Dorothy Shain is working on her green thumb. The Greenville-based artist, applauded throughout the Southeast for her polka-dot bikini paintings and vibrant collages, is referring to the garden beds at her recently purchased house. But there’s also her Heritage Garden Collection, a textile and wallpaper line inspired by the plants surrounding her childhood home.
We’re seated (distantly) outside, swapping gardening tragedies typical to new homeowners—she laughs about haphazardly sprinkling seeds, and I counter with the demise of my third azalea. Dorothy is all kindness and class as she sips an oat-milk cappuccino (her French bulldog, Lucy, kept her up the previous night), while I survey samples from her 30-piece collection.
The oyster-hued cotton and linen blend is a soft, chic canvas for her work—buttercups, lenten roses, and hydrangea petals arrange in pleasing patterns that reflect the painter’s fresh, bright vibe. But there’s also a subtle depth, an ode, I think, to her growing appreciation for the essence of home and the role plants play in legacy and memory.
“I moved away for a really long time,” Dorothy says. “I think it takes moving away to appreciate where you are from.” She pulls out a piece lined with tan okra pods, and I can almost feel their crunchiness. “My mom dries okra every year,” she says. “She’s one of those women who is a total Martha Stewart. She always had dried okra all over our house in big glass bowls.”
Dorothy had big dreams when the line launched in January, but with what is now the COVID-19 trope, the pandemic shuttered her plans to tour and take it to market. “But you have to find those silver linings,” she says. “When COVID happened I was like, ‘I’m just putting this on the back burner,’ and it’s been a really pleasant surprise because I think people are home and maybe they’re nesting, and it’s been really fun to actually see [the line] start to move.”
A client recently wallpapered their pool house with the Girard Stripe, topped with Dorothy’s swim prints, while her blue buttercups and star zinnia patterns play in various nurseries. But even as her designs pop up in homes across the country, the artist is planting her own roots here (she marries her fiancé, William, in November), with big plans for growing her business, and her own plants, in the near future.