Keely Corona Smith was born on the eastern Texas coast in Galveston Country. She spent her early childhood with her parents, Carol and Carl Corona, on her father’s family cotton farming land. She spent much of her time with her sister and her cousins, riding horses and playing in country fields. When she was 10, she and her sister Kim moved with her mother to the Texas Hill Country. There they joined the Giles family and began a journey that continues to this day. Keely found herself in one of the oldest working ranches in Texas, with a new sister and brother. Over time, Keely’s step father, Robin Giles, a lifelong rancher, naturalist, and eminent steward of the land, instilled many strong values in Keely. It was there, at Hillingdon Ranch, that Keely fell in love with the Texas Hill Country. She felt a deep appreciation for nature and the spiritual connection she felt to it.
Keely began a career in decorative painting in 1993 after receiving a bachelor of arts in Psychology with a concentration in Fine Art from San Angelo State University. In 1996 she returned to the Hill Country and settled in Fredericksburg, where she started a successful decorative painting company painting murals, faux finishes and ornamentation. During this 13 year period Keely went to Rhode Island and studied under 2 muralist and master decorative painters. Keely‚Äôs desire of expressing what she saw and her dream of being a fine artist was there since she was a child.
“The truth is I really didn’t know what I was suppose to do with my life. I began painting houses at the age of 15 and continued all through college. I was introduced to decorative painting after college and I loved the creativity of it. I always wanted to somehow help people with art as it somehow helped me. I dreamed of being a fine artist for many years and in 2006 I decided to take a leap of faith and began studying the traditional and old master’s style of painting under Gregg Kreutz. I was in love from the start and put every spare moment and many late nights into learning my passion. After that first class I set a goal to have a solo show in 1 year, knowing this challenge would spur me on. That show at Lincoln St. Wine Market in Fredericksburg Texas, was extremely well received with a packed house. At the close of the show, I had sold 17 of the 27 paintings on display. In 2007, I entered my first competition at Gillespie counties annual juried art show and received an award for my still life painting. I knew then the potential to make this a career was possible.”
Keely also studied under renowned artists Denise Mahlke, Chuck Rawle and received a scholarship from the Fredericksburg Artist’s School to study under the nationally known Jeff Legg.
In 2008 Keely had 3 paintings juried into The Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, Texas for the Collector’s Classic. Keely has also been invited to show her work in four tour of homes and had numerous solo shows and group shows.
In 2007 Keely was commissioned to paint 4 abstracts for August E’s restaurant in Fredericksburg, Texas. This was something totally different for Keely but the same rules of composition, color and form applied. The first abstract she painted for August E’s was photographed in Texas Monthly. After request for more abstract work Keely has continued painting abstracts.
In 2009 five of Keely’s contemporary pieces were selected for the San Antonio parade of homes. The house won the people‚Äôs choice award and her work was featured in the January 2010 San Antonio-Austin Urban Home magazine.
“I am continually inspired by the land around me and the way the light reflects over it especially in the early morning and early evening. My upbringing on a Texas century ranch with all the old handmade pottery and furnishings and cowboy equipment has influenced and inspired my still life paintings greatly. My contemporary work is inspired by a combination of experiences, dreams, emotions and a definite connection to a divine creator. All of my work is influenced by a visual memory and a feeling of being connected to nature and creation. When I look out at a landscape in nature I see the awe and splendor of creation. I see energy, movement, and vibrations occurring within nature all around me. My goal as an artist is to convey what I see and feel from a pure and honest perspective and hopefully stir an emotion and connection within my viewers. My work has been influenced by artists George Inness, Eduard Steichen, Dwight William Tryon, Emil Carlson and John Singer Sargent.”