Contemplating Work – Three Year Round Up

Contemplating Work – Three Year Round Up

In the spirit of the process of the necessity of the…well…updating, overhauling, revamping, refurbishing, and just re-ing the online presence of ArtiFactory Studio, and Artissima ventures….and, about to add/subtract/move around work from my site, I thought I would share some of the work completed since my last site update (yikes, was it really three years ago?), and look at some of the media, processes, forms and approaches that are part of the wide world of decorative painting.

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I created a line of hand-painted light switch plates which I call, “Artissima Lumens“, which though small, do take a lot of work and focus to complete! Sanding the plastic or wooden surface, as well as screws/hardware, priming it, base painting it, and then…the embellishment, adornment, decoration (hmm…not a good word in art school!), whatever you want to call it. This can include hand painting images, gradating color, stenciling  a design, pattern, image or scene, adding layers of semi-transparent glaze, and most often, a combination of some, many, or even all of these!

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Mid-Century design, style, decor and imagery can be rich fodder for decorative painting on the wall, as evidenced by these bedroom accent walls. The dawn of the atomic age, coupled with star-bursts, floral imagery, and geometric shapes and patterns can be inspirational. These treatments, based on a sketch (above with mirror), made by, and a re-imagined image, (immediately above), found by the Client constitute a creative collaboration that bore Mid-C fruit in both a guest and master bedroom.

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There is nothing quite like custom,  hand painted imagery on a wall, or ceiling.  Above, the Fightin’Irish and Michigan State logos find a home in the room of a young boy, with an avid avian interest. Custom-designed stenciled and hand-painted birds fly across his ceiling and desk wall, and perch above the entrance to his bath.

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Stenciling, and the art of repeated pattern is an effective and beautiful way to create a border. Especially effective in a room, such as this bath, with no crown molding.  The bright color ties the room together with the strong artwork displayed there, and connects to the vibrant colors seen throughout the rest of the house.

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Exterior  decorative painting on the wall, any wall, can go a long way towards brightening up an area that is often dark, and shrouded in fog, as many decks, patios, yards and porches are in the vast and often overcast Sunset District neighborhood of San Francisco. The painting of a colorful wall mural on the rough textured shingled siding of this deck not only brightened the area, and extended the adjoining living space to the outdoors, it also gave the inhabitants a colorful “garden” to look at through their kitchen window.  Doing dishes is going to be a lot more fun now in that house!

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“MINDS HEARTS HANDS VOICES” is the motto for  Cathedral School for Boys in San Francisco. The painting of the motto so that is can be seen through the front windows communicated the basic approach and philosophy of the school. Samples of blue hues, and font styles were presented to the Headmaster and Development Director, who chose which to use. The intent was to keep the image and the message clean, clear and simple, albeit elegant, and let the words do the talking!

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House numbers  for HGTV Curb Appeal, “It’s All in the Details” episode were created with customized, hand-cut stencils, based on a font chosen by the host, John Gidding. Gradated shading using highlight and shadow was added to give the illusion of depth.

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The Flying Cranes project at The Briggs Residence (a historic residence in the West Adams District of Los Angeles) was the brainchild of architect Kaitlin Drisko, of Drisko Studio Architects, who wanted to transform the living room TV cabinet into a work of art . In conjunction with the Owner, and Owner’s rep Paul Davidson, designs and imagery for both the interior and exterior were developed collaboratively.  The exterior sides of the cabinet doors are gilded with composition gold leaf, or schlag metal, then painted with the cranes composition.

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The interior of the doors are stippled with  layers of gold, blue and red paint hues, then stenciled with a custom motif adapted especially for the project. When open, the articulated doors frame the TV screen.  The piece is designed to be a focal point in the room whether the doors are open or closed, the television on or off.

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It is fascinating to look back over a three year span of work, and contemplate all the uses of decorative painting.  It is a form that marries function and beauty, usefulness and aesthetics, craft, visual art, architecture and design.  Playing at once subtly and powerfully through our visual landscape, decorative painting makes its mark!

