Seeing RED

Seeing RED

Green master bath and red master bedroom form a complimentary pair

Red door = energy

Rich red layers of glaze create a dining room “intime”

San Francisco’s Dress for Success Boutique uses the butterfly as a symbol of transformation

Benihana’s Restaurant in Cupertino, CA is transformed by bamboo imagery reflecting its interior wall coverings

More cream on white…this time wall covering in a Parisian-inspired San Francisco SOMA District interior

The Benihana mural transforms as it moves across the overhang

Red creates a luxuriant backdrop for dark wood, bright artwork, and mirrors

Red creates pop which animates the bar, and the room

Layers of glaze create lend depth and sensuality to a personal space

Red door = energy… in  The Soulful Pilates Studio, San Francisco

Green frames red…bringing the outside in

Celestial Gaze

Celestial Gaze

As many turn their gaze heavenward to see the proverbial firework displays inherent in the annual Fourth of July celebration, let’s turn our gaze to the myriad of ways decorative painting  can celebrate the wonders of the heavens, celestial bodies and space…. and transform the environment we see everyday into magical spheres limited only by the imagination.

Moon, stars and planets on the “sky” of a child’s room know no limits.

And it flies too…in the realms of the imagination!

A black hole in celestial space has a function…

enjoyed by some favorite young “clients”…and budding artists.

Up close and personal…stars from the heart.

Planetary glories…

can provide an astronomical teaching moment.

Stars bend onto the ceiling,

and a sun surrounded by”mini-mes” shines down beneficently from an illuminated corner.

Even the light switch plate gets into the act, playing a starring role.

“When you wish upon a star….” is an inspiring message for a young girl.

In a bath with a star-studded ceiling, you can star gaze while you shower!

On a portable mural, view custom planes whiz through glazed skies.

Or watch a stork carry a newborn home right on your very own living room wall.

Stencils, custom designs, glazes, color, murals of all sorts, lettering, and so much more can transform your walls and furniture into celestial realms that celebrate  the mystery and majesty of the heavens, and express your inner space in ways as  limitless as the outer…and as boundless as the skies.

HAPPY (albeit belated) Fourth!

Color Ground

Color Ground
The colors we clothe our buildings in, and the materials we use to build them can have a significant effect on how solid, safe, and grounded they appear.  And, I  might add, in addition to paint color, let’s not forget that the wood, brick, stone, concrete, metal and other natural and industrial materials we build with, have color too.  Add to this the by turns rapturous, earthy, luminous, bold, sublime, and subtle colors of nature, and you have a complex picture of the elements that go into making where we live, work and play picture perfect..or not.

In general, darker, richer, deeper, more saturated, brighter, warmer and more intense colors appear heavier, and thus may seem to “pull downward” towards the, in most cases, ground!  Placing them above a lighter, airier, softer, cooler,  paler, duller, less saturated colors may give the impression of pressing or pushing down upon something less substantial, creating a sense of pressure, ungroundedness, or even danger.  Who wants to feel like the heavier-looking second story might come crashing down through its weaker-looking support, or foundation?

The building above is grounded not only by its strong, dark burgundy red garage door, but also by the heavy foliage and hedge shrubbery which nearly obscures its foundation (the lower part of the structure upon which the rest of the building rests). The cream-colored concrete, red roof tile and strongly patterned brick provide contrast and a  variety of color and materials, but, particularly because of the grounding effect of the dark green, highly textural foliage, do not seem too heavy for the foundation to bear.

The UMG (Universal Music Group) office building in Santa Monica, CA is grounded by a strong, deep, earthy brick-red, which seems to support the pale pink upper above, though the entire structure is punctuated by a multitude of windows. Palms, parkway and other landscaping in front also support this grounded effect.

A similar outcome is achieved by juxtaposing a more saturated hue of reddish pink stucco foundation with the softer and paler ocher-colored wood siding above.  Lush vegetation sporting luxuriant red and pink flowers trailing over a natural wood fence add to its heavier, grounding effect

These interior gymnasium walls are grounded by the deep blue protective covering at their base. Given the wild shapes and over-sized   lines, shapes and patterns used in the room’s design, the consistency and “reliability” of the blue may also serve to keep young athletes players focused and grounded as they play.

