Artist Interview: Kelsey Garrity Riley

Artist Interview
We were lucky enough to have Kelsey Garitty Riley as our September Artist Interview! She was also our book club artist for “The Glass Castle”, and we absolutely love what she came up with! If you haven’t seen it, make sure to check out the printable here. That being said, Kelsey grew up in Germany and Belgium before moving to the US to pursue her art career. She studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design and now resides in New York. We’ve taken a peek inside her studio and asked her a few questions to better understand her process and thoughts as an illustrator. We hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look into her creative wonderland!
Kelsey Garrity-RileyRead the full interview here!

Can you name 5 women artists?


March is National Women’s History month and to celebrate the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) has launched their #5WomenArtists campaign. Every day they’ll feature 5 women artists while encouraging us to post our own photos. As you might imagine, I LOVE THIS CHALLENGE! I love it so much that I’m going to join in every day by posting a picture of some of my favorite women artists. Feel free to join in too!

Dove Mural: What are you waiting for?


Lars mural with DOVE Lars mural with DOVE

Can we all agree that chocolate is the universal love language? It is the standby gift for Valentine’s Day, your mid-afternoon pick-me-up, the expected apology gift, the way to soothe a broken heart, etc. Sometimes it’s the only proper way to end the day! The way to my heart is chocolate, and my husband will attest to this. I am a firm believer that we all deserve to indulge a little in life. Life is too short to not enjoy every moment, and lots of those moments should include chocolate!

I’m sure most of you are familiar with DOVE® Chocolate. It is a delight. In addition to delicious chocolate, DOVE understands the importance of living a full life. I am still so surprised at how often women feel like they cannot or should not accomplish their dreams or fulfill their aspirations. I love DOVE’s mission of encouraging women to make their hopes and dreams a top priority in addition to their responsibilities because I believe it brings a fulfilling life to you and to those around you. That’s why I was thrilled to partner with DOVE’s #ChoosePleasure campaign, where they encourage you not to just make the choice, but to get up and DO something about it!

One of the ways their company illustrates this campaign is through their PROMISES. The PROMISES are those delectable little chocolates with the inspirational phrase written on the inside of the wrapper. We were so thrilled to be given the opportunity to come up with an art piece for one of DOVE’s PROMISES. The one we chose is (drumroll…): What are you waiting for?

5 Floral coloring books


Pretty coloring book round up

The longer the coloring book craze continues, the prettier the coloring books get! I have found a few floral stunners that I’d love to share with you today! Of course, I couldn’t help but throw in our own ;). They’d be perfect for some summer traveling down time. Enjoy!

Birdtopia by Daisy Fletcher
Flowers Coloring Book by Brittany Jepsen (hey! that’s me!)
Wildflowers by Lisa Congdon (and Flora & Fauna too!)
Floribunda by Leila Duly

Photo by Anna Killian

You’re invited to a Daily Drawing Challenge


Daily drawing challenge for March! You're invited!

One of my personal New Year’s resolutions was to practice basic creative fundamentals: drawing, painting, etc. I have totally failed to do so on a regular basis in the past and I think of where I could be if I had (just like the piano. Gah! Why are moms always right when they drill practicing into your brains?!). With our limited time, sometimes “practicing” is just as easy as drawing one thing a day. Just one thing! So, I was thrilled to partner with Creativebug to kick myself into gear where artist Pam Garrison is leading a drawing challenge for the month of March called 31 Things to Draw. Tune in every day for a daily prompt teaching us one thing to draw. To keep ourselves accountable, she encourages us to use the hashtag #CBDrawADay where we can post our drawings. They did a drawing challenge for the month of January and you can see all 21,000 images of people practicing. It’s super inspiring!

I’ll be doing the challenge right alongside you. Find out more about the challenge below!

The work of Louise Saxton


I came upon the work of Melbourne-based artist Louise Saxton on Pinterest awhile back and I stopped dead in my tracks. I don’t know if you can tell the scale of these works but it consists of hand embroidery and other found objects from around the house. Aren’t they exquisite?

Heart Garden, made of reclaimed needlework, lace pins, nylon tulle
Major Tom 2010, made of reclaimed needlework, lace pins, nylon tulle
Weep, 2009
Last Gasp, made of reclaimed needlework, lace pins, nylon tulle

Artist socks


Is there anything more perfect? Yes the socks are adorable, but even better is the styling by Kate Brien for Vogue (talk about a dream job!) These socks of famous paintings and artists are right up my alley. AND they’re so beautifully styled against the rad backdrops, pants, and shoes. Perfection!

