Tell us about where you are from and how you ended up here in the Desert
I am originally from Florida and I went to college at Syracuse University for Illustration. I moved to New York City after graduation, but winter doesn’t suit me. I moved to Los Angeles in ’05 and worked for a gift and stationery company. I worked as a Designer and then Art Director for 9 years. In summer of ‘14, I went freelance and left the office job. I took time to travel, and when I returned home to California, I wasn’t ready to go back to full-time office life. I wanted wide-open space, a low cost of living, to be close to Los Angeles, and have some freedom to work on my own projects. I visited Joshua Tree in the spring of 2015, and it clicked for me: this was my place. The landscape spoke to me and inspired me, and I knew I had to live here. By summer, I was renting a little apartment in town and looking for a house to buy. I bought my home in August 2015, and it has been magical ever since.
What was/ is like to transition into the desert?
It was both easy and difficult at the same time! I moved here by myself and didn’t know a single person. The desert is beautiful but also can be isolating, so it forced me to seek out friends and community. It was difficult for me to be vulnerable and put myself out there to make new friendships as an adult. I had to seek out connection in a purposeful way. It made me consider who I want to be, and who I want to surround myself with, and the kind of energy I want & need in my life. Ultimately, it was a blessing because I feel very rooted here and I love my desert crew.
What are some of the most impactful experiences you have had here in the desert? Has this changed or effected the art work?
Being present to learn and experience this beautiful place has been most impactful. The colors and the light has influenced everything I’ve made since living here. I look to the landscape for inspiration constantly. I didn’t make the kind of paintings I am now until after moving here.
You have Casa Joshua Tree can you talk about what this is? And tell us your secret to such a beautiful Instagram!?
I started an Instagram account to document my renovations on my home, and Casa Joshua Tree was born. I have @casajoshuatree and also a website, casajoshuatree.com
I thought it would be a fun to share my journey. Instagram has been a wonderful hub connecting me to many amazing people. It’s where I share my interior design, paintings, life in the desert, and workshops/events. I am very grateful for my audience and it has brought so much abundance to my life. I want Casa Joshua Tree to be more than just a physical place or Instagram account, and I’m so excited for what the future holds. It’s about sharing creative energy, minimalist design, and infusing a bit of desert magic into your casa (wherever you live).
My secret to a great Instagram account is taking good photos! I’ve learned a lot about styling and photography through Instagram and friends who’ve taught me along the way.
Often you have workshops, can you speak about them, what you do for these workshops? When do you have them? Have you seen the effect of them in the community? How do we sign up?
A few times a year I host art workshops. Mostly they are at my home, but I’ve also taught in LA and at Shop On the Mesa in Yucca Valley. I teach Watercolor, and have hosted Indigo (taught by Graham Keegan) and Weaving (taught by Vanessa Lauria). I love connecting with others through art. Hosting the workshops is a great way for people to come together and learn a new skill, and I find teaching very rewarding. Most of the folks who sign up tend to be from out of town (Los Angeles, San Diego) and I like that these visitors have a creative frame of reference for their visit to the desert.
You can see the current and upcoming workshops at my website and if you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll receive info when new workshops are scheduled. I also announce them on Instagram, so you can follow there too!
Can you tell us about your influences, your conceptual framework, and the context in which your work fits in to a larger painting dialogue today?
I went to school for illustration and my focus for most of my professional career has been commercial art. When I was coming up in school I loved the great American painters & western illustrators, especially Frederic Remington, NC Wyeth and John Singer Sargent. I was doing very different work then, but the color, feeling, and powerful narratives of their work will always remain with me. I talked about this a little in the interview, but my collegiate art history education was a general survey—now as I turn my focus to painting in a different way than the early part of my career, I am discovering all kinds of artists that are inspiring me. I squirrel away little nuggets of inspiration that manifest into my work and the way I approach my paintings. The painters I spend the most time looking at are Georgia O’Keeffe, Helen Frankenthaler, and Josef Albers. I took a workshop with the landscape painter Eric Merrell last year that was enlightening for me, and I remain an admirer of his work and methods.
My paintings are exclusively influenced by landscape & plants, specifically the deserts of the US. Joshua Tree, Anza Borrego, and most recently the high desert of New Mexico. I want to express and capture a fleeting moment, place, and feeling in each painting. Nostalgia for a place and time that I experienced, but I try to make universal through the language of shape and color.
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea where it fits into the larger dialogue! I think, someday, I would like to be part of the dialogue, but that’s something to think about later. This practice feels very new to me, and I am savoring making it without worrying too much about anything else.
What is your favorite thing to do out here?
Hike in the national park. I hike by myself a lot and it’s my thinking time, and I try to get out there as much as I can. The only thing better is hike and a picnic, if friends are along!
Anything coming up soon we should know about with your work?
I’m working towards bigger paintings (so far everything has been small). I would love to do a larger show in the fall of some big work! I’m putting it out in the universe.