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Art by Instinct
Multitalented Kellie Raines loves the art of the challenge
By Jessica Laskey
Kellie Raines likes a challenge. In fact, she prefers tackling projects she doesn’t know how to do.
“Half of the process—the fun of the process—is learning,” the Arden-area resident says. “The joy is the work.”
Raines has always been artistic. Ever since she took a dance class at age 5, she knew she wanted to tell stories. And she does just that as an actress, director, writer and visual artist.
Raines first got involved in theater in high school, directing and acting in school projects as well as performing at Lenaea High School Theatre Festival hosted by Sacramento State University.
In a full-circle moment that tickles Raines to no end, she now finds herself involved with Lenaea again, only this time on the other side of the table as a respondent (the festival’s term for judge).
“It’s amazing revisiting my training through the students’ eyes,” says Raines, who went back to school midcareer to earn her bachelor’s degree in dramatic art from UC Davis.
“I woke up at age 32 and I was miserable,” recalls Raines, who was living in San Francisco and working as a communications consultant for Franklin Templeton Investments. “I hadn’t done theater in seven years and I decided, ‘That’s it. I’m going back to school.’”
For the past 16 years, Raines has served as the executive assistant to the general manager for KVIE Public Television (the local PBS station), doing everything from voiceovers and online interviews to on-air hosting for the KVIE Art Auction and pledge drives.
“I feel so lucky that I have a job that uses my training,” Raines says.
She also puts those skills to use outside of work in local productions for Big Idea Theatre, KOLT Run Creations, Resurrection Theatre and Theater Galatea. She recently performed in Theater Galatea’s production of “Julius Caesar & Macbeth,” in which all of Shakespeare’s iconic roles were played by the same four women. Raines played five characters, including one of her “bucket-list” roles, Lady Macbeth.
When she’s not performing, directing or writing plays, Raines expresses herself in visual forms as well.
“I took a watercolor class 24 years ago and loved it, even though I had no idea what I was doing,” Raines says. She turned to visual art two years ago when she took a break from theater to deal with family issues.
“I started by saying, ‘Let’s see if I can draw that,’” Raines says. “I’m self-taught, so I find that I get more creative by not knowing how certain things are going to work together and just trying it.”
Raines’ experimentation with pastels, pencil, watercolor, ink and 3D objects has led to some stunning pieces that explore themes like gender, body positivity and creation versus destruction.
Raines’s arresting pastel “The Arch of Triumph” was the first piece of hers accepted into the juried KVIE Art Auction in 2016. The next year, her psychedelically colored portrait of a snow leopard sparked an on-air bidding war. Impressed by Raines’ talent, KVIE art curator D. Oldham Neath offered her an exhibition at Neath’s Archival Gallery in June.
“I somehow started painting fat birds,” says Raines, whose show “Birds of a Feather” will feature avian-inspired work by her and sculptor Don Yost. “I decided I wanted to try to paint an owl. I had no idea how to paint one, so I just started doing it. Figuring it out is the best part of the process.”
To see Kellie Raines’ work, go to kellierainesart.com. “Birds of a Feather” runs June 6-30 at Archival Gallery. Visit archivalgallery.com for more information.