It has always been my intention to feature my favorite artists on my blog, because art is an incredibly important part of my life and I want to share the artwork that inspires me. But, it seems like something I keep filing away in my mental “to do” folder and it never actually gets done. This morning I woke up determined to make a go of it, so I’m going to get started with the Portland-based artist and illustrator Phoebe Wahl. I’m not sure when I first encountered her work, but I do know that the first time I contacted Phoebe and asked to feature her on my blog she was still a student at RISD (it was 2012). While I never got around to writing that post, I continued to read her blog and it’s been so interesting to watch her career really take off. Phoebe’s work has been featured in several places, including Taproot Magazine, and she is now working on writing and illustrating a book of her own for Tundra Books.
What first attracted me to Phoebe’s work was its themes of home and family life. Her work really conveys a sense of nurturing and safety that appeals to what I would call my “inner hobbit.” Her characters inhabit simple lives, in slightly disheveled yet welcoming abodes, moving through the seasons organically as they engage in everyday tasks like cooking, caring for littles, and reading. Her environments are richly colored and textured. She often dabbles in the world of fairies and whimsy. I have a visceral longing to be one of her little creations. Beyond the fact that I am drawn to Phoebe’s work aesthetically, I also find her little vignettes very inspiring and hope that I can create, to whatever degree such a thing is possible, the same loving, nurturing environment for my own family.
In Phoebe’s own words:
I find that when I create, more often that not it is inspired by something from my childhood. I make images I would have want to have seen when I was a kid, or objects I would have wanted to have, or stories I would have wanted to read. My content, both in 2D, 3D and writing is largely rooted in that nostalgia for childhood, as well as in dreams for my own future. I’m drawn to create safe spaces in my work, images that foster closeness and comfort and celebrate nature. Creating has always been my sanctuary. A comfortable place to play and dream and think. And I hope that comes across in my work, I hope my work provides that for others.
If her intention is, as she says, to provide a safe and inspiring haven for others, she has certainly succeeded in doing so for me. I’ve selected only a few of my favorite pieces for this post, but you really should spend some time browsing her blog, tumblr, and etsy shop to get a sense of the true scope of her work. Phoebe’s website also features images from her sketchbooks, as well as her amazing sculptures and other three dimensional designs.
All images in this post copyright Phoebe Wahl 2014.