Seaside Chic: Nautical Neutrals I New England Living

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The key to chic seaside living is to create a soothing retreat that nods to the nearby shore, while sticking to a minimalist palette and steering clear of coastal kitsch.

  1. Sink into the crisp comfort of West Elm’s striped linen bedding, and you’ll never want to go back to cotton again. 2. A handmade stoneware bell from Brook Farm General Store is modern and quaint all at the same time. 3. This handwoven alpaca throw in Mist Gray brings foggy days on the water to mind; from Nantucket Looms. 4. Target’s sleek brass tripod lamp will lend a seaworthy note to any room, without overpowering it. 5. One well placed anchor motif? Check, thanks to this embroidered linen beauty from K. Colette. 6. When in doubt, add stripes. Try them in a subtle gray and white, like this cotton runner from H&M. 7. This clean-lined rattan armchair, new to Ikea’s Stockholm Collection, is an updated take on a beach house staple. 8. Keep vacation buzz kills like power cords and other unsightly clutter bundled up in a cute leather pouch from Madewell. 9. Bring the outdoors in with an original landscape from a local artist; “Here Today” by Elena Bao can be purchased at Kristen Coates Art and Home.

Wendy Briggs Powell Makes Her Mark

Wendy Briggs Powell in her studio.

Wendy Briggs Powell in her studio.

I met Wendy Briggs Powell in December at my holiday pop up shop, Christmas Coates, in Newport, RI. Not knowing she was an artist during our lovely chat, I was surprised to receive an email from her with beautiful and unique imagery of her work. Her pieces master the blend of subtlety and boldness that I love so very much and to me were an obvious match for the gallery.

And It Happened Quietly By Wendy Briggs Powell I'm Telling You, Martha Know's What She's Talking About By Wendy Briggs Powell

And It Happened Quietly By Wendy Briggs Powell
I'm Telling You, Martha Know's What She's Talking About By Wendy Briggs Powell

Wendy refers to her pieces as Watermarks. She says her hand is in the work as she has become quite familiar with how to predict results from manipulating the paper, but it is the colored water that leaves the mark. I find Wendy, like her Watermarks, speaks to me in a very fluid and organic way. “By changing one element in an overall composition,” notes the artist, “one alters the composite and the image changes. I believe the same process is true within ourselves and in relationship with others. By observing and engaging in these parallels between art and design, and understanding ourselves and each other, my work continues to interest and excite me on many levels.”

Watermarks hanging to drain in the studio

Watermarks hanging to drain in the studio

RISD professor and author, Anne West, said about Wendy and her work when she received her Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Vermont College of Fine Art.  “Wendy is our custodian of openness. The saturated, whole body vibrance of her watercolors teach us the power of another logic – a poetic water logic that requires receptivity to unintended results. Through sweeping fields of color, often with intricate shifts among layering, we become soaked in surprise. As a designer of the expanded expressive filed, Wendy bleeds her fields of color into our world, awakening us to the dynamic emotional intelligence that lives just below the surface of our awareness. We need color to feel our fullness.”

Frisky By Wendy Briggs Powell Meet You At The Pool By Wendy Briggs Powell

Frisky By Wendy Briggs Powell
Meet You At The Pool By Wendy Briggs Powell

With a successful exhibition at The Brick Lane Gallery in London, several large commissions, a few wonderful features on blogs like Stylebeat and an entire body of new work now available through the gallery, Wendy is on the upswing of a very bright, artistic adventure. We look forward to her fields of color hanging on the walls of the gallery this summer and to her Watermarks to come. See Wendy’s available work in the gallery and online here.

Available Work By Wendy Briggs Powell Online Here
More details about the artist at
WendyBriggsPowell.com
Photos courtesy of the artist

Swatches of color line the walls of Wendy's studio

Swatches of color line the walls of Wendy's studio

Studio Visit With Ashley Provencher

Ashley Provencher at her studio

Ashley Provencher at her studio

On a bitterly cold day in Boston, I ventured over to the Seaport District to visit the studio of painter Ashley Provencher. Her palette knife textured paintings of the sea had been pulling on my heartstrings via her vibrant, blue-dominant Instagram feed and I was eager to see them in person.

Ashley grew up on the coast of Massachusetts and we quickly bonded over our similar “sun up until sundown” family outings to the beach all summer long as kids. It was then that Ashley began painting her ideas of the ocean that are mostly abstracts inspired by memories and feelings of time spent seaside.

Ashley's workspace in her studio

Ashley's workspace in her studio

In addition to the sea, Ashley finds inspiration on her annual trips to New Orleans, a place she holds close to her heart. In 2012 she spent a summer rebuilding post Hurricane Katrina and has returned every year since. Ashley’s most recent work is on wood panels with brilliant shades of blue green and even purple - all reminiscent of the Big Easy.

