A move away from formality, says Nashville artist Christina Baker, is what defines The New Southern. “While retaining its elegance, New Southern style feels more relaxed. It's becoming fresher, lighter, and more pared down.” It’s a trend, she says, that she employs in her art, a brighter and more simple aesthetic. “I'm so drawn to light and enjoy using lots of it in my work. I'm finding myself utilizing more negative space and creating larger shapes, which is visually simplifying and a natural fit for The New Southern style.”
Though it’s changed throughout the year, Baker’s artistic style is one that has been honed from a young age. “I've been creating since the age of two,” she said, “I grew up surrounded by creative people, including my mom who was an award-winning antique dealer. She loved restoration and always purchased pieces that needed attention. In the end, everything she sold was beautifully restored and in perfect condition. In my teens, I did a great deal of the restoration for my mom, and thus learned about surfaces, paint, stains, and varnishes.” Her grandmother, too, was an artist, she worked in watercolor and Baker credits her for teaching her how to see color. “She used something as simple as a boxwood tree in her yard to illustrate the infinite variety of colors—some of them unexpected, like purple or blue—that could be seen within the shadows and light. The love of artistic discovery was something her and I shared.”
We visited her studio just outside of Nashville—which you can see a full studio tour of on Style Me Pretty Living—and got to know the artist who’s literally painting a picture of New Southern style. Thank you again to the sweet and loving team at Style Me Pretty Living for all of your tremendous support with Christina and The New Southern. Xx
We visited her studio just outside of Nashville—which you can see a full studio tour of on Style Me Pretty—and got to know the artist who’s literally painting a picture of New Southern style.
Alyssa Rosenheck: Your work is so colorful. What’s one shade that changes everything?
Christina Baker: I'll always find cool, moody blues and greens appealing, but the color that changes it all for me is pink. While I'm mostly drawn to warm, dusty pinks like blush and coral, I also love seeing fuchsia and magenta when used sparingly. When people think of pink, they often imagine the clear, happy, pastel pink traditionally used in little girls' rooms. I like to rework that notion and include gray, which takes that sweet pink to a dusty, more sophisticated shade.
AR: How do you make a house a home?
CB: Plants, plants, and more plants. They’re a home's most versatile accessory. They can add life, texture, energy, and drama, and their endless shapes and shades of color fill negative space like nothing else can. Besides the beauty they lend to a room, there are studies that prove plants influence physical and emotional wellbeing. If I didn’t have a plant-eating cat in my own home, we'd have even more plants.
AR: What’s the best piece of business advice you could provide for creative entrepreneurs starting out?
CB: As a creative entrepreneur, it’s so easy to be excited about your brilliant new venture and impulsively put it out there prematurely. A new business is perceived solely on its branding. Take the time to consider your market, what you’re offering, and how you want to be present yourself. For a creative type, the research necessary for great branding may not be all that appealing, but getting it right the first time is absolutely crucial. If it’s beyond your ability, hire a professional. It’s an investment you’ll be happy you made.
AR: What about life advice?
CB: Don’t sit around and wait for something to land in your lap. Get up and make it happen.
AR: What’s on your nightstand?
CB: An amethyst stone given to me by my youngest daughter, a small maidenhair fern, a table lamp, and lots and lots of books.
AR: Fill in thee blank, “my momma always said…”
CB: Send a thank you note. Her emphasis on gratitude taught me to be the thankful person I am. Being able to appreciate what I have is a gift that makes me a happier person, and is something I hope I’ve instilled in my daughters.
AR: To you, what is Southern hospitality?
CB: There is something about seeing a friend or family member looking through the window or waiting at the door excited to greet me that makes me feel warm and welcomed. That genuine enthusiasm to welcome guests is the epitome of Southern hospitality. I noticed very early on that in the South there’s a genuine pride in your home. I assume that’s why hospitality is the way it is in the south, and original art is such a desire in their homes. Southern people have a natural gift for making people feel comfortable in their home.