Naomi Haverland on the strange things that inspire her

You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

Welcome to Naomi Haverland's delightfully quirky world, where the art and the living are big, bright and bold-with-a-capital-B. The Colorado native, painter, hobby upcycler and mother finds inspiration just about everywhere she looks: her children, garbage, Jesus and people with deformities, for starters. "I like to have a story behind my artwork because I think that is always more interesting for viewers," says Haverland, who works primarily with acrylics, oils and chalk.

See also: Kitty Migaki finds inspiration in downtown Denver's architecture

Haverland's use of bold color and her gift for capturing wry human expressions on a large scale are what set her work apart. You can see it for yourself when T Gallery Denver -- half gallery, half teahouse -- features Naomi Haverland's child-inspired paintings in a Mother's Day exhibit, A Mother's Muse, opening with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday, May 2.

Several of the pieces in Haverland's upcoming show feature the artist's "mini-muse" -- her daughter, Roxanne. The artist uses the expressions and situations children find themselves in, and she paints in a way that expresses how she feels. "I've never actually done a literal self-portrait," Haverland says, noting that the portraits of her daughter serve a similar function. Ring Pop (above) with Roxanne posing larger-than-life with a glowing green candy ring exemplifies this ideal. "Now that my daughter is older, we have a side-by-side relationship where I can do my art and she can do her art," Haverland says. (She has a son, too, but he isn't so much into art.) Ten-year-old Roxanne will be at the T Gallery opening on Friday, operating a booth where she'll draw portraits for people. Haverland has also created several new pieces, including a portrait of Dame Edna (above), the character created by Australian performer and comedian Barry Humphries, with her signature "wisteria hue" hair and glasses. "I always like to have something interactive with my shows," she explains. For this opening, she'll have a station where folks can create their own "face furniture" -- what Dame Edna calls her glasses (see below). "I also really like unique body types," Haverland continues. She's always searching for folks with interesting, unusual characteristics who are willing to model. One of Haverland's favorite models is Little Miss Firefly (below). "She is very, very short, just 21 inches tall, and she's very fun to paint," Haverland says. The artist sees plenty of beauty in "things some people might think of as defective," she says. Features you won't find on a more mundane, run-of-the-mill body type create interest in a visual art sense, Haverland adds. Keep reading for more on Naomi Haverland. Garbage is another thing Haverland adores. And she has lots of it. "Most of the art I display is paintings," she explains. "But at home I do a lot of art with recycled things." Aside from outdoor art installations made from tires and hubcaps, Haverland is also working on a "cap fence." "Basically, I screw a bunch of plastic caps to the fence and it is really colorful now," she says. It's an ongoing project that Haverland's doing with her kids -- really more of a lifestyle choice than anything, a way of instilling in her youngsters a sense of creativity and environmentalism. The family is also building a treehouse (above). "Especially in the summer, we are always on Craigslist trying to find anything that is free that we can add to the treehouse," Haverland says. The space is constantly evolving, getting bigger and very, very colorful. Haverland is a dynamic chalk artist, too, who has received two awards at the Denver Chalk Art Festival (Best Color in 2012 and People's Choice in 2013). She was invited to return for the 2014 Denver Chalk Art Festival that will be held on May 31 and June 1, sponsored by ARC Thrift Stores. "I had worked with their disabled employees -- we did a big mural together for their auction a while back," says Haverland. During that time she met Marlene (above), who is "just the most fun lady and has this really hilarious sense of humor," she notes. Haverland will be drawing Marlene at the festival. "I used to include more religious iconography in my art," Haverland says. She considers herself "very religious" and is part of the Scum of the Earth Church. "All of my art is an extension of my relationship with God and a way of expressing what God means to me," says Haverland.

To learn more about Naomi Haverland visit her website.

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