Life in Flagstaff provides Kayley Quick with nearly unlimited inspiration. The artist moved here to study art education at Northern Arizona University and says she might not have been as connected to the natural world if she hadn’t made the decision to come here almost 15 years ago.
Sometimes she is drawn to a particular animal or plant after seeing how it’s been rendered by another artist, while other times inspiration is right in front of her, like when she was driving home one day and saw two elk standing off Mountainaire Road.
“They had these huge antlers, and my jaw just dropped,” Quick says, “So, my most recent elk [painting], I found it in nature.”
She paints the occasional portrait too and says her favorite part of making them is how easily she can portray emotions.
“I try to pull that into my animal work where it’s showing their expressiveness and how they are beings with consciousness and thoughts and feelings the same way a human is,” Quick says. “My ultimate goal with painting is [to have] people look at wildlife, animals and nature and see it as equal.”
Further supporting her painted subjects, she is donating a percentage of proceeds from sales during past art shows to nonprofit animal advocacy organizations like the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya.
Before focusing her creative energy on painting, Quick was a performance artist and founding member of Circus Bacchus in 2007. Now she teaches graphic design at Flagstaff High School and spends much of her downtime with brushes in hand.
“I started to get really hungry to create and to keep pushing myself to really develop my style because, at the time, I really didn’t have my own style. It wasn’t fully formed, and I feel like now it is,” Quick says.
However, there’s always room for growth and Quick says her work continues to evolve as she finds other styles she admires. Her newest experiment has been painting on slices of wood.
“I was inspired by other artists using that medium, especially Chelsea [Kavanagh], and I feel that the wildlife I like to paint really lends itself well to being on things that are found in nature, like wood, instead of a canvas,” she says. “Working with rough, organic shapes, it pushes me to a new space of composition.”
Rather than sticking to the tried-and-true rule of thirds in composing her subjects, she says she enjoys working around the natural texture of the wood and trying to incorporate the natural burls within her work.
“I’ve been really honing in lately and exploring how much detail I can do,” she says. “That feels good to focus on detail work, and it’s just really precise. For me, it’s all a headspace game when I’m creating. The more of a puzzle it is, the less I have to think about other stuff.”
Quick has been making and showing her art around town for the past seven years. Prints and original paintings are displayed at Rainbow’s End, where they can be purchased along with other handmade items from local artists with the Indigo Art Collective.
“It feels good to find them a home, especially because most of the people I sell to are people I know,” she s ays. “Knowing where the painting’s going to stay and knowing it brings them joy feels really good.”