective creative juices are flowing through the earth, simply waiting for us to tap into to quench our thirst. From this river I’ve forged countless pieces of colorless works of art that express my thoughts, my surroundings and even my feelings.


There’s no question that color brings works of art to life and I won’t argue that. The use of color in painting, glazing, sculpting and drawing is an art all unto itself – and so is using “no color” at all. We don’t have to look any further than fantastic films like “The Artist” or “Angel-A” to see the contemporary creative use of a world outside of kodachrome in film. Before 1936 the only choice in photography was black and white, but we often see our modern masters utilizing the deep contrast and textures in monochrome today. Let’s not limit ourselves to film and photography or even modern artists, though...


For instance, the entire reason I’m thinking about no-color today is Pablo Picasso. If you’re planning on being anywhere near that great Big Apple we cherish on the east coast this fall, be sure to make your way to the Guggenheim (or you can send my family and me there for ‘research’ purposes). From October 5, 2012 through January 23, 2013 Picasso Black and White examines some 110 paintings, sculptures and works on paper. As stated on their website, “Picasso’s deceptively simple use of isolated black, white, and gray hues belies the extraordinary complexity and power of these expressive works, which purge color in order to highlight their formal structure.”


Who wouldn’t want to see that?


169094_186400148060310_564378_nGetting back to the use of color (or no color for the purpose of this blog), we can easily imagine how the use of sepia or the concept of black and white anachronism can exemplify a mood or feeling. I’ve done it a thousand times and we see it often in so many art forms. I’m no Picasso, but I do love to explore different worlds, both in color and not. I would suggest that everyone give the world of gray a second glance, because you never know what you might find there.


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, teacher, marketing director and free thinker experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children.

Art should never be painful torture or likened to walking headfirst, eyes closed into an ocotillo. It should be as easy as pie – simple and distilled through a joyful expression of the self. In a perfect world, creativity and productivity get married and have children that grow swiftly into perfect works of art. As reality would have it however, the world is filled with imperfection and nothing quite falls into place as we may have planned. But don’t let that discourage you. Because art still should be as easy as pie and sometimes we just have to work harder at making it taste just right.


I’ve had some pressure placed on me lately. Perhaps you know the feeling? Of course I’m not talking about stone upon stone at a Salem witch trial, but sometimes it sure can feel like that. It’s not always deadlines and roadblocks that infect us with the silent bully called stress. Life, misunderstandings, superiority complexes and even a botched order can take the steam out of our creative drive. What do you do though, when it’s the people around you - your colleagues, friends, associates, workers, employers, superiors, and or minions? How do we change that sour pudding into sweet frosting that inspires us to create?


There are no simple answers to the upsets of our daily functions as artists. Each story shares its own unique perspective that is dowsed in personal experience. The only commonality is that negativity in whatever form it rears its ridiculous head will undoubtedly lay waste to your motivation and enthusiasm. I’ve seen it be enough to completely deflate the will of the most powerful artists while inflating the egos of the perpetrators. One thing I do know is... the human ego is fragile in every form, no matter how hard we try to not allow the ego to control us.


So how do we stop this needless suffering?


We accept life, the self and let go of the ego. We look inside ourselves and accept responsibility for our actions defeats and shortcomings. We decide that we won’t provide fodder to the starving wolves that feed upon our failures. We stand strong and decide that we will do the best we can. We express ourselves through our art by taking the deleterious words, actions and deeds around us and simply ignore them. D you know that story about “which one you feed will be the one that wins”? Fill your life with joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth and compassion and you will find that creating art can be as easy as pie.


So when life burdens you and affects your art: stop, breath and let go of thought.  And if all else fails, eat some homemade pie. (It couldn’t hurt).


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, teacher, marketing director and free thinker experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children.

I’ve had an eventful and spectacular past few weeks/months. You may have even noticed this due to the tumbleweeds and dust blowing around this blog. The fact is, I’ve been busy designing catalogs, ads and posters for the Arts Center while getting extra creative before my wedding this past weekend. Which brings me to the title of this blog – It’s a Wonderful Life


I’ve spent a lot of time discussing the beauty of Sedona and the remarkable inspiration we find here. We all know that the natural surrounding environment is conducive to creative genius by default. The fact however, is that there’s beauty in everything - everywhere you look. Creativity shouldn’t be restricted to fantastical scenery or the emotional state of our imaginative moods. Beauty also doesn’t have to be anything pristine or perfect. I find beauty in the natural decay of a cactus along a trail. I can see miraculous inspiration within emotional upheavals that motivate us to express ourselves contrarily. The world is full of creative possibilities and inspiration – we just have to be open to accept it.


