When I met Terry Devine almost 20 years ago, one of the first things that struck me about her was her style. Slim, with short-cropped red hair, wearing something really cool, she represented to me just what a successful interior designer might look like.
Over the years, whenever I saw Terry at different events, she never disappointed. Always chic, with just enough edge to keep it interesting.
Then one day, she showed up with white, spiky hair. Totally . . . amazing. With one – albeit dramatic – change, she upped her creative edge considerably.
Besides interior design, Terry has always had a passion for painting. Her artwork is beautiful, mainly still lifes and landscapes, always incorporating colors of nature with depth and intensity.
As a 60-something, Terry is a person who lives simply, and with true creative reverence. I was so pleased when she relented (Did I mention that she’s very humble and a little on the shy side?) and agreed to let me interview her for the blog.
Tell me a little about your background. How did you get into design?
My educational background was in art, art history and anthropology. I came to interior design by accident – while recovering from a motorcycle accident! I was recuperating and started thinking about how a home office would look instead of the work I would be doing in it (accounting at the time). That got me thinking about interiors, so I researched college programs and ultimately achieved a certificate in interior design from UCLA.
How would you describe your personal style/design?
I never set out to define a particular style, just let it evolve organically based on what I was consistently drawn to. So now if I had to define it I would say – eclectic, comfortable, and easy. I’ve always been drawn to ethnic fabrics, textures and interesting details – things that set the piece apart from the norm.
Is having a sense of your own style important to you?
Yes – I believe that living and dressing to my own style says who I am, not who someone wants me to be or thinks I could/should be.
How does your style preferences extend to your life, your work, your home?
I don’t really separate design and art, or style. Georgia O’Keefe, a true role model for me, is a great example of that. Her homes, her interiors, her clothes, and her paintings were pared down to the most essential and beautiful essence of each thing.
Has your style changed over the years?
As an older woman, I’ve become more aware of what I like and what feels right when I put it on. I don’t like fussy, frilly or overdone, and I avoid fads. Someone once said to me “You sure wear a lot of black.” My response? “I like black! I know what I like. Period.” My wardrobe consists of colors (including black) or pieces that mostly coordinate with each other. So now when I pull together a look or an outfit, it represents me – or out it goes. Sometimes it’s like putting together a costume – although the play doesn’t change, just the scenes. It might be professional me, shopping me, dining out me, gardening me, or yoga me.
What motivated you to so drastically change the color of your hair?
Well, you know Juan and how creative he is. He first encouraged me to do it – to just go for it, and if I didn’t like it, I could easily go back to red. I was definitely a little afraid, but thought, “why not? What’s the worst that can happen? It’s just hair.” So I did it, and afterwards, I wasn’t too sure that I liked it. But I have to tell you, the reaction was so overwhelmingly positive that I started to really enjoy it. Now I can’t imagine it otherwise.
What led you to your interest in painting and what does it mean to you at this point in your life?
Painting is the first thing I remember doing. As a child, I loved drawing horses. In high school and then college, I immersed myself in art classes, and my work moved to more watercolors and oils.
As we age, we gather more life experience. There’s more to draw on for inspiration – in art and in personal design. As for a purpose in my art, I suppose it would be trying to find a way to translate what I see (landscape, still life, nature) into how I see it. To try to put down on canvas or paper the affect it had on me at that particular moment.
I remember the first time I saw the works of Georgia O’Keefe. I was blown away at the beauty, the depth, and yet the simplicity of her art. She has been a huge and ongoing inspiration to me. In a book about her simply titled Georgia, she reflects on her art in these words:
When someone looks at something I have painted, I want them to feel what moved me to paint it in the first place. I paint as I feel it. Light, sky, air. As I want it to be felt.
I would have to agree with that.
And lastly, how do you stay inspired?
I don’t think of it so much as staying inspired, but being reinspired. So I go to galleries, museums, art fairs, gardens. I recently saw an exhibit of Matisse and Diebenkorn and was blown away, so now I’m studying both of them.
And of course, I go back through my collection of O’Keefe books regularly.
Thanks, Terry, for sharing your style, your inspiration, and of course, Mitchell, with us!
Till next time,