AND, you can get 10% off any of these socks by clicking here and entering AFF1SAVE at checkout by August 31 (socks from Hot Sox)

Pageant of the Masters: Herbert James Draper

Last month I announced a new series on the blog, Pageant of the Masters, where floral designer Ashley Beyer of Tinge Floral and Kate Osborne of Kate Osborne Photography and I team up to recreate paintings with flowers in the them. It’s been awfully dreamy so far. This time we included painter Leslie Duke, model/illustrator Michelle Christensen, and hair stylist Aubrey Nelson to (literally) complete the picture.

This month we recreated Herbert James Draper’s Pot Pourri from 1897. I was unfamiliar with Draper’s work when we selected him as our second artist in the series so I thought I’d provide some background. He was a Victorian era English painter who took a traditional path as a career painter. He studied at the Royal Academy and like the good artist he was, took frequent trips to Rome to study from the masters. He often portrayed mythological themes in his work along with portraits and became quite famous for it. By the end of his life in the early 1900s his fame had passed. It’s only now that there’s a revival in his works.

Kate, Ashley, and I gasped at the thought of recreating this painting in real life. The beautiful red and pink roses so beautifully frame the canvas and lend a romantic yet lonely feel to the woman. Is she all alone with her flowers creating an arrangement for herself? Or is she the madame of her residence creating the arrangements for a party later on in the evening? Does black indicate mourning and is it for a funeral of a loved one? I gotta find out more about this artist!

Funny story, the painting we initially found was the exact image above. BUT, in later research, after the photoshoot, we found that this painting had been cropped.

WHOOPS! Would have been good to know and it explains the dried flowers on the right side of the painting. Now you can see the blue and white vase peeking in. Note to self: research BEFORE the shoot! That said, I do rather enjoy the crop of the one we recreated.

So, the funky thing about recreating paintings is seeing just how many artistic liberties the artist takes. There are some angles of the model that I’m pretty sure aren’t humanly possible. For example, the left hand holding the bowl. To get the height of the bowl with the angle of her sleeve wouldn’t be possible in our recreation unless someone else was holding it. So I did what anyone would do and get down on the ground and hold the bowl up from below.
Another issue was the lighting. The light source in the painting was coming from all around, yet the face of the model was in darkness. Explain that one! Kate did an amazing job of recreating the lighting, but here’s how normal lighting would have been (see above). There’s no way you can get such severe shadows on her face without a little artistic license.
I have to applaud Aubrey Nelson on hair. Didn’t she nail it? And Leslie Duke‘s background. It was just the right texture.

Stay tuned for next month’s recreation!

hair by Aubrey Nelson
art direction by me

Oversized flower paintings


You know this has my name written all over it. Thomas Darnell has created these amazingly beautiful oversized floral paintings–in this case it’s peonies–and it’s just enough to make your jaw drop. AND, he lives and works in the South of France, so pretty much, yes he’s living the dream. Aren’t these too much?!

I will gladly accept this as a gift. Big huge wink.

Thomas Darnell and his portfolio via the Artful Desperado

In my next life: painter

This is the second post in a new monthly series called, “In my next life” where I basically gawk at people whose jobs I’d love. See last month’s with professional ballerina at the Royal Danish Ballet, Christina Michanek
photography by Luisa Brimble courtesy of Arent & Pyke’s blog In/Out

A few weeks ago, Luisa Brimble, a fantastic photographer based in Australia, showed a picture on Instagram of artist Laura Jones’ studio. I was instantly (no pun intended) hooked. Laura paints florals in beautiful, bright colors and thus, her studio is a floral haven. I think I would be pleased as punch if this was my house. 
I grew up in a pretty artistic household and at one point I had decided to be a painter when I grew up. I don’t know when that decision was disrupted–perhaps school, sports, music? But never could I have imagined something like this. Laura’s work takes the cake, right? I’m rarely tempted to actually buy a piece of art–I’m usually quite content to just post it on my Pinterest board–but I’m so absolutely drawn to her work. Check out the interview below.

Did you always want to be an artist? Why or why not?
I did, I have always made art and knew I would always want to make it. I didn’t know if I’d actually become an artist but as I got older I realised that I could make it happen. Being an artist is really important to me now. I work hard at it because I believe that it is what I should be doing and because the world needs artists! 

How did you get into painting? 
I have painted ever since I was little. It has always come naturally to me although that’s not to say it is easy. Painting is a very difficult thing to do because you are always trying to push yourself to make better work, and it is always hard to make space for it in your life around part time work.

As of late, you’ve been painting a lot of flowers. Why? What’s the attraction?  
I grew up in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia. There are a lot of beautiful gardens there and my mother always had flowers around the house. I have always loved them. When I was studying for a Masters in Art at the College of Fine Arts, I would bring big bunches of interesting leaves and flowers to the printmaking studio and make coloured etchings with them. I also started working in a flower shop part time to get me through uni. That was about 2005 and I have worked in flower shops ever since.

