Charles david kelley
My Journey as a Latvian-American Painter
How My Journey Began
    In 2004, I invited a well known painter, Thomas Kinkade, to come to Latvia as part of a one week summer outreach project. During those days I watched him paint five excellent landscape the impressionistic style.
    This was a most pleasant experience. I was mesmerized with the way Thom could take a blank panel and transform it into a thing of beauty in just a few hours. This was so compelling to me that I allowed a very old dream to surface...the dream to paint. 
    The most surprising new connection made during Thom’s week in Latvia was with Dr. Aleksejs Naumovs, Rector of the Latvian Academy of Art. One day Thom and Alex had a ‘paint-off’, working side by side. The subject was Riga’s famous Dome Cathedral.  Both artists produced wonderful pieces. It was a tremendous day.
    A few days after Kinkade left Latvia, I called the Professor and asked him to dinner. We had a delightful time for several hours. During the course of the conversation I took a risk and shared the private dream that I have had for more than twenty five years. 
    “I too would like to learn how to paint. I’m a pretty good musician and photographer,” I said, “but I have terrible handwriting and don’t know how to draw. I never studied art. Do you think there is any hope for someone like me to learn to paint?” 
    “Why not…if you have the right master,” Alex replied. “Last year I taught our prime minister to paint. Maybe this year I can teach you.” 
    I was elated. Two months later, when I returned to Riga, the professor invited me to his home studio where he had already set up a still life arrangement. The next few hours flew by as he taught me more about painting than I had gleaned in my entire life. The process was exhilarating. And the results? I’ll have to let you decide for yourself. 
    These paragraphs were taken from Chapter 18 of my book, ‘Surprised by the Father’s Plan.’ It is the story of my family, life, and work in Latvia.  Click here for more information on my book

    Charles David Kelley. Most people call me Chuck.

    I live in Philomath, Oregon half time and in Riga, Latvia half time. Latvia is one of the three small Baltic nations in NE Europe.

    I am a Latvian-American, a full citizen of both countries. I carry two passports and can vote in both elections. I was born in a Latvian-American home in Los Angeles and have been in Oregon since 1980. I began traveling to Latvia in 1985 and, in 1995, I was granted dual citizenship by the US State Department and the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

    Since 1994, I have served as Founder and President of Bridge Builders International (BBI), a Philomath, Oregon-based Christian charity/mission that focuses on the nation of Latvia.
    Since 1999, I have served as Chairman and Director of BBI’s Latvian affiliate, “Partners”.
    Since 2008, I have also served as Professor and Dean of International Affairs at Baltic Pastoral Institute in Riga, Latvia.
    From 1973-1995, I served as a pastor in California, Texas and Oregon.

    1977 – B.A., BIOLA University, La Mirada, California
    1982 – M.A., Dallas Theological Seminary
    I have also studied at Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR; Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas; and the University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia.
    Playing Piano
    Art History

    Corvallis Art Guild
    “The Makers”
    European Artists Network
    Vistas and Vineyards Group, Corvallis, OR
    M-Studio, Riga, Latvia

    Stretched Linen Canvas

    Aleksejs Naumovs, Rector and Professor of Painting at the Latvian National Academy of Art
    Kaspars Zarins, Associate Professor of Painting at the Latvian National Academy of Art.

MY TOP 20 FAVORITE FAVORITE PAINTERS (* denotes that the artist is still living)
    Vincent Van Gogh (NL)
    Paul Cezanne (FR)
    Marc Chagal (RU/FR)
    Hanri Matisse (FR)
    Claude Monet (FR)
    Rembrandt Van Rijn (NL)
    Francisco Jose’ de Goya (SP)
    Andre’ Derrain (FR)
    Oskar Kokoschka (AUS)
    Leo Svemps (LAT)    
    Edward Hopper (USA)
    Maurice Utrillo (FR)    
    *David Hockney (UK)
    Ilya Repin (RU)    
    *Aleksejs Naumovs (LAT)
    Albert Marquet (FR)
    Maurice de Vlaminck (FR)
    Ludolfs Liberts (LAT)
    *Kaspars Zarins (LAT)
    Vilhelm Purvitis (LAT)

The Return of the Prodigal by Rembrandt Van Rijn

    I last visited the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia in the summer of 2007 and was fortunate to have ten minutes alone in the same room with this masterpiece.

    Notice that the father’s left hand is much wider and stronger than his right. The guide told me that Rembrandt was depicting the idea that God possesses both masculine and feminine perfection. Fascinating.

    Rembrandt made this painting between 1668 and 1669. It is surprisingly large, measuring 262 x 206 cm (8’6” x 6’6”).