Right Brain: Joe Wakeman
December 12, 2005
Joe Wakeman chased the girl of his dreams from northern Minnesota to Summit County 20 years ago.”I caught her, she said ‘yes,’ and we’ve been making a life for ourselves ever since,” Wakeman said. “I’m glad she didn’t want to go to Phoenix, because I really like to ski.”Their marriage is not only a love match, but also an artistic match. Wakeman’s wife, Bonnie Norling Wakeman, is a fine artist who also does wall murals. Joe Wakeman started his business simply painting blank canvases – walls, to be exact – and didn’t go much further with his artist touch. That is, until he got into faux painting. Now, at times, he and his wife work together to create masterpieces on walls.DreamsSome day I would like to have a large studio where other artists could come to work. I enjoy the creative energy of artists and other professionals working together to solve problems in the studio and then executing the ideas in the field.
Why do art?I’ve really enjoyed the evolution of my trade to an art form. The never-ending learning curve and constant design issues make for constant challenges and problem solving. It doesn’t get boring.What do you convey through art?The abstract pieces can be anything that is going on in my head. I’ve been working on a series of pieces I like to call “elements.” They are forms on a background that represent important values in my life. The beauty of these pieces is that someone else can ascribe completely different meanings to the elements. They really are fun to create.In faux painting, I work with a client to create an ambiance for a space. We start with an idea of how they want the room to feel. Then by looking at other elements such as furniture, fabrics and other surfaces, we come up with finishes that compliment the decor and achieve the feel they want for the space. It’s a fun process that has a great sense of satisfaction when complete.Challenge
In the world of construction, it’s dealing with varying schedules. Because we come in near the end of the project, we have to absorb all the normal delays and still be ready to jump on a window of opportunity to get the project done. I’m surprised at how often we manage to pull it off.In the abstract work, it’s the creative frustration that occurs halfway through a project. The frustration of limited skill or media makes you think the project will never come off according to your vision. So you leave it alone for a while and come back to it when you have new information or intuition that allows you to move beyond whatever barrier you perceive. The information or intuition can come from a conversation, a background set in a movie, a picture in a magazine or research. I spend a lot of time researching different mediums and techniques on the internet.AccomplishmentThe ongoing evolution from tradesman to artisan to artist. Twenty years ago I was a house painter swinging a brush. Today I work with homeowners and other professionals creating phenomenal and impressive interior spaces. I love what I do, the people I work with and the place that I live. I can’t ask for more than that.Staying freshInformation drives the creative process for me. I’m always researching products and materials and looking for new ways to apply them. I also take classes and professional-product related workshops that expand my knowledge base for problem solving. I read art and design publications regularly. And I always try to keep an eye on the background, whether it’s movie sets or life in general. There’s a lot to look at and be inspired by.
When you’re not making art?I do most of the outdoor activities Summit County has to offer along with the occasional night of music and theater here and in Denver. Mostly I love to steal a morning in the summer to get out on the water in my kayak. The humbling perspective from the water always seems to put me in my place.”Joe Faux” WakemanPersonality: IntrovertHours per week dedicated to art: 40-60Favorite artist/mentor: Anyone who elevates their craft to an art formSensitivity: 9.5