Here is the outside of the same building, swathed in corrugated stripes.   Notice that the stripe closest to the ground is darker blue, and the one at the top, lighter.

This fun and fascinating building combines all manner of materials, from wood siding, to brick, to concrete,

and even verdigris decorative details above the door. The mass of flowering vegetation in front,  while nearly obscuring parts of the facade,  add to the fancy of the place, while connecting it to the earth, the  ground.  In moody weather, the mix of weathered materials and enveloping foliage may lend an air of mystery and perhaps even magic to the place.

Here, an artist’s self-styled, whimsical touch creates grounding through the application of  bright color, repeated shapes, and sense of a garden planted  at the base of the house. The playful, optimistic feeling  is further enhanced by the use of complementary colors  yellow and purple.

The largest sphere in this extraordinary mural seems to be sitting right on the sidewalk!  It could be coming right out at us, the viewer, but at least the building doesn’t look like it is about to leave the ground!  The tiled trompe l’oeil technique is used to great visual and grounding, effect here.

When we walk past this extraordinary building in LA’s Venice Canal District, our eye is drawn past the foliage, across the manicured back yard, and over the amazing sunken pool under the blue-framed overhang, through the space between the orange posts, to the electric apple green accent wall behind them. Brighter, more vibrant, and more saturated than the natural greens , and applied blue and orange surrounding it, this wall looks  strong enough to carry this unusual structure’s  visual weight.

This wild building on Wilshire in Santa Monica is one of my favorites.  An eclectic mix of materials, hues and shapes, it seems break all the “rules”, yet somehow, it works!  This could be due to a counteracting balancing effect of the mix of elements. The undulating curve of the upper wood facade/detail is counterbalanced by the strong concrete support/column next to it, even though the wood is a strong color, and an even stronger visual element. Our eye is drawn upward from the glass, and warm blue and green (reflecting sea, sky and grass?) colors behind it to that grand sweep of wood,

which is also supported by the metal detail/support that follows its shape and movement below.  The whole building feels like a

huge kinetic wave, appropriate architecture for a beach town on the edge of the Pacific. The foliage, and its concrete base below also add grounding.  Amazing!  Fidelity, you got it going on, architecturally!

The “Bagel Nosh”  in Santa Monica, hosts a marvelous display of mouth-watering treats. Where does our eye go right to here?  No, there isn’t a spotlight on the center of the case.  That’s just the natural color of these bright golden-yellow jalapeno-flavored bagels. The strong, rich, saturated color just grabs our attention, and holds it there…it’s up to you to decide whether the taste of these treats warrants their attention-grabbing status.

  We walk upon the ground,  perhaps that is why our  shoes are often brown and black…colors of the earth.  We usually want to feel grounded when we tread upon the earth, a firm foundation, a solid base.  But, maybe not all the time.  Perhaps sometimes we want to whirl, twirl, leap, float, and feel  “ten feet off the ground”.  Don’t we long to take risks, to take  flight, as much as we long to be safe, secure, and grounded?  When you want to feel fun, fantastical, floating, and fabulous, try on a glittery, glowing, or gossamer pair of footwear, and see if it helps your grounded spirit to soar!

What buildings, architecture, food or footwear have YOU experienced lately that feel grounded or the opposite?

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

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all trying to ground ourselves  yet take flight within this thing called Life, together.

Stay grounded, but don’t be afraid to fly!

Sighting Santa Monica II: Pictogram

Siting Santa Monica II: Pictogram

Behold the visual poetry of a surprisingly mufti-faceted beach town…

First things first….bagels on Wilshire….

Mosaic mural juxtaposed with slatted building…packs the punch

Beach architecture…Santa Monica style…

Ahhh…do we have both the male and the female principal equally represented?

A different take on the design of the Hanukkah Menorah…

Curvilinear…indeed!

What sightings have YOU had lately?

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

We love to hear from YOU.

Remember, we are all sighting this thing called Life, together.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND PEACE AND BLESSINGS TO YOU FOR THE NEW YEAR!


LA Stories VI: A-door-ing


LA Stories VI: A-door-ing

What is a door? A magical portal into worlds of fantasy, mystery, magic and even mayhem?

