Artist Spotlight: Katharine Barnwell

Katharine Barnwell’s nature-inspired, hand-painted designs have made their way onto Caspari napkins, plates, wrapping paper and more throughout her decades-long partnership with the brand. In her realistic yet whimsical style, animals and plants are given playful twists while environments pop with color. 

"Nature inspires my designs. Everything horticultural, zoological and all else in between," says Barnwell. "I simply long to recreate objects and creatures I find beautiful."

Image credit: Katharine Barnwell

Image credit: @katharine.barnwell

As a classically trained artist, Barnwell has studied at the Arts Students League in New York, the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and apprenticed with renowned Italian painter Nerina Simi in Florence, Italy. It was while designing holiday cards for Tiffany & Co. back in the late 1990s that she was first introduced to Caspari.

“The rest, as they say, is a very happy history,” Barnwell quips. 

Outside of her work for Caspari, Barnwell creates custom decorative objects for an ever-growing list of clients. Her process begins with an original oil painting on wood. From there, she makes a high-resolution scan of the painting and sends it to her carpentry studio. Once in the studio, the painting is laser cut out of wood and used to make fine art décor such as fire screens and umbrella stands. Barnwell describes it as a “painstaking process,” but one that yields beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Image credit: Katharine Barnwell
Peacock Fire Screen. Image credit: Katharine Barnwell

Barnwell is also part of a high-profile collaboration with the White House Historical Association. In partnership with New York-based designer John Derian, Barnwell created a line of glass decoupage plates featuring china patterns from past presidential administrations. Using watercolors, Barnwell painted her own interpretations of six former White House patterns resulting in a series of unique and colorful decorative pieces. 

Image credit: The Washington Post
Image credit: The Washington Post

“I have always loved beautiful porcelain, and was fascinated to paint the plates and then have John Derian take them to a whole different dimension,” Barnwell said.

Her most recent Caspari design features a reinterpretation of the classic chinoiserie pagoda motif in red, green and gold to mark the upcoming season. This festive holiday print will add elegance to any table, from the upscale to the everyday. 

View more of Barnwell's designs for Caspari and shop our Holiday 2021 Collection

Katharine Barnwell
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