The Art of Stenciling, I Presume?

The Art of Stenciling, I Presume?

Once upon a time, after the New Year of 2011 had begun, and before 2010 taxes were due, I had the opportunity to collaborate with an esteemed Client and associate, to add that “finishing touch” (actually, the window treatments came afterwards) to a very special Guest Bath.

This Bath was in the process of being transformed, from a place of day to day use by his son, now gone off  to college, to a fresh and fun “new” space for his fiance, who tended towards a minimalist, Mid-Century,  New York sensibility.

My awesome Client, himself a long-time Berkeley, CA resident, has an eclectic design sense, informed by extensive travels around the globe,

art collected at home and abroad,

and a love of bright color,

rug patterns,


and funky furniture.

Indeed, he has done much of the interior painting in his home himself.

We discussed that bathroom in question, and I took a look…

It was freshly painted, with colorful artwork, of course,

and the green tile had to be taken into consideration.

I chose three repeating stencil designs, and made Samples for my Client and his Intended to look at on site, in the room. Taking my cue from the tile, the artwork, the colors in the adjacent hallway and throughout the home, I used cerulean blue and deep forest green, nature colors that would contrast beautifully with the base coat,  Benjamin Moore OC57, “White Heron”,  give a clean fresh feel to the room, and support its function.

I also wanted the design to reflect both a feminine and masculine sensibility, and be able to marry both eclectic-world beat-funky tastes with minimalist-Mid-Century-streamlined preferences. Or, try, anyway.

I was thrilled that the Client chose a custom stencil that I had created from an existing source years ago, for a master bath suite  in another and very different East Bay city.  Happily, the design contained both geometric and organic elements, that created both a sense of movement and stability.

It was fun, it was crafty, it was elegant, yet funky, and the Client supported my idea of applying the paint color in a mottled, layered, and textural way.  Best of all, in the words of my Client’s fiance, “It complete(d)  the room!”.  As I was concerned that she be as happy with the result as he, this comment was music to my ears.

The repeated design pulls out colors in the artwork,

and creates a bower for the painted lovers.

The blue and green hues set off the strong red accents prevalent throughout the home.

The stenciled effect is multiplied through reflection.

A spot application of invisible clear varnish protects the stenciled border from the effects of moisture.

With careful planning, enhanced by Client collaboration, even a room already containing strong elements of art and color can be “completed” through the well-placed pattern, whether hand-painted, stenciled, printed or plastered. That extra addition of artful love and care to a space can really “pull it together”, and bring it to the next level of design and artistry.  A stenciled border can contain and express both feminine and masculine elements within its design.  Eclectic-world beat-funky can marry minimalist-Mid-Century-streamlined. My Client/s, and our collaboration have proved that!

Have YOU ever “married” sensibilities, styles and approaches in Your projects?

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

Remember, we are all collaborating in this thing called Life,  together.   Cheers!



Featured Work: A Niche Greater then the Sum of its Parts

Featured Work: A Niche Greater then the Sum of its Parts

The Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “niche” as:

  • a recess in a wall especially for a statue b: something (as a sheltered or private space) that resembles a recess in a wall
  • a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted
  • a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species
  • the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption
  • a specialized market

What is the connective tissue between the various definitions above? It seems to me that the term “niche” indicates a unique space specific to an individual, species or thing.

Those of us in the fields of decorative painting, carpentry, wood working, design, architecture and building most likely have designed, created, built, painted or adorned a niche or two at one point or another.

Those of us in our own businesses, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, creative-preneurs, creators, and those of us training, schooling, learning, job-searching,  job creating , or job holding,  have at least one thing in common: we want, need, or are compelled to “find our niche“, our “place” in our respective fields, professions, markets, companies, schools, programs, jobs, or careers. We are moved to find that  elusive (and sometimes colorful!)  unique space which seems to defines us authentically,  in our worlds of work, family, society, and community.

Abby Kerr, copywriter,  blogger, niche marketer, and owner of Abby Kerr Ink says of her work: “It’s about nichifying your offerings to meet your right people right where they are.” .  Within the “niche” business model, the proposition of uniqueness in gifts, talents, voice, sensibilities, skills, and offerings would seem to be a given.

So it is with Clients, who wish to express themselves by making something even more unique of their architectural niche space, at home.

Beloved Clients of mine purchased a “dream” retirement home…well, a house they planned to transform with color, design, furnishings, and decorative painting INTO their dream home, with the skilled assistance of various vendors.

Their realtor suggested a mural application for the hitherto unadorned wine bar niche, and the game was on!

Niche before "niche-y" adornment

My Clients had spent decades living in Southern California, and were enchanted by the Sonoma Wine Country in which their new house was situated.  They were  thrilled about making the Wine Country a theme in their new home.

We chatted about vineyard scenes, and determined we didn’t want a “prototypical” one.  We looked at photos, colors, applications and mock-ups.  We determined that a softly rendered scene of lines of vines gently receding to meet misty hills under a golden sky would be best.  I applied the mural with semi-transparent washes of glaze, as opposed to opaque paints, (an unusual approach) to the back wall of the niche, and glazed its side walls and ceiling in layers of red wine-y colors.  Involved with the whole process from start to finish, my Clients were delighted with the outcome. which reflected THEM, and the unique place they were at in their lives, right at that moment.

