Richard Kelso captures the essence of Mississippi’s landscapes during his 30+ year career

Richard Kelso will receive a Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Visual Art on February 6, 2020. A Cleveland, Mississippi, native and well-known Mississippi painter, Kelso’s work focuses on capturing the beauty, time and place of Mississippi’s land.

Kelso began painting while studying under Sammy Britt at Delta State University, where he obtained his bachelors of art in 1970. During this time, Kelso also studied painting under master colorist Henry Hensche at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, Mass. Kelso’s ability to understand and convey the unique landscapes of the Delta were formed from learning Hensche’s techniques for seeing color under changing light conditions.

In 1980, Kelso received his MFA in painting from the University of Mississippi after a stint in the military. In the 1980s, he became a professor at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., where he taught for two years and Meridian Community College in Meridian, Miss., where he taught for four years. In 1987, Kelso made the decision to become a full-time painter as a resident of Jackson.

“It’s in my DNA, I’ll be painting the Delta as long as I’m painting landscapes.” –Richard Kelso

A full-time artist for more than 30 years now, Kelso’s work is found in corporate and private collections and public institutions across the Southeast. In addition, his work can be found as part of the permanent collections of the Mississippi Museum of Art and the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. His work has also been featured at the Oxford Treehouse Gallery and Fischer Galleries, among others across the state. Kelso is also an award winner with the Degas Pastel Society, which has hosted exhibitions honoring artists that use pastel as a medium since 1984.

Although his work features foreign locations such as England, Italy, and France, his unique talent for capturing the wonder and beauty of the Mississippi terrain is a constant source for Kelso’s work. His sense of place and atmosphere set his work apart, reminding Mississippi expatriates of the beautiful place they once called home. 

Join us for the 2020 Governor’s Arts Awards to celebrate Richard Kelso’s extraordinary career.

Listen to a recent Mississippi Arts Hour interview with Richard Kelso.

Photo by Ellen Rodgers Daniels