The Sketchbook

Introducing The Key Collection

Behind the Artwork

Around this time last summer, I was getting sick at the sight of my apartment walls. We were several months into work-from-home, social distancing and self-quarantining, and I (like so many others) was getting stir-crazy. I also starting to feel the added pressure and elusive unattainability of “constant creativity.” As a new full-time artist, I felt uninspired – and nervous about it. I wanted to create something new and interesting, but ironically my reliable kick-start to creativity was travel. That was out of the question.

Visiting somewhere new was the equivalent to jumper cables on a dead car – a guaranteed boost of excitement, wonder, inspiration and creativity. I craved it. Needed it.

I picked up a few of my favorite travel magazines and browsed my favorite accounts. Then, while devouring Yolo Journal, I stumbled on a series of instagram posts from founder Yoland Edwards of carefully collected travel ephemera. Ticket stubs, bar coasters, champagne caps, and hotel keys. I was transfixed. And immediately inspired to do the same. I rummaged through my own boxes of collected knick knacks, souvenirs, matchbooks (of course), coasters…everything I had hoarded collected over the years from traveling. I sat with those memories for days, traveling in place, more grateful than ever for those experiences.

I also was wildly inspired. I had found a new subject.

Print One in the series: ‘The Key to Le Sirenuse

I became obsessed with vintage hotel skeleton keys. On occasion, when lucky enough to stay in a historic hotel, I have been given a real metal key. In a world filled with electronic keys and fobs, theres something undeniably romantic about being handed a distinctive metal key. The symbolic gesture of being handed a true key upon arrival bridges the gap between foreign and familiar, and transports you to another world and another time, making the experience even more memorable. 

For my next iteration of Objects of Memory, I am releasing a limited number of oil pastel studies of traditional hotel room keys. Chosen for their design, significance, age and lore, each hotel featured is a fixture of its city/country (a history I will be breaking down on Instagram in the coming weeks!).

Beautiful in their own right, each pastel drawing isolates the subject from its context, holding our full attention – and bringing to mind an unrepeatable and cherished moment in time – a honeymoon, a favorite local landmark, a family vacation, a foreign home away from home, or spontaneous getaway.  I am so excited to share them with you!

XO

Tess

View the collection here

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