I was born in San Diego, CA in 1985. I switched coasts at the age of 6, moving to Virginia Beach, VA, and began attending Alanton Elementary School. I enjoyed school, but didn’t develop a specific interest in drawing until around age of 12 on a vacation to visit my grandparents in the mountains of Arizona. It was my first time traveling alone. I began drawing from life, from fashion magazines or the surrounding natural beauty, and I even began experimenting with making films with my grandparent’s camera and putting music to them.
My parents, William and Michelle Solar have always encouraged and supported me in all of my interests and creative endeavors. I am so grateful for them. I remember all of my art teachers and I am so thankful for them as well. Mrs. Barnett at Alanton, Mrs. Futrell at Kemps Landing, Ms. Frost at F.W. Cox High School, and more recently, Corinne Lilyard-Mitchell, were all wonderful sources of guidance, encouragement, and inspiration while in school. In my A.P. Studio Art Class in High School I was encouraged to enter the Student Gallery Competition sponsored by the Virginian Pilot. I was honored with 60 other students as a finalist and was part of a gallery display at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk. I also participated in the student portion of the Neptune Festival Art Show at the Virginia Beach Ocean Front that year. I graduated in 2003 and went on to study liberal Arts at Tidewater Community College. In 2004 I began volunteering creatively at church creating stage displays, murals, and decorating for various services.
My youth pastors at the time, Carl and Laura Lentz, were the first to commission a painting from me and in 2005 I had my first painting job creating a mural in their new baby’s room. They were also invaluable sources of encouragement and inspiration for me. I began apprenticing local muralist, Matt Jackson, shortly after that to learn as much about painting as possible. II also began painting with Dawn Gray Moraga, an Outer Banks, NC local and surf artist/missionary. I participated in 2 shows with her in North Carolina and painted portraits of her students in Nicaragua to support her fundraising efforts. I participated in the Wave Church City Lights Auction and continued with their creative design team whenever I could. We also had art shows there to fundraise for our youth ministry.
In 2008 I followed a perennial love of fashion into a Visual Merchandising Job at Nordstrom in Norfolk, VA. That was a wonderful time of creative stretching. Around that time I began selling and displaying artwork at Freedom Surf Shop, Java Surf, and Jack’s Bistro in Virginia Beach.
After a little over a year living in Manhattan I returned to Virginia Beach in 2012. I continued to paint commissions and display pieces at Prime 103 Steakhouse in Virginia Beach, and a RVCA sponsored art show; The 96x Winter Meltdown at the Ted Constance Convocation Center in Norfolk, VA. Also in 2012, I began selling my artwork through www.society6.com/KellyLongoria, participated in the Little Neck Circle of the Kings Daughters Holiday Silent Auction, and began taking fine art classes again at the TCC Visual Arts Center in Old Town Portsmouth.
I look forward to growing creatively through school, through work, and through serving my community. In my art I hope to continue to explore the role that visuals play in storytelling and communication.
I am passionate about the role that creative arts and creative thinking play in communities and cultures. I believed that when artists are valued by a community and given platforms to express their unique creative voices, that the community is blessed and problems are solved in new and inventive ways. I am continually fascinated by the ways that creativity can motivate, inspire, unite, and even heal people across all barriers. I see great potential in the creative arts globally and I fully believe the greatest works of art have not yet been seen, heard, or imagined.