Featured Artist Carl McKinley

Watercolorist Carl McKinley shares a classic collection of wildlife paintings and his story of a long career dedicated to art. See more by visiting his website.


watercolor painting of a wooded lane by Carl McKinley

“Down Memory Lane” watercolor, 11″ x 15″


My wife Julia and I live in Cecilia, Kentucky, a small rural town about 50 miles south of Louisville, and have a gallery in our home. I’ve been painting in watercolor for as long as I can remember. I’m 88 years old now.


Watercolor of a rural scene with a buck by Carl McKinley

“Buck in the Corn” watercolor, 11″ x 14″


I have no formal training. Any talent I may have comes from God. I’ve painted a variety of subjects, but my real love is birds.


Watercolor of a blue jay and babies by Carl McKinley

“Blue Jay and Babies Vignette” watercolor, 11″ x 14″


My favorite medium is watercolor. It seems to flow so well, and the colors can be vivid or subdued. Most of my watercolors are small, with attention to detail. In my early years I was inspired by wildlife artists Carl Brenders and Roger Tory Peterson. I’ve always wanted to loosen up, but ended up with the little brushes and close up details, like hair and feathers.


Watercolor painting of kestrels by Carl McKinley

“Kestrels” watercolor,12″ x 16″


Earlier on, I experimented with pen and ink drawings, then some oil paintings, then to watercolor. After settling on watercolor and occasional acrylics, my wife and I participated in many art fairs and competitions. The art fairs were fun and we met and made many friends. The folks you meet at these shows have experiences and helpful advice that may help further an art career. I would encourage anyone starting out to consider doing art shows.


Watercolor painting of a goldfinch by Carl McKinley

“Goldfinch” watercolor, 8″ x 10″


I was honored to be the recipient of 2007 Artist of the Year award from The Central Kentucky Art Guild, and 2007 Best of Show at the Regional Fine Art Show in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I’m currently a member in The Central Kentucky Art Guild, Kentucky Arts Council, Kentucky Crafted The Market, ArtPal and Fine Arts America.


"Baby Snow" watercolor, 8" x 10"

“Baby Snow” watercolor, 8″ x 10″


During the pandemic I did a series of small paintings called My Corona Collection. I am now working on a series called My Whimsical Period. This is a series of 5″ x 7″ paintings of odd caricatures. These little paintings can be finished quickly. I have a cervical problem, which allows me to work only a short time.


Watercolor painting of a wolf by Carl McKinley

“On Alert” watercolor, 11″ x 14″


I use these paintings to create greeting cards and small art prints. In our gallery, we have hand painted ceramics of wildlife, native Americans and others. I also do custom picture framing.


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  1. I admire these very much. Blue Jay and Babies is my favorite.

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