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Dear Ann,

Today we have something wonderful to share.

Melanie Falick, author of the groundbreaking book, Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Are Meant to Live,  has launched a series of conversations with makers.

Last weekend, she kicked off the project with a bang. In the first conversation in the series, Melanie brings together Kaffe Fassett and Erin Lee Gafill, two artists who are connected by their mutual devotion to painting, and also as uncle and niece. For years, Kaffe and Erin have spent a week together each summer in the Fassett family home, Nepenthe, in Big Sur. Year after year, they’ve sat side by side in the same room, painting arrangements of the same objects.

The result is a visual conversation to which we can all listen.  The paintings, along with objects and textiles, have been collected for an exhibition at the Monterey Museum of Art (postponed until next year), and a stunning book, Color Duets, which features glorious prints of dozens of paintings, presented side-by-side for easy appreciation of the similarities and differences, along with photos and stories from the Fassett family’s legendary home in California.

I was shocked to find out that this is the first book of Kaffe’s work that focuses on his paintings. He’s been painting all his life, and a painting occasionally pops up in an exhibition or book about his textile work, but this is the first book about his paintings themselves. It seems totally fitting that his work is accompanied here by that of his niece.

Up top is a short, mesmerizing video on the book, to whet your appetite.

You’ll want to grab your knitting, though, to fully enjoy the 90-minute conversation with both Kaffe and Erin that Melanie hosted:


When I got up from listening to these three, I was on fire to make stuff. To make stuff now. To keep making stuff. As Erin puts it, Kaffe “lifts the veil, changes the energy in the room, makes you think things are possible.” His talent for motivating makers is nearly as great, I think, as his lifetime of work. The apple doesn’t far fall from the easel: Erin also offers powerful words of encouragement for artists. This is a family that does stuff.

Follow the Conversation

To keep up with this series of conversations,  sign up for Melanie’s newsletter.

Read the Books

Melanie’s book, Making a Life, is available in the MDK Shop.

Color Duets is available from the Phoenix Shop at Nepenthe.

Bonus Video!

Erin Lee Gafill has introduced Isolation Art School, video classes on still life painting. Here’s a 20-minute painting. I may never paint, but it’s super fun to watch Erin do it, and also to peek at the inside of the log cabin house at Nepenthe.



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  • That short video of Erin painting was a beautiful beginning to my morning!

  • Thank you for sharing all these wonderful videos. I can’t wait to spend my evening looking at these. I’ve been a long time admirer of Kaffe, have many of his books and was fortunate to see him lecture at Hart House in Toronto many years ago. Based on your recommendation I bought ‘Making a Life’ and I’m savouring each chapter.

  • Rainy day, sitting threading my loom, this was a perfect listen. Thank you!

  • So inspiring! I live in Monterey, and have been to Nepenthe several times over the years. Will definitely go the exhibit when it opens. I ordered the book too and it was fun to check out the view from the weather cam on their site.

  • This was a wonderful video and really inspiring. What a lovely and unusual relationship between the 2 cousins, it was so interesting to hear how they worked together and positively influenced each other.

  • I would also recommend Kaffe Fasset’s interview on the Vogue Knitting podcast. It was absolutely fascinating.

  • Kay, I hope you will give painting a go – you never know what may enhance or enrich other aspects of your creative life. Back when I was a “serious” photographer – exhibiitions and the like – I used to say if I had been good at drawing I might never have become a photographer. But a few years ago I started joining in on some of the twitter art challenges just for fun…and now I’m in my third year of the challenge I set myself: Daily Markmaking. It’s a journey and an oasis, and I no longer think about whether I’m “good at” drawing. Who’d a thunk it.

  • Thank you for this. I enjoyed every minute

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