Without a doubt, one of the great joys of my work is meeting artists in their studios. The combination of actually getting to know an individual artist, seeing more of their work (including work in progress), and seeing them in their own environment allows me to develop a deeper understanding of them and their work and often see the work in a new light. This past weekend I was in Denver and Boulder, visiting with three Artful Home artists, each of whom works in a different medium.
The first stop was at the home and studio of Lisa Call. Lisa is a textile artists (and software engineer!) who often develops whole series of quilts around particular themes. Currently, she is exploring houses, strongly influenced by her recent overhaul of her own home and life, thus exploring what “home” means to her.
Lisa boldly explores her theme in multiple scales, from teeny tiny 3? squares to large pieces. Seeing Lisa in her light filled studio with her larger pieces helped me understand her draw to the house structure, and notice the exquisite detail of her hand-dyed fabrics, her painterly color sense, and detailed, almost obsessive quality to her stitching.
The next stop was in Boulder, to the home and studio of Julie Powell. Julie is a former quilter (and outstanding baker!) who now employs her fascination with color and texture in amazing beadwork jewelry.
I got to see one of her incredible cuffs in person, along with many other pieces, and came to understand Julie’s process. She starts with a feeling, in this case, the desire to convey the motion and rush of a Colorado river. Working with a sketch that she uses as inspiration, Julie starts in the middle of the piece and lets the piece take form from there. The end result is dazzling, sculptural, and unique, so much so that a friend who had joined me for the visit, an avid fly-fisherman, had to purchase it on the spot – just because! Another found its way to Artful Home — and onto my own wrist!
My final visit was to the home and studio of Derek Secor Davis. He lives in the gorgeous foothills of the Rockies, and finding him required driving up and up and up along a breathtakingly beautiful road through gold mining country. Derek is a furniture artist whose elegant work employs sculptural elements, sophisticated whimsy, and masterful craftsmanship. Seeing work in progress revealed the painstaking carving, milk-painting, sanding, carving processes Derek uses to create his subtly textured surfaces and forms. Even more interesting was seeing Derek’s pieces in a home environment.
Sometimes it is easy to assume that a piece of contemporary furniture might be too “out there” for your home. Yet, in Derek’s home, the Teardrop Table lived perfectly happily next to the coziest of chairs. And yes, Derek built his home, and it is a thing of beauty!
After leaving these three artists, I was reminded of something I was taught in art school, that as an observer of art one should be willing to let the work “sink in”. Any one piece represents all the years of experience of that artist, funneled into a specific work. Meeting the artists, hearing how they think about their work and what inspired them, allowed their work to sink into my brain even more deeply, and I am grateful for their allowing me to experience that.