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You Know Them as Decorators. But Have You Seen Their Art?

These three stand-out designers—John Saladino, Jamie Bush and William Mclure—are known for their artful interiors. As it turns out, their drive to make things extends beyond the concrete world into the realm of the abstract.

John Saladino

It may come as a surprise that John Saladino, a giant of American interiors, is also a painter, but ever since studying art 50 years ago at Yale—with the likes of Chuck Close and Richard Serra—he’s made abstract canvases that recall Rothko’s color fields and Brancusi’s sensual forms. Recently he had his first gallery show, at Colette Cosentino Atelier + Gallery, in Santa Barbara. Compared to design, which requires advance planning, painting for him is “an emotional process.” But no matter what he makes, his concern is the same:

What you leave out is more important than what you put in.

“Untitled” by John Saladino

Jamie Bush

When Jamie Bush discovered architecture in college, he dropped his lifelong habit of making art—drawing, painting, even blowing glass—until years later, when he moved into a new office with a huge empty wall. Unable to afford the picture he craved for it, he painted his own, instantly reigniting his dormant passion. He’s been selling his canvases and works on paper ever since.

Art-making allows me to experiment and play and fail,” he says, adding that these days he doesn’t maintain a rigorous line between his design work and his abstract drawing and painting. “To me, it’s the same, but takes on different forms for different purposes.

“Upside Down L Series” by Jamie Bush

William Mclure

William McLure has painted all his life, but had no desire to be a starving artist. As an undergrad he pursued architecture, eventually establishing a successful interior design practice as an associate of Bill Ingram. “Then this little thing came along called Instagram,” he laughs. “I posted images of my paintings, and people came out of nowhere to buy them.” In five months, he’d made more money filling commissions than he did with his annual salary. “Long story short, I quit my day job,” he laughs again. He still accepts interiors projects on a case by case basis, and spends the rest of his time painting. His mantra?

Don’t overthink it. Just do it. That’s how you get better.

“Mixed Media Abstract” by William Mclure

Produced by Georgia Parker. Written by Kate Bolick.

From top to bottom: P. J. Ehler; Nicholas Maggio; Matthew Millman; Brittany Ambridge; photograph courtesy of William Mclure.