Having lived in the West and the South East of Ireland for almost 38 years , Diarmuid and his family decided to move to the USA in 2007. Several years prior to this move, Kelly had received national recognition as an amateur artist for his bovine (cattle) and equine (horses) paintings. This was achieved through the Irish Shows Association. Thousands of Irish artists would submit their work through Juried shows around the country, the winners qualifying for the finals each year. In 2001, Kelly eventually went on to win the finals and was awarded the Best in Show award by the then Minister for Arts and Education, Dr. Michael D Higgins (current President of Ireland). This was the break that Kelly was looking for to springboard his career as a professional artist. Kelly holds an Honors Diploma in Industrial Design (Product) from RTC (Carlow Regional Technical College) in Ireland. Feeling somewhat disheartened by the heavy impact CAD (Computer-aided drafting) was having on design in the late 80’s, Diarmuid decided to focus on a more painterly approach to his work. Upon arriving in South Carolina in 2007 he quickly became involved in the art scene in the Spartanburg/Greenville area with his first solo show at the Spartanburg Art Museum. His show “Stepping Stones” was extremely well received resulting in 16 sales from the 25 pieces on display. Following the success of this exhibit, he was invited to teach at the art school at the Spartanburg Art Museum. He now also teaches at several locations in the Carolinas and has several private groups he teaches on a weekly basis.
Kelly has been featured in the Spartanburg publication Artists Among Us, was the cover artist on the online Greenville Magazine Fete. He has also been the Art Administrator for the Return to the Green Irish Festival for several years. This exposure as an artist has resulted in multiple invitations to jury shows in the Carolinas. Art on the Trail in Travelers Rest, Union County, Belton, Columbia and other locations amongst them. Kelly draws much of the inspiration for his paintings from his farming background in Ireland, his Irish heritage, music, craftsmen and their methods. In recent years inspiration from historic Charleston and Savannah is evident in his paintings. For many years he has studied the works and techniques of masters Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Constable and in recent years American artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell. Kelly’s style of painting has often been described as contemporary realism with a classical flare.