I'm Redecorating My L.A. Apartment—Help Me Choose the Artwork

Updated 06/07/18

There's something about redecorating that is equal parts joy and frustration all at once. I have been in the process of making over my small apartment with the help of NY-based interior designer Tali Roth of Homepolish since the beginning of the year. What I thought would take a month or so has taken about six. I didn't realize that my tiny Los Angeles rental would take so much time, but then again, I do have a level of taste that I am not willing to compromise on and my fellow Aussie designer isn't one to back down from a challenge either.

Sourcing the right piece for every corner of the room has been a fun (albeit time-consuming) process until you can't find the right piece or worse, it's sold out. But I'm so thankful for my wingwoman. I couldn't have survived it without Roth. Even just having someone to bounce ideas off of has been life-changing.

Perhaps one of the hardest decisions has been choosing the artwork. I turned to the team at Uprise Art for help in finding the right piece to fill the huge blank wall in my living room and they sent me nine female artists to choose from. The problem is that I fell in love with all of them. Normally I'd lean on Roth or my husband, but even they were struggling to choose one. So I'm asking you, our stylish readers, to help me decide—this is the floorplan we chose so you can get a feel for the space first.

Ahead I profile nine female artists along with a sample of their work. Take a read and send me a direct message on Instagram to let me know which one you like.

CARLA WEEKS

Carla Weeks—artist studio
Davin Lindwall

There was something about Philadelphia-based artist Carla Weeks that moved me the moment I laid eyes on her work. She uses pattern in her layered paintings as a vehicle for the memory of a place. According to Uprise Art, the "colors and shapes together form a kind of language to communicate intangible or subliminal sensations." Where can I learn to speak that language? Sign me up.

What does your artistic process look like?

For me, the process starts with my experience of a place. I spend time in my chosen environment and record the key shapes and colors of that place in my sketchbook. Back in my studio, I do further research and sketching before I start mapping out my compositions digitally creating repeat patterns from the elements I've collected. While my compositions are planned and organized, my use of color is much more organic. I mix color as I work, allowing for a subtle range of tonal shifts throughout each piece.

I like to think of these variations as a reference to the fluidity of our memory of the place.

What materials do you use in your work?

My paintings are primarily oil on linen, and for my large-scale murals, I work in washes of acrylic latex paint.

Describe your work in three words or less.

My pattern language.

Carla Weeks Bahrain Study 18 $420
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CAROLINE WALLS

Caroline walls—artist studio
Courtesy of Uprise Art

I could almost sense that Caroline Walls and I were connected, and then I read she was an Australian like me, so it all made sense. The artist worked as a designer and art director for fashion and luxury lifestyle brands for 10 years before becoming an artist. She works across a variety of mediums with a focus on minimalism and the female form.

What does your artistic process look like?

I work fairly intuitively and on a number of pieces at any given time. I tend to spend a period of time developing and exploring compositional options, creating rough sketches and mapping out the colors I’d like to use before beginning a new series. In this sense, I much prefer to work on a collection of works together to form a broader narrative rather than just one isolated painting at a time. I generally know what I am going to paint before I put paintbrush to the canvas, but I always leave room for movement if I feel like the forms could work better or colors could be reworked.

I draw the curves and forms intuitively, rather than from models, as I feel like I can be freer and more spontaneous with my line work.

What materials do you use in your work?

I tend to work with a variety of materials, as this allows me to explore the same theme in many ways to produce new and unique responses to the notion of the female and what this idea can evoke through the varying tactile and aesthetic qualities of each of these mediums, but my go-to materials are charcoal on paper and synthetic polymer paint on canvas. The choice of medium dictates how spontaneous I can be—I choose drawing with charcoal for its ability to be really freeing and efficient and expressive—anytime or anywhere, whereas my paintings on canvas are made up of highly considered compositions that take more planning and a deeper thought process.

Describe your work in three words or less.

Reductive, bodily, and bold.

Caroline Walls Water Baby $445
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INKA BELL

Inka Bell—artist studio
Paavo Lehtonen

With my monochromatic style (I wear primarily black), I was drawn to the tonal, graphic work of Helsinki-based printmaker Inka Bell. Her creations "recall cross-sections of the earth, the warp and weft of looms, and digital interference." There is a beautiful abstract simplicity to Bell's work that brings both the physical and abstract spaces into one.

What does your artistic process look like?

Depending on the project, my process starts by immersing myself in a theme or focusing on a specific material, either by reading or by simply playing around with chosen materials. I begin by sketching on the computer and then bring the work to life with screen printing. I like combining contemporary ways of creating an image with more traditional printmaking methods. Colors play a key role in my work, especially when working with larger entities. Sometimes I know early on what the resulting image will look like, but lately, a lot has changed during the screen-printing process.

I see this as a benefit and try to leave more and more room for chance. My studio is next to our screen-printing studio, so oftentimes I bounce back and forth between my computer and the printing studio.

What materials do you use in your work?

I mainly work with screen printing, which enables me to work on any material of my choosing. Most of the time I print on paper and try to find new ways of using it—especially when creating more three-dimensional work. I like the idea of using such a mundane material. Recently I've been using a lot of colored paper, which allows for a nice starting point. Next, I'm planning to experiment with layering thin fabric in different ways. Materials inspire me a lot and play a key role in my work. Surfaces and textures play a big role too, so I'm always trying to find new ways to achieve different effects.

Describe your work in three words or less.

Reductive and abstract.

Inka Bell Untitled 2 $500
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JOSEPHINE STEVENSON

Josephine Stevenson—female artist
Courtesy of Uprise Art

We don't often view failure as beautiful, but mixed media artist Josie Stevenson proves it can be with her airy collages, which are made from "elements of failed paintings, can be read as landscapes, still lifes, or cosmic events." Stevenson uses "organic arrangements" for inspiration.

What does your artistic process look like?

I typically approach each piece I make with the idea that it will eventually be part of a series and try to work within some self-imposed limitation, like a specific size or source of reference. These restrictions leave room for experimentation but help me feel less stuck. For the Fractions series, I've been drawn to ideas relating to lineage. I like the concept that every image has a backstory, no matter how vague or indecipherable.

What materials do you use in your work?

I love any kind of heavyweight paper. When I was in school, I spent a lot of time drawing and painting in a figurative manner. By the time I graduated, I was feeling really burnt out with that approach and started cutting shapes out of old paintings that I didn't like and arranging them in different formations. I've always found playing with composition and color in an abstract sense to be really meditative and fun.

Describe your work in three words or less.

Open-ended.

Josie Stevenson Fractions 01 $425
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KARINA BANIA

Karina Bania—artist profile
Jamie Street

I have been an avid fan of mixed-media art since my husband introduced it to me over 10 years ago. He studied mixed media at ASU, and I would often join him in the studio, watching intently as he created sculptures, intaglio prints, and paintings. When I saw Karina Bania's work of pale hues and layers of subtle texture (often incorporating traditional pigments and dyes in stains and washes), I was instantly smitten.

What does your artistic process look like?

My artistic process involves a mix of intuition and discipline, inspiration, and structure. When I begin a painting, I clear my mind so ideas rise to the surface with space to settle. I usually begin by making marks on the canvas, sometimes following an idea or just being free. With every mark, I move my way further into the painting, wandering its landscape while developing a sense of connection with it. Working from intuition, response, and presence, the painting begins to take shape. I follow the thread of movements that lead me further into the work.

Sometimes a painting doesn't feel complete until one small mark is added. Often it is something that no one necessarily notices but for me brings a sense of balance and completion.

I usually work on two to three paintings at a time, building a series with a unifying idea that connects the collection. I have walls of images, words, and groupings that serve as color and mood inspiration. I love making playlists, and I tend to listen to the same music over and over, which becomes grounding, meditative, and tied to the work.

Paintings are always hanging around the studio in various states of completeness. I can't rush things that need to ruminate. Paintings need time to settle into themselves, and I need time to coax things out of them. Returning to a painting after a few days usually brings new inspiration, which deepens the work.

One of the most interesting things about the artistic process is the amount of not-making-art time that goes into art making. As an artist, I need to spend time looking, staring, squinting, blurring my eyes, standing back, and walking in to help me visualize and see what I am creating. This contemplative time is essential to my process.

What materials do you use in your work?

I'm always exploring new materials, tools, and techniques to discover the unexpected. Many of the mediums and methods I use are culled from years spent abroad. While studying in India, I was introduced to local pigments and dyes that are now a signature of my work. The dye stains that grace empty fields of raw, untouched canvas are not accidents of the medium but important components of the composition. I work in oils, acrylics, pigments, dyes, and inks. I paint on canvas, linen, paper, and occasionally plastics.

There is a symbiotic relationship between me and the materials. Simultaneously, my intention directs the material's flow to create a shape, and the flow of the materials directs my intention along its own inevitable outcome.

Describe your work in three words or less.

Movement, shapes, and space.

