A Conversation With Pottery Barn Featured Artist Lee Cline

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One of Pottery Barn’s exciting introductions for 2013 is our new collection of over 200 exclusive and one-of-a-kind works of art. We’ve partnered with a number of different artists to bring you a variety of beautiful works of original art. Today, we’re getting to know featured artist Lee Cline. Largely self taught, Lee splits her time between San Francisco and rural Maine. Pottery Barn is currently featuring Lee’s landscape series, which germinated over the course of a winter spent in a small Maine farmhouse. Lee’s gorgeous paintings bridge realist and abstract styles, and her landscapes are an absolutely lovely addition to a new or established collector’s home gallery.

Can you tell us more about the inspiration for your landscape series?

“I’m fascinated by the subtle color changes of sky, water and shadow through different times of the day and through the seasons. I want to better understand these nuances, so this series has a lot to do with that. Also, I’m not an abstract painter, but I think I see Rothko’s influence here. I love the meditative, transcendental experiences that Rothko created with color and composition. I’m interested in cutting away cruft and getting to essences, and leaving room for the imagination to wander.”

How are you inspired by both rural Maine and urban San Francisco?

“The contrasts between urban San Francisco and rural Maine are actually pretty intense. But travelling back and forth keeps both landscapes vivid for me; I feel a little like a stranger in each every time I return, so I see things with fresh eyes. When you see the same landscape day after day, at some point it’s easy to stop looking. I guess that’s why I keep moving around.”

You have literary arts degrees in addition to being a visual artist. How does your background in creative writing inform your paintings?

“Studying resonant themes of literature over the years I think I’ve gained some sense of what speaks to us universally . . . what we find beautiful or interesting, what makes us sad or angry or uncomfortable. What are our symbols, who are our heroes. And certainly how to set a tone or tell a story.”

“How has your experience been so far, as one of Pottery Barn’s featured artists?

“I’m impressed that Pottery Barn has taken an interest in showcasing original art by independent artists, and the presentation of the work is done very professionally — the art looks great online. It can be hard to get a sense of the tactility of a painting in a representation of it, but Pottery Barn has done a great job presenting the work.”

What are you currently inspired by in terms of medium, subject, or feeling in your art? 

“Above all, it’s not just about image-making. With every canvas there’s always a bit of a tussle between what I think needs to happen and what actually transpires. Letting go of some of that control and trusting the materials, and intuition, and maybe something else, is always part of the process. Authenticity to me means that these paintings should reveal something of the making of them — not hiding mistakes, for example. Part of it means letting the paint do its thing and be itself, so smudges and drips are all part of the story.”

What advice would you give someone who’s investing in original art for the first time?

“An interesting piece should reveal itself slowly over time, so you can look at it in a year and see something new. It may surprise you when you least expect it. Pretty is nice, but it’s not everything. A piece should resonate with you on a deep level — with your heart and with your mind — and it should inspire you to see the world more richly or think about things a little differently.”

See more of Lee’s art, available through Pottery Barn, below. Click on each image to shop!

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