Flower: Tell us about your background. I understand you studied fine art and interior design. Do you find that the two feed off of one other?
Alexis Walter: There’s a distinct difference in mediums but, to me, interior design is a form of art—the room is the canvas and the decoration is the paint. I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between the colors and textures in a room, and I get to explore that through my paintings and textile designs and particularly when working on commissions for interior designers. I love the fresh perspective I gain when looking at a room through their lens, and I find gratification in helping them express their vision for a space.
Your paintings are mostly comprised of pastel palettes, yet they exude so much richness. How did you achieve that?
Thank you! Mixing colors is by far my favorite step in the painting process, and I think a lot of the richness comes from those carefully blended colors. The layering process is also important in giving the paintings depth through texture.
Different artists have different philosophies on whether the art in a room should color-coordinate with the interiors. What are your thoughts?
I believe that when you buy pieces that you love, they can coexist harmoniously within your home regardless of the color scheme.
You mentioned your textile designs. Let’s talk about your fledgling fabric collection, Maison.
It’s less than a year old and is really blossoming. After almost 10 years in the making, we launched Maison in fall 2019 and it’s been a dream come true! The textiles in the collection are inspired by shapes found in my watercolor landscapes and those that naturally exist in my garden. It could be something as small as a bolted basil flower or the way the jasmine is espaliered on my fence. I paint a watercolor representation of it and then play around with pattern making and color selection.
The Maison palettes are unique in that they’re comprised of combinations I have been using in my paintings for years, choosing pairings I’ve found that highlight each other. Right now, we have more than 50 patterns printed on 100% Belgian linen, which I chose for its beautiful softness and natural quality.
What does Maison include?
We started out just selling fabric by the yard, but the collection has grown to include cocktail napkins, wreath sashes, pillow covers, and organic lavender sachet sets, all fabricated from our textiles. We also offer some printed paper goods like wrapping paper and Christmas crackers during the holidays. Most recently we used our papers to make seed packets for some of my favorite garden vegetables and melons.
Tell us about your garden.
It is heaven on Earth! It’s nestled between my home and my studio, so I get to enjoy the views, scents, and sounds when cooking and painting. The design is inspired by French potagers and parterre gardens, and the structure helps keep the vegetables from getting a little too wild. Soon we’ll have pink heirloom tomatoes, hot peppers, ‘Ronde de Nice’ zucchini, and Charentais melons, and right now our ‘Bolero’ roses are in full bloom. It’s the best time of year to be a gardener and a textile designer because there is such a bounty of inspiration. Every little curve of a petal or a leaf of a seedling could be used as part of a pattern.
It truly does sound like your very own Eden! Going back to fabrics, why did you decide to pursue your own collection?
I’m a fabric fanatic. When I travel, I pack light so I can stuff my suitcase with finds like Fortuny and Bevilacqua from Venice, handwoven linens from Mexico, and antique silks from the flea markets of France. But Maison was really born out of my love of fine art and interior design and my desire to marry the two. It’s been thrilling to see finished rooms where interior designers have used my artwork and textiles together!
You’re based in New Orleans, but you have a loyal following of interior designers across the country who are patrons of your art and your textiles.
I am humbled and grateful for the support I’ve received from the interior design community. Over the years, Paloma Contreras in Houston has hung several of my paintings in her clients’ homes and in showhouses across the country, and I’ve done some new work for Sarah Bartholomew in Nashville. Kevin Walsh from Bear Hill Interiors in Little Rock just upholstered a stunning antique settee in our Cecilia fabric, and Betsey Mosby Interiors in Jackson, Mississippi, used it for the most beautiful curtains in a showhouse.
What can we expect next?
We introduced a line of water-resistant fabrics and outdoor pillows. Up next: grass cloth wallcoverings in some of our best-selling patterns and colorways. I can’t wait!
By Margaret Zainey Roux | Art and fabric from Maison by Alexis Walter, alexiswalter.com