Lasting Impression: Norling-Wakeman Studios/Bonnie and Joe Wakeman
Sure, a marriage is a partnership, but Bonnie and Joe Wakeman have taken partnership to a new level, making a career out of helping each other out.The couple has been married for 21 years, and theyve both lived in Summit County, Colo. since 1984. Joe started out in the wallpapering and painting business. Bonnie took her illustration and design degree and began painting portraits and designing T-shirts, ski pins and patches for wholesalers. Then she painted local scenes, selling prints and cards in galleries and stores.In the early 1990s, when Joe began playing around with Bonnies art materials, he didnt know it would lead to a penchant for fine art. After work, hed come home and mix extra quarts of paint he had with Bonnies. In 1996, he opened Joes Faux, a faux painting company that creates everything from distressed-looking furniture to faux copper range hoods and patinated walls. Even today, the evolution continues; Joe is transitioning from large-wall art to smaller canvases, creating nonrepresentational abstracts employing everything from textures to color and incorporating handmade paper, gold leaf and bronze.Its taking a lot of materials used in faux painting and applying them to canvases in an artful manner, Joe says.As much as Bonnie inspired Joe to find his artistic flair, hes helped her, too. One day, Joes client asked Bonnie if she did murals, and she said, sure. From there, Bonnies career in elaborate wall murals has taken off.The couples work has been a staple in Summit Countys Parade of Homes every September, featuring bas relief aspens in bathrooms, a trompe loeil painted wine room on an elevator door and carved wooden-looking designs on a bedroom door as well as painted wine labels on kitchen cabinet doors. Homes from the Rocky Mountains throughout the Midwest into Florida feature their designs, from ceiling murals with seagulls flying overhead to birdcages with exotic birds. Smith & Hawken in Silverthorne, the animal shelter and other public places in Summit County feature Bonnies work.Bonnie and Joe take classes all over the country to perfect their technique, including workshops with William Cochran, a renowned public artist. In fact, William was so impressed with Bonnies work that he invited her to do a job with him.Its important who you study with because that makes a big difference in the quality of the work, Bonnie says. The quality of the work is really important, and thats why we keep improving ourselves.Bonnie is now doing oil commissions as well as wall murals, and the couple hopes to open a commercial studio for large canvas, furniture and art pieces.The success of our business (Norling-Wakeman Studios) necessitated the need for more space, Joe says. We feel absolutely privileged to be able to do the things we do.Together.
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