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Belles of the Wall

Meet the next generation of Atlanta artists—four women who are painting the town and are the darlings of the design world.

Britt Bass Turner, Melissa Payne Baker, Michelle Armas and Kiki Slaughter

Britt Bass Turner
“I think my pieces work well with playful, bright, open interiors,” notes prolific painter Britt Bass Turner. As the daughter of interior designer Amy Ferrer of Emiko Ferrer Designs, Turner knows her way around the design world and has earned fans among interior designers like Emily Wyatt and Helen Harbin Davis. “I love the way artwork unifies rooms, starts conversations and makes everyday life more aesthetically pleasing,” she says.

The Milton-bred beauty exploded onto the Atlanta art scene after graduating from The University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art and now boasts a Buckhead atelier. The whitewashed space showcases Turner’s colorful and playful pieces, ranging from small prints to custom-crafted iPhone cases. At a mere age of 26, Turner cites generation next sources of inspiration like Pinterest and Instagram. “Mostly my inspiration is a culmination of all the visual information I intake throughout the day.” Small works $50-$300, medium and larger works $450-$2,000

Melissa Payne Baker
“I come from generations of artists ranging from painters, sculptors, carpenters and metal fabricators,” says Atlanta artist Melissa Payne Baker, who has earned a fervent following among the top tastemakers in town for her textural acrylics crafted with thick swipes of the palette knife. “My mother would paint day and night. I remember watching her for hours.”

Baker cites interior design as a major inspiration. Years working at Glyn Weakley Interiors gave Baker a deep understanding of interiors. “My first job as a teenager was hanging wallpaper,” she reveals. “I loved seeing the beautiful homes, wallpapers and decor.” Now Baker is the go-to girl for haute home spots like Huff Harrington and interior designers like Margaret Bosbyshell, Barbara Heath, Sam Jones, Maria McLaurin, Shirley Mitchell, Darden Straus Mock and Cheryl Womack. “I feel that a great piece of art anchors a room,” she states of her harmonious works, “and provides the perfect punch to the soul.” Works on canvas $200-$6,000, Huff Harrington Fine Art, 102 West Paces Ferry Road, 404.257.0511

Michelle Armas
”My dad was always in his studio, which smelled of oil paints and musty old paper. I wanted to hang out with him, so I started using his soft pastels and colored pencils,” offers Atlanta artist Michelle Armas, who has been painting for as long as she can remember. “He was excited to see my interest, so he always bought me books, coloring pencils, paints, whatever I wanted. My first memory is of playing with colored pencils on the floor.”

Armas’ passion led her to earn a graduate degree in branding and graphic design from the Portfolio Center. “I knew even while I was there that I wouldn’t make a good graphic designer, but I just felt so good learning what I was learning that I knew in my gut to keep going,” she reveals of her experience that taught her about composition, storytelling, strategy and color. “That was the hardest I have ever worked on anything.”

Interior designers like Chloe Warner of Redmond Aldrich Design have taken note and employ Armas’ work in projects for an added punch. Warner placed one of Armas’ larger works (featuring airy with gold and sweeping forms) in a cozy drawing room dressed in rich colors with a moody, masculine feel. “Personally I really love a quirky interior, a place with a story, a place that calls out the life of the person who created it and draws you into its layers and folds. That means really that I love when my work finds a home with someone who feels an emotional connection to a painting,” says Armas, who is known for crafting colorful compositions rich with layers and a certain tension. “Tension really draws me in, and I just love seeing my messy, scribbly, wildly colored pieces in very buttoned-up rooms—like a fancy lady in a ball gown with a tattoo.” Works on canvas $200-$4,000, Gregg Irby Fine Art, 996 Huff Road, 404.941.9787

Kiki Slaughter
Kiki Slaughter has been creating art for as long as she can remember. “I would get lost in my art as a child—from elaborate chalk drawings on our driveway to working on fun assignments in art class,” she reveals of her lifelong passion. With a natural talent fostered by her parents, who had the prodigy tutored in art throughout her formative years, Slaughter double majored in studio art and art history at the University of Virginia and then earner a master’s in contemporary art history at Sotheby’s Institute in London. “It was a fantastic experience to learn more about the art world, and travel and see some of the most famous pieces of art in the world.”

Slaughter describes her style as abstract. “It is very much about the interplay between color and texture,” she explains of the multilayered paintings and pieces, like her paint-splattered chairs that offer a modern pop of pink piping. Slaughter, who sells her work out of her studio at The Goat Farm, has had pieces placed by A-list Atlanta designers like Carter Kay and Nancy Hooff of Carter Kay Interiors. “I love when my paintings find a happy home and have had fun seeing how well they work with any decor. My paintings give a contemporary edge to a more traditional home and an organic touch to a more modern interior.” Works on canvas $300-$7,000