How This Artist Seamlessly Translates Emotions Across Multiple Mediums

Paige Simianer | April 3, 2024

Image of the artist Kelly Witmer holding one of her glass artworks, with the caption 'Artist Spotlight - KELLY WITMER'. Kelly is pictured in her studio, partly in profile, gazing thoughtfully to the side. She holds a large, transparent glass piece with splashes of yellow and green, and an array of bubbles captured within the glass, symbolizing her intricate work with transparency and color. The background shows a sunlit room with blurred details of other art pieces and studio items. The light streaming through the window highlights the textures and colors of the glasswork

Kelly Witmer pictured with one of her pieces. Photo courtesy of the artist 

"My work is a zig-zagging path—a constant exploration of form, color, nature, history, emotion and chance."

Artwork Archive's Featured Artist Kelly Witmer uses a minimal aesthetic to explore negative and positive space, and how they work together. As a multidisciplinary artist, Kelly feels the need to keep learning and experimenting, translating her abstract forms from one medium to another. 

"These abstract forms take on personalities," she says in her artist statement. "They work together and interact, refusing or accepting each other. The voluptuous organic shapes Kelly creates are contained in decisive hard edges, occasionally revealing brushstrokes within, and depths when they overlap. 

Kelly splits her time in Joshua Tree, California, where the surrounding desert landscape deeply influences her work. The undulating mountains, rocks, and the constant presence of the sun shape her abstract forms. This connection allows her to craft pieces that reflect an interior landscape, mirroring the external world around her studio.

Kelly's fascination with transparency developed as a result of experimenting with glass, and she has been replicating the effects with paint ever since. "The translucent shapes invoke a duality," the artist explains, "acting as a metaphor of behavioral transparency. They can represent buried emotions or memories that sometimes come to light."

Through her exploration of transparency, Kelly Witmer invites a dialogue on the visibility of our internal experiences, making her work not just a visual exploration but an emotional one.

Artwork Archive had the chance to chat with Kelly Witmer about working across different mediums, advice she has for other artists, and how Artwork Archive makes her a more organized artist! 

You can see more of her work on Discovery and learn more about her art practice below:

A photograph of a modern art installation titled 'Custom Series—Kuwait Project' by Kelly Witmer. The artwork features an arrangement of variously shaped and sized abstract forms on a wall, each form resembling a fluid or organic shape with smooth, rounded edges. These shapes are rendered in a glossy finish, showcasing a palette of earthy and vibrant colors such as green, orange, brown, and white. The forms are set against a neutral wall and are interspersed in a seemingly random, yet harmonious composition. Below the installation is a plush, pink, tufted couch. The piece is listed as measuring 70 x 120 x 10 inches and was created in 2023.

Kelly Witmer, Custom Series—Kuwait Project, 70 x 120 x 10 in, 2023

Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process? 

My favorite part of my creative process would be waking up in the morning with a kiln full of surprises to open!


Could you expand on how you translate abstract forms from one medium to another?

Watercolor is what I call my “comfort medium”, and it’s something I always return to on a regular basis for inspiration and play. It’s where I discover and develop a lot of the abstract shapes that I use in ceramics, glass, and metal.

However, my sculptural work often inspires my painting practice as well. This past year, I started making more symmetrical ceramic pieces, for which I made paper patterns to cut out the ceramic slabs. Then, as an experiment, I started reusing these patterns in my paintings on canvas, which led me to make more patterns specifically for the paintings.

Image of a pair of ceramic artworks by Kelly Witmer, titled 'Gray and Cream Pair'. The two pieces are almost identical, featuring smooth, bean-like shapes in gray and cream hues. Each form has a glossy gray center that is kidney-shaped, surrounded by a thick, cream-colored border with subtle hints of red and yellow. The textures and colors suggest depth and dimension, with the pieces casting soft shadows on the white wall behind them. This artwork measures 9 x 20 x 2 inches and was created in 2024.

Kelly Witmer, Gray and Cream Pair, 9 x 20 x 2 in, 2024

You mention that the translucent shapes in your pieces can represent buried emotions or memories. How do the colors you choose contribute to this metaphor of “behavioral transparency?”

My color selections are pretty intuitive, and I’m not usually thinking about the symbolic nature colors can have. But colors can definitely evoke or represent emotions, and play a big part in the final outcome of a piece. 

While I’ve managed to stockpile a lot of glass, the selection available to me at any given time can vary. Much of my glass choice depends on the size of the glass I have that fits the project I’m working on. Often, my first choice is too small (or even worse, breaks as I’m cutting it to fit!). Consequently, what I end up using is either a happy compromise or a choice I ultimately regret. 


What impact do you hope your work will have on those who view it?

I hope people will experience some bit of joy or wonder when viewing my work, even if it's fleeting.


What does success as an artist mean to you?

My definition of success is forever changing.

I have a feeling that even if I reach some of my big goals, there will be more behind them to work toward.

