Charley Kinney lived and died in Toller Hollow near Vanceburg in Lewis County Kentucky. Along with his brother Noah, Kinney lived off the land (and off the grid) on inherited land in the rolling hills bordering Ohio. The Kinney brothers could be described as true mountain men. Both brothers were artistic and actively creative; Charley painted, along with crafting sculptural objects and animals – he often drew inspiration from his brother Noah’s imaginative creations. He also found inspiration from local folk tales and legends and imagined characters and creatures. Charley Kinney lived in the northern Kentucky hills with his brother and sister in-law until his death at aged eighty-five in 1991.
Kinney would allow his imagination to inspire many of his works. He would imagine animals, folklore figures, and “haints,” legendary creatures that personified evil. He was once told that these evil creatures looked like Tasmanian Devils and would paint them to look like the animal. Kinney would also paint his world around him depicting mountain men, moonshine stills, and flying machines. To embellish his images he would include words – verbs phonetically spelled to enhance the story he was illustrating. Correct proportion and scale have no importance in Kinney’s work, and paintings may be rendered on any handy surface such as window shades and found metal sheeting. His brushwork can seem nervous but his images are dynamic and graphic; animals are often portrayed being hunted and depicted as servants to man.