Palm trees, buzzards, clouds, and skies fascinate local artist, Ronald Shelley. He constantly works at perfecting what he sees in the south Florida landscape. In his home studio on SW 80th Street, bookshelves are neatly arranged with field sketches, color tests, and other sources of inspiration that are tamed in notebooks. Acrylic paintings of Florida’s natural and built environments are stored six-deep on shelves mounted above the window and in other storage bins he built for the studio.
Ronald Shelley was trained primarily as a watercolorist in his native England. His long career as a professional artist and illustrator includes book covers, magazine illustrations, architectural renderings, and fine art. His works can be found in museums and commercial and private collections. Shelley’s art has been shown in galleries and shows. In 2017, his Florida art was displayed at the Dade Heritage Trust headquarters in Miami’s financial district (Florida Lost & Found) and his jalopy car art was featured in Car Kulture Deluxe and SOMI magazines.
“My artistic direction, goals and aspirations over a lifetime of work and art as self-expression continue to be a non-stop exploration,” said Shelley.
In his most recent works, he has returned to the themes that most intrigue him–the intricate shapes of palms trees, the subtleties of Florida’s changing seasons, and the lost landscapes and structures that were once essential to the state’s economy.
In two companion pieces, Purples Pines and Purple Redlands, one composition is a mixture of exotic trees (Australian pines) with tilled fields in south Florida’s rapidly disappearing farmlands. The intense colors and looming shapes of the wind-sculpted pines in the flat lands are cast against skies both light and dark. Man’s attempt at taming nature is played against the forces of nature in bold strokes and emotional hues.
The artist has also captured Florida’s agrarian past in his painting of decaying packing houses and warehouses on now-forgotten railroad lines. Naranja Depot and Warehouses on the FEC are two recent paintings based on field sketches done by the artist decades ago. The brilliantly-painted Naranja depot sits comfortably with Washingtonia palms and an old wooden railroad crossing sign. The Homestead warehouses are reminiscent of a time when trains moved both freight and people up and down Florida’s long peninsula.
Ronald Shelley arrived in the United States in 1956 to work as a rodeo cowboy in Texas and began living in south Florida by the late 1960s. He has acted at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, on television, and in movies. He is an award-winning artist, a concept artist for architects, and a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity. He was awarded a grant as part of Florida’s Art in State Buildings Program for his painting “Camp at Al-Shalah,” a depiction of the Florida National Guard in service during Operation Desert Shield, 1991.
Ronald Shelley’s work is available online at Fine Art America, and on his website at www.ronaldshelleyarts.com. For more information, to commission work, or to schedule a studio visit, please contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 786-251-2330.