Federal Way women find peace through abstract art of paint pouring

Studio 29 artwork to be showcased at Asensio Coffee, Abbe Winery in Federal Way.

There’s a creative magic to the mess of paint splatters and spills in Studio 29.

The studio is actually the garage of Federal Way resident Angie Korth. Korth, with next door neighbor and business partner Darlene LeMaster, are still up at 11 p.m. on a Monday night pouring paint on to various sizes of tiles and canvases.

LeMaster and Korth are the owners and founders of Studio 29, a small original artwork business using the technique of acrylic paint pouring.

“I thought, ‘Oh this is so much fun,’” Korth said about discovering the technique via social media. “Then I thought ‘Why don’t I invite the neighbor ladies over for some wine and painting?’”

LeMaster and Korth have been next door neighbors and friends in the tight-knit community for 12 years. If you can pour wine, you can pour paint, the two said.

“Darlene just fell in love with it,” Korth said, which LeMaster agreed. “Then the next day she gives me a call and says ‘Hey, listen, are you going to be painting tonight? Do you mind if I come over and paint?’”

Starting a business wasn’t the plan when the pair started painting in September 2017, they said.

“Within a couple of months of [painting on] weekends and maybe one weeknight, we had all these canvases and we’re like ‘What are we going to do with them?’ And Angie said, ‘We’re going to have an art sale,’” LeMaster said as the women laughed at the memory. “Just like when you’re a kid and you say ‘We’re going to have a magic show.”

Korth’s house serves as their art studio for now.

Her cozy downstairs with warm lighting has an art gallery feel with paintings displayed on any available surface. Swirls of bold colors are lined up next to earth-toned pieces on shelves, tables and hung on the walls.

This is a calm setting to admire the art juxtaposed to the creative space in the garage where each masterpiece is made.

The two women, dressed in clothes smeared with a rainbow of paint colors, spend four to five nights a week in the garage listening to electronic dance music (Korth’s favorite) and paint pouring — often until wee hours of the morning by accident.

They start by diluting and mixing the paint to a syrup-like texture, then use a variety of pouring techniques to spill the paint onto tiles or canvases, which rest on oven rackets placed over large tubs to catch the excess paint.

Magic is an accurate way to describe the process of pouring paint. Twisting and turning the canvas, letting the paint flow in any direction and allowing the colors to control the end result.

They make canvas art for house decor, along with functional art of charcuterie boards, drink coasters, food platters and accessory dishes.

Much of the studio time is spent wandering to admire each other’s creations.

While the painting provides instant gratification, patience is necessary when the pieces don’t come out how envisioned, they said. And if it’s a total fail, there’s two options — swipe the surface clean or add glitter.

Korth, a registered nurse, and LeMaster, a data analyst, both find pouring paint to be a freeing escape from their daily lives.

“I find it very liberating,” Korth said. “I’ve always liked abstract art.”

“For me, it’s very therapeutic and freeing also,” LeMaster said. “It’s just a way to spend time for me,” adding that paint pouring also provides sensory exploration for her children.

Korth is an empty-nester. LeMaster has seven kids, three with drug and alcohol dependency difficulties.

“I have a million children,” LeMaster said jokingly. “Three of which I adopted with really severe special needs and I have to control so many aspects of my day and then at work as well. This is something I don’t have to control. This is amazing to just let something else take control, and it is what it is.”

Studio 29 held their first art exhibit for close friends and family at Korth’s house in December 2017, and hosted a second exhibit open to customers outside their community network in March 2018.

Earlier this fall, Studio 29 had a six-week event at Franciscan Hospice care in University Place, where they showcased their pieces and held how-to classes as popularity grew.

“We knew the pieces were nice and pretty, and we enjoyed them so we figured everyone else would too, but we got such a great response, great support from everybody there,” Korth said. “It was just magical.”

Their goal was to sell 30 sets of four coasters during the six-week period. But they ended up selling 36 sets in the first six days of the event.

“Not only staff and employees .. but hospice patients and their families bought items,” LeMaster said. “There was one day we [saw] people just sitting in their wheelchairs, observing the artwork and just smiling and having their families take their picture. For me, it was a revelation because I love my work … but then to see other people view it and smile and know it means something to them was the coolest thing ever.”

Knowing their art is going to a good home makes them feel OK about parting with some of their favorite masterpieces, she said.

“I just want to know people love my art and want to put it in their house,” LeMaster said.

Studio 29 recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, but do have bigger goals in sight — literally, as Korth points to the Architectural Digest magazine page pinned to the downstairs wall.

Korth would like to explore the commercial options for paint pouring, such as backsplash in homes. LeMaster would like to explore the ways paint pouring art can benefit those with special needs.

In the near future, the women said they hope to find a local studio to sell their works and offer classes, but as for now, they are content.

“We have always said that if all this were to stop right now, we would say ‘What a fun journey that was,’” Korth said. “Because it has been. It is.”

Studio 29 will be showcased this weekend at Asensio Coffee (33610 21st Ave. SW in Federal Way) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9.

The artwork by LeMaster and Korth will also be featured the following weekend at Abbe Winery (530 S. 373rd St. in Federal Way) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16.

For more information, visit nwstudio29.com.

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