Ali Kay received her first painting commission at 11 years old. Since then, she has studied fine art in college, founded her mural-painting business Positive Space, and begun teaching online art classes.
As a child, Ali spent all of her free time creating and studying art, from painting portraits commissioned by her teacher to taking art courses at local museums. At 16, she had taken every art course offered at her high school and enrolled in the local university’s introductory art course.
“I know that artists find their creative voice at all different stages of life. For me, I knew from the very beginning that this is what I was created to do,” Ali says.
When she was commissioned at 15 to paint a mural in her friend’s home, she began to think not only as an artist, but an entrepreneur. An interior designer contacted her a year later to begin painting murals in some of her clients’ homes. For the next 10 years, she focused on murals and decorative paintings in homes and businesses.
In 2013, Ali taught her first painting class. From that, she grew a passion to teach at conventions around the country and host students in her studio for multi-day workshops. In 2019, she made the leap to online teaching and has gained students from all over the world. She once held weekly, live painting demos on Facebook that have now turned into “Paint Alongs” where students can download outlines and paint with her during the one-hour demo.
Ali most enjoys creating art based on subjects that are important to her clients, which provides a lot of variety in her pieces. The looseness of her style is inspired by many of the live paintings she has done in front of large audiences, where she was given 20-60 minutes to create a full piece.
“This has led me to really focus on capturing what I’m painting in a few important strokes laid down quickly,” Ali said. “I like the challenge of not including everything and focusing on what is going to tell the story.”
Ali is influenced by the complementary-color underpainting of Shelby Keefe, whose confidence can be felt in viewing her vivid colors and delicate brushstrokes. Ali is also inspired by the florals of Erin Gregory, adding that Erin’s work often stops her in her tracks.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ali’s studio at the Chattanooga Workspace, the mecca of local art, was shut down. Despite this, many of the artists who had studios there are currently planning to create a new artist community and have open studio nights. Currently, Ali is focused on sharing her techniques through teaching and creating more courses to reach an even broader audience.
Some of Ali’s murals, such as The Little Aviator, can be seen on McCallie Avenue. She also has murals at the Collegedale Commons and the Chattanooga Market.
To keep up with Ali’s work, visit her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.