Dec
20

Naturally by Denise creates art from "the beauty that surrounds us"

Posted by: Justine Benstead

Denise Wandt, Owner of Naturally by Denise Crafts Store.It was only natural that Denise Wandt would develop a lifelong love of creating art from recycled, rustic, and, well, natural materials.

“For as long as I can remember,” the owner of Naturally by Denise explains, “I have been coloring, painting, putting together scenes with rocks and twigs, or building cute houses and furniture for my dolls.

Art has always been a part of my life.”

For Denise, medium was no matter. Sticks, stones, shells, or sewing thread – she works with it all. “In school,” she recalls, “I could always be found in the art room working on something. It was my favorite place to be and fellow students and teachers always encouraged me.”

An early love of nature coupled with a creative side mean a future as an artist is a no-brainer, right? Well, not exactly. Although Denise has had an art studio since the 1980’s, her vision has not been a full-time venture.

“You know how life can take up most of your time.”

She Sells Seashells

With 3 small children in the 1980’s, Denise began “sewing all their clothes, making stuffed animals, etc.” Not surprisingly, her friends loved what she was doing and encouraged her to sell her work.

"That is where it all started.”

Picasso santa, folk art by Naturally by Denise

Starting small with wreaths and baskets fashioned from natural moss and shells, Denise first sold her art at local crafts sales.Before long, she was creating driftwood art and building furniture from bent willow chairs to tables to love seats. And for a while, business was booming.

“That is when I opened my first little art studio and store. I called it ‘Naturally by Denise,’ she explains. But although Denise has maintained her art studio/store since the 80’s (no easy feat!), “I did slow down a lot, for years, as I was also working and busy with my kids.”

Country Creations lead to iCraft

The past four years, however, have brought change and a renewed participation in the art world to Denise. “We have moved to an acreage just outside of Kelowna B.C., Canada. Here, my husband and I have built a new home and a wonderful little Art Studio/Store for me, which I love to escape to.”

Naturally by Denise birdhouseThe country setting, although inspirational (“In the spring and summer I love to work with natural materials that I find on my property,” says Denise) is also out of the way, so it is difficult to get in-studio visitors at the art store.

So, like many crafters, Denise turned to local art shows and garden shows to promote her work. She even uses social media: Naturally by Denise on Facebook.

Still, “I was trying to find a way to get my Art ‘out there’ and seen by the public. This is how I found iCraftGifts.com. Being able to show my work to so many more people is exciting and it feels like the beginning of a whole new adventure.”

Through her active store on iCraft (a site which she praises for being easy to sell her art), and continued participation in art and garden shows, Denise sells delicately handcrafted mixed media wall art and journals, garden art, rustic wooden birdhouses such as the one pictured to the right, and handbuilt furniture, holiday-inspired creations, and perhaps even more.


Naturally by Denise handbuilt loveseat
“Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere!" Denise exclaims. Her inventory might vary, depending on the season.

"Participating in local garden shows is one of my favorite things to do in spring and summer. As the weather gets cooler, I work inside more. I bring out my sketchbooks, where I have drawn all sorts of things when I was inspired in the summer.

Seeing them again, I get so many new ideas and can’t wait to get busy and paint. I start at one point, with an idea. Everyday as I work on the piece, it changes from my original idea. New inspiration, my mood, a quick decision between adding one bit of paper or picture, or another.”



Naturally by Denise framed mixed media artMixing It Up

Denise has worked with mosaic, stained glass, Batik, painting, and many more mediums.

“I have been mixing decoupage, painting and mosaics. My favorite mediums to work with (at the moment) are pen and ink, acrylic paints, watercolor, and I am having a lot of fun adding decoupage to my paintings. I think I like mixed media the best of all, because it is like going on a journey.”

One of the recent runaway items in Denise’s trove of artistic talents is creating mixed media art. She had seen it in shows, books, and magazines for years, and decided to begin experimenting for fun.

“It all started by decorating the boxes that I store my supplies in, in my studio. Clients would come and visit my studio and just love the boxes and want to buy them. So I started doing pictures. This is a very exciting time for me, because I have so many ideas now, I can't wait to get started.  If could work on my art 24/7 right now, I would.”

And it shows.

Naturally by Denise mixed media journalNaturally by Denise is stocked full of beautiful pieces ready for purchase. Some common shades in Denise’s color palate include “bright happy colors, orange, yellow, green, deep sky blue, purple. I also love the jewel tones, deep rich colors that make my heart sing.”

As Denise works to fulfill her natural love of art and the elements she uses to create it, the most rewarding thing about being a crafter/artist is still the joy that "when people come to my studio or see me at a show, and they are amazed that I made everything there. When they are excited and amused and get giddy with excitement because they just love my work, to me that is a wonderful thing and very encouraging.”

From Local to Global

“It is also exciting when I sell one of my pieces to someone far away," Denise reflects. "It amazes me how many different places that I have sent my work, and [that I have] connected with people who I would otherwise never have met. 

I imagine the person who would buy my work would have a sense of fun and whimsy. They might be folksy, or maybe bohemian, and would like to surround themselves with happy colors and something that would make them smile.

Naturally by Denise Christmas Angel


They could also be a fan of nature, someone who loves walks in the woods or along the beach. They appreciate the si

mple things in life and the beauty that surrounds us.”

Despite her early love of this beauty of nature, her lifelong affinity for art, and a prowess with the natural elements she finds on the beach, her property, and potentially any walk of life, Denise considers herself a self-taught artist. It might be this freedom from pressure, however, that keeps the inspiration coming.

“I never really know how it will turn out. When I am done, I am usually surprised and amazed that I did this piece. I just let the process carry me along until I am done. I don’t really follow any rules. I don't know them. I just experiment and see what happens.”

What kind of experiences have you all had in creating art from natural elements? What inspires you? Share your thoughts about Naturally by Denise's story or your own adventures in the comments section below.

Go outside and get inspired!

Justine

  • Category:
  • In the Spotlight
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  • Naturally by Denise
  • handmade furniture
  • rustic country
  • holiday
  • wooden
  • natural materials
  • crafter interview
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2 Comments

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Dec 22, 2011 | Naturally by Denise

Thank you Justine! For your Spotlight on my Art, and my journey through many different Art mediums.
It is so exciting to try new things. The possibilities are endless and I feel like I am just getting started! Thanks again,
Denise

Dec 20, 2011 | Ahkriti

Great post Justine!

Denise sure has a lot of creative juices flowing. Esp love that alderwood love seat! She really has her hands full with so many creations and mediums that she uses. Awesome!

I tried my hands at decoupage this halloween. I failed in the pumpkin decoupage but am determined try again.


Submitted by:

Justine Benstead
Tampa, FL, US


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