There is contrast in every corner of our lives. The dark and the light as they say, play a prominent role in everything we do. Our inventiveness shouldn’t’ be limited to just simple aesthetic pleasure. Our art should make a statement about who or what we experience throughout life. Sometimes art isn’t pretty (I’ve heard that a thousand times), but does it have to be? Is it supposed to be? Art is an expression of the soul and sometimes the soul is jam-packed with darkness. Our life experiences aren’t sugarcoated; therefore we shouldn’t sugarcoat our art (unless you’re a pastry chef of course).


The definition of art has been debated for centuries (no, seriously, it has – look it up), but for most it’s subjective. In a nutshell, art in its oldest Latin form roughly translates to “skill” or “craft.” The word art can describe several things but it’s our own unique expression that defines it most perfectly. For most of us, art is an “expression” of who we are at the moment of its creation. We skillfully transform the materials of this world to share our inner soul with the world. The truth is, art is not always “the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects…” as the Encyclopedia Britannica suggests. Sometimes art is simply an experience.


Life is beautiful. It’s filled with joy, hate, laughter, tears, and love. We gain; we lose and find poverty residing next to abundance wherever we look. There is no good or evil, there is only experience. There are ideals and wishes, splattered with reality and hope. Our nature is questionable at times and valiant at others. Regardless of the rights or wrongs you see in this world, the natural wonder of it all is truly beautiful. Within this beauty we are able to define ourselves and allow others to experience our expressions by way of our art.


My point behind all this is very simple. It’s a wonderful life. Enjoy it, create in it, play in it and find happiness in all that you do. Allow all of life (the good and the bad alike) to help shape the world around you. Accept that not everything will always turn out as perfect as my wedding did and life will be as easy as pie. Remember to: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

sac_blogThere’s no doubt whatsoever, that Sedona is a beautiful place. Four million people visit Sedona each year to bask in the magnificence of the red rocks and spectacular high desert surroundings. For some, this beauty translates into a spiritual experience, while others find the tranquility a perfect escape from their busy urban lives. No matter what the reason for visiting Sedona (or living here), we all seem to want to capture it, bottle it up, and take it home. This can take form in plein air paintings, purchasing local art, or photographing it with your smartphone, tablet or DSLR.


Of course you don’t have to be a professional photographer these days, lugging equipment to your favorite spot on the trail, to capture the beauty of Sedona. This is a fantastic technological age, where practically everyone carries a camera in his or her pocket. Our smartphones entice us to explore new worlds and steal precious moments in time. As our droids and iPhones get smarter and smarter, we can take high quality images anywhere anytime. Plus, there’s no shortage of things to photograph in Sedona! And there’s no better time than the present to get out there and start.


This week the Sedona Arts Center is hosting “Sedona PhotoFest 2012” June 7 -10. So if you’re a photo enthusiast, amateur photographer or just like to snap pictures, this is your week. Thursday kicks off over six free events and almost all the workshops sold out! In fact, the only workshop with space available is Guy Tal’s “Creativity in Photography” workshop. Guy Tal is a photographer and author who believes that the practice of photography as a creative pursuit has the ability to transform and enrich your life. And I have to completely agree.


I’m one of those artist-types that feel the need to be creative on a daily basis. When I’m not writing, designing, drawing or painting, you can bet you will find me photographing something. I intend to leave no stone unturned as I create a photographic diary of my life and experiences with my family and friends. This poses a few challenges for me to overcome, such as disk space, printing and organizing. But it’s all worth it, because in the end, I have a clear and perfect ‘picture’ of the best times of my life.


So when you are on your trail or sipping a cup of Joe, be creative and capture a second or two. Just take a look at the photograph I took with my semi-smartphone. I was hiking a trail with my family when an opportunity caught my eye in the form of a fluttering little creature. I bound up to the top of a hill and took advantage of the moment. There are endless opportunities for you to take a little piece of Sedona home with you. Whether you live here or are just staying for a while… capture and share your time in beautiful Sedona.


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.