from inspiration to art

An artist can be inspired by any number of things: a dream, memory, or feeling, or more tangible things like nature, people, or a location. While anyone can look at something beautiful and be inspired by it, moved by it — it takes an artist to take that inspiration and create something entirely new from it.

The vast and unreachable “unknown” of outer space captivates artists and scientists alike. Glass artist Josh Simpson (married to renowned astronaut Catherine Coleman) creates stunning glass planets that evoke some of the incredible beauty of space.

Each night, Simpson walks from his home to his studio and spends time gazing into the night sky. He never tries to replicate the beauty he witnesses, but instead tries to instill some of the wonder of the universe into his glass work. He often isn’t even aware of the source of his inspiration until someone points it out to him later.

Neil deGrasse Tyson said:

As you know, I study astrophysics, and let me tell you the kind of art I’m least interested in – it’s when people see these beautiful images from the Hubble telescope, and they’re inspired by that, and they just sort of draw that.

And my response is – I don’t NEED you to draw that. I have the telescope to give me that. As an artist, why don’t you process that through your own creativity, and take me to a place I’ve never been before?

Then you’re adding a dimension to it. Don’t just copy what’s there – I’m not telling an artist what to do, but what I like is when an artist is inspired by the Universe, and it goes through their machine, and comes out of them in a new kind of way, and you go “Hey…I bet I know what inspired that.”

I want an artist to show me something I might not have noticed about that natural beauty. I want an artist to layer an emotion on that natural beauty that I might not have seen myself, or even known to access.

From outer space to inner reflection — this piece by Cathy Broski is inspired by memorable people and events in her life. Broski created a cavity in the form which features metaphorical objects: a ladder symbolizing inner growth achieved through aging, a bird as a metaphor for the inner voice helping to keep us on our path, cups representing time spent with the ones we love.

Sometimes it’s important to look at something in a different, unexpected way to find inspiration. At first glance, we may only notice the blooming flowers in our gardens. Look again, and you may notice more subtle beauty found in the silvery fuzz covering a stem or the fresh green tones and shapes of leaves. Nancy Linkin is inspired by the curvilinear forms found in nature and geometry. In a conversation with Linkin, she shared that the spiraling curled ferns and gracefully bending vines and grasses in her garden inspire her work — can you see their forms in her jewelry?

Memories and experiences are sources of inspiration, too. Perhaps a blue and white color scheme present in a childhood kitchen now evokes feelings of calm and happiness. Or maybe a memory of a special trip to the ocean draws you to pieces with a nautical theme. The Summer Porch Peach series by Karen Schulz was inspired by ‘a summer vacation ritual of lining up luscious peaches, to watch them ripen and dwindle over relaxing, joyous, carefree days on Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.’ The warm yellows and oranges in the piece contrast with the cool blues and greens to bring the artist’s memory to life.

Inspiration can strike anyone, but it takes an artist to transform inspiration into something new and beautiful.

By |July 31st, 2015|articles|0 Comments

artist spotlight: hal mayforth

Art can be serious. It can express things that are not easily talked about — heavy things that make us think. Often art is profoundly beautiful, and brings us a sense of peace and contentment simply for its presence. However, there’s a lighter side to art. Sometimes art just makes us smile, or chuckle. Much of Hal Mayforth‘s art falls into this category — art that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Mayforth’s early interest was music, and he considers himself lucky to have graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in Fine Art due to spending most of his years there playing rock and roll in bars.

When his band relocated from upstate New York to Boston and then quickly broke up, Mayforth began to get his drawings published in the city’s lively alt-press scene.

I was also getting a lot of work with various computer magazines in the Boston area. There was a need for humorous illustrations to liven up some fairly dry material. By the time the computer epicenter had left Boston and moved to Silicon Valley, I was already advertising nationally, and creating illustrations for publications all over the country. I have had a successful career as a humorous illustrator for more than 35 years. My work has appeared in many US national publications including Time, The New York Times, US News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Rolling Stone, Outside, The Boston Globe, and Road and Track. I have won a boatload of awards for my illustration work, including Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society in 1993 and 2 silver medals from The Society of Illustrators. I have always done personal fine art work throughout my career and lately have been spending more time to that end.

