Love defines the work of Asheville’s visual artists – Mountain Xpress | Candle Made Easy

Local artist Stephen Long has an art history background, and it was through learning the stories of famous creatives that he realized his calling.

Vincent van Gogh, Andy Warhol and Gustav Klimt loved what they did and it showed. If they hadn’t had art in their lives, they probably wouldn’t have lived as long,” says Lange. “This is how I see art. I love being alive and I make art to prove it.”

Among his many projects, Lange collects ginkgo leaves that fall on Wall Street and stamps them with custom Japanese woodblock prints reading “Happiness,” “Prosperity,” “Wisheit,” and “Love.” Once he’s done, he scatters them back onto the sidewalks for people to spot. As he collects the flora, Lange also looks for gingko leaves with a perfect heart shape, which he believes occur at a frequency of one in a hundred, to more fully connect with the project.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, Xpress met with Lange and other artists from the region to talk about the influence of love on their work and their outlook on life. For these creatives, emotion is an integral part – if not the driving force – of their creations.

sit with it

With a gallery called Heartful Art in the River Arts District, love’s influence is easy to see Raphaella Vaisseau‘s work. But it’s the artist’s chosen name, Vaisseau (which means “vessel” in French) that really reflects her values, she says.

“That best describes what I think about my art: I am a vessel,” she says. “People ask me if it’s hard to let go of an image I’ve been working on for years. I tell them, ‘No. I paint for you.’”

Contemplation also plays a role in Vaisseau’s work. The self-taught artist notes that she has practiced meditation for nearly 50 years, which makes it easy for her to focus on her love of nature, color and creativity.