In the Beginning

As I have been sorting through boxes and boxes of personal things, I’ve found photos that I had forgotten I had. Several of the photos are of my very first hand-painted clothing line. I began my professional art career by airbrushing. Most of my artist friends at the time were airbrushing in beach shops on the strip, so I was able to visit and watch them. I was lucky to be able to see some of the most famous airbrush artists ever to hold an airbrush in action! They were bigger than life, and kind enough to share some tips.

 Once I got up enough nerve, and money, I bought my own airbrush and practiced, and practiced, and practiced. I practiced until my hands ached! This was about the time that fabric paints were getting popular, so I incorporated fabric paints in my designs. The result was a series of wildlife designs for women, and they proved popular!

The first commercial account I won was a women’s boutique in the French Quarter in New Orleans, LA. I was beyond excited! It was great experience and set my course for the next few years.

Hand painted shirts NO1992 1

Two of my women’s dress shirt designs on display in New Orleans, LA.

Hand painted shirts NO1992 2


The most popular design was the giraffe. I can’t tell you how many of those giraffes I painted, but in a few years I was totally burnt out. As the boutiques were selling the pant suits, they would place orders by the dozen. I had up to 6 boutiques placing orders at the time! It was an early lesson to be careful what you wish for. Like most things in fashion, eventually the pant suits’ popularity died off. My Mom still has a few shirts and tops I painted back then, and they have held up surprisingly well! Thanks Mom for reminding me of the early days. 😉

Giraffe pantsuit 022816


OKeeffe Skull pantsuit 022816


Parrot pantsuit 022816

After the women’s clothing era, I branched out into pet portraits and eventually airbrushed in several beach shops. I’ll be sharing that leg of my artistic journey soon.


All images are copyright protected, and may not be reproduced, copied, edited, published, transmitted, or downloaded in any way without my written permission. All artwork in this gallery is the original artwork of Odessa Kelley. All Rights Reserved.