Lakewood artist’s original wallpaper designs bring the outdoors indoors

Lakewood artist’s original wallpaper designs bring the outdoors indoors

When she was a teenager in the early 2000s, Kathie Lee Jackson painted her bedroom with bright yellow and pink hibiscus flowers stenciled all over the walls. “I made my first wallpaper, without the paper,” she says, noting that DIY decor remained a thing throughout her college years at Colorado State University.

Today, Jackson points to this childhood project as an early example of her lifelong love of wall art. After losing her job as a marketing director in a pandemic-related layoff, she returned to her creative roots, painting nature-inspired scenes and starting selling them as prints through her online art company, Modern Magic. Designing wallpaper patterns seemed like a natural way to expand its offerings, so in the spring of 2022, she took an online course on surface pattern design. That fall, she launched her first three wallpaper collections, each influenced by a specific theme.

Take honeysuckle, for example. Inspired by her grandparents’ home in Morrison — “They had a big honeysuckle bush in their yard,” Jackson says — a collection of 12 styles of whimsical garden ornaments, including lemons, butterflies, bees, and, of course, honeysuckle vines. The Pure Life collection is essentially a travel journal drawn from a trip to Costa Rica that Jackson took with her husband.

Each element of Jackson’s patterns—whether a single flower or a colorful parrot—was initially painted by hand using gouache, a water-based paint with the texture of acrylic paint. Jackson then digitizes the paintings, cleans up details in Adobe Photoshop, and arranges the images into a pattern using Adobe Illustrator. Every design is a product of trial and error, and Jackson’s process—changing this element slightly, adding another image here, adjusting the color saturation there, previewing how the pattern repeats to spot awkward gaps—is instinctive and personal, she says. “I want you to look at (my patterns) and say, ‘Oh, Katie did that.’”

Jackson’s wallpaper designs range from calm and muted to bold and busy, providing visual interest to a space without overpowering it. “My paint palettes are[colorful but]not fluorescent or overwhelming,” she explains. “There is a balance (in the designs) so that the spaces (they are in) still feel calm and welcoming.”

Where to find it

Jackson’s wallpapers are made by Spoonflower, a sustainable home decor company that works with independent artists, and can be accessed through Jackson’s website. All designs are available as removable, traditional, and wall coverings. Prices depend on board size and paper type.

This article was originally published on 5280 October 2023.

Meredith sell

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