By Elizabeth Sturgeon
Photos by Rebecca Wise
Claire Drummond has always felt close to art, starting with her childhood home in Middle Georgia. Her mother, as a collector, designed her house in a way that instilled in Claire a love for color and balance between new and old.
“My mother has amazing taste,” Claire says. “Seeing her home and its many layers, you can tell it has been years in the making. I’ve been interested in design since I was a kid, and when I took to art, I saw how everything ties together.”
In her childhood home, Claire saw artwork, rugs, and interiors all intertwine and has since studied almost every aspect of home design following a creative spark during her childhood art lessons. She later studied interior design at the University of Georgia, co-owned an antique rug business, and has now found – or rekindled – a love for painting.
Her painting business, Colors by Claire, marks a new chapter in her calling to art and design, but her passion for designing rooms is ever-present in her abstracts, landscapes, house portraits, still lifes, and other pieces. The ways she sees art interact with other parts of a home’s design are all important in how she paints for those adding to or starting an art collection.
Claire has been taking on commissions for just over a year and only painted for friends and family until her babysitters – sisters Preslee and Gracee Williams – noticed her work and asked Claire to paint something to put above their sofa.
At that point, she was just painting at her kitchen counter with her two daughters beside her until Preslee and Gracee asked to build her following on Instagram. “It boosted my confidence to feel like someone came in and made a big deal out of a sketch or painting, and I decided to go for it,” Claire says.
After this painting – a portrait of sorts, with the two sisters clinking glasses in front of a hazy pink background – Claire continued to share her work on Instagram and explore new subjects and techniques. She is an all-acrylic artist and finds acrylic paints to be the best medium for the vibrant color she includes in all of her pieces.
Color is the unifying force behind Claire’s work. “I love bright paint and bright pieces,” she says. “With acrylic, I can give so much more depth to a painting. I sometimes find myself trying to paint something neutral, and I don’t feel a passion for creams and whites. Somehow, color always makes its way in there.”
Blue, green, and blush are three of her favorite colors that are often invited into her work and her personal art collection. When working together, these colors bring about a lushness and warmth in Claire’s own home.
Above the sofa in her living room sits an abstract blue and green forest by Birmingham-based painter Sally Boyd, while salmons and rosy pinks flow through some of her older and more traditional pieces. In her sunroom-turned studio sits a newly finished series of blue-green abstracts, too.
The brightness in Claire’s abstract work echoes the pop-art movement in vivid colors, large brush strokes, and geometric edges. She often matches her colors to the room where the painting will be placed and loves when a whimsical pillow design or an antique rug gets to inspire the whole color palette.
Claire approaches her paintings in a similar way to her rug business and sees so much beauty in how someone fills their walls and floors. “I’m 50/50 on rugs and art as my very favorite things,” she says. “Those two components build the foundation of a room’s design.”
When she knows her colors – usually after taking her color wheel to a home and matching shades directly – Claire creates a small-scale study to play with the colors and composition before translating her ideas onto a larger canvas.
In her own personal taste, Claire is drawn most to landscapes – which tie to her love for traditional art – but her landscape pieces dress in a colorful, looser abstract look, which resembles her constant goal to blend the traditional with the contemporary.
One style she has named her “graffiti abstracts” started with an unfinished landscape she scribbled across, the acrylic pen graffiti standing out and forming its own kind of abstract scene.
This process – exploring new styles and finding harmony in colors – is something she also shares with her two daughters, ever since they’ve started to work on art projects outside together. “It brings a sense of peace to me for the three of us to paint together,” she says.
Outside of her commissioned pieces, Claire is still defining the techniques that make a piece resemblant and reflective of herself. “I’m still developing and seeing what people enjoy,” she says. “Hopefully over the next few months, I can keep throwing some new things out there and see what people are drawn to most.”
Claire combines her years in home design, rugs, and art with the new transition from interior designer to painter, making her an artist to watch as she explores new ideas and develops a style that could take so many different directions.
And while the future might be full of unknowns in what styles she will try next, Claire is certain that it’s full of color.
Design Around Town
Interior design is pretty much inseparable from Claire’s work as an artist. She remains an expert in antique rugs, and she still keeps up with the design scene in Birmingham, which she’s been involved in ever since she moved to the area in 2010. We asked Claire about some of her favorite spots around town for all things art and design.
Favorite place for furniture? Richard Tubb Interiors and The Nest
A gallery that inspires you? I love Design Supply – full of color, art and inspiration!
Hidden gem? Stash Bham – y’all, this place is amazing! You can fill shelves, find furniture, mirrors, etc.
A favorite in Mountain Brook? Circa Interiors and Antiques and Henhouse Antiques – timeless and gorgeous finds.
Claire opened a small rug shop in Stash Birmingham on First Ave. S. in April – stop by to see her new space and hear what’s next for her. Or, you can always follow her work and projects on Instagram @colors_by_claire.