Recent explorations of LA area beach towns have yielded some a-door-able results. Please see below some examples of the door that keeps you coming back for more.   Turn the key of your  perception,  and prepare to have your imagination turned on!

This amazing find in Venice near the storied Canal District looks straight out of Alice in Wonderland. What extraordinary creatures are playing croquet on the lawn beyond?  Privacy seems to be the goal here.

Here is a more rustic version on a delightful street in Mar Vista, minus the hedge, and plus a “half”  wall! The house and yard are in full view beyond.  The door seems to be there for the sheer joy of it.

Energetic red animates a cottage-like Santa Monica residence, set off by soft yellow, and the colors of nature.  A visual target, our eye is drawn to this door like a magnet to metal.

The red door is used again here to great effect, as a “real” element in the midst of a children’s mural.  Red elements all around it integrate it into the scene, yet it stands out as a strong element, letting us know where to go to get to the other side of a seemingly safe and self-contained world.

Venice’s Canal District is home to many remarkable architectural design gems and delicious creative elements, including mosaic-ed columns which lead us down the path to the door to the door!

Giant bowling balls? Well, maybe. At any rate, these strong forms direct us to the portal of  “UMG”,  the  Universal Music Group Offices in Santa Monica, where some of the giants of the music industry do business.

Who says a door has to be real? And what is “real”, anyway? Madame Chou Chou Bistro Patisserie on Main Street in Santa Monica is the perfect place to indulge your appetite for fantasy, and  your sweet-tooth.  Highly recommended for an elegant, yet fun indulgence.

What magical doors have YOU opened lately, and what fantastical worlds have You entered?

If you so choose,  please share about it with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all opening the doors to this thing called Life, together.

More on Murals: Making Your Mark

MORE ON MURALS: Making Your Mark

What is a mural

Related to the French word “mur”, meaning “wall”, the term “mural” is derived from the Latin mūrālis, which means “of a wall”, derived from the Latin mūrus, or…you guessed it,

WALL!

Not surprisingly, the most literal meaning of the word “mural” is a painting on a wall. However, the term has expanded to encompass a wide range of both interior and exterior applications to the built environment, and a variety of architectural surfaces.

Murals can be painted on panels or canvas, and then affixed to a wall, fence, ceiling, floor, room divider, or roof!  They can be graphical, patterned, or design-oriented in nature,

     

or depict intricate scenes so real that we might find ourselves stooping to pick up what we thought was a feather on the floor, only to find that our hand brushes against its painted surface…

even if the scene is fantastical!

But, how does the artist get from the concept, or idea for a mural, of whatever sort, to the finished, often very large  image you might enjoy in your living room, local restaurant, non-profit organization, mall, or

patio fence?

Well, through the mockup process, namely the creation of a to scale model, or prototype of the intended mural.  This is a way to get a sense of what the completed mural could look like,  and catch potential aesthetic, functional or structural problems before they become actual ones!

From canvas to walls, to doors to exterior fences seen through a second story window, murals can happen anywhere their makers can wield a brush, adhere a tile, or make a mark,one of our most elemental human urges.  Think about the power and  wonder of  cave paintings…

Future posts will explore and expand upon the act of mural, and mark-making,  so hold on to your ladder (or scaffold), and enjoy the ride…

How do YOU “make your mark”?

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

We love to hear from YOU.

Remember, we are all marking our way through this thing called Life, together.

Mockups and Murals

Mockups and Murals

What is a mural

Related to the French word “mur”, meaning “wall”, the term “mural” is derived from the Latin mūrālis, which means “of a wall”, derived from the Latin mūrus, or…you guessed it, WALL!

Not surprisingly, the most literal meaning of the word “mural” is a painting on a wall. However, the term has expanded to encompass a wide range of both interior and exterior applications to the built environment and a variety of architectural surfaces

Murals can be painted on panels or canvas, and then affixed to a wall, fence, ceiling, floor, room divider, or roof! They can be graphical, patterned, or design-oriented in nature, or depict intricate scenes so real that we might find ourselves stooping to pick up what we thought was a feather on the floor, only to find that our hand brushes against its painted surface…

But, how does the artist get from the concept, or idea for a mural, of whatever sort, to the finished, often very large  image you might enjoy in your living room, local restaurant, non-profit organization, mall, or neighbor’s  fence?

