Alumni Stories: Meet Kelly Ufkin

Kelly Ufkin

Name: Kelly Ufkin

Graduation year & Degree: BA Art Therapy, MFA Painting

Major: Art Therapy, Painting

Minor: Psychology

Marywood Clubs/Activities:  Field Hockey

Current Occupation: Oil Painter, Private Art Teacher

Duration of current job: 2015-present


Instagram:  @kellyufkinpaintings

Favorite part about studying at Marywood:

There were a lot of aspects about studying at Marywood that I enjoyed and influenced my life. One of the major initial attractions was the student-to-teacher ratio, as well as how highly ranked the Marywood Art department was. Upon arrival, everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I made so many friends that I am still in contact with today. The professors were so passionate about teaching, and really cared about our education and how well we absorbed the material. The school itself also cared about mental health, and offered plenty of fun opportunities to connect with other students in addition to resources.

The artist at work. Kelly Ufkin, painter and private art instructor.

How art education at Marywood helped career:

The Art department at Marywood is so well balanced and skilled. Every single professor offers a unique perspective. I came to Marywood initially with an interest in art but with an amateur level of understanding. Through my education I learned how to compose a photo/painting, what makes an image successful, proper perspective, contrast, color mixing and so forth. They really encouraged and pushed me to reach my full potential. I often think about how I was taught and utilize those techniques with my current art students. Without Marywood I also would not have connected with SACI, where I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. Those couple of semesters abroad also had a tremendous impact on my work, such as my water reflection paintings that were inspired by Venice.

What attracted me to this path:

When I was in high school I knew I had a drive to create and help people. So, initially I was drawn to the art therapy program to combine both interests. Once I began the graduate program, I came to the realization that my true passion was painting. Therefore, I switched to the MFA Painting program.

Career path match vision:

My current career has surpassed any vision I had of where I thought this would lead. It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point, but it is very rewarding and was worth the wait. It did require patience, holding other jobs while simultaneously building my portfolio and experience. Now, I travel fairly regularly and create works based on the inspiration. Allowing each series to have its own ‘voice.’ It is an honor when I am asked to do commissioned paintings as well. I also didn’t anticipate teaching private lessons, but that opportunity came to me and has expanded.

Favorite thing about current job:

This doesn’t come without its challenges, but I absolutely love what I do. One of the best aspects is seeing how it affects others. I love when I do a commission and can bring someone’s vision/memory to life. It is also really rewarding when people tell me how much my work makes them happy when they’re going through a hard time. For example, there was a veteran who purchased a few pieces since he said it helped with his PTSD. I hope to continue aiding others, by doing fundraising shows annually for different causes. Lastly, it’s so nice when you make a student happy by helping them achieve personal goals in their own work. I try to not influence them too much in style and content, but prefer to aid them in their own process.

Currently working on side art projects:

I do have an exciting project coming up! I have decided to return to Venice, Italy with my evolved eye for composition and better camera to gather photos. I also just purchased watercolor and ink to create some street scenes from various European cities. Haven’t had a chance to get to that yet since I like to primarily focus on a cohesive collection done in the same medium.

Biggest art career rewards:

I mostly answered this question in the what I love about my job section, but it is incredibly rewarding when people have a deep connection to my work. Where it evokes an emotional response beyond enjoying the piece aesthetically. 

“Maine Wharf,” 18×28, oil on canvas

What inspires me:

Travel is what inspires my work the most. I love experiencing new cultures, interacting with new people, and learning about the history of each location. It is important to me to include that energy into my work. I also still admire other artist’s work, and use that to continually push myself to be better and try new techniques.

Advice for current students:

My advice for current students is to not get discouraged and just keep going. It is really easy to feel defeated, especially when comparing your work to others. I tend to only compete with myself. Be better than your last piece. Be uniquely you, and don’t try to mimic others styles too much, but use them to influence your work rather than changing your identity. It is also important to never stop learning. Being an artist in a lifelong journey, where you are constantly evolving.


UNDERGRADUATE: Bachelor of Fine Arts: Painting
Our professors are working professionals with first-hand knowledge of the opportunities available in the field of illustration. Courses are tailored to your particular interests and strengths, while fostering a broad understanding of the wide range of uses for illustration. Class projects focus on concept development, design, craft, and color. They require students to work in a variety of 2D and 3D media.. LEARN MORE

GRADUATE: MA and MFAs offered. Our unique low residency “Get Your Master’s with the Masters” MFA Program in Design, Illustration, and Studio Art (Painting, Photography, 3D/Sculpture/Ceramics) offers a rare opportunity to receive personal, hands-on training from leaders in the design, illustration, and fine art fields. Working with designers, illustrators, and other art professionals is the easiest and most effective way to learn how to produce career-advancing work and obtain your MFA degree. LEARN MORE

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