One of the things I learned in art school is that, as a creative professional, it is important to surround yourself with work (specifically by other artists/creative persons) that inspires you. Your work becomes better by looking at other artist’s work and thinking through their processes, studying their compositions, color combinations, flow, brush marks, lines, movement, etc. I love using Pinterest and Instagram to follow and pin work of artists I love, but I find that it is most helpful to have that inspiration close at hand (in physical rather than digital form) in my studio/office space.

When I was in college, I turned an old thrift store ornate frame I had into a inspiration board (see here in my Tulane studio and again here, here, and here in my home studio). I loved having my inspirations close by, but it was a really small surface area and I was constantly having to pick my favorites to put on it. For a while I’ve wanted to build something a little bigger than that, but I just hadn’t decided on what. Should this one be another fabric-covered cork board or should I look into a large piece of metal to make a magnetic one? I was talking through my ideas with Drew one evening and he was all like, “Don’t you have a bunch of washi tape? Why don’t you just tape them to the wall?” Well hello, genius!

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I had an empty wall in my studio just sitting there waiting for all these beautiful photos!

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Washi tape is great for this because it holds the images up nicely, but is also easily removable without damaging any walls. I love that the tape can add a little extra color/pattern to it all as well.

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My placement got a little crooked but I don’t care. That is the imperfect beauty of it. The only bad part is that the only wall space I had for this was next to my desk area, which is across the room from my painting studio area. I wish I could have these right next to me when I paint, instead of across the room, but this solution is still better than what I had before. Plus, I still have extra space to expand with more inspiration in the future. No more having to pick favorites!

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Aren’t all of these pieces just gorgeous? I have a few paintings and prints by these artists, but I wish I could buy them all!

Since there are so many images, it is too hard to list sources in a clearly labeled and legible way on here, so if you want to know what artist a particular painting on here is by, check out my “art” board on Pinterest, which includes the photos and links to the artists, or comment about which one you are wondering about and I’ll give you the info. They are all fabulous artists so go check out their websites and follow them on Instagram or through their blogs!

What inspires you? What are your favorite artists?

P.S. These inspiration images are for inspiration only! Never copy another artist’s work and make sure you keep track of the artists that you are inspired by to give them proper credit.

As you may remember from my mention in this post, I was part of an art exhibition in New Orleans this past June. It was sponsored by RAW Artists and you can see my RAW profile here. It was a long and crowded evening downtown with a variety of art and entertainment. There were visual/fine artists, jewelry artisans, music performances, fashion shows, and performance art. It was an interesting evening, but I’m happy I had the chance to participate.

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The best part of the show was that it really pushed me to create new work. The top nine paintings on fabric/canvas were new for this show. The only ones I’d shown before were the small framed ones from my BA Exhibition. It was also great to have this show as a push to work on updating my branding.

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Lots of family and friends either came out to the show or expressed their support which really means a lot! If you weren’t able to make it, watch the video below to hear a little more about my inspiration or read my artist statement below.

 My artist statement:

I have always had a love for art, a desire to create, and a passion for making things beautiful.

“I AM GOING TO MAKE EVERYTHING AROUND ME BEAUTIFUL — THAT WILL BE MY LIFE.”    —ELSIE DE WOLFE

As both a person and an artist, the world of my childhood—growing up in the country surrounded by nature—has always been my biggest inspiration. The organic forms, deep, complex colors, rich contrast—the ever-changing landscape is endless inspiration to me. I grew up in rural Southern Illinois on land that has been passed down through my family for generations. Before I started school, I spent every day with my grandmother, who encouraged my love of watercolor painting and being creative and who established the foundation for my personality and moral beliefs. My grandpa wrote stories, fished every day, and grew a huge garden that I helped him harvest. I loved snapping off the ripe asparagus, helping my grandma cook, and feeling the country breeze while laying in the hammock in their backyard. Just down the road was my own house, where I climbed trees and ran through the creek with my sisters and brother, helped my dad work in the yard and feed our chickens, and helped my mom plant flowers and herbs, cook and bake. Throughout my childhood, my mom imparted to me her creative knowledge—sewing, hand embroidery, cross-stitch, smocking, machine embroidery, knitting, crocheting, and basket weaving. This home-made, home-grown, down-to-earth, appreciate-the-simple-beauty upbringing encouraged me to develop a simple and creative life that I still strive to maintain.

