Artist Spotlight: Laura Duke

March 31, 2021

Living in Charleston has provided me with access to some amazing fine artists, including the one I interviewed for today’s Artist Spotlight, Laura Duke! I love incorporating local art into my home decor as much as possible to capture the spirit of Charleston, treasured family memories, and bring more bold and bright colors into my spaces.

Laura Duke is a self-taught fine artist based in Augusta, Georgia. In addition to her gorgeous paintings, Laura turns some of her masterpieces into home items and handbags. I commissioned Laura to make a painting for our home at The Merchant in Charleston and could not be more excited to finally be able to show it to y’all!

Of course, I had to get a painting of Charleston’s iconic Broad Street! If you look close enough, you can actually see that Laura included me, Erik, and Harper on the corner of the street, plus tons of personal touches that make the artwork just that much more meaningful! I adore the fun style of Laura’s art, and one of my favorite things about this painting is all the texture, like the paint drips from the palm trees.

I asked Laura more about her art style, what it’s like to be an artist, and where she finds inspiration below:

1. How would you describe your art style?

I would say abstract impressionism for the most part, but the water drips that I do have definitely become part of my “style.” It is how I start every painting, and I would definitely be lost without my spray bottle.

2. What got you started in creating art?

I have always had a naturally creative and curious brain but I started painting when I was a senior in high school. There was an oil painting in my high school boyfriend’s house that totally captivated me. It was a landscape and I loved the texture of the thick layers of paint and colors within the brushstrokes. I couldn’t stop looking at it and I just had to know how to do it. So I went to my art teacher and had her sign off on me taking the next painting class and the rest is history. I was obsessed! I was an art major in college and then took a long break from art to pursue a career in real estate.

3. Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?

I find inspiration in everything that I look at honestly; it’s just how my brain works. I kind of see the world through a lens of paint colors and color combinations. Whether it be a sunset (my favorite) or the leaves on the trees as I am driving down the road, I am constantly thinking about what colors I could mix together to make that shade. I am also ADD so some may call that daydreaming, and they are right. I am also extremely inspired by fashion and interior design! I make handbags so each season I check out the colors of the season and play with color combos, different chains, tassels and designs. I am also designing more products similar to the “Cheers, Darling!” line which originated from an original painting. I really love the idea of wearable art and taking an original painting and reproducing it in more creative ways than just print.

4. Do you have a favorite piece of art or a favorite collection that you’ve done?

My favorite piece of art is a little raccoon sketch that was given to my grandmother. She was bitten by a raccoon under quite hilarious circumstances. From then on, people gifted her ALL of the raccoon things, so when she passed I got my favorite piece of her collection. As for my own art, I think my first acrylic painting is my favorite piece. I did it when I moved into a new house and needed something huge for a wall – it’s a 46×60 landscape. I used oils before and decided to give acrylic a try since it dries faster, which ended up being a turning point for me. I then started painting landscapes for friends, which snowballed into a full-time career. Landscapes are my best sellers and they are also the most fun for me because I can be more loose and free with my strokes.

5. What’s one tip you would give people looking to decorate with art in their living spaces?

Do you boo! Art is so personal and you look at it every single day. If you find something that you are completely obsessed with, buy it! I’m a big believer in buying things slowly and loving every single item in your home. It’s also a bonus when a piece is sentimental, which is why I love commissions so much. There is something about painting a memory and making it last forever that is so special.

6. What’s the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

Since I am a full-time artist I have to operate like a business, and it can be a challenge to switch from creative mode to admin mode and to balance that time. Everything else I pretty much love!

7. When did you decide to leave your job and do art full time?

I was in real estate for about 10 years and loved it. I honestly had no plans to stop, but I was able to quit and do what I am passionate about every day so I took a chance! I started painting things for my house after moving and posted a few on Instagram. Soon I was getting commissions and did it on the side for a little while but eventually grew enough that I was able to make it a full-time business. #Thankful.

8. What’s the Charleston art scene like?

Everything. I could never tire of gallery hopping in Charleston. Ever. We have so many great talents and the Lowcountry is a subject that is every changing – like the sky and the way it reflects differently on the marsh during different seasons, for example. Seeing that through another artist’s eyes and point of view is pretty inspiring to me.

If you liked this post, check out the rest of my Charleston Creative series!

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