Looking Up: Griffith Observatory Murals

Looking Up: Griffith Observatory Murals

20130317_144158Heaven may be right there on the ceiling…or a bit of it, anyway!

A trip into LA’s  Griffith Park, with the express intent of seeing the Hugo Ballin Murals in the W. M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda  of the amazing Griffith Observatory  yields immediate results.  If you would like to do this yourself…here are the instructions:

Walk into the W. M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda  of the  Griffith Observatory, stand still, and look up.  This is what you will see…

20130317_142353Turn your head slightly, and you will see a whole new view, and details that may have escaped your initial glance!

20130317_142411No delayed gratification here!

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“On the vaulted ceiling and upper walls of the W. M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda are Griffith Observatory’s greatest artistic treasure: the Hugo Ballin Murals. Workers have carefully and completely restored the murals so that they appear as they did when first painted by muralist, film producer, and author Hugo Ballin (1879-1956) in 1934-35.

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Medieval cathedrals told stories in stone. The Ballin ceiling mural celebrates classical celestial mythology, with images of Atlas, the four winds, the planets as gods, and the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The eight rectangular Ballin wall murals depict the “Advancement of Science” with panels on astronomy, aeronautics, navigation, civil engineering, metallurgy and electricity, time, geology and biology, and mathematics and physics.

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In addition to Griffith Observatory, Hugo Ballin’s murals also appear throughout Los Angeles in such noted buildings as the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the Los Angeles Times Building, and Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers.” —http://www.griffithobservatory.org/exhibits/brotunda.html

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The joy is in the soft range of hues used, and the details, which combine to create a harmonious, yet thrilling whole, and complete the narrative.

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The nearby fluidly shaped recessed ceiling is also highly ornamental, treated to what looks to be meticulously applied painted texture, or “paint effects“, a magnificent central floral/sunburst style image,

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bands of architectural details gracing its curves, gold surfaced “dentils” , and repeated lines and shapes which, in concert with the color palette, tie it all together.

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If all things Griffith fascinate you,  may enjoy seeing this video on the Park, the Observatory, the Murals, and the man who started it all, Griffith J. Griffith.

Enjoy the view!

Love Haight Victorian Color

Love Haight Victorian Color

Last summer, the summer of 2011 that is,  I was called upon to assist some very bright Clients  in assembling a color palette for their Victorian near Haight Street, in San Francisco.

The building had a lighter (creamy-white) body, with darker (pale greeny-blue) trim, and the Client wanted to reverse the value  (lights and darks) emphasis…and perhaps create a value-added proposition in the process.

The house boasts a variety of architectural details, and the two porch “roofs” or overhangs provided a particular color placement challenge.

Once we had determined that the house body would become darker in value, and the trim lighter (a more common approach in the area), the next step was to choose the body or field color, which would go pretty much everywhere on the house, except for its multitude of trim, decorative detailing, doors and roof.

I looked at a number of houses suggested by the Client, and we narrowed the body color down to three hues in the green to gray range. The Client’s painter put them up, I.E., painted out large sample swatches on the house’s exterior siding surface, which made the final choice much easier!

Extension ladders were used to reach the high-up areas. Wow. That’s high. Intrepid painter.  Better he then me!

Many details and textural surfaces up at the very top! We needed to take each of these into careful consideration when creating the color design, as the Clients wanted to both highlight the details through accent colors, and unify, integrate and streamline the building’s total look, at the same time.

In order to minimize the detail and make it more visually subtle, and the color design, building and architecture more elegant and streamlined, an interlocking palette of closely related colors from both the Benjamin Moore, and Sherwin Williams pantheons was chosen for the trim and accent colors.

Benjamin Moore HC (Historical Colors palette) 108, “Sandy Hook Gray” was selected for the house body color. Its gray-green hue has a dimension of warmth, and a quiet complexity, suited to the feeling the Clients wanted to create. Sherwin Williams “Shoji White”  (SW7042) in semi-gloss (?) was chosen for the multitude of trim, as its undertone works well with the body color.

The porch overhangs were done in the body color, at 50% formula. The same ratio of tints were used, but in half the amount, creating a barely perceptible shift in value and intensity. The overhangs are also in shadow, not being exposed to direct light, thus making them read slightly darker.

SW7046, Sherwin Williams  “Anonymous”   in a satin sheen was used on the window sashes “outlining”, or highlighting the windows),  as well as on the garage door, the inside of and around the decorative , detail-filled triangles  on either side of the top of the house, and the central cross detail just below the roof’s tip.

The service door tot he right of the entry stairs was done in : Benjamin Moore HC 107, “Gettysburg Gray”, in a satin sheen, while the same spec in eggshell adorns a high-up “stripe” (architectural detail running horizontally across the upper part of the facade).

To add a touch of elegance, and “punch”, Sherwin Williams “Urbane Bronze’ SW7048 in a semi-gloss sheen was painted on the front door, leading the eye to this main entry, and providing a nice contrast to both the garage and service doors.

The deep color of the front door picks up on the dark bronze hue of the overhanging entry light fixture, packing the visual “punch”.

As a final detail, Modern Masters ME238 “Blackened Bronze” metallic paint (and accompanying varnish)  was added to the ball ornaments, and carved ornamental details within the smaller,  lower triangles.

The result is a color scheme which unifies the structure, and adds elegance and dignity to the home, while still celebrating the fun and fancy of its multitude of Victorian details, while taking every visual aspect of its front exterior into consideration.

The Clients, a bright couple with a fine eye for detail and  design, participated fully in our color collaboration, and, with their two young daughters, will hopefully enjoy their carefully colored, harmoniously hued home, for many years to come.

What color joys and challenges have YOU had lately?

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

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all coloring in our Lives  in this world, together.

Happy Hue to You!