“IF I WERE CALLED UPON TO DEFINE BRIEFLY THE WORD “ART,” I SHOULD CALL IT THE REPRODUCTION OF WHAT THE SENSES PERCEIVE IN NATURE, SEEN THROUGH THE VEIL OF THE SOUL.” —PAUL CEZANNE

Living in New Orleans over the last several years and finally having a space to call my own has also given great influence to my work. There is no other city like New Orleans with its rich history, abundant nature, brightly colored houses rich with architectural detail, and vibrant color combinations. I’m so intrigued by the color harmonies found in the world around me, particularly those that can be soothing and exciting at the same time.  I’ve always associated certain colors with particular things—days, people, memories—and I enjoy exploring those connections through my work. My first love has always been painting, but I enjoy mixing mediums and incorporating drawing, pastel, fabric, sewing, embroidery, quilting and pattern into my work, exploring how those elements can intertwine with paint to create images. One of my aesthetic and conceptual goals is to somehow marry all these different elements—mixed mediums, neutral and bright color combinations, the contrast of subtle and bold, thick and thin brushstrokes, paint drips, pattern, lines, shapes, nature and the domestic world—into a quilt of sorts, all parts orchestrated together to create an abstract moment of beauty, a complex image made up of simple parts.

“THE MAIN THING IS TO BE MOVED, TO LOVE, TO HOPE, TO TREMBLE, TO LIVE.” —AUGUSTE RODIN

As pretty as most of my inspiration is, not all areas of life are picture perfect. Often the greatest and most meaningful moments of our lives are also seeped with sadness, hurt, sorrow and loss. My art aims to tell these stories and explore these personal histories—the good, the bad, the beautiful and the I’d-rather-forget—illustrating the struggle, but choosing to see the good in those memories, moments, periods and people, choosing the kind word over the bitter one, letting the good overshadow the bad, living a positive and uplifting life despite the circumstances, seeing the beauty in the imperfect, and focusing on a heart of gratitude for the beautiful imperfections in these moments and in our lives. I want to take those moments and turn them into something both beautiful and tangible, to inspire and uplift through the expressive form of grace, the way only art can do.

If you want to check out more of my artwork, you can visit my portfolio website, here.

If you follow me on social media, such as Instagram, then you’ve probably seen me posting a lot of photos and updates lately about painting, my art exhibition coming up, and my art branding re-design. In just under two weeks, I’ll be exhibiting my art in a RAW artist exhibition in New Orleans. It should be a really fun event, so if you live in the New Orleans area, you should really think about coming! You can find out more information about the show and the artists participating, here, and you can see my profile and buy tickets from me, here.  To get ready for the show, I gave my art portfolio website and branding a little update, which you can check out online, here.

caitlin-branding-lookTo see more of my artwork, visit my art portfolio, here.

The last time I shared photos of my office/studio, it looked like this:

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It continued to look like this until about a week and a half ago. Now it looks quite a bit different (but we’ll get to that in just a second).

The room was great before. It was pretty. It was functional for storing my things. But I felt a little like that was all it was being used for. Just a room to house my stuff. During college, it was great to have this space to myself. I needed a quiet spot to write papers and do homework. However, now that I’m out of school, I found that I didn’t really use the space as much anymore (only when painting). I still work some from home, I still blog, and I still spend a lot of time on my computer, however, I found this space to be too quiet (and lonely) for me to work in very often. Since Drew and I both work away from home during the day, we only get to spend time with each other at night and on the weekends. If I spent all that time working in here, with him working in the other room, we would never see each other. So we would both end up bringing our computers into the living room where we could work together.

So we decided to give this room a little makeover. One that would make it work a little better for both of us. Now it looks like this:

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I’ve always loved the look of double desks (especially since Drew and I both do a lot of work from home that we need office space for) and I’d been envisioning one for this room for a long time. This wall is just the perfect spot for it. (Inspiration: this, this, this, thisthis and this.)

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We built the (nearly 12 foot long) desk ourselves using Besta bookcases from IKEA (outfitted with these legs) and wooden 2x8x12 boards that we stained/sealed/and put together. A longer post coming soon about exactly how to DIY one of your own. (We did a few things differently, but our process was very similar to this one.)

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We ended up painting the wall behind the desk with chalkboard paint (Valspar from Lowe’s) and it is one of my absolute favorite things about the room. I’ve always admired chalkboard walls and I love the functionality of this one (inspiring quotes, to do lists, etc.) and the gorgeous statement it makes (I’m so into high contrast these days!). It took about 3 coats of paint to cover our wall and even though our walls are bumpy plaster, it still works great. If you do this in your own home, remember to “season” the entire wall with chalk dust before using (it makes what you write on there easily erasable without leaving an impression of what you wrote on the wall), but I will warn you that it makes a huge mess! Totally worth it in the end though.

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The other walls in the room are painted in Grey Ghost (Valspar from Lowe’s) in a satin finish. I love the contrast of the black chalkboard wall with the lighter grey walls and the white bookcases, etc.

