“Artissima Transitiona” I

“Artissima Transitiona” I

Three years ago, for a number of reasons. my husband and I moved to Los Angeles…Santa Monica to be exact.   Since that time, I  have become involved with the making, study and teaching of artist’s books. I teach bookmaking around Santa Monica and LA County, and am continuously  evolving my own expression of this unique art form. Bookmaking, creating handmade books, unique books, artist’s books, and the book arts overlap as activities. In essence, they employ the form of The Book as an expressive vehicle.

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I have been the principal of my own decorative painting company, ArtiFactory Studio, for many years, primarily in San Francisco, where I resided, also for many years. In this post, I begin to share how I am finding ways to put these two forms together, one, bookmaking, often associated with the small-scale and intimate, and the other, decorative painting, often large-scale, which includes mural painting, glazing, faux finishing, gilding, and a myriad of other ways of “treating” the built environment, IE, the environment created by us humans as the setting for our activities.

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I hope to approach this subject in a series of posts, each showing a slice of what I am doing, and hope to do. I am fascinated with notions of scale, with materials, texture, space and design, as well as with the expressive, provocative,  and multidisciplinary nature of handmade books. In this post,  I will share how I brought techniques and notions specific to the field of decorative painting to the form of The Book in my own work. This process has been part of a greater transition in my life, work, business and career on all fronts.  Hence the post’s title” Artissima Transitiona“. The transition continues…

WEBa1Gilding, or the act of adhering metallic leaf over a surface adds a bit of bling, depth and dimension to an already complex surface on this handmade book cover. The gold rectangle also provides a focal point for the eye to rest on, adding order, focus and coherence to the piece. A piece of board was gilded, then added to the surface collage.

web1Texture can be a huge part of decorative painting. The artist manipulates glazes, paints and other materials over a surface to create both visual and physical texture. Here crumpled tissue paper is adhered to the surface in layers, giving it a satisfying texture, variation of color, and contrast to the look, and feel of the other materials used, which include cloth, hemp cord, beads and paper media.

WEB2The covers of this book are made of boards that have been dragged or “Striéd“, a technique by which paint or glaze is applied to a surface, and a large stiff brush is used to drag through it while it is still wet, leaving a up and down stripe-like pattern/texture.

WEB4Here a “brown paper bag” feeling is created by using humble brown wrapping paper (and bags) to create an earthy  texture on the surface of this book’s covers. Individual pieces of hemp cord are used for the binding, adding to the homespun simplicity and feel.

WEB5This book is created from boards that were originally painted with metallic paint and glaze samples for a client. I loved how these samples looked together, and added the rust, iron and verdigris sample pieces above them.  The rest of the book is made of paper with plant material flowing through it.  It  is bound with linen thread in a  single signature  (gathering of folded pages).

WEBaFinally, here is a book with an accordion spine; a “found” spine…meaning that I happened upon a design brochure, and its size, weight and color worked perfectly the book I developed. The covers are made of paper that has been textured, painted and glazed, then glued onto boards. The contrasting “edge design” is created by the addition of another painted and glazed decorative painting sample, glued on the open edge, then folded over, and glued onto the inside of each cover, giving it more stability, integrity, and visual interest.

I hope you will join me as I journey through this time of creative transition, exploration, and discovery. Although the waters feel uncharted, there are plenty of inspirational and provocative artists, makers and craftspeople to help light the way.  Here’s to diving in!

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A Saga of Flying Cranes: Installed

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Installed

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Last summer, I had the pleasure of meeting  Kaitlin Drisko, principal of  Drisko Studio Architects, known for “Integrating the new with the old…

I was honored to be engaged to transform a custom-built TV cabinet designed for The Briggs Residence, in the Historic West Adams District. into a singular work of art, that would be the visual focal point of the downstairs of the house.  Paul Davidson of Paul Davidson incorporated served as the owner’s liaison, facilitating and supporting every step of the project, from the initial inspiration, to the design phase, through the full-scale making process, to completion and installation of the piece.

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Framed by the dentil-style crown molding above,

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and the streamlined fireplace below,

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the four articulated doors swing open from stippled side pieces anchored to the wall.

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The inside surfaces of the cabinet doors are also stippled, then  stenciled with a custom motif and variations, echoing other design elements in the room.

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The stenciled pattern creates another frame when the cabinet doors are opened,

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while the Flying Cranes add movement to the room when they are closed.

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The transformed surface becomes a focal point for the room.

This project truly has been “A Saga of Flying Cranes” and a labor of love…

Gratitudes!

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!

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Design

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Design

Initial sketch with color…

 

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Initial painting on composition gold leaf background

Blacks eliminated…blues used to create shade, depth and shadow…

Flocks of Flying Cranes?

Moon fade…with inspirations…

Drawing, “cartoon” (as they say in the tapestry world..) to-scale….

 

It’s All in the Prep…Have to have the Love!

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Inspiration

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Inspiration

Cranes are the inspiration for a project in a historic building  in the historic West Adams neighborhood of  Los Angeles.

The gold-leafed surfaces of traditional Japanese screens often serve as a background for crane, and other images.

           Although standing cranes are pleasing, flying cranes provide more movement.

The element of the fading red moon (probably conceived by the artists of such screen and scroll paintings as a sun), was found particularly attractive.

The richly textured and patterned borders of traditional Japanese scroll painting may provide direction and context for the border design of the piece.


The Asian depiction of cranes seems to differ in some aspects to the Western. Photographic and cinematic images of flying cranes stimulate design and composition ideas.

Incredible patterns and textures found in the image below suggest movement, relating to that of the Flying Cranes.

More Inspiration.

I am thrilled to be involved in such an exciting project, and am looking  forward to see what happens next!

To Be Continued…