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!

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In an increasingly technological world, there is a corresponding need for work created by hand.  As humans, we respond to useful objects of wonder and beauty.

“Artissima Lumens”  are hand-adorned light switch plates created custom, one at a time  as art, celebration and decor. They are created of water-borne primers, paints, semi-transparent glazes, stencils, metallic media, and varnish.

Typically, the plain plastic, or wooden plate is sanded to create texture or “tooth”, readying the surface to receive the primer which creates a bondable surface for the painted base coat.  The surface is thus  prepared for more intricate layers of adornment.

Paints, semi-sheer glaze or other media are manipulated across the surface to create visual interest and an interplay of color and texture.

Gold, silver, copper and bronze metallic media add luminescence, glow, and glimmer which  catch the light and animate the surface.

Stenciled or hand-painted pattern and imagery establish a composition which can become playful, elegant, whimsical, retro,  nostalgic or contemporary.

The obligatory hardware or screws are treated as part of the whole, and treated to each successive application.  They become part of the visual composition, as does the aperture for the switch itself.

When at last complete, the work is sealed and protected with  water-borne varnish. The “Lumen” is now is ready to iLUMENate its chosen light switch, and give the user a jolt of light energy.

Experience shows that we can become more calm, energetic, stimulated, peaceful and alive through interaction with our visual surroundings.  Color, texture, pattern and imagery can enhance, beautify, communicate, and  transform our feelings and surroundings, and thus both our interior and exterior landscape.

If YOU are interested in ordering or commissioning an “Artissima Lumen” please email: debra@artifactorystudio.com

Believe

Create Success

Have Gratitude

Mural Magic

Mural Magic

One of the joys of creating site specific art works, and murals in particular, is just that; their specificity, and particularity.   Working with a client to determine the theme, subject, imagery and details of a mural can become a collaborative journey that yields surprising results, delighting us with the unexpected.

When I began working with a client who wanted a 6 x 12′ Chinese Garden” mural painted on 3 plywood panels that could be affixed to her patio fence, I was excited by the prospect of the research I planned to do, and the new things I anticipated learning about the subject.  We fleshed all of her ideas out through preliminary sketches, and a scaled mockup of the mural as a whole.

My client shared with me the imagery she wanted in her mural, which included Pandas...

Orchids….

a Jade Plant

Bamboo..

Even a (friendly) Tiger!

I loved discovering Chinese Garden Stools

where a cuddly Panda might enjoy a cup of tea….

or play a game of hide and seek…

When the mural was completed, my client said to me, “”I am constantly amazed that you were able to create and depict what I could only talk about. Thank you.” 

A testimonial like that may be the greatest reward of all…in addition to the voyage of fun and discovery we both experienced in our magical mural collaboration.

How have YOU collaborated with Your clients in creating something site specific and custom, just for them?

If you feel so inclined, please about it with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all creating this site specific collaboration called Life, together.

Featured Work: A Mid-Century Tale

Featured Work: A  Mid-Century Tale

Once upon a time,  in March of 2011, I had two wonderful and creative Clients who wanted a special decorative / design application on a perfectly blank wall in their master bedroom.

Here’s where we started…

And..here’s where we ended up.

So…what happened in-between?

Well, having done a custom application in their guest room,

I had familiarity with the Clients’  home, tastes, design style, and color preferences.  It was immediately apparent upon entering their space: these Clients have a passion for  Mid-Century/ retro style and design.

Their strong affinity for hues of orange fit right into their Mid-C sensibility.

The Clients’ unified approach to their home decor and design is expressed in just about every detail of their space, including

tray tables…

shower curtains….

coasters,

textiles,

a sunburst clock,

vases (and furniture and ornaments),

and more vases (and furniture and ornaments).

We began our collaboration with a small gem of an idea…a snippet of  inspirational pattern that caught my Clients’ sensitive eye.

We played with the scale, the sizing and the spacing,

 

and I created custom stencils.

We did the math (a few times…), and I marked out the pattern on the wall with chalk.

I did the first stencil application. The pattern emerged, and,  the wall came alive…  the pattern just animated that wall!

The secondary stencil animated the pattern, design, and wall surface yet further.

Little rings of fire did their job…added energy, snap, crackle and pop that was just, well, FUN.  (As my Clients are).

The result, though we had planned for it carefully, surprised us all in its whimsy, uniqueness, and aliveness.  (Also qualities of my Clients.)

Somehow the wall, and the design, the pattern  and the treatment became more than the sum of their parts…

one of the happiest outcomes of the Arts!

And here we have the happy ending of the tale…or, is it a beginning?

Have YOU ever had the experience of your collaborations and creations becoming more than the sum of their parts?

If you feel so inspired,  please share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all creating this story of our LIVES, together.

May You have JOY and Aliveness in your Life, as you Live it!