Now that Deb Prewitt’s childhood passion for art has found its way back to her, the owner of Blue Twig Studio is helping stoke that same fire in others.
“I firmly believe that everybody should have some kind of creative outlet in their life that helps keep them grounded and makes them happy,” Prewitt said.
As a child, Prewitt always felt like being an artist was her calling. However, after moving to Colorado Springs in 1987 from her native Wyoming, Prewitt’s life revolved mostly around raising her two children and the real estate appraisal business she started with her husband.
“I took a gazillion years off raising kids and having a family and having other jobs before I got back into it,” Prewitt said. “I decided to take a break [from work] and I thought I was just going to completely retire, but I really couldn’t. I needed to have something to do.”
Prewitt started Blue Twig Studio in 2011 as a working artist studio and classroom, initially teaching art lessons in the basement of her Colorado Springs home to a clientele of mostly friends.
She soon decided to test the waters by adding a retail component to her business, offering hard-to-find items such as specialty fibers, ribbons and trims. Although these materials were readily available online, Prewitt found many customers enjoyed having a place where they could come and ask questions.
“I was trying to find more hard-to-find things that people couldn’t easily get,” Prewitt said. “You can always get stuff online, but I was trying to find a place where people could come locally. … People can come and ask me questions about products and I can help them as best I can, where you don’t get that if you’re shopping online. … These are things that show up because I want to try something, or I figure the students might want to try something.”
Word spread, and Prewitt eventually moved Blue Twig Studio into a strip mall storefront on North Academy Boulevard. About 3½ years ago, she decided to abandon her “very big, very expensive” location in favor of a more intimate setting at Cottonwood Center for the Arts on East Colorado Avenue.
Prewitt’s space inside Cottonwood is cozy and colorful, inviting artists of all skill sets to sit down and let their imagination take the lead.
“It’s just a much nicer community,” Prewitt said of Cottonwood. “It’s a family here as opposed to being in a strip mall. … I think getting that connection with other people that understand you — or that are connected to the same kind of world as you are — is important.”
As in her own work, Prewitt explores a variety of artistic mediums and techniques in her classes, including acrylics, ink and pencil.
“They all play together, so it’s not like you have to do one thing and only that,” she said. “Sometimes things will cross over and I think that’s great.”
The Zentangle method — which involves crafting images through combinations of dots, lines, simple curves, S-curves and orbs on small pieces of paper called tiles — is one of Prewitt’s favorite techniques to teach, because it often serves as her students’ gateway to other art forms.
“[Zentangle] is all about being present and slowing down. It’s very calming and meditative,” Prewitt said. “That’s a good thing for people to get started with that feel like they can’t do anything, because you don’t have to already have knowledge of it before you can get started. [Students are] usually a little amazed at what you can actually do once you get started with it … and then they’re willing to take a risk on some other art techniques that they maybe would have never thought of doing.”
Prewitt said her favorite part of teaching is getting to witness how her students take the information she gives them and use it in their own ways.
“I don’t want them to copy me and do what I tell them to do — I want them to find their own way,” she said. “So that’s the most rewarding part [is] seeing how people have really blossomed and grown and gone off with other ideas of their own.”
Prewitt’s goals are much the same for her students as for herself — finding something that makes them happy, and doing it.
“If you’re not doing something that makes you happy, you should find something else to do,” Prewitt said. “Art shouldn’t be a chore. It should be joyful and fun.”