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I’ve found lately that my style is changing quite a bit. I’m into really high-contrast and neutral spaces (black, white, grey, gold, and wood), with just smaller bits of color (and I would even like a little less color in here, but I’m working with what I’ve got — LOVE this office), patterns, abstract art (when wasn’t I into that though), elegant but with a more casual feel (love the imperfect to do list and the art taped right on the wall), contrasting textures (matte black wall with satin grey on the other walls, smooth white bookcases with an imperfect wooden desk top), a little old with a little new, and a little bit of quirk. This is definitely my favorite room in the house.

See more of my office/studio inspiration on my Pinterest board, here.

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The room feels so much bigger now! Not only is it such a better use of the space in our small apartment, and more functional, but it also provides so much extra storage and organization. It is so nice to have a desk with shelves. I didn’t even know how much I missed that before with my open desk. The small gap behind the desk bookcases, between the wall, is also great for storing art paper pads, unused art frames, etc! A nice little accidental perk!

This room has come so far from the before pictures in this post!

Now I’m on to the search for a larger rug for this space!

****UPDATE**** Want to build your own DIY Double Desk? Check out the how-to, here

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Sources:

My desk chair is from World Market, Drew’s wooden desk chair was thrifted, baskets on the built-in shelves and the middle desk shelf are from Target, other smaller baskets on desk shelves are from Michael’s, rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, easel is from Craigslist, pink curvy glass lamp is from Home Goods (got it on vacation years ago in Charleston, SC), standing lamp is from Target, shelves DIY built-in out of IKEA Extra-Deep Billy Bookcases, Painting Taboret is IKEA kitchen cart, big white ornate frame with painting inspiration pics is thrifted and turned into bulletin board, big ornate gold frame is thrifted, elephant print on bookshelves is from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shop, small purple/yellow print on bookshelves we got in Portland, OR but is Old School Stationeersgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters, glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, prints in them are prints of my paintings, wooden abstract painting on desk is by me, two taped up paintings on my side of the desk were bought at an estate sale and painted by Pierce Jonassen, taped up painting on Drew’s side is by me, crewelwork embroidery in gold frame was thrifted, white ceramic turtle is from West Elm, gold plant pot was thrifted, silver desk lamp is from IKEA, and rose window print is from here.

Much of my time over the last few months of this past semester were spent here:

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This was my studio space in the Advanced Painting room at Tulane. I shared this room with several other pretty cool people (and pretty awesome artists). Our end goal was to produce a body of work for our end-of-the-year, Bachelor of Arts Exhibition. Our exhibition was up in the Carroll Gallery at Tulane from May 9th-May 17th.

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It was a really awesome experience to have my work shown in a gallery. Here is my final exhibition, a quilt series of twenty-four (I actually did more, these were just the ones I ended up showing) abstract landscape paintings, painted on cotton quilting fabric, some fabrics sewn together, and some including machine and hand embroidery.

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My artist statement:

I grew up in rural Southern Illinois on land that has been passed down through my family for generations. Before I started school, I spent every day with my grandmother, who encouraged my love of watercolor painting and being creative and who established the foundation for my personality and moral beliefs. My grandpa wrote stories, fished everyday, and grew a huge garden that I helped him harvest. I loved snapping off the ripe asparagus, helping my grandma cook, and laying in the hammock in their backyard. Just down the road was my own house, where I climbed trees and ran through the creek with my sisters and brother, helped my dad work in the yard and feed our chickens, and helped my mom plant flowers and herbs, cook and bake. Throughout my childhood, my mom imparted to me her creative knowledge – sewing, hand embroidery, cross-stitch, smocking, machine embroidery, knitting, crocheting, and basket weaving.

After moving to New Orleans for college, I started thinking more about my own childhood and the different backgrounds of those around me.  I began to really question the idea around our sense of place—how people live, where they live, why they live there—the spaces people create for themselves. How do these places impact our personalities and our interests? During this time, I also developed a love for interior design—a way to carve out a space for myself that felt comfortable and familiar, a place where I could mix my former and current worlds in a way that was also beautiful and intriguing.

My art aims to capture a sense of personal history, exploring both the past and the present, questioning the differences in the city and the country, and highlighting domestic pursuits and interior spaces and exploring their connection with the natural world. I’m interested in the juxtaposition of interior and exterior spaces—nature and domesticity, home and homestead, city and country—but also interested in how they work together and are innately connected. Because of my upbringing, I’m very interested in the use of sewing, embroidery, quilting, fabric and pattern and how those elements can intertwine with paint to create images. I’m also interested in the elements that make up interiors—paint, fabric and textiles, wood textures, natural elements, metal finishes—and how many of those elements find their roots in the natural—cotton, linen, wood, and minerals. One of my aesthetic and conceptual goals is to somehow marry interior and natural elements into a single image, developing a quilt of sorts, that evokes a feeling of comfort, sentiment, and history that an interior of a home or a familiar natural setting provides.

If you want to check out more of my artwork, you can visit my portfolio website, here.

To check out work from the other artists showing with me, visit our exhibition website, here.

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