Kitchell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1950 and moved to California when he was five years old. Both of his parents were architects and started Kitchell’s art training when he was three years old. In 1967 - 68, Kitchell attended the Art Institute of San Francisco where he studied printmaking and, in 1968-69, he attended the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA. He toured the museums of Europe and Africa from 1969 to 1971. Since the early 1970’s Kitchell has participated in dozens of one-man shows and group exhibitions throughout the U.S. He now works out of his own studio in New England.
He says he avoids abstractions and prefers that his artwork create a story. Kitchell says:
"The pieces are not really abstract. They are objects, pictures of things. I find that pure abstraction doesn’t have as much life as something with a story. The paintings are elements of a story that unconsciously suggest 'something.' There have to be ways for people to walk into my painting or some kind of communication going on between what I’m doing and what they receive from it. A reaction to strong colour, for example, is very common and an easy way for people to enter my work. I love colour, I delight in it. But ultimately, it all goes back to the fact that each painting is a story, built up from pictures. These pictures have been reduced to their most primal level, then sifted through my style and what the watercolour medium allows and then reappear, accidentally, subliminally and purposefully. The pieces that are most successful, interestingly enough, are not the ones that are the most abstract but the ones that are distillation of a feeling."