 

“The vibrancy and excitement of the city brought out the colors and energy in my work,” the artist notes. “In each piece I am looking to bring joy to the viewer, when they look at my paintings I want them to smile and feel the warmth and excitement in each one.” On that blustery New England day I felt exactly the same as my 20-minute studio visit turned into a 3 hour hang out with the artist. I left feeling like I had just made a new friend and found a great match for the gallery.

 

Ashley works outdoors in warmer weather 

Ashley works outdoors in warmer weather 

We now have a great selection of Ashley’s seascapes hung in the gallery and I can confirm they definitely bring a little smile with their vibrant colors and subtle reminder that daylong beach adventures are always just around the corner. See Ashley’s available work in the gallery and online here.

Available Work By Ashley Provencher Online Here
More details about the artist at AshleyProvencher.com
Photos above courtesy of the artist, photo below Kristen Coates
Seascapes By Ashley Provencher

Seascapes By Ashley Provencher

Crafternoon With Puddingstone Post

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At the recent Crafternoon with Kristen Coates, participants learned how to paint tiny seascapes on driftwood and made wooly dreamcatchers.

On a recent Sunday, a group of a dozen or so women congregated at the beautifully charming Bayberry Inn on Kay Street for an afternoon of refined crafting, punctuated with prosecco and tea. Hosted by Kristen Coates, artist and owner of her eponymous gallery on Thames Street, the event was a pleasant and creative way to spend a chilly afternoon.

Let it be known that I am no crafter and even less so an artist, but Kristen’s confident teachings and simple, clear instructions made me feel like I could tackle any project she threw my way. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I picked up a paint brush to get creative instead of spruce up a door or wall, but as I painted my seascape onto driftwood under Kristen’s tutelage, not only did I have fun, I felt a meditative state of tranquility come over me. This was good, clean – and productive – fun.

The gorgeous setting didn’t hurt the mood. Our studio for the day was the bright, sunny dining room of the Bayberry Inn, which was recently renovated in gorgeous blues, whites, and corals throughout. A tour of the 1837 former captain’s home, which has seven guest rooms, yielded breathtaking gasps from the crafters; I think we all wished we could live there. With it’s calm, coastal-chic decor and boutique hotel demeanor, this is definitely a place to recommend to visiting guests.

While waiting for our tiny seascapes to dry, Rebecca Kelly, a native Newporter who’s recently returned to Rhode Island from New York City where she taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology, handed out materials for the second act of our day, building a dreamcatcher. Inspired by the look of birch trees in winter, Rebecca, a textile expert now teaching at URI, had gathered grey, beige, cream, and flecked yarns for us to loop around brass hoops, then decorate with fluffy feathers, wooden beads, and grapevine. The act was soothing and serene, and Rebecca’s easy way with instruction was itself a calming factor.

Uplifted by the sunny space and warm company, I left with a feeling of crafty satisfaction, and two new pieces of art in hand.
Kristen Coates hosts frequent events both in and out of her gallery on Thames Street. Check her calendar for happenings.

Curated

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In January of this year I launched a program clients have been inquiring about for years, a monthly subscription of handpicked art, products and ideas delivered to your doorstep. The initial response has been outstanding and a total dream come true. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the new objects and offers I find with all of you before it reaches the shop. I am getting ready to send out our third box and already I am shipping to dozens of subscribers in 8 different states. Next month we will be launching an entire website for all things Curated so subscribers can find more of what they are receiving in their boxes and find perfectly curated gifts with one click shopping. I am incredibly grateful for this experience and I cannot wait to see where it goes - finding new work to share with clients has been a passion for longer than I have had a shop, but with Curated, the possibilities are endless and incredibly exciting! Learn more here or sign up for your own Curated subscription here.  

 

 

The Art Of Flowers

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If you've ever been to the gallery (or my Instagram account), especially during spring and summer, you are likely privy to the creative flower arrangements and seasonal gardening experiments indoors and out. When I first opened my shop I couldn't find a florist that could put together anything in the aesthetic I was seeking and certainly not unique every week. I wanted something outside of the traditional and away from trends. I wanted something as artful as the work I was hanging on the walls. Five years later, it seems I am not the only one in this line of thought as noted in the New York Times yesterday. 

All those years ago, I started visiting garden shops and nurseries throughout New England and New York and picking up odds and ends before starting a greenhouse of my own with my boyfriend Michael - he is solely responsible for the 8ft tall lilies that won us the Horticultural award from the Newport Flower Show in 2016. We now have dozens of herbs, succulents and seeds and bulbs sprouting and growing in various stages in the shop and at the greenhouse. It took a while before I found the right supplier for cut flowers and greens - I love Flower Muse for their customer service and quality and I try to get to the Aquidneck Growers' Markets for local blooms, but the real joy for me is incorporating sprigs and plants from inside the shop and arranging installation-like works from the greenhouse. And lucky for me, clients love it all which inspires me to go further. I look forward to coming up with new living art for the upcoming Flower Show and beyond.

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