Kelly Mattes works in his New River studio.

Kelly Mattes works in his New River studio. 

New River wildlife painter Kelly Mattes would tell you, “I don’t paint what an animal looks like. I paint what it feels like.”  

His goal is “to get the viewer to wonder what the animal is thinking. Is the glance over the left shoulder another animal, perhaps a chance for dinner, or a signal it’s time to respond to an intruder?” Mattes’ animal portraits are all about the subject, in its own world, gazing at you, in your world.

Growing up in the wilds of Marion, Wisconsin, Mattes credits much of his creativity to his father, who instilled in his son a love of the great outdoors and the creatures who live there.  

That enthusiasm for the mystery and magic in natural settings has never left Mattes’ “top of the list of things to do.” His interest in solar energy brought him to Arizona in pursuit of starting a solar company.  

His natural talent, in all aspects of problem solving, was a good fit for growing his career in a fledging industry, as well as his ability to develop into a nationally recognized wildlife painter.   

From his perspective, “Painting presents a number of particular issues and requires concentration and analysis.” 

Mattes strives to explore color, expand value and push the edges in combining color for its visual effects. The result is a stunning likeness of his subjects, within his impressionistic style in applying the paints. His artwork has fascinating textures, shadows, shades and color combinations that pop off the canvas with noticeably exuberant energy.

Mattes works from his home studio in New River and is a member of the Sonoran Arts League, Contact Mattes at  

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