Yesterday, I went with my sister, my niece and two close friends to the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour. It’s a fantastic event that I look forward to every year. I really enjoy seeing where people create their work. It’s a fascinating look into the mind of the artist. Going on this tour every year and talking to the artist certainly helped inform Kate’s life and work in One Big Beautiful Thing. Over the years, I’ve developed some favorites, so I thought I’d share them with you here.
Generally, the first stop we make is always Shawn Grove’s studio where he works with Bryan Mattraw. Shawn and Bryan use a salt glaze in a wood fired kiln, that unlike an electric kiln, doesn’t heat evenly throughout, thereby giving the work a unique glaze that is masculine, raw and very natural. Their work is tremendous and unlike any pottery you’ve seen. They do functional pieces as well as art pieces and they always have something delightful and new every time I go out to their studio. I wish they had a webpage so I could show you their work, but they don’t. Here is a link to their tour page though, so you can have a tiny taste of what it’s like.
On the opposite end of the pottery spectrum from Shawn and Bryan is Kristen Swanson at White House Ceramic Studios. Kristen works in porcelain, which if you know anything about pottery, is the most difficult material to work with since it’s so soft. Kristen, however, has mastered it. Her forms are so graceful and elegant and her decorations are so beautiful, it’s simply amazing. She’s happy to take custom orders and seriously go to her webpage and see how stunning her work is. You won’t be disappointed
We also always stop in Waterford on these tours, not only because Waterford is a charming little town, but because it’s home to two of my other favorite artists: Katherine Riedel and Kathie Ratcliff.
Katherine’s studio is right in the middle of town. She does wonderful landscape and still life paintings of the world around her. Her work is charming and so evocative of all that is western Loudoun. She also does portraits and is wonderfully friendly and fun to talk to. Not to mention, her dog is often with her in the studio, which is always a bonus in my book.
A pleasant walk away from Katherine’s studio is Kathie’s Nine Patch Studio, where she creates miniature quilts, which doesn’t quite describe the intricate craftsmanship and artistry that goes into these wonderful creations. Kathie and her husband are a lovely couple and so knowledgable about the entire history of quilts. They offer a fun and informative tour of her work, which is just fantastic. You almost have to see it in person to believe it. I don’t think the pictures on her website quite do it justice.
There are many more wonderful artists on the tour, but those are some of my favorites. If you’ve never done a tour like this, you should definitely try it. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. The good news is there is another artists tour in November. The Catoctin Holiday Art Tour is another great Loudoun artists tour. They haven’t update the website for 2013 yet, but the flyers are out, so they should be doing that with dates and artists lists soon. It’s a great way to do unique holiday shopping and it’s another tour I look forward to every year.