Local artist turns passion into a career

Sarah Ehrlich

One art class at Front Range Community College is Kaylee Cordell’s only formal training, but that does not stop her from pursuing her passion. With inspirations like Wassily Kandinsky and Salvador Dali, Cordell is one the many people in Fort Collins that makes art a lifestyle.

Kaylee Cordell is a Fort Collins based painter who’s art is currently hanging in Big Al’s. (Photo courtesy of Kaylee Cordell)

Cordell specializes in acrylic painting and incorporating mixed media into her artwork.


“I paint in two different styles: the bubbly and colorful side and then the logical and black and white side of me, which people seem to love,” Cordell said.

Cordell said she uses her environment to inspire her art.

“A lot of my stuff is based on places where I lived,” Cordell said. “I grew up in Hawaii, so a lot of it has to do with nature, the ocean or animals, (which are) things you learn to respect. Moving to Colorado obviously is very different so I have transitioned into painting more mainland animals.”

Cordell’s art includes realistic animal paintings, and her favorite piece is one of a whale which she has just recently sold. Cordell said she finds inspiration outside of her house because deer and fox frequently visit her yard.

This black and white painting of a whale is one of Cordell’s favorite creations. (Photo courtesy of Kaylee Cordell)


According to Cordell, her art has evolved as she has matured as a person. She has always valued creativity, but she said her artistic career really took off when she was a 17-year-old homesick freshmen at Northern Arizona University.

“I felt really far away from my family, and I just thought that painting home would make me feel better,” Cordell said. “It slowly turned into a huge habit to paint almost everyday until it became what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Although Cordell tries to paint everyday, she said it can be difficult at times because she has to be in a very specific and stress free mindset.

“I also have to have the time to do it, and I have to have something that inspires me to paint something,” Cordell said. “The last painting I did was one of a night sky, and it came from a camping trip I had just gone on. It is really just what I see and what I think is beautiful.”

The inspiration behind this painting of a night sky is from a camping trip Cordell took. (Photo courtesy of Kaylee Cordell)



This year has been the most successful year for Cordell, which she attributes to her drive to challenge and invest in herself along with the support from her family.

Mainland animals such as moose have become part of Kaylee’s painting routine. (Photo courtesy of Kaylee Cordell)


You can currently find Cordell’s art at Big Al’s Burgers and Dogs.

“We have been featuring artists since we opened seven years ago,” said Big Al’s Burgers and Dogs Assistant Manager Skye Wiedow. “It feels great to give artists an opportunity to show off, and with being Big Al’s, we like to support local people, businesses and artists.”

Much of Cordell’s inspiration comes from the ocean and her home state of Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of Kaylee Cordell)


Cordell hopes to collaborate with northern Colorado artists in the future and reminds young artists not to stress about their work.

“Do not ever think you are not good enough” Cordell said. “There are so many different styles, and someone out there is going to love your stuff. So, just be you, have a cup of coffee, sit down and paint outside.”

Collegian Reporter Sarah Ehrlich can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @SarahEhrlich96.