"Niche-y" adornment reflects Them

The entire wall into which the “niche-y” Wine Bar niche was placed was treated in concert with its “niche-y” focal point, the Vineyard mural.  The walls were painted a strong red, mitigated by an application of three deeper  red “wine-y” hued glazes applied simultaneously.  An original “adage” penned by the Clients was lettered in “grapey” purple, and sparkling metallic colors.  The built-in cabinetry and bottle storage were base painted and wood grained (treated with “faux bois”) in tones of “sweet rosy brown” , which worked beautifully with the bar’s countertop.

The Niche is part of the Whole

My Clients were pleased with a result which reflected Them, and their unique take on where they felt themselves to be, right at that moment.  The process of developing a “niche-y” design of artful applications in their Wine Bar niche, and throughout their new home during a time of transition helped them through that transition, and eased their way into a new phase of life. You might say that they “niched” their new home to reflect the people they had become, and created a “niche” of the entire house which would  support them in their adaptation to retirement, containing and expressing both the effects of their “old” life, and expressing their excitement about the new.

In this way, “nich-ing” can not only become an expression of our deepest selves, our uniqueness, offerings and worth, it can also help us to embrace our lives and experiences as they are now, and move more confidently, and happily, into the future.

When have you used your art or craft to create or enhance a niche, for yourself, or for others?  What was the quality of the process and its outcome?  If you feel so inspired, please share your unique, “niche-y” experience with us. We love to hear from you. Remember, we are all  in this thing called Life, together.

 

 

 


“As the Color Turns: Considering the Color Wheel”

The full version of this article, as well as much, much more of interest to the decorative painter, and artists, entrepreneurs, and business folk of all stripes can be found in Cre8tive Compass Magazine, helmed by the inimitable Rebecca E. Parsons, artist, blogger, teacher, and creative entrepreneur extraordinaire.

As the Color Turns: Considering the Color Wheel

As decorative painters, artists, and artisans, color is one of the building blocks of what we do. We are making color decisions each and every time we paint, glaze, gild, plaster, and mix and match materials. Color plays a key role in texture, pattern, imagery, and sensibility, the tools of our trade. Consideration of the color wheel, whether it be before, during, or after we have designed, sampled and applied a treatment can yield revealing, surprising, and even fascinating findings about ourselves, our clients and customers, and the environments in which we work.

Primary Colors: Here’s to the Red,  Yellow, and Blue

The primary colors of red, yellow and blue, the components of all other hues, (excluding black and white), in the world of paint, are dynamic when placed next to each other.  Although the renditions of each may not be “pure” in the strict sense, this triad captures our attention, and draws us into a space that feels clearly defined.  As in the entryway pictured above, the blue may be textured, the red a metallic copper paint, and the yellow a multicolored glaze, but the effect is still that of three independent  hues working in dynamic harmony. The result is that of layers of color which set each other off, which draw the eye  from room to room.

Complementary Colors: The Attraction of Opposites


Complementary colors subdue one another when mixed, and, conversely, intensify one another when juxtaposed.” says Christine Pittel, in “Color and Light Luminous Atmospheres for Painted Rooms” by Donald Kauffman and Taffy Dahl. (Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. c. 1999)  The complementary duos of blue and orange, green and red, or purple and yellow, (opposite each other on the color wheel) will create vibrancy and drama, drawing attention to any space they clothe. Here several glazes in each of the two hues are manipulated over a lighter  base coat in the same color family. The combination of glazes lends depth and complexity to the surface. Juxtaposing complements creates an instant color “pop”, which can be fun, powerful, and theatrical focal point.

Analogous Colors: Hue on Hue: Energetic Intensity


Blending analogous colors (those adjacent to each other on the color wheel) across a surface can produce an energetic, yet harmonious effect. The colors work well together because they are closely related, and their combination creates  interest. An added benefit to the decorative painter is the ability to integrate glazes more seamlessly together:  being  unified by color; they are easier to blend. Keeping the base coat and glaze colors analogous will cover up a multitude of glazing issues such as seams and joins created by the overlap of wet onto drying glaze. The closer a base coat color is in hue, intensity and value to the glazes being used over it, the easier it will be for us to control the effects we wish to create.

Neutrals: Tone on Tone: Subtle Harmony


“Tone on tone” neutrals create a sense of peace, calm, and soothing harmony.  However, is any color really “neutral”?  Creams, beiges, taupes, grays and ivories actually have significant undertones of color which define them, and thus the effect they create in combination with other “neutrals”. Combining soft colors interrelated in hue and value (tone on tone) needn’t be monochromatic (based on just one hue). Their combination can also be complex, and very satisfying, offering a sense of richness and comfort. When manipulating multiple glazes over a base coat, one way to ensure integration of all colors involved is to make a glaze out of the base coat color, and use it as part of the scheme. This will create an immediate tie-in of the base coat to the glaze colors, and enable easier blending of the glazes over the surface.

Color is a powerful tool, and when we understand how the color wheel works, we can employ it to our advantage in designing and executing  finishes, applications and treatments. In addition, our color knowledge can inform how we plan, mix and manipulate our materials enabling us greater mastery and control over our processes. As we enter more deeply into the resonant world of color, we can use its magic to enhance, beautify, communicate about and transform our world, one space at a time.

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