With such a prolific and successful career, it takes a great deal of effort to support it. We asked Mayforth about his process:

When I was a junior at Skidmore College, I had a drawing instructor that assigned a sketchbook for the entire semester. I’ve been doing them ever since. The concept resonated with me. I have a morning routine that I have followed for the past 35+ years. I start with 20 minutes of meditation and then I draw in my sketchbook for an hour. I work directly in pen and ink and a smattering of watercolor and colored pencil. I try to work with mistakes and never use white out. The ink blobs and splatters are all part of the process. When I start a new volume I do a front page that indicates volume number and the date started. I usually carry over graphic themes to the front page that I have developed in the previous volume. Because I have been devoting an hour every day for the past 35+ years to drawing in these books, certain rhythms emerge.

Hal Mayforth sketchbook cover (image courtesy of Hal Mayforth)

Hal Mayforth sketchbook cover (image courtesy of Hal Mayforth)

At times I struggle and other times the ideas seem to pour out of my pen tip. I never know what will happen. I’ve always thought the important thing is to just keep doing it. You never know when lightning will strike and a good idea will come out of the blue. Chances of capturing these strikes are increased through the act of drawing. I try to meditate every morning before my drawing session. This clears my mind and lets the good stuff rise to the surface. It also relaxes me and provides focus. I am much more measured in my drawing after I meditate. It works for me.

Hal Mayforth

Mayforth’s bright, colorful pieces and clever humor make wonderful additions to any collection. Because really, who doesn’t need a reminder to lighten up once in awhile?

By |July 24th, 2015|spotlights|0 Comments

studio sale favorites

Whenever Studio Sale comes around, we are always excited to see what incredible pieces our artists bring in. Sometimes they’re experimental designs. Sometimes they’re pieces created from limited materials. Sometimes they’re work an artist has finally decided to part with and share with a collector. We never know what we might see, but we always know that there will be an amazing number of truly extraordinary pieces.

So what do we, here at Artful Home, love the most from this Studio Sale? Art is as unique as the people who love it, and everyone has different tastes. Here are some of our staff favorites, and why we love them:

I love seeing Whitney’s line work in the form of flowers and the scratch lines she has created adding texture to this ceramic bottle form, and exposing underlying color. Overall, the colors and line work are subtle and beautiful, the form simple and elegant. Most of the work that we sell on our site is Whitney’s production work – what an amazing surprise to see her beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces as well! I may just have to buy this one…”

– Sally, Director of Merchandising for Decor

With skill and precision, this collaborative effort recreates, in stunning life-like detail, the form of this naturally artistic creature.  To me, this sculptural vase continues and elevates the earlier work of artistic biologists, such as Ernst Haeckel. It is a true expression of creative beauty, while retaining the perfect artistry found in nature.”

– Paul, Artist Services Coordinator

“I absolutely love Hale‘s use of color in her work, and this piece is no exception. The subtle, gentle colors of the flowers are soothing and calm, and the many layers of paint add interest and texture. The flowing forms of the blooms, paired with the straight lines in paint are an interesting juxtaposition. I would love this hung in a master bedroom — it would add to a feeling of serenity and sanctuary.”

– Casey, Web Content and Social Media Manager

One look at this piece was all it took to generate an association with Miss Havisham of Great Expectations, the decadent grandeur of her home, and evidence, here and there, of unfulfilled promise and former glory. The strong patterns in vibrant green and blue hues at the top of the work brings to mind lush carpets or mosaic inlays, while the brilliant skylight at its middle and large windows at its base suggest a majestic space. And yet, the soft, watery tones that appear to radiate outward hint at a romantic decline. This narrative, it seems to me, stands in stark contrast to the beauty of the piece itself, where the viewer can catch a glimpse of past and present, thanks to its symmetry, use of color, and technique.”

– Adrienne, Merchandising Assistant

Caroline Jasper‘s vibrant oil paintings employ exquisite use of light and shadow to evoke the beauty of everyday scenes. This painting is an excellent example of how she can use these techniques to create a striking composition from the most mundane of subjects. The saturated shadows here lend a delightful richness, and the varied contours provide ample engagement for the viewer.”

