I try to paint things that fill me up, that excite me,” Blakely Little reveals. By doing so, the Lowcountry artist’s work—Impressionistic views of historic buildings, marshes and flowers—uplifts the spirits of her collectors, too.
Following a professor’s advice to paint what moves her, Little—who grew up in Maryland—learned to lean on her intuition. “When I’m inspired by a subject, I don’t want to paint it just once; I want to paint it 10 times,” she shares. Exploring multiple approaches for capturing light or depicting a tree’s canopy (brushstrokes or a simple color wash, perhaps), Little likes to iterate on a single theme, composing a collection much like a designer would with textiles. “The paintings build off one another to help me tell a story,” explains the artist, whose surfaces run the gamut from wood panels to canvas to paper. Working primarily in acrylic and gouache, she typically adds final details with wax pastels or soft pencil.
A few years ago, Little began taking breaks from her time in the studio—a historic Charleston building shared with fellow artist Raven Roxanne—via sojourns overseas. “The city is comfy and happy, so that’s what I paint when I’m here,” she says. “But when I travel, it’s a different feeling; a beautiful new place can be intimidating.” To shake off nerves, Little records perspective, light and shapes in her sketchbook. On these trips, she also sometimes paints smaller pieces “en plein air”—that is, setting up her easel in the natural environment to capture the picturesque scenery before her. Once back at her studio (or hotel room), Little feels “free to implement sensory details from memory.”
This fall, Little returned to her “Al Fresco” series, releasing new images that celebrate outdoor family gatherings. For her online shop, she’s currently prepping holiday inventory inspired by England, Italy, Greece and her beloved Charleston. “My paintings are close to me, but they’re really meant for others,” shares Little, reflecting on a nearly decade-long career with past collaborators including Serena & Lily and McGee & Co. “I’m confident in the work I’m making; I’ve created a brand without losing myself as an artist, and I’m proud of who I’ve become.”