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A Saga of Flying Cranes: Process

  A Saga of Flying Cranes: Process

I have had the opportunity, the honor, really, to work on a very special project for a historical residence, in the historical West Adams District of Los Angeles.  I was brought in by an architect specializing in the restoration and preservation of  historic buildings to transform a custom cabinet, designed to cover the living room television set, into a singular work of art.

I worked closely with the architectural firm, and project manager,  interfacing with the owner, interior designer, builders, and foreman, as we developed the design from concept to a specificity of  colors,textures,  materials and composition.

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Along the way, I amassed and created inspirational images, painted, gilded and stenciled mock-ups, to scale drawings, and numerous samples.

Once inspired by images, and with the design process determined, it was time to bring the rubber to the road…and take the concept to the surface!

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The inside of the four cabinet doors were stenciled with a customized motif that was variously rotated, flipped and reversed into variations that were combined to create an  elegant,  complex, yet fluid composition.

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The individual motifs, and the pattern they created when combined were designed to complement and reflect the pattern in the rug,

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and the carved images of  a free-standing wooden cabinet in the room.

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Even the decorative heating grate cover is an inspiration, and is integrated into the overall design and feel of the room!

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The architect’s office created a mock-up from copies made from the stencils themselves, and put together in the desired sequence for reference, to insure no mistakes were made.

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Due to virulent vigilance, none were.

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Stencils based on the chosen designs were drawn out to scale on acetate, a clear plastic material often used for this purpose, and hand-cut using an xacto knife, on a “self-healing” cutting mat.

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Once the stencils were used, colorful paint residue made it easier to see their pattern, and also served as a color guide. The hand-cut stencils can be too delicate to wash off, so the paint stays on them.

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After careful measuring and positioning, the stencils were taped into place over the primed, latex base painted, gold painted and several times stippled door panels..and the colors were applied in a stippled (or pounced),and  layered fashion.

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Stenciling is truly the art of delayed gratification…the total effect can really only be seen when done.  You have to  love it.  If you do, the effort, the care,  the patience and the high wire act is worth it.  It is for me…I truly love the process, and how complex the results can become.One of my favorites is the extraordinary ceiling of the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, housed in the Chicago Art institute.

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After the stenciling  was completed, three applications of composition gold leaf, also called dutch metal or schlag, were applied to the front side of the doors. Each surface was delicately sanded in-between, with a fine sandpaper of 400-600 grit.  Visual delineation of the  squares of gold leaf was the desired look. The  surfaces were  then sealed with a coat of  oil varnish designed for use over dutch metal, to prepare it for the painting.   Dutch metal will tarnish with any contact with water media, so this varnishing step is crucial.

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Finally, the initial painting of the “saga of flying cranes’ began…first in primer, as the paint is acrylic, and it would not stick to the oil-based varnished surface. Washes of color in acrylic were then built up over the surface, and detail laid in. The painted surfaces were lightly sanded between paint applications, to keep it smooth and satiny.

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More color details were added to give depth, dimension, and a bit of pop to the scene.

The colors were carefully chosen and designed to work with the room’s rug,

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(glorious colors and patterns…found by the amazing architect and designer and their team.)

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 fabrics, textiles and accessories…(some might say that pillows are necessities!),

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as well as the wall colors and finishes in the room. The undertone of deep blue violet in the birds also provides pop against the complimentary gold background.

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It was important to the architect that the crane’s feet have personality!

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Inspired by the film, “Winged Migration“, these cranes have grit and determination…they are going somewhere, and they are going to get there!

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On-site in the residence,  I treated the sides of the cabinet in the same stippled fashion as the interior surfaces of the door…but no stenciling here. I applied layers of stippled color over the primed, them base painted, then gold-metallic painted surfaces, as was done with the inside of the cabinet doors above.

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The room is handsome, serene, streamlined, and somehow both warm and inviting, and cool and elegant.

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I am looking forward to gong to the site soon,  to see and photograph the doors installed and the cabinet as a whole.

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When I do, I think I  will be tempted to say…”You’ve come a long way, baby!  You’ve flown the coop!”

Are You looking forward to flying in this New Year?

I hope You are able to take flight in 2013.

As we know…time does fly…so let’s fly with it!