– Evan, Software Developer

“’The Eye Has It‘ by Joan Schulze is an intriguing exploration in fiber.  As my eye searches for order and meaning within the manipulated images, the order and rhythm of the piece itself provides the visual weight to keep my eye grounded.  Schulze manages to master quiltmaking techniques without technique being the primary message, creating a piece which invites contemplation and visual excitement.”

– Lisa, CEO

By |July 16th, 2015|articles, events, spotlights|0 Comments

5 jewelry trends for summer

Summer is the perfect time of year to liven up your wardrobe with fun, eye-catching jewelry. Whether you’re on the beach or on the golf course, the right accessories can make you look and feel great. I’ve gathered five of the hottest trends for summer jewelry — with the bonus of being created by artists, these pieces offer a unique, handcrafted touch and are sure to bring the right amount of edge to your look this summer.


During the hottest times of the year, you don’t want to wear anything too heavy or constricting. A wooden piece can be the perfect answer. Wooden jewelry is lightweight and can still make a big statement.


Fresh, modern, and edgy. Jewelry with geometric inspiration brings some serious flair to your wardrobe. Even the simplest outfit can be brought up a notch with a piece from this selection into a chic ensemble.


Summer is all about being bright and bold. Choosing colors full of sunshine can infuse your look with energy and fun.


For a bit more personality, look to some asymmetrical earrings. Full of originality, these are sure to be conversation starters. If you’re looking to make an impression, these earrings are a subtle way to get a few double-takes.


Hitting the beach? Or the golf course? Maybe you’re just sitting at an outdoor bistro in the sun — either way, you don’t want to ruin an intricate, delicate piece of jewelry with your summer activities. These summer pieces can go anywhere and keep you carefree.


By |July 10th, 2015|articles|0 Comments

art across america


Beautiful art is found all across America, from sea to shining sea. It’s interesting to see the differences that geography brings to artists and their approaches to art. Landscapes, for example, look very different when you’re in New York than they do in Arizona. Likewise, wildlife and culture are unique to their environments, and artists looking to their surroundings for inspiration may bring those influences into their artwork.

Mixed Cane Foglio by David Patchen - San Francisco, CA

Mixed Cane Foglio by David Patchen – California

California, Oregon, and Washington are known as hotbeds of the art glass movement. The influence of the California College of the Arts and the Pilchuck Glass School is far-reaching throughout the West. David Patchen studied at Pilchuck Glass School, which was co-founded by Dale Chihuly. He currently works from his studio in Public Glass, San Francisco’s center for glass, art, and eduation.

With the largest cultural center in the United States, it’s no wonder that more of our artists call the Northeast home than any other region. Some come to the area for the Maryland Institute College of Art, like Shana Kroiz, who has been teaching there since 1991 and founded the Jewelry Center. Others, like Nancy Linkin, are simply inspired by the beauty of the surroundings. Her studio in coastal Maine is surrounded by a perennial garden and lush woods that influence the fluid, natural forms of her work.

The rich landscape of the Southwest has served as inspiration for numerous artists, dramatically apparent in the earthy palette and sinuous shape of a much of the artwork from the region, notably in art furniture and pottery. Native American history is rich with beautiful pottery designs, and the landscape continues to inspire. What originally began as functional pieces for daily life has been elevated to a fine art form.

The Midwest has left an indelible mark on fine craft in America, with the birthplace of the modern studio glass movement. Harvey Littleton, considered the “Father of the Studio Glass Movement,” taught at the University of Wisconsin. His influence is far-reaching, with his students spreading across the region to promote art glass appreciation and education.

Fine craft has been a cornerstone of American art, with the Penland School of Crafts serving as a creative center of craft in the Southeast. Located on a breathtaking campus, the school is inspiring in its beauty. Whether glass, jewelry, paintings, or furniture, art from the Southeast tends to combine brilliant color and dramatically original design—reflecting the rich and varied culture and landscape of the region.

Whether you’re looking for a desert scene of the sunsets in Sedona, a blown glass vase that reminds you of the waves off the Florida coast, or a piece of stunning jewelry that mimics the waving grasses on the Great Plains, American artists are continuously creating artwork that reflects the beauty around them.

By |July 2nd, 2015|articles, spotlights|1 Comment