It’s always impressive to visit an artist’s home and see her own work embedded with the verve of others. Phyllis and Lew Kravitz are tucked away in a wooded Sandy Springs enclave where Phyllis’ imagination runs wild with her life-size sculptures, her drawings and paintings, and her handmade vessels.

Her expression comes from within. Her interest in psychology and creation led to art therapy.

Every room, including her studio, has texture, pattern and the intensity of things collected over the years that give a place its soul — a patchwork quilt of collections and color.

Wide-ranging influences come to life with antique and primitive furnishings. Nothing overshadows Kravitz’s own work, which has been displayed in New York and various Southern venues, including the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.

Kravitz’s early exposure to design was informed by her family’s involvement in Rich’s Department Store.

Photos by Duane Stork

Jaffe: Were you artistic as a child?

Kravitz: At age 7, we moved to Atlanta from New Jersey. I started ceramic lessons at the High Museum of Art when it was in the original old mansion. I attended Westminster Schools, earned a fine-arts degree at Georgia State University. After a 16-year gap to rear my family, I continued there to earn a master of fine arts in sculpture and took painting from Jack Ramsey, who headed the Atlanta College of Art. After a few years, I returned to college to attend the Vermont College’s art therapy program. I came home to develop the first art therapy program at Hillside psychiatric hospital in Midtown. It was very meaningful to work with emotionally disturbed youth.

The entrance hall includes an abstract painting by Jack Ramsey.

Jaffe: You are talented in so many mediums. How did you evolve?

Kravitz: I started as a painter but morphed into a sculptor. When I took a 3D class at Georgia State, I loved working with my hands — molding and layering. Playing with materials to create makes me the happiest. I’ve made art my whole life: collecting branches and burls in the woods to make frames and stones as a child and building in tree roots. Mannes Gallery carried my work in the 1990s. I’m now at Amy Spanier’s I.D.E.A. Gallery in Chamblee.

I am a multimedia artist who depicts human expression. My approach is both experimental and intuitive. The abstracted forms explore the boundaries of space and containment. I hand-build my forms over armatures that are bent and shaped to capture expression. I began making vessels when I realized the symbolism of holding. That led to the idea of a body as a vessel: stories, memories, joys and sorrows. I build my pieces using layers of materials, implying what we as humans carry inside. In my most recent sculptures, the bodies are open and hold scrolls with writings and poems.

Phyllis Kravitz, who believes that vessels hold our emotions, displays her “found objects” branch vessel and Ed Moulthrop’s pine bowl in the library.

For my large human figures, on which I spend the most time, I use PVC pipe, paper, resin, wire and paint. I rarely do expressions on faces. I create flow and positioning to imply feelings.

Phyllis Kravitz is surrounded by colorful sculptures in progress in her home studio, where she spends about 25 hours a week. She hand-builds the forms over armatures.

Jaffe: Describe the bones of your house.

Kravitz: It was built in 1960 by Earl McMillen. We moved here in 1971 because we loved the idea of being surrounded by woods while being close to the city. Through the years the house décor changed, and I began using color to define the rooms. We like the contrast between traditional and contemporary and house my own art along with antiques and other collections.

Adding to the view of the woods while reclining on a distressed-wood table is Phyllis Kravitz’s “Ochre,” a life-size figure made of tissue paper, PVC pipe and resin layers.

Australian shepherd mix Buddy finds house nooks in which to watch the wild creatures outside and keep his job protecting the house. We added a porch and waterfall to hear the sound of water.

Jaffe: What are some of the unusual pieces here?

Kravitz: We have a bowl from the Adirondacks carved from a burl with a bear on its rim, a 1750 plate rack and table, a French cafe chandelier, an Old English clock and Charlie West’s roosters.

Jaffe: Folk art allows a sense of humor.

Kravitz: We have carved wooden Civil War soldiers — “Blue vs. Gray” by a man named Rooster — fighting on the battlefield. Only the Union soldiers are dying and bleeding. The twist in this piece is the Confederate soldiers are “winning.”

An untitled Kravitz acrylic painting hangs above “Blue vs. Gray,” an array of wooden Civil War soldiers (with only the Union soldiers wounded) on the mantel.

In the entrance, we have a sculpture by Andrew Crawford of a pear vine growing out of the floor. We have pieces by Jack Ramsay, Jim Sudduth, Cornbread, Thornton Dial and this wild devil by R.A. Miller — note his red tongue against the somber black and white.

The Kravitzes’ collection of folk art includes work by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, John “Cornbread” Anderson and Thornton Dial. R.A. Miller’s “Devil” exposes a scarlet tongue against a black-and-white painting. The Kravitz sculpture represents a granddaughter putting on riding boots while attended by her dog.

The entrance hall features a 1988 black-and-white lithograph by Chinese artists Su Xinping and a Betty Clark abstract on walls that are faux-painted in a burnished yellow and ochre with a touch of green rubbed in.

Jaffe: How would you describe your home’s style?

Kravitz: The house is eclectic. My husband and I love color. Lew, a Georgia Tech graduate, designed and built our playroom with a vaulted and beamed ceiling. He has been a tremendous support for me as an artist — gives feedback, moves pieces, constructs rolling tables and mounts for my pieces. His technical knowledge helps me in numerous ways.

The guest bathroom zings with turquoise walls. The red and orange paintings are abstracts by Phyllis Kravitz.

We are attracted to folk art and its energy. The hall walls are faux-painted in a burnished yellow and ochre with a touch of green rubbed in; the living room, a deep autumn maple orange-red; the kitchen, rich turquoise, deep aquamarine; and orange imari fabric on the walls in the sitting room.

The sitting room includes an Adirondacks bowl carved from a burl with a bear on its rim, a 1750 English plate rack and drop-leaf table, a French cafe chandelier, and an Old English clock. The walls are covered in orange imari fabric. The yellow-and-white drawing on the left is by Phyllis Kravitz.

Jaffe: What goes on in your studio?

Kravitz: It takes about five months to complete a figure. I work fast, but the drying time is long. I use clay, wax, dry materials and resins. When creating a wax vessel to be cast in bronze, I take it to a foundry, where they use the lost-wax method to cast and then patina the sculpture. I studied under George Beasley and learned bronze casting.

The Kravitzes’ collection of folk art includes work by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, John “Cornbread” Anderson and Thornton Dial. R.A. Miller’s “Devil” exposes a scarlet tongue against a black-and-white painting. The Kravitz sculpture represents a granddaughter putting on riding boots while attended by her dog.

I work five hours a day, five days a week, listening to country music or slow jazz and classical. Once I’m into the flow of work, I hear very little of the music. I’m not shy about getting my hands or the rest of me dirty.