Traditional Art In A Modern World: How One Multimedia Artist Uses His Talents To Create Stunning...

Mediums like stained glass have been thought of as a lost artform, which is why artist’s like Richard Tewell are dedicated to using their talents as multimedia artists to create beautiful custom art pieces for clients to beautify their homes.

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Our homes are meant to be a space where we feel fully safe and secure in ourselves, especially in relation to our personal styles. Many of us have used the past two years at home to rethink what it is that makes our space truly unique, which has led to a major influx in interior design efforts and transactions. 

Bringing artwork into the home is an amazing way to make any room feel personal and unique in design. Many have been looking into creating custom pieces for their homes in an attempt to liven up their rooms with exclusive pieces made specifically to fit into the rooms they’re designing. 

Richard Tewell is a multimedia artist who has dedicated his life as a creative to creating custom art pieces for his clients. When it comes to his work, he’s just as passionate about fulfilling client wishes as he is creating the actual art, which separates him from major retailers who provide similar services. 

While Tewell is widely known for his custom stained glass work, he also has a ton of experience working with glass engraving, egg engravings, watercolor, oil paintings, and custom holiday cards. His experience within all of these mediums is what elevates his work beyond the traditional interior design market. 

“I’m a multimedia artist that has worked with a multitude of mediums, and with stained glass there’s so many connections to the other forms of art that I do. From the design aspect, the color, how you look at a piece before starting it, it all mends into this beautifully complex process that ends with a masterpiece.”

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Tewell regarding his extensive career as an artist. He explained how even as a child, he knew he had to pursue something creative in order to feel truly fulfilled in his life. 

“I started painting as a child, and was told by many that my art was terrible and that I was wasting my time. Luckily for me, I had this neighbor Kate Eshleman, however, who really saw something in me, and would constantly push me to pursue my art and creativity. She would never tell me how to fix something, but would tell me what was wrong so that I could figure out how to fix it myself. She really wanted me to learn independently about how to fix the things I viewed as errors in my work. That motivated me as a worker to always stay in touch with that side of myself.” 

It wasn’t until Tewell retired, however, that he was really able to dedicate himself to his creative passions: “When I eventually retired, I decided to focus on my art. I remember making Georgiana Cunningham take an airbrushing class with me, which she really didn’t enjoy. She ended up opening her own stained glass studio and told me that since I made her take the airbrushing class, I would have to learn how to make a stained glass piece from her, and that’s honestly how I really fell in love with that medium. I’ve now been working with stained glass for over 30 years.”

Through his creative journey as a retired individual, Tewell decided to open Custom Art Designs Inc., which commissions custom stained glass pieces for clients, as well as any other medium of art that he’s experienced with. 

“I created Custom Art Designs Inc. to specialize in creating custom fine quality art work at affordable prices. Working with different mediums allows me to enhance any client’s interior design and fit anyone’s taste. My inspiration truly comes from working with each individual client, as I’ve found that working on a one to one basis with them enables me to better turn their visions into a reality, and further advance their interior design goals,” according to Tewell on the Custom Art Designs Inc. website. 

Tewell also discussed how throughout his three decades working with stained glass specifically, he thought most individuals viewed it as a lost artform. However, within the past few years there’s been a major increase in demand for custom art pieces in general, especially those of the stained glass variety. 

“I think stained glass is making a major comeback, not only in the art world, but in the world of interior design. People love the traditional aspect of having a stained glass window in their homes but through custom design they’re able to modernize it however they please. Beyond the more modern designs, however, I’ve also been noticing an increase in the more traditional ‘Tiffany style’ of stained glass designs; which is personally one of my favorites to do. These designs have a major focus on intricacy and detail, and while these pieces may take longer to make, the end result is often quite breathtaking.” 

“With Custom Art Designs Inc., we offer custom stained glass windows, lamps, oil paintings and portraits, water color, homemade holiday cards, as well as repair and restoration for older art and stained glass pieces that clients bring in. Basically if a client has a vision, I will do everything I can to make it come to life through my creative lens.”

I then asked Tewell to explain to me what the process is like to create a custom stained glass window from start to finish, and how much the customer is actually involved in the process:

“Typically, when it comes to the stained glass aspect of what I do, I’ll make my clients a new window from scratch based on their specific vision. So the process starts with a simple meeting. I normally will go to the space where the window will be installed so I can get a full picture of what the custom piece should be and how it can best compliment the room it’ll be in. I look for ‘hidden colors’ in a space, or colors that aren’t on the main palette of the room. Adopting the smaller pops of color in a space into the stained glass itself is what really makes the art not only stand out, but cohesive with the surrounding area.