I’m starting to think that true success is just being happy and grateful for where you are, with a healthy desire to push it further. I say healthy because the constant push of the art rat race (combined with inevitable rejections) can be soul-sucking.

It’s good to step back often and question your goals and where you’re spending your brain energy.

Artwork Archive Tip:

Accomplishing your goals is a success in itself—and these accomplishments should be celebrated! Take some time to write down your priorities and goals. Goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, achievable, realistic, and timely), help you stay on track better than a generalized goal. We made these free worksheets to help you clarify your goals for your art career.

Download, complete, and then display them in your studio!

A watercolor painting by Kelly Witmer, titled 'Perfect Storm', measuring 24 x 24 x 1.5 inches, created in 2023. The composition features an abstract, organic form at the center with a radiant yellow-orange glow, suggesting a sun-like shape from which multiple tendrils and lobes extend outward. The tendrils are painted in shades of blue, violet, and yellow, with soft gradients and transparent layering that create a sense of depth and movement. The background consists of undulating waves of muted colors that complement the central structure, adding to the painting's dreamlike, surreal quality

Kelly Witmer, Perfect Storm, 24 x 24 x 1.5 in, 2023

What are you listening to lately? While you’re in the studio, do you have any go-to playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, songs, or even TV shows that you like to listen to? If yes, how do they influence the atmosphere of your creative space? 

For podcasts, I listen to art stuff: Beyond the Studio,' 'Peptalks for Artists,' and 'Art Problems,' which is associated with Netvvrk, a community I'm a member of. Within that community, there are lots of recordings that I listen to while working

Other podcast favorites are 'Radiolab', 'Criminal', 'Savage Lovecast', 'Revisionist History', and 'This American Life' and its story spin-offs.

I also get audiobooks on the Libby app—I just finished a good one called 'The Blue Tattoo', a historical nonfiction book about frontier America and a woman who was captured and traded by Native Americans. Next up is Fourteen Days.

I’m not sure how much the stories I listen to while working influence the work itself, as I usually just listen during busy work that doesn’t require many choices. But the stories definitely get embedded in the work, and I recall parts of what I was listening to when I look at the finished piece.

Sometimes I like to work in silence, enjoying the sounds of birds and wind, or being annoyed by trash trucks and the occasional noisy neighbor, and let my brain go where it wants to.

Artwork Archive Tip:

We LOVE the Beyond the Studio podcast! In fact, Artwork Archive's co-founder, Justin Anthony is featured on an episode.

Hear more from Justin on how to improve collector relationships and sales, the business fundamentals artists should focus on, bringing organization to chaos with Artwork Archive, helping artists protect the legacy of their work, and common threads of successful artists!


How do you use Artwork Archive to help manage your art career? 

I am not an organized person by any stretch of the imagination. Because of this, I put off signing up for Artwork Archive for a while, as I dreaded the thought of keeping an inventory.

But being a working artist, this is just necessary medicine you have to swallow.

I’ve found that chipping away in small increments works best for me. I set a goal to add or update just 1-3 works in a session, and I often find myself going further once I get started.

It’s becoming more and more helpful to track where pieces have gone, who has bought them, or what is out on consignment.

I also often use the Schedule feature to set reminders for approaching deadlines. This then also acts as my reminder to keep adding to my inventory whenever the Artwork Archive window is open on my screen.

Artwork Archive Tip:

It is never too early to start inventorying your artwork! In fact, the sooner you get started, the better. Getting a jump start avoids the headache of sorting through a mountain of pieces later on. Keep it simple from the get-go, and you’ll thank yourself later.

Sign up for your free 14-day Artwork Archive trial. There's no credit card required, so you have nothing to lose but the chaos.

A close-up photo of a sculptural artwork titled 'Amber Tears' by Kelly Witmer. The piece features three glossy, amber-colored, teardrop-shaped insets nestled within a curvaceous, matte-finished, off-white ceramic frame. The rich, translucent amber shapes cast warm reflections and give the impression of depth against the solid, white background. The piece measures 11 x 8 x 3 in, and was created in 2022

Kelly Witmer, Amber Tears, 11 x 8 x 3 in, 2022

What advice would you give an artist who’s just starting out in their professional career?

When starting out, practice patience and remember this is a long game.

You’re always planting seeds—most of which will never sprout, and some may take years to.

Cherish and nurture your fellow artist friendships—they are indispensable to your career.


Kelly Witmer uses Artwork Archive to organize her artwork, track her client sales, schedule reminders for her art practice, and a whole lot more.

You can make an online portfoliocatalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reportstear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business. 

Purple graphic with screenshots of Artwork Archive's system. White text reads: Artwork Archive: An online portfolio + business management platform for artists. Get the all-in-one platform artists use to manage their artwork and career. Green button that says Try it Free leads to Artwork Archive's main sign up page.




Share This Article
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Cookie Policy