From a sun-filled studio in Wilton Center, resident Niki Key hopes to change the way people think about art–as both a process and a product, a form of self-reflection and self-expression.

Key spoke with GOOD Morning Wilton as she was beginning the seventh piece of a project she calls the 40HourARTWeek, a series of paintings which are each completed within the confines of a typical full-time work schedule.

“Each of these pieces, from the very moment I start to the moment I finish, takes forty hours. I film the whole thing on time lapse, edit it for video, and pair it with music,” she describes. “Each piece is offered for sale, although some of them are commissioned by clients.”

Key hopes to push back against what she sees as a trend towards the devaluation of art and artists. By placing her craft within a more familiar context, she can demonstrate the sheer amount of work that goes into original art as well as the value of classical training.

“There is a lot that people don’t think about,” Key said, “they just think about the finished product, like, ‘How will that look over my toilet?’ A lot of time people try to fill a space, or match a sofa—that’s how they quantify how much worth a piece of art has.”

For Key, the process of creating art is integral to the completed work. She films her projects to show the journey each piece takes from blank canvas to finished painting. These videos, however, are just one element of her campaign to inspire people to express themselves through art.

“I have a thing for performance but I also have a thing for getting people to love art as much as I do,” she said. “One of my ultimate goals is to have my own painting show, like a web series tutorial not unlike Bob Ross. I have a background in standup comedy, and I teach night classes where you drink and paint. I think I could get a broader audience to enjoy creating.”

Central to Key’s love for the physical act of painting is the introspection and meditative pleasure it brings her, a pleasure she hopes to share with others.

“There is a joy to it–there is a joy to getting the right color, there is a very tactile satisfaction with the way the paint goes onto the canvas. You can really zen out with the repetitive nature of a brush stroke,” she said.

This appreciation for the process and transition can be seen in the subjects of Key’s paintings:  many of her works depict influential people like Dolly Parton, Hillary Clinton, and Lucille Ball in the early stages of their careers.

“I like capturing the idea of someone before they knew what they were going to be. They all did really amazing things, but there was a point before they did those amazing things when they were just someone with dreams, and I really like capturing that,” she said.

The videos for Niki Key’s 40hourARTWeek project can be found on her Youtube channel, and inquiries and purchases can be made on her website. She also welcomes visitors to her studio in Hello, Yoga (80 Old Ridgefield Rd.) from 9-11 a.m. during the week.

“My studio is open in the mornings and I’d like to encourage people to stop by and have a cup of coffee. You can come meet me, watch me work, enjoy art and meet a neighbor,” she says. “Come and have a look!”