Additionally, everything I do is  custom drawn, it’s very rare that I’ll use a pre-printed pattern unless that’s something that the client is insisting on. When my clients tell me their vision, I execute it, and in the end we’re able to create something beautiful and collaborative together.”

He explained how “speaking with the clients in that initial meeting is one of the most important parts of the whole process because it’s all about really listening to what the client wants for the space and executing it. These are not my windows, I will not have to stare at them everyday in my home, so it’s essential for me to know exactly what it is my clients are looking for. 

From there, I do a preliminary 8×10 sketch-drawing of what the window design will look like. I make sure to add in all the colors and then show them the sketch so we can make adjustments to have the perfect blueprint for the piece itself. After that, I’ll meticulously design the pattern and arrangement of the glass, and at that point the client will need to come into the studio and sign that pattern themselves so that there’s no surprises or confusion between the client and I. 

We then work together to pick out the specific glass they want. When I’m looking at the specific glass for each piece, again, I work with the client to explain the difference between the glasses, especially in terms of how it’ll look in space when the light hits it. Some clients want a really bright and colorful piece, which I would use traditional Cathedral glass for, while others want a more muted and sophisticated piece, which I would use an opalescent glass for. 

After we choose the glass I’ll get the prints of the pattern made up, and begin the process of cutting the glass. Once the glass panel is cut, before I even start building it, the client will need to come back to the studio for another overview of the plan. As long as they agree that everything still looks good, I can safely begin the construction knowing that the client will be happy with the final result.” 

At this point, Tewell is ready to solder all the glass pieces together to create one solid final product. Before he does that, however, he makes even more of an effort to contact the clients to ensure they’re satisfied with the final design. 

“Before the window is officially soldered together, the clients need to come back to the studio one more time to approve the final design. Before anything is soldered I still have time to make changes, no matter how small, so that gives them the opportunity to really feel confident in their concept and my execution. I also take photos of the process from start to the completion and present it to the client after the install. The client now has a complete history of the piece of their artwork.”

“Beyond just stained glass, you’ll see on my website that I love working with different mediums. Being a multimedia artist means never getting bored with the work you’re doing. It allows you to zero in on things you may have never tried before, and teaches you skills that can be used in dozens of projects in all mediums.”

Tewell then continued to explain to me the advantages of being a multimedia artist, and why he thinks that makes him so successful in what he does: 

“Working with a multitude of mediums has taught me a lot about color value, and what colors go together best in a given space. Learning to blend colors together in a painting will teach you how to properly add colors into a window, it’s all about the perspective. If I wasn’t working with multiple mediums I don’t think I’d have the artistic eye that I do today.

I always thought one of the biggest things that separates me from the custom art industry in general is my focus and love for intricacy and detail. A lot of the time larger companies who create custom pieces for their customers don’t want to take on projects with a lot of detail because of the cost. For me, pricing is what it is, it’s about the art more than anything else, and as a client if you want your vision executed to the greatest possible degree, you need to work with someone who’s just as passionate about that execution as you are; and I definitely am.”

Beyond everything else, it was Tewell’s passion that really moved me when he discussed his life and experience as an artist. 

“Creating art is not work for me. I did the traditional 9-5 life for a while, and there’s no comparison when it comes to entering my studio over an office. I think all artists can relate to the experience of putting so much of yourself, and your passion, into your work that time simply goes by. It’s not about the labor, or the effort, it’s about what’s being created, and the fact that I’m giving someone something that they will be looking at for the rest of their lives, it’s really special. 

The time that disappears when I’m creating something is truly therapeutic. There’s been so many times where I’ll sit down after dinner to paint and decompress, and then I’ll look at the clock and it’ll be 3 a.m.. That’s one of my favorite parts of being an artist, getting so lost in the creative process that you don’t even realize when the sun is coming up.”

Tewell also uses his decades of knowledge of multiple art mediums to teach artists of all levels the ins and outs of being creative and working with things like stained glass. 

“I’ve been teaching watercolor, oil paints, and stained glass to students for over 25 years. Teaching art is just as rewarding as creating it, because you’re showing a new generation of artists the limitless potential of their passions. I hope that in the future the next generation of artists hold onto their creativity. If I didn’t have my neighbor Kate, who knows if I would’ve become the amazing artist I am today. It’s possible for everyone, so just go for it.”

To learn more about Richard and the breathtaking custom artwork he does, check out his website here!