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Catto’s artistic efforts reveal Nature’s designs

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In an essay titled “The Study of Color in Nature”, published in the 1896 edition of The Observer: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine, naturalist and artist F. Schuyler Mathews noted: “Color in Nature is illimitable; there is positively no end to its complexity.” 

The essay offers the reader a few simple color theory experiments to perform, to which Mathews concludes, “… it goes to prove that there is more color in Nature than we at first supposed. If then, we take the pains to search for it, no doubt our efforts will be crowned with some success.”

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Isa Catto Studio’s founder and creative director, Isa Catto, has captured some of that success in her lush watercolor designs that often incorporate elements from nature.

The studio, located in Woody Creek, is cradled in nature’s paintbox, now with its golden, orange and red hues of autumn trees, set against an evergreen-filled Elk Mountain Range backdrop.

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When you see the view, you understand that Catto’s creations are reflections of the surroundings with its ever-changing seasonal color palette. 

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The view of the Elk Mountain Range from the second floor of Isa Catto’s studio workspace. Roberts said the natural surroundings provide inspiration for her designs. Photo by Jeanne Souldern.

Catto and her full-time studio crew — Jennifer Roberts, Ted Maertens and Savanna LaBauve — are getting ready for a series of events called Willits Weekend, which will introduce the public to new Catto textiles and art.

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Kicking off on Friday, Oct. 28, from 5 to 7 p.m., a community open house will celebrate Decorative Materials’ new space with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception. Located at 900 E. Valley Rd. in Basalt, Decorative Materials is a home design and custom-made tile and stone showroom.

Catto Studio director Roberts shared, “We’re going to pair some [of Isa’s] artwork with their beautiful and colorful tiles to create a curated exhibit.”

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Also, at Decorative Materials on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a pop-up shop of Catto Studio art and textiles, including scarves, accessories and housewares, and original art and prints, will be available to purchase.

On Oct. 28-30, during regular store hours, Bookbinders Books in Basalt will showcase a new collection of journals, notebooks and wrapping paper and an opportunity to meet and chat with Catto on Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.

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In a tour of the two-story Isa Catto Studio, led by studio director Roberts, you first notice an abundance of natural light streaming through the large windows, creating an atmosphere that invites instinctive creative flow.

Roberts said Catto’s Bird Flight series was inspired by Catto “watching all the birds up here and creating her artistic interpretation of their flight patterns,” including the lazy loops of a turkey vulture, the diving descent of a falcon and the nimble darting of the hummingbird.

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The Bird Flights designs are also featured on sets of notecards, journals, and a new, more compact reporter notebook.

Earlier this year, Catto and her team did their first-ever collaboration with Aspen Public Radio to create the hummingbird-design canvas tote bag and matching notebook, given to donors as a gift during APR’s summer membership campaign.

Catto’s textiles on display include women’s scarves and wraps made from lightweight chiffon, super-soft wool and a modal silk blend. The Italian silk scarves are printed in Italy, then sewn in New York with hand-rolled hems.

Roberts said they found a location in India, a country known for its cotton production, to make fabric for their organic cotton scarves. However, a careful vetting process was completed “to ensure that we found a reliable place that has the right certifications for fair labor practices and organic cotton that’s been certified,” she explained.

A new product is a journal with 80-pound paper and an exposed spine, so it lays flat when opened, which “is perfect for use as an artist’s journal,” Roberts said.

In November, they will open “the notebook bar,” where studio visitors can design and assemble a notebook with covers that aren’t part of the regular collection and a variety of papers, including lined, dot-grid and plain sketchbook paper. “It’s just a fun interactive thing for people to do,” Roberts explained.

Catto’s desk is surrounded by icons of a creative mind, from the ceramic mugs splayed with watercolor bushes and bulletin boards with images of muses and her daughter’s paintings and photographs. Photo by Jeanne Souldern

To learn more about Isa Catto and her design process, visit

Catto’s workspace, located on the second floor, has a large picture window that unveils a color-popping mountain landscape, proving that, as Mathews said, “there is more color in Nature than we at first supposed.” 

Given the careful attention that Catto infuses into her designs, she may have been awarded the crown.

Tags: #Art #Isa Catto #Isa Catto Studio #Nature #textiles
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