Artist | Skele
Austin Texas Artist Jeff Skele Sheely

Jeff "Skele" Sheely

Jeff "Skele" Sheely was born and raised in Virginia where he excelled as a soccer player - even received a scholarship offer. But at age 19, he suffered knee injuries that abruptly ended his bright future as an athlete.

This became a period of reflection and transition for Skele. As he searched for what he would do next, it became clear that his “next” was emerging from a sketchpad. As he continued to recover from his knee injuries, Skele worked odd jobs around Virginia Beach, sketched in his downtime, and gradually built up a collection of work. After meeting some local graffiti artists and surrounding himself with creatives, Skele was inspired to focus more on his art and begin showing work. Skele’s 2013 relocation to Dallas served as the final push to live off his art.

In less than two months of his arrival in Texas, he was showing work in a gallery. Skele became a fixture in Kettle Art Gallery, entered numerous arts festivals and live-painting events, and honed his skills as a studio artist, before moving to his current home Austin in 2017.

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Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Jeff shealy I go by the artist named Skelly or Jeff Skelly I've been an artist full-time artist for 10 years I've been painting since some drawing and painting since I was 27.

How long have you been creating art?

I found art later in life than most do all I wanted to do was play soccer and be a pro soccer player when I was growing up and then I blew up both my knees and there was a lot of I don't know who the hell I am anymore. I got a job as a security officer on a military base and I didn't have much to do so I started just picking up tattoo magazines I already had a Picasso book that I would just bring to work with me and then I started bringing drawing pads pens pencils colored pencils and drawing. I still have the first uh original 11 original drawings that I did there I showed those to a bunch of graffiti and like painters and they gave me that feeling of like wow you belong in this world and after that it was just as soon as I got that that little bit of affirmation and get a light bulb clicked in me you know like you should just keep doing this and I just it's been a snowball ever since.

Where do you find insperation to create?

Inspiration uh I guess just the best part is like getting the canvas priming the canvas and then being open to what's going to happen next. There are times where I really want to focus on doing something a little bit cleaner or if I want to do something a little bit more abstract and a little free form and like letting go that's more of the abstract stuff is more of like emoting and just being as raw as I can with it you know being messy and letting it see where itgoes.

The clean stuff you know there there is a time where like I take the pencil out and I draw it out because I want it to be precise, but the inspiration is just free-flowing like I really don't know what's going to happen when I leave the house and I come in here.

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Anyone you are thankful for?

I wouldn't be where I am without the closeness of my friends that I have in the city when I lived in Dallas like I had one friend. I didn't have the the companions to bounce ideas off of and like really like go down rabbit holes with different styles and different versions of myself with the work um like I'm super thankful for like my tight-knit group and my partner like we I I need we all need those people in our lives to like your journey is you can't do this alone you know and like examining their personalities like I'll take little bits of them and like throw them into the canvas I got a piece in there that's like after Eric you know like I got pieces of them into me onto canvas which has been you know that's part of this this this party you know it's a party in there it's a here's a bunch of crazy you know and here's my roller coaster of a ride and here's all my friend.

Can you share a bit about your process for creating your artwork?

I love that part like making rolling canvas, that is like one of my favorite parts or like taking a canvas and like recreating it. From that point there's a lot of just standing and staring and listening to music and just trying to like tap into what I'm trying like be a satellite in that moment and like really focus on something. There are some pieces in this show that were like really worked thought out and like were like an idea that I really wanted to accomplish like the piece behind me ( 41 Year Bout. )

I had the idea of me battling the demon in my head but I had it was just a raw little sketch I had no idea how it was gonna turn out like it did you know like the final product is like not really realized until I'm closing in towards the end of it like I'm in it and I'm like holy here it is. Then like that moment so this happens it's like I think I'm done and I step away and then I come back to it like the next day and go okay here's a few more things that I feel like I could add or take away and now the piece has been completed.

I don't know it's a lot of firing from the hip you know like I really don't know I just wanna I just want to make something I don't know what the it's going to be but sometimes it's cool and sometimes it's like cool you know.

Why did you invite Paste to do this show with you?

One of the reasons why I picked Gabriel is because he has been a friend of mine for quite a while now but we weren't like super close and I really wanted to create some kind of closeness with him and like another bond with him. I talk about my buddy Eric/Woody all the time like we are like really, really close and Woody and Paste are really close and I really wanted to like have a moment with him in the show and like showcase our different styles but like how we are still like one artists you know.

Can you share a bit about the Little Big Moments exhibition?

My mindset for the show I really wanted to like do one thing and then my brain was like no we're gonna remember this stuff you did before let's try this thing over here and that's this whole show. It was just me bouncing around from all of like the ideas and the different inspirations that I've had like through the years of painting. Little Big Moments like I really took that the heart, all of these different styles and all of these different versions of my work were little big moments like I figured something out and now that is a part of my arsenal it's in my back pocket forever you know.

So I'm like I'm gonna bring that thing out put it on the table again like I haven't seen this in a while I'm gonna bring this back out so that's been really fun to like dig through my own work and go whoa I remember I was dude I was doing this six years ago. This is pretty cool like the wood cutout stuff that I'm working on now I was doing that in 2017 like really was focused on doing that and they're gone like it just left like okay I'm gonna do something else now so this show has been really like really trying to like have a bit of everything that I've been doing over the past 10 years

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Final Words?

Do the thing you want to do I know it's not easy it's gonna be hard but you will enjoy your life more if you just do the things you like to do or quit your job right quit your job if you hate it don't do it anymore if art is your thing let's go do some work it takes time it takes practice it's like anything else but if you love it you gotta go after it.

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