Part VII in my series on what’s on CWE-based artists’ drawing boards features Marlene Lewis and K2 and John Kelley, proprietors of The Gentleman Quilter.
Marlene Lewis has been really prolific during the pandemic. In fact, she sent about 30 photographs of paintings she’s produced since March. Her list of favorite subjects includes female figurative and nude paintings, plein air landscapes, divas and abstract paintings using acrylics and mixed-media on paper and canvas.
She’s photographed above in her CWE studio during a 2013 CAM Open Studio Tour.
Lewis is a firm believer in helping not-for-profits. (An earlier post is devoted to Lewis’ work for organ donor families through the Donate Life Foundation.) Rising Hope, above, was created for Donate Life to raise awareness of the effect COVID19 has had on both healthcare workers and our cities. The painting is currently on display in the Donate Life headquarters in South Carolina.Lewis also donated a painting of her beloved “Maggie” to Stray Rescue for this year’s benefit auction. Both pieces showcase the artist’s love of vibrant colors.
“The inspiration for my art comes from so many places, beginning with my childhood memories of Miami, Florida, where I grew up. It was a place of sensuality, tropical colors, and people of different nationalities and cultures – a place of vibrant, beautifully adorned Latino women and those around them.”
Pre-COVID19, Lewis hosted Saturday painting classes in her studio. After the shutdown she decided to invite a few artists to her garden to paint her favorite model en plein air.
“Since we couldn’t paint indoors any longer, this was a beautiful option,” she added. Other examples of her current work follow.
“Artists have become very creative in figuring out ways to continue to work and communicate,” Lewis said. “I’ve been able to find drawing groups online in Sedona, Arizona and in London. It’s been hard for everyone. I feel lucky to be healthy and to have had these opportunities to create. Hopefully, there will be brighter times ahead.”
For more information, visit Marlene Lewis’s website.
By virtue of their work finishing quilts, The Gentleman Quilter has had a front row seat for the wonderful work many crafters around the St. Louis area are creating during the pandemic. Proprietor K2 Kelley, above, (hand-drawn selfie by 11-year old granddaughter on window) had who opened their workshop in 2017 (see earlier post here) report that business is booming—60% higher than 2019. The CWEnder along with her husband have finished a record 205 quilts with their long-arm quilter since January 1!
K2 reported several quilters said they finally took the time while stay-at-home orders were in place to complete quilts they had started years before. Two sisters, who call themselves the “Quilting Twins,” have kept The Gentleman Quilter quite busy. One of the sisters, a CWEnder, made the beautiful cube quilt above left. A homebound senior made the block quilt, center. Another client “reworked” a quilt he had originally made in 1988, remaking it into a different pattern altogether, above right.
The striking quilt above was finished for a woman as a gift for her daughter who was headed off for her first year at the University of Kentucky.
According to Kelley, a few customers have taken advantage of the downtime to watch YouTube videos and give quilting a try for the first time. “The majority of our clients though are either experienced quilters or just felt like brushing up on skills learned from Home Ec days,” she said.
“This has been our lifeline,” Kelley added, “quilters are the only people we see these days. It’s been such a positive experience and rewarding to finish someone else’s treasure.”
There are a few more posts to come on this topic, which I hope to roll out before Thanksgiving.