Born in Warren, Ohio, Kelly moved to Texas in 1975 with his family’s transfer to Fort Hood. He has traveled the world, and as a child lived in Germany, where he once worked as a paperboy. He started painting in oils as a teenager, and gained experience with the brush by painting walls on construction sites. In June 1977, at 17 years old, while Kelly was riding his motorcycle he was hit by a drunk driver. Afterward, states Kelly, “I was classified crazy and mentally retarded.” But really, he had a closed head injury, and began a journey of recovery and rehabilitation.
Kelly is an avid painter, working with both Imagine Art and the ARC of the Arts of the Capitol Area. Some of his paintings are based on impressions and dreams he has, or from experiences in visions of Jesus, relatives who have passed on, or other famous folks, such as Cleopatra. More recently he has created paintings of animals, such as whales and horses, and is also working on human figures and portraits.