Aubree Bauer has always been an all-or-nothing artist. “From when I was a kid my parents told me I was an artist,” she says. “I’ve never really had a backup plan.” And the painter behind Folk & Flora Design Co. stayed true to her roots, bouncing around the country for college, her husband’s grad school and then back to her childhood home in Vermont, before moving to Lakewood in December 2018, all while stockpiling her art. Her collection of whimsical, nature-inspired original paintings, art prints and greeting cards launched that same month. The move paid off — in March she became the first artist-in-residence for the Cleveland Flea where she hand-paints murals and fliers. While Bauer hopes to get her products into local shops in the future, she’s busy enjoying today’s success. “I’m really living in this moment right now because this has been years working up to this,” she says.
Second Nature: Bauer grew up on a mountaintop farm in Vermont where she was immersed in nature and raised alongside llamas and goats, inspiring her to spotlight snails, flowers, mushrooms and animals in many of her paintings. “Nature has always been what’s right in front of my face,” she says. “So I’ve drawn flowers since I was little.” While she loved the farm — even returning to live with her grandparents for a while before relocating to Cleveland — she left to attend art school at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Color Theory: To get the vibrant colors of her paintings, Bauer uses gouache, a high-pigment watercolor paint she prefers over others because it dries the same color as it appears wet. “I used it once in college and fell in love with it because it gives you extremely bright colors,” she says. The technique enables her to get the vivid colors of flowers just right. “When you find a really beautiful bright magenta flower, you’re drawn to it,” she says. “That’s where my brain is at when it comes to colors: I’m drawn to them because it’s something pretty.”
Pattern Party: Patterns play a huge role in Bauer’s art. “I’m very inspired by found patterns, even cork boards with different fliers,” she says. Bauer incorporates the patterns into painted patchwork quilt squares, an homage to her quilt maker great-grandma. “That’s a way for me to throw all the patterns I find out in the world into one painting,” she says.
By the Book: The whimsical children’s book illustrations by Bee Willey and Beatrix Potter have always sparked Bauer’s creativity. “I remember making up my own stories to all of these pictures,” she says. “That’s something I aim to do with my artwork too — I want people to walk away with their own story, whatever they took from it.”
Based on one of Bauer’s paintings, the Moth Forest Findings Greeting Card ($3.50) depicts a nature scene and is blank on the inside.