Karina Bania Shape of the Desert II $900
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LEIGH WELLS

Leigh Wells—emerging artist
Courtesy of Uprise Art

I have always enjoyed the creative process of collage, but achieving that gallery-worthy level of precision was something I never had the patience for. It's why I admire the work of visual artist Leigh Wells so much. The creative, who is based in Emeryville, California, uses collage to create "personal reflections on human experience and on ideas of truth and the unknowable." She uses a mix of found materials and images from old academic textbooks, and the end results are truly inspiring.

What does your artistic process look like?

My process most often begins with readings, words, and ideas translating into abstract compositions that may or may not evoke those elements for the viewer. The work is often spontaneous and improvisational, beginning in one direction and maybe shifting midstream, but I always keep a particular feeling in mind that I try to achieve for myself. I enjoy the idea of the viewer having absolute freedom in interpreting the work, though, or simply experiencing it without interpretation.

What materials do you use in your work?

For my two-dimensional work, I most often use found vintage paper and source material, adding colored areas of acrylic or gouache (an opaque watercolor). It is important to me to be able to work spontaneously, and these readily available materials give me a tremendous amount of freedom.

Describe your work in three words or less?

Spontaneous precision. Evocative abstraction.

Leigh Wells Visage $875
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MARTINA LANG

Martina Lang—uprise art
Courtesy of Uprise Art

Sometimes the simple things in life are often the best, and in this case, the adage rings true. Martina Lang's photographic compositions with gravity-defying paper forms are an airy study of color and contrast, and I'm here for it.

What does your artistic process look like?

I'm open to where inspiration comes from, often just from everyday life. I read to fuel my imagination and keep a sketchbook with ideas and quotes. Once I start translating an idea visually, there are no rules. I keep adjusting and redoing until it feels right. Often I print unfinished work, put it on the wall, step back, and let it sit for days, weeks, or even months. The moment I stop looking for feedback, I know a piece is finished.

What materials do you use in your work?

Anything that catches my eye. I have worked a lot with paper in the past and am constantly testing out new materials from latex to concrete look-alike. Within my practice, I do a lot of model making, which keeps me exploring new ways to approach ideas. 

Describe your work in three words:

Light, shadow, and humor.

Martina Lang Blind Escape 2A $1525
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HOLLY ADDI

Holly Addi—Abstract artwork
Courtesy of Uprise Art

Holly Addi's work is visually arresting. The Salt Lake City–based artist creates graphic abstract paintings that infuse the senses and make you think beyond what's possible. She uses white space to give voice to quieter moments with layered texture to entertain the eye. It's graphic, and yet it's also restrained all at once.

What does your artistic process look like?

I feel as though I literally start my pieces with a color palette. This sets the tone for me. I then begin with the formations and structures and stay true to my philosophy of imperfections—it is all the materials that create the piece at the end of the day.

What materials do you use in your work?

I follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to materials. The solid foundation of my materials is very consistent: 80% is created on raw cotton canvas, while the other 20% is saved for exploration. This gives me a solid foundation that I need and yet allows for the intense aha moments. And who knows, as those intense moments of creating on other materials sometimes actually translate to the 80% equation like the solid wood panels used for small works.

Describe your work in three words or less.

Contrast and negative space.

Holly Addi Lullen $2400
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VICKI SHER

Vicki Sher—painting
Courtesy of Uprise Art

If you hadn't already noticed, there is a common thread among all these artists of abstract and restraint. Brooklyn-based artist Vicki Sher is a master at infusing those two elements in her work with an intuitive playfulness. Her art appears deceptively simple in form, but the process is anything but.

What does your artistic process look like?

These relatively pared-down and clean drawings come out of a pretty chaotic and searching process. I usually have an image or idea in mind to begin, but I allow room to venture offtrack, to follow the plot of the drawing, and to end up in a surprising place. It is rare that I make what I planned. Ultimately, I make what I want to see, but I don't always know what that will be ahead of time.

What materials do you use in your work?

I use a variety of materials in my work. This particular series uses oil pastel on translucent drafting film, a plastic-based paper. These materials give me tremendous flexibility, as they can be erased back to clear and layered for depth. These drawings mark the beginning of a body of work that bridges the gap between geometric form and realism. I have long been an imagistic formalist, tying my work to everyday, domestic life while exploring color and the space of the page.

These drawings move closer to abstraction but hold tight to a connection to the actual—the body, the landscape, or the still life. I appreciate air in my work, "elbow-room", and a reduction of vocabulary that gives room for contemplation. I value the poetics inherent in pared-down language that rewards lingered looking. Layers and the translucency of this material provide a third dimension and deeper space for this poetic absorption.

Describe your work in three words or less?

Intuitive, formal, and colorful.

Vicki Sher Drafting Film #65
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Pricing available upon request.

What is your favorite piece? Which one should I choose? Be sure to send me a message on Instagram.

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