Most of my paintings and illustrations are of vintage items. There are antique kitchen utensils, vintage cameras, fishing poles, old cars, skeleton keys, and sewing items. While it might seem as though this was part of a plan, it was simply because I painted what I liked, and more often than not, the thing that I liked was old. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I consider what is currently inspiring me and as I look ahead to what I want to be painting next. Over the past few months I’ve painted a lot of flowers, my sketchbook is full of abstract paintings, and I plan to explore some new subject matter going forward. But I also continue to be pulled back to vintage objects. I am drawn to their classic design, uniqueness, color, and shape, but most importantly, I am drawn to the embedded history and memories within these old and well-used items. Put simply, I am drawn to their stories.
Vintage decorating is currently a very large and prominent trend in home decor, but I think that decorating and living with vintage items is actually deeper and more permanent than merely being a trend. Decorating with antiques is nothing new, and at least part of its current resurgence could be a reaction against the all trends and fads and constantly changing cycles within the fashion and home decor industries. I think many of us like vintage things because they offer a timeless connection to the things that matter most: our families, our past, and where we came from. Vintage items can be reminders of family recipes and traditions, and they can offer a collective sense of history and story. Not every memory is pleasant and the past isn’t better or more worthy than the present, but in a world where nothing stays the same, vintage items can remind us of things and people we don’t want to forget. Family recipes, holiday traditions, childhood memories, grandparents, and loved ones no longer with us.
I look around my own home and I see a mixture of both old and new: antique store and flea market finds, IKEA furniture, handmade items, things that belonged to my grandma, and a small but growing collection of original art. Within these objects, I don’t just see chairs and artwork and and books and pillows. I see my own history, travels, likes, and memories. I see my story. Nothing is permanent, but as things continue to change around us faster and faster, these tangible objects connect me to my family, my past, and this place — the midwest — where my ancestors chose to settle and where I still live.
I see my story as I look around my home, but I also see my story — and my mom’s story and my grandma’s story and her grandmother’s story — in my illustrations. I choose to paint these things for a reason, and going forward I hope to share some of the stories behind my illustrations, including memories, family stories, or personal notes regarding the inspiration behind the illustration. And if you have a story to share along the way, I'd love to hear it.