At Home: Artist Mab Graves’s Studio
The quirky painter shows off her whimsical loft in Fountain Square.
Mab Graves, known for her pop-surrealist paintings, transformed a cozy nook in a former tavern into this funky workspace.
“I have to keep one piece from every series I do,” she says. “I invest so much into each creation; when they used to be all gone, I’d go through a postpartum thing.”
The bookshelves are sprinkled with them because her next series features prehistoric animals. “When I’m exploring a theme, immersion is a huge part of it,” Graves says.
“I finish between one and four a year, and I’m on my 35th now.” Graves sketches on-the-go and saves these drawings because they often inspire her paintings.
This little bird was one of her first sketches. “It’s got a big head and crazy eyes, so my style hasn’t changed much.”
She asks authors like John Green and Lois Lowry to not sign their book to her, but instead to write a jokey note, like, “Thanks for a magical night I’ll never forget.” These reads make up her “slut library.”
Most of her pieces come from trades with other artists. “I always say, ‘Paint me a bat.’ They’re my favorite animals.”
“I love these because they’re always crooked,” she says with a chuckle. Graves says she does her best work from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. She tries to use as little light as possible so she doesn’t wake her partner.
She stores them in vintage planters she finds at Audrey’s Place, Midland, or Value Village.
“I have lots of vintage poodles and fluff stuff that I’ve found at Midland,” Graves says. “Anything 1960s kitsch is my favorite.”
Graves used to make custom dolls. She’s only bought one; the rest were given to her.
She saved the little pink one she sat in when she colored as a child.