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Photo by Kylie Fitts

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Hard Work (And a Little Luck)

Muralist and Painter Kelly Peters Finds Home in the Valley

Like many a local transplant, Kelly Peters first came to the Roaring Fork Valley with the intention of staying “just for a season”—and never left. The full-time painter and muralist, who now resides year-round in Snowmass, quickly found that the valley felt more like home than anywhere she had lived before. A big part of Peters’s life here is, no surprise, the artistic inspiration she finds outdoors in the high country.

“It’s funny, because I’ve been painting hills and mountains my whole life, even though I grew up in the Detroit suburbs,” she says, laughing. “So there was something about coming to Colorado that felt right for me as an artist.”

Known for her large vibrant mountainscapes, Peters says she developed her core aesthetic while studying under numerous talented professors at Northern Michigan University. After graduating, the 20-something spent a year in Oregon before connecting with a friend who lived in Aspen in 2016. Within just a few years of living in the valley, she has expanded her work with private commissions and taken a dive into the world of small business ownership with Straight Line Studio, her experimental gallery and teaching space in Snowmass Base Village. (Peters gives major credit to developers East West Partners for helping her secure the commercial rental space.) There she displays her own work, holds exhibitions for other artists, and conducts painting classes for individuals and small groups.

“We opened in early 2020, right before Covid hit,” Peters recalls. “So obviously that was not the best. But we made it through. The studio has a garage door that I could open up when the weather was good, so that helped a lot last summer. It’s been sort of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants situation for me, learning how to manage a business, get through Covid, and continue my creative work at the same time.”

Despite pandemic challenges and not having a formal background in business, the artist reports having her best year yet in 2020, financially speaking. She has ramped up online sales of her high-quality prints, and has been selling original paintings on canvas locally and elsewhere. Over the past couple years, Peters has also started taking commissions for murals in private and public spaces around the valley. Some particularly striking mountain scenes you’ve likely spotted are her installations at The Collective in Snowmass and at Craft Coffee House in downtown Basalt.

Peters says that collaborating with clients to combine her artistry with their specific needs has been an interesting experience, challenging her to test new creative pathways she might not have otherwise explored.

“Sometimes I end up making art that I wouldn’t normally have made, but now I love it,” she notes. “I’ve discovered a lot about myself through working with the specifications that my clients have.”

This year, she hopes to take on more commissioned murals and paintings for local businesses and homeowners. Peters will also be donating a mural to the Glenwood Springs child advocacy organization Riverbridge Regional Center, with hopes of raising funds to partner with more nonprofits in the future. In 2021 you’ll also find her leading painting parties and hosting gallery openings at Straight Line Studio, pending Covid-19 guidelines.

“I have some momentum going, and I love the life I’m trying to build here. Sometimes I can’t believe it,” the painter says. “As an artist you’ve got to have tenacity and confidence in your work, especially when things get rough. Some of the success is probably a little luck, I think, but it’s also really hard work. So with that in mind I’m just going to keep pushing myself, and keep going.”








Straight Line Studio

Snowmass Base Village

Located in One Snowmass West

  • Photo by Kylie Fitts
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