My most recent body of work is all about flowers because painting them just made a lot of sense all of a sudden. I had always done a little bit of flower painting here and there but I realised I should make a whole show about them. Flowers are very symbolic, reminding people about the transience of life, whilst also being very positive, happy things. They were good for the soul to paint and I hope that’s what people feel when they look at my flower paintings.

Were there people along the way in your field who you admired or helped you shaped the decision to be an artist?
I have so many. The most influential time was when I was at art school. Because I majored in printmaking, we often had a lot of artists come to the studios to do print projects. The students would assist the Master Printer (and our teacher), Michael Kempson, who would work alongside artists to help them make etchings and works on paper. I met so many painters during this time, and I would ask them about what they did and how they did it. It worked out that the first thing I needed to do was to get a studio. As soon as I graduated I found a studio and I have been a practising artist ever since.

Do you have a mantra or something you live by?
I can’t remember where I read this one but it helped me a lot when I was starting out and feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the potential in painting and where to begin! It was in my first studio, which was above an old pub in Western Sydney, and I remember reading it somewhere and then writing it on the wall, “There is only what you do and what you don’t do.”

My interpretation was to do the work, one painting at a time. Each painting will be better than the last and you will learn something from everything you do.

What’s your favorite part about your job?

The actual process of making things. I am so interested and engaged in what I do, from preparing a surface to paint on, to applying the paint, to painting over something that doesn’t work, to making decisions about what to do next, or even just rearranging my studio. I love looking at something and then trying to describe it with my hands. I really enjoy everything about making work in my studio.

How do you juggle the balance of life/work?
I work all the time, and just get things done. I could probably cook and exercise more but I just love working whether it be at the studio or the flower shop. I socialise a lot and go to lots of art openings. I think I manage to squeeze everything in by working long hours and not watching tv. Life is a constant struggle for balance I suppose.

Is there anything you could do without? I could live without living in the city I think. One day, maybe soon, I’d like to go where there’s more green.

What’s one of the most memorable moments of your career so far?

My recent show is probably top of the list. I really felt so happy with my paintings, and the opening was a huge success.

Being selected as a Finalist for the Doug Moran Prizefor Portraiture– it’s Australia’s richest portrait prize and to be showing with so many other great artists including some of my good friends was wonderful.

Working with Grantpirrie Gallery as their Master Printmaker was amazing too. Also going to the New York Studio School to do a drawing course. There’s too many, and I can’t wait to keep working on more.

If you weren’t painting, what would you be doing?
I would probably be travelling right now. Like a gypsy! 

Thank you, Laura, for participating in In My Next Life. Don’t you just love her? I love the part about hoping her paintings speak to your soul. The answer is yes. YES! Flowers do so much for the soul and I’d love to be surrounded by them like that. If you happen to be in Australia, she has a show right now until the 15th at the Maunsell Wickes Gallery in Paddington. More info here.

And are you looking at the floral print on the chair? It’s from Edit. Isn’t the matching chair/skirt lovely?

Did you ever want to be a painter? What would you do if you could do anything in the world? Speak up! 

Caitlin Watson part I

By now it’s probably obvious that I adore my sister, Caitlin Watson. She is the epitome of effortless creativity in dress, art, design and just plain living. She just graduated with a BFA in painting and sent me created her online portfolio. If you could only see the things her portfolio doesn’t show of her childhood work. Oh man, there are some goodies. Well, you can imagine my delight when I finally saw this project that she’s only described to me in words where she imitated our mom’s modeling pictures from when she was a wee lass for a school assignment. I nearly died. Partly because Mom is kind of cheeseball (sorry, mom, it’s true non?) which meant that Caitlin is equally cheeseball. The best part about it is that she shot them all herself at her house with a timer.
And you know what? She’s now on the hunt for a job or internship and I’m shamelessly putting it out to the blogging universe hoping that some kind soul knows of a good fit for her. She’s not partial to a specific place just the right fit for her and her talents (I think NYC would be a good fit personally!). She’d like to focus on installations or textile work or crafts or painting and let me tell you she’s good at it all. So, if you’re looking or know someone looking for someone oozing with creative goodness, contact her at and check out her portfolio here.

This is part 1 of 2 as the next post I’ll show some of her pattern work next.

And don’t forget Craftenhagen tomorrow night!

Ummm, say what?

I don’t know what’s going on lately, but my breath has been taken away four times in the past week. One, two, three (on the way), and now this. My heart started racing as I started clicking through Lyndie Dourthe’s site. She has created the most wondrous little beauties I’ve ever seen and these little guys are made of paper. PAPER! And you know I’m a sucker for paper AND flowers. I die. I’ve been planning on doing more experiments with dying and painting onto flowers and now I realize that I should have. Can I still?
The packaging!

Check out all of her magical beauties here, but get out your Google translate or rack your brain from Mme Macy’s high school class ‘cuz it’s all in French.

via 100 Layer Cake