Nestled in the coastal Santa Cruz Mountains, surrounded by a redwood forest, is artist Dawn Wolfe’s studio. Enveloped by nature, she finds inspiration for her multilayered three-dimensional works—depicting monarch butterflies, deer, and other creatures—right in her own backyard. Using exquisite cotton papers, watercolors, and a methodical arts- and-crafts process, she turns scans of photographs, old love letters, fabric scraps, vintage maps, and other mementos into unified pieces of art. The results have the same magical, folkloric feel as her light-filled studio in the woods.
How does having your studio as part of your home influence your process?
“I hate dark houses. Our property is open, so we get 360 degrees of daylight. I think it very much inspires what I do. I have the doors open year-round. In spring and summer I see wild boar, rabbits, squirrels, even bobcats walking around.”
How did you get into making pieces of art using paper?
“The first one I did was for a wedding. I was trying to come up with something special that would tell the couple’s story. I ended up incorporating maps of where they were from and where they had lived together. They’re all very personal.”
What’s your approach to using color in your pieces?
“I like doing subtle color gradations.”
I take a hodgepodge of things that have meaning and unify them into a single piece of art.