"Art is the proper task of life."- Friedrich Nietzsche
Join us this month as we step inside Michelle Rajotte and Chris Howell's groovy new Portland abode and uncover all the beauty this home has to share. Michelle and Chris' creative journey together was kismet and the moment you walk through their home, the feeling is undeniable. Their love for the arts and embracing life to the fullest is what makes their home so magical!
After both being home owners for 20 years, take a peek at what these Portland creatives have curated together in their gorgeous 1910 rental home. Mixing and matching new with old, heirloom with upcycle, their recipe for success is filled with art and love.
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Artifact: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
Michelle: Most everything I make is connected to a story or concept and is motivated by life experience. In my latest body of fine art ‘abstract’ photography, I steered away from a directly conceptual approach, creating something to which the viewer could attach their own mood. The psychology of color is deeply powerful, and it’s fascinating to see who gravitates towards what, and how they connect to different pieces. We know that colors in the red family can spark warm and comforting thoughts for one person, while stirring up thoughts of hostility and anger for another. Even more profound is that color can effect physiology, therefore writing its own story for the viewer. I choose to surround myself with color that supports a peaceful mind frame. People’s personal experiences or energy levels dictate how they gravitate to an image, and how it affects them. It’s really cool to feel like the driver with this work, as opposed to the tour guide.
With my portrait photography, I have a passion for connecting to my subjects, and then I go home and edit alone for hours. I’d like more collaboration time and less solo time in my creative life. Collaboration makes me feel like everything is right in my world, and Chris and I have been having a blast co-creating. Right now we are in the process of setting up an “Old Hollywood” black and white portrait studio in our creative space, with dramatic lighting and a seamless backdrop. Our goal is to photograph every single person who walks in our door for RajottePhotography.
Chris: I gravitate toward the abstract in both my photograph
Artifact: What inspires you to create and decorate?
Michelle: People, people, MUSIC and people! I create things as a form of communication, and a bridge to connect with people. Music is a potent path of connection for me, and it’s always been part of my life. Again, my father built his entire life and raised his family on music. I cannot remember one single family dinner without Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon or Marvin Gaye. I moved to San Francisco at 22, and the scenery change just pulled me further into my bohemian expression.
These days we both LOVE our underground house music scene here in Portland. We support our musical friends with art for shows, and we photograph of local events. You can see the musical influence in every room I decorate. Portland is an AMAZING PLACE to interact with art in all forms.
Our mutual Instagram is http://www.instagram.com/heliotrope_photography
Michelle's industrial abstract photo piece.
Artifact: What is the toughest part of being a working creative?
Michelle: Marketing my own work. It’s the artist’s curse. The bulk of my professional work is my photography, and I don’t advertise or market my work. I also do some interior decorating, help clients buy art for their homes or offices, and most recently I started to repurpose the bathtubs and created another separate business around it. I guess you could call me a creative hustler: give me the opportunity to do something I’ve never done and I’ll learn how to do it. My standing clientele is super loyal to me. Mustering up the elegance and the articulation to sell myself and put my creative work out there for mass consumption is a whole different challenge. It makes me feel queasy- it’s a nightmare for me, really.
Artifact: What advice do you have for people who want to tap into their creativity?
Michelle: Millennial's have it right, and I’ve learned so much from my younger friends. BLOW OUT THE PIPES! Get out in nature- go out by yourself. Be able to let go. You’ll learn more in one day of traveling without an itinerary than you would in a semester of world history. Life is over when you stop learning. Top of my list (and it’s a long list): I want to move to New Orleans for a few years; I still need to learn how to sew; I want to improve my Spanish and really learn to play the Conga. There’s so much to do!
Artifact: When adding new items to your home, what are your top rules?
Michelle: It’s all about taking chances. There is no singular style here. This new home we share is a rental house, and we’ve barely been here for five months. The house has tiny rooms, and many of our things didn’t fit. We’ve broken all the rules but we were 100% motivated by furnishing entirely with RESALE. There is so much second- hand goodness out there. Both Chris and I are hunters, and it is our hobby both alone and together to look for things that people don’t want anymore. We have found amazing stuff that now gets to live a whole other life with us. We are both focused on sustainability in both our creative process and our home lives. Found objects like textiles, the clawfoot tubs, or Chris’s use of old canvases and wood, or even vintage drawers for frames- there’s a wealth of materials out there, and they go along with our consistent vibe. It can be deadly to drag a bunch of found resources home all the time. It creates clutter, so we really need to be really disciplined about what comes in and what goes out. We’re working on that!
Chris: This house is a collaborative effort. It has the space for us to work on several projects simultaneously. If I find a really neat piece of vintage wallpaper, Michelle may use that wallpaper to finish a second hand cabinet. Michelle designed a very serene master bedroom and I added a custom abstract headboard to add a punch of color and my personal style.
To take a deeper look at Looking Glass Baths: