BY SHANEDRA J. SMITH | STAFF WRITER
MARCH 15, 2023
Born and raised in the bright and creative city of New Orleans, Jay McKay is famous for his pinks and light hues used in his artwork, sending the viewer into his world full of heartwarming and contrasting colors. McKay got involved in art as a young child, drawing on his homework and assignment papers. “My mom encouraged me to get into art classes and I eventually got into a school called New Orleans Center for Creative Arts,” he shared with Blkpreneurship.com. After Hurricane Katrina caused the people of New Orleans to evacuate, McKay moved to Washington DC and learned most of his painting techniques on his own while there. Later while in DC he travelled to South Africa to study African art, he was exposed to more opportunities and moments to grow himself as an artist. “As I got more in depth into the art side of things and painting, I did research on galleries,” McKay shared. “I learned as I went. I studied professional painters and friends and then I ran ideas and opinions across different friends.”
Starting his first solo show in 2015 which he dubbed “Retrospective” about his life growing up in the ghettos of New Orleans in the 90s, he has opened up to sharing prints and other artwork to celebrities and large crowds. McKay has been going strong and winning fans over with his talented paintings, as they note his color choices used in his art. “I like vibrant colors, I like the colors that bring attention to the paintings and that really stand out,” he added. He prefers using pinks and yellows and making nothing in the painting its normal color. He has a series called “Hue” where his paintings are designed with a red sun, a pink sky, pink water, pink clouds, and even brightly painted houses as is seen in his painting, ‘Concrete Beach’.
Related: Defined Arts Studio sweeps Houston by storm by creating unique paintings and t-shirt designs
Some obstacles McKay is facing still today in his journey is fighting perfectionism. He has made many mistakes in his career, and he is learning how to move upward and grow financially. He now paints full-time, and as his talent grows and allows for more travelling opportunities, he has to spend some time away from his wife and children. “Right now, I do bigger shows and I have a bigger budget,” he said. “I had an audience of over 1,000 people once; it was a big deal. And that was my last show in New Orleans; so now I’ll be travelling to different states, showing people what I can do.” And for the obstacle of not always seeing his kids, he strives to be there for them by making sure he is involved in picking them up and dropping them off at school everyday. He makes time for fun activities he can do with them, but he does admit that he’s still working on the balance. of work and family life. He admits that living your dream and being a parent is hard and both are still a huge responsibility. “I try my best, and sometimes I get in trouble. I work a lot, but I always make sure I have time for my family.”
McKay gains his inspiration from music and observing the world around him. He draws his ideas from music, his environment, and even concepts he’s experienced, such as fatherhood. A quick look at his paintings alerts the viewer that blackness and growing up in New Orleans greatly influences his art. His painting, ‘Always There for You’ is all about the love of a father being there for his son. The painting depicts a dad getting off work and playing with his son while still in his work clothes. “This piece is in reference to a hard working father just getting off work in the service industry, taking some time to play a game of basketball with his son,” he captioned the painting. “This is dedicated to all the fathers or father figures, male mentors etc. that take time out of your schedule to be there for the kids.” McKay also released his second batch of solo works entitled “Year of the Camo” introducing another series of paintings, in 2017. He is currently getting prepared to travel around the United States to showcase more of his work.
Jay McKay’s art can be found here.