The Home Accent Article
Time and circumstance have a way of coloring things. Artist Leo Osborne celebrates that mystery with the pedestals that support his works of art.
“If you don’t seal it over, it will continue to change,” he said.
It is that element of co-creation, a little inspiration, a lot of hard work and some serendipity thrown in that has made the home and Milkwood Studio that he shares with Jane Lane such a unique and inspiring place to visit.
“This was a co-creation all the way,” Osborne said of the remarkable renovation of their home on Guemes Island.
In an astounding seven months, Osborne and Lane transformed a rundown, run-of-the-mill structure into an avant-garde, one-of-a-kind showplace. “It’s been altered,” Osborne quips, pun intended. “There are altars everywhere.”
Both Osborne and Lane share a strong connection to the spiritual. His sculptures, such as the series Walking Prayers, have an “other worldly” sense. Lane owned the metaphysical store Mandala for many years.
“We decided we were really gonna go for it here,” Osborne said of the home’s audacious use of strong texture, bold color and architectural embellishments.
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“I’ve never been so flamboyant,” Lane said. “Leo encouraged me to take some risks.”
Those risks include richly textured ochre walls, handwritten quotes bordering the kitchen ceiling and colorful kitchen cabinets with bead pulls instead of “tacky” metal pulls.
“The first night we stayed here, we thought we’d made a mistake. The place had not been cleaned, there was no gas, no heat and the appliances were dead.”
Cleaning was the first priority and included a “cleansing ceremony” by Heli Tattari to lighten the mood of the place.
Both Osborne and Lane credit builder Rick Petrick of Wood Duck Construction with the vision to see the property’s potential.
“He and his crew really put their hearts into it,” Osborne said. “These young men added their own artistic touches.”
Ideas evolved as the project progressed.
Lane mentioned that it would be nice to have a larger doorway from the kitchen to the seating area.
Osborne enlarged the opening and Petrick found a piece of driftwood to brace the top, creating an organically shaped archway. From then on, all doorways became thresholds and any opening was a target for restructuring.
Color began to fill the once dingy space, starting with a fresh citrusy combination of lemon, apple green and periwinkle. Quotes inspired by two Dylans, Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan, sprawl across the upper wall in childlike writing.
An intense Chinese red began accenting the outside woodwork. A serendipitous accident splashed paint on the intended-to-be-natural wood porch. Attempts to remove the paint left a lustrous stainlike glaze that let the wood’s grain show through. Disaster turned into a gift, a metaphor for the project as a whole.
Driftwood seemed to show up as needed on the shores of Guemes Island. One massive beauty in particular serves as an graceful arch at the entrance. Refuse strewn on the property was incorporated and transformed such as the concrete mosaic walkway and sewer pipe sentinels that accent a small retaining wall along the pond.
Osborne’s artwork graces both indoors and out.
“We call it a living museum,” he said. “This is our work here – to share it, so that it brightens others.”
The combination museum, home, gallery and studio synthesizes work and home life and allows the couple to spend more time together.
Lane, who organizes and manages the complicated world of marketing fine art, said her favorite room “is the one Leo’s in.”
A sunroom has a partial view of the Guemes Channel. The warm room was a favorite lounging spot in the summer, at least according to Sweetpea the cat. Sweetpea claimed the room early. Sauntering on a just-chemically treated walkway, she sneaked into the sunroom and tracked the oxidizing substance onto the unfinished floor. It wasn’t until the floor was sealed that the treatment took effect, leaving a whimsical, albeit permanent, trail of kitty paw prints from the couch to the door.
It is that mix of planned and unplanned that keep these two young at heart. They go with the flow of what shows up, whether it’s spilled paint, paw prints or new love.
As Osborne put it: If you don’t seal it, it will continue to change over time. The same can be said of hearts as well.
Constance Mears is editor of Home Accent. She can be reached at homeaccentskagitvalleyherald.com