Augusta is a southerner through and through – she currently resides in nearby Decatur with her husband and baby son. But don’t let that southern charm dissuade you. Her art is the epitome of modern sophistication. The textures, colors and imaginatively fun focus of her art leave you wanting more.
We hope you’ll join us and experience the art of Augusta Wilson for yourself at her show in the steve mckenzie’s showroom this Friday, October 23 from 5-8pm. Until then, please enjoy getting to know Augusta a bit better and in her own words:
sm’s: Can you please share a bit about your background/how you started Augusta Wilson Studio and how you gained the courage to break out on your own?
AW: I was raised in a creative environment in Mobile, Alabama—birthplace of Hank Aaron, West Indies Salad, and all fourteen of my first cousins. My mother is a graphic designer, and as the oldest of her four children I took after her creative tendencies. Growing up my siblings and I were always involved in her projects, whether it was a photo shoot for a magazine ad or mural for the Junior League fundraiser. In hindsight this ultimately had a huge impact on my career choice—I’ve always known I wanted a creative career that allowed me to spend time with my children.
Being the oldest of my family also meant I became fiercely independent—which holds pretty true today. I chose to get my undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia for three reasons: their art school seemed credible, Athens, GA was a good distance from Mobile, AL, and they had a study abroad program that would let me live in Italy for a summer. I knew one person the day I arrived and didn’t even tour the campus until orientation.
The first reason, UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, is how I really got into painting. Painting had always come naturally to me, but I had never taken it seriously. It was pure hobby before college. I played around with different fields of study at Lamar Dodd—graphic design (you’re welcome, Mom), photography. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that my drawing instructor, Jen Bandini (who is an awesome painter in her own right—check our her blog, Escape to New York. So good), pointed out the gestural marks I was making. “You are such a painter”, she told me. At that moment it just clicked. I signed up for my first oil painting class the next quarter and never looked back.
I love a hypothetical question, especially at a dinner party (side note: I really just love a good dinner party!). My go-to hypotheticals are: “If money were no object, what would you do?” and the slightly more morbid, “If you could choose, what would you have for your last meal on Earth?” The answer to the first, for me, has always been that I would have my own painting studio at home and paint my days away.
Of course, starting my studio was not as ideal as money being no object for me (Far from it, in fact. I’m an artist, y’all!). I’ve been painting on the side of my day job since college. When I was pregnant with my first child a couple of years ago, my creativity went through the roof. I had to paint everyday. I suddenly had so many more ideas for paintings and couldn’t wait to get them on the canvas. I started posting images of my daily (or really, nightly) paintings on Instagram, and my followers started buying them! There were some instances when I would get up early and finish a painting before going to my day job, post it on Instagram, and it would sell by lunchtime. It was incredible, and (obviously) a huge point of encouragement towards going full-time in my studio. I couldn’t help but think that if I were to put all of my efforts towards creating and marketing my work that this could be a viable source of income and creativity for my life.
The other point, unfortunately, was that my employer at the time was not encouraging of my pregnancy. Of course, that’s a whole other story. Nevertheless, I found myself thinking that (as naïve as it sounds) you do only live once. I wanted my child to be proud of the profession I had chosen, I wanted to be proud of the profession I had chosen, and I knew that my contentment with what I did for a living would translate towards his attitude in life.
I started my studio shortly after the birth of my son, and it’s been one of the most challenging and best decisions I’ve made. YOLO, y’all.
sm’s: What inspires you/your art?
I’m a painter’s painter. I love the texture of oil paint, the juiciness of it, the history of it. I love the whole process of layering oil paint, finding the right medium to mix it with, finding ways to manipulate it. The paint in itself inspires me!
Painting too, of course, is also tightly entwined in history. I find that every mark I make or color I mix is reminiscent of those who have gone before me, and thus I’m constantly reminded of my own history. Inevitably, the South, my life, and the design world around me find their way into my paintings.
My current series for my Fall collection is inspired by approaching storms on Mobile Bay. Growing up in the hurricane target zone of Mobile, Alabama, the coming of Fall also meant the coming of storms. For those of us who grew up on the water, these storms hold tight to our memories. The salt in the air, the instantaneous dropping of temperature and sweeping of winds, were all a part of the sensory overload as we watched the horizon line disappear with the onslaught of rain. For me, these memories bring a sense of solitude, which I poured onto the canvases of this series.
sm’s: What is your vision, not only for Augusta Wilson Studio, but also the individual pieces you create?
I am interested in art that is both accessible and thought provoking. I want to bridge the gap between paintings that belong in MOMA and paintings that match your sofa. I believe you can have the best of both worlds.
sm’s: What’s on the horizon for Augusta Wilson Studio?
I’m currently working with a handbag designer in Indiana to create hand-painted leather clutches for the studio! I have a weakness for fashion, so this is a perfect blend of worlds for me. They’ll be ready in time for holiday season and available for purchase on my website as well as a handful of Atlanta retail locations. Stay tuned!
sm’s: As an artist/business person how do you recharge?
Painting/Running a business is such a mental game, so I try to get in a daily long run or yoga session to get out of my head. Also, if you haven’t caught on already, I’m a huge nerd. I love to read. I’ve been trying to read a book a week, which is a total luxury. I’m currently reading ‘Fates and Furies’ by Lauren Groff. So far, so good.
All that being said, my favorite way to recharge is with a great meal and even better company. My husband and I love to cook, so a nice glass of wine (or two) as we make dinner and catch up is something I really look forward to during the week.
Cheers to relaxing with the one(s) you love over a weeknight meal and nice glass of wine! Thank you for the candid responses, Augusta!
If you didn’t fall a little in love with this wonderful artist and her unique works, we assure you, viewing them up close and in person at her upcoming show will ensure your appreciation for Augusta and her paintings.