We are honored to have worked with Susanna Cromwell on this Limited Edition Lightweight Throw Blanket. Her art and design is inspiring and is clearly a reflection of where she calls home and it’s beauty. This mother, wife and artist is someone we call a friend and we could not be more eager to share this piece with you + give you a glimpse below of who she is and what drew her to this passion.
Introduce yourself, where do you call home!
My name is Susanna Leite Cromwell, I live in upcountry Maui where I work as an artist alongside my husband and four kids. We live in a farm style home with a big yard full of chickens, fruit trees, a big muddy dog named Luna, and a bunch of other neighborhood kids to add to my own. There's a lot going on but I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
What has led you to pursue your career / passion in design and as an artist? What was something you had to push through to get there?
I have always enjoyed making art -- Growing up I would enter all the kid’s art contests, I worked in my local art museum all through high school, I had an easel in my bedroom all through my teenage/college years, and I made art for my walls and friends as a young adult. I took a nine year break from art once I started having children because I felt like life quickly became too busy and messy to have a hobby like art. My plan was to go back to it when I was in my 40s and my children were grown, but five years ago while pregnant with my fourth I felt God say- “Make art. You are either an artist who makes art or makes excuses for why you can't make art- but either way, I made you an artist”. That night I stayed up and made three paintings and promised myself that I wouldn't go to sleep for the season that followed until I dedicated at least fifteen minutes to making something. That promise changed everything. I then felt like I was hanging out with myself for the first time in almost a decade, and I had really missed that side of me.
Who are you inspired by or what do you seek inspiration from?
WHO: My technique is inspired by old botanical drawings from the 1800’s, Matisse’s cut outs, Aloha Shirt designers of the 1950’s and 60’s, and most recently the modern compositions of the Gee’s Bend quilters.
WHAT: I find most of my inspiration from nature, these islands, below the ocean's surface, and untouched creation. Social media and modern life make it difficult to stay inspired in a non-prescribed way so whenever I need to come alive and reignite my inspiration I try to get away from the human-made and surround myself with pure, untamed creation. Google and mall gardens can introduce a subject, but I can't really feel and communicate the personality of the subject without fully seeing them alive in their natural environment. My hope is that people who see my art will grow curious and develop a hunger for the beauty found in nature, and that they will feel loved in the midst of trees, birds, plants, and marine life.
Is there a story behind the design reflected on the Lightweight Throw Blanket?
Many of my pieces are inspired by flora and fauna native to the Hawaiian islands. The Koki’o Ke’oke’o Hibiscus featured on the blanket is one of the few native hibiscus to Hawai’i and the only known hibiscus in the world to have a fragrance. I created the original design of the Koki’o Ke’oke’o Hibiscus by drawing the image onto a rubber block then carving out the negative space of the image, leaving only the lines I wanted to include in the flower. Next, I rolled oil paint onto the block and pressed it on Japanese paper repetitively to create a hand printed aloha print, this is a technique I incorporate often in a lot of my work. Wylie of Slowtide is a family friend so when he came over and saw the print we started dreaming up this collaboration. Wylie chose to make the towel/blanket big so that I could fit all four of my kids on it for our island adventures, which I think is pretty special.