Well, through the mockup process, namely, creation of a to scale, model, version, or prototype of the intended mural.  It is a great way to present ideas for approval, and catch potential aesthetic, functional or structural problems before they become actual ones!  Please see below a gallery of assorted mockups, and the murals they spawned. From canvas to walls, to doors to exterior fences seen through a second story window, murals can happen anywhere their makers can wield a brush, adhere a tile, (shh, bad for the environment) press a spray can button. The following images give a sense of scale from mockup to mural, and the various environments murals can exist in. Future posts will explore this subject in greater depth,  so hold on to your ladder (or scaffold), and enjoy the ride!

Mockup for The Land of Oshun”

“The Land of Oshun”, Turk and Taylor Street, San Francisco

Sketches and mockup for “The Donor Tree”

“The Donor Tree”,  Planning for Elders in the Central City,  San Francisco

Mockup for “Window Mural”

“Window Mural”  seen through kitchen window

“Window Mural” seen from below, San Francisco

Mockup  of “Garden Mural”, seen with full-scale mural in process

“Garden Mural”, patio level, San Francisco

Mockup for “Life Journey”,  seen with full-scale mural in process

“Life Journey”,  living room wall, Burlingame, CA

Mockup for “Obi-Cat”

Lower part of “Obi-Cat” on door

“Obi-Cat” on music room door, Palo Alto, CA

Stay tuned for more on murals….

What intriguing murals have YOU seen, or created recently??  

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

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all mocking up this thing called Life, together.

Taking Flight in 2011

Taking Flight in 2011

What does taking flight mean to you?  New projects, new ideas, new possibilities? A whole new you? (Hmmm…) My colleague, Rebecca E. Parsons recently posted  about her word for 2011: soar, in Cre8tive Compass Magazine.  I found the term very apropos to a project completed in the last days of 2010, which involved painting birds (mostly) in flight, in a young boy’s room.

My client, the boy’s father, wanted the room to become something special and reflect his son’s interests.  Painting (mostly) flying (mostly) colorful birds on the walls and ceiling seemed a fitting way bring the old year down to a soft landing, and take flight into the new.  No time to hover…it was time to take-off!

The initial concept of depicting birds in flight across the ceiling with one Bald Eagle on a designated wall expanded, as I  took off with my avian research of the gorgeously plumed, brilliantly feathered, and stunningly patterned.  Falling under the spell of our endlessly fascinating feathered friends, the project became a labor of love, not lost.

The Parrot ascends,

The Toucan dives,

The Barn Swallow glides by,

The Spotted Owl swoops, but don’t worry, he’s friendly!

Two of the most richly hued herald the entrance to the adjoining bath, perched sentinel atop the door frame.

Color-full beauties contemplate each other in calm communion.

Little Green Bird ( Calyptomena viridis )

Yariguíes Brush-Finch (Atlapetes latinuchus yariguierum)

Just the act of observing birds can teach us so much.  Their gracefulness, the purity of their movement, their strength and agility, the glory of their plumage, their color, the adornment of their astonishing patterns and textures, all worn without a hint of vanity (no Peacocks here!) is  humbling and at the same time uplifting to the human spirit, when we take time to see it. Birds’ beauty and innocence, doing only what nature intends them to do without apparent ego  interference, is a quiet marvel to behold.

Wing your way…

So, prepare to be inspired as you take flight into 2011. Take a lesson from our avian friends, our fellow creatures of the sky, and use this New Year to take off…into whatever you yearn to become.  Of course, there will be those times of hovering, flapping, even of dragging, but don’t let that stop you from lifting, gliding, and making your own ascension.  Don’t worry about a few dives. Like light and dark, up and down seem to be interlocked…two parts of a whole: Life.

Float, glide, dive and circle, but don’t forget to commune, contemplate and converse.

How do you intend to take flight in 2011?  If you feel so inspired, don’t hover and drag, share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember,  we are all flying though this thing called Life, together.


 

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.