Artist Profile

Chelsea Horn

Story by Amy Armstrong

The swirls of ocean waves and the regular surfacing of its underwater inhabitants left indelible marks on the mind of Chelsea Horn as she grew up in Halibut Cove in Kachemak Bay.

That was a couple of decades ago.

Today those swirls and curious aquatic critters are the leading subjects of her burgeoning career as one of Alaska’s up-and-coming acrylic artists.

From the home she and husband, Brian Horn, make with their three children in Homer with its sweeping views that entrance tourists and residents alike, the past three years chronicle her deep professional dive into what, as a young girl, was just a hobby.

Throughout childhood, she sketched and sketched subsequently showing her efforts to the various world-class artists visiting her parents' bed and breakfast: The Covelight Inn on Isamailof Island, which features a Victorian style lighthouse.

“I received a lot of positive feedback as a kid timidly showing the world’s top artists my sketches,” Chelsea says.

She dabbled here and there; in her teen years she worked the water taxi service as a deck hand, ferrying guests from the Homer Spit to Halibut Cove. Once the ferry was underway, she had time to sketch while on the water.

Chelsea became a boat captain and at age 19 became a “very young mom” as she describes it. “Between working on the boat and changing diapers, there wasn’t much time for art,” she says with a chuckle. “It was sort of my ‘me’ time instead of a profession.”

She married and added two other children to the family, all the while painting and sketching. Then, the big 3-0 birthday came along with a “drive” that pushed her art career into high gear. She was coming off a particularly dark, long winter. “The winter weather had not been so great,” Chelsea says. “There wasn’t a lot of snow to play in that year.”

She needed color. A friend brought her some art supplies and told her to paint. And she did. It was a scene full of the classic Chelsea Horn movement featuring women on a mountain and a little cabin at the water’s edge. She posted it on Facebook. People began telling her it was a terrific painting and that her ability to capture movement was unusual. A friend bought the painting for $300. She now had money to buy more canvas and more paint.

“It just sort of took off from there,” Chelsea says. “And I thought to myself, ‘what have I been afraid of all this time?’ ”

She calls her art “funky” and that it “always has some sort of movement in it; there is always something curving or leaning,” she says. “I like to play with perspective that way. I just capture the moment as I feel it.”
Back in August, on Alaska Wild Salmon Day, Chelsea celebrated by working on 16 different canvases on her deck. It was a sunny day and she was in a groove creating a tunneling effect for a four-foot salmon going into a swirl. She had, of course, just attended Salmonfest in Ninilchik and was inspired. “I need to be painting more salmon,” she says, also announcing her plans for a large art show at the 2019 Alaska Wild Salmon Day.
It is only natural that a girl born and raised in Kachemak Bay would feature fish – especially salmon – in her artwork. Yet, Chelsea captures other iconic Alaska images: the boats tied up at dock and also bouncing across the waves, the fireweed dancing as wind rushes through, and the majestic mountains.

Her career still isn’t a financially profitable one, she admits, and she is very grateful for her husband’s support.

“I can get sucked into a painting and not sleep for days if I can get away with it and forget the dishes for days,” she confides. “I guess you could say that at this point, this is an expensive hobby.”

View Chelsea Horn’s art online at