“Up North: A Very Short Travelogue”

“Up North: A Very Short Travelogue”

A recent adventure traveling from Southern to Northern California…SoCal to NoCal, and back again,  reveals gems of landscape, cuisine, and most compellingly, relationship.

WEB1On the road…Highway 5 offers up vistas. You know you are on a journey. Traveling. Journeying. Voyaging. In movement.

WEB2Our heaven away from home…in Larkspur, CA…in Marin County. Right on the (canal) water. The peacefulness of this water…and its feathered inhabitants.

WEB1Morning time with flying friends….a view from the end of the pier…enlarged.

WEB3Looks like a silvery moon, but this is the reflection of the bright morning sun, cloud and sky…in the water. The flow, shine and shimmer of water brings peace to the soul.  I won’t soon forget this.

WEB1Bustling Clement Street in San Francisco’s Richmond District yields up delightful and delicious Asian eateries…like Burma Superstar , which offers the exotic and stimulating tea leaf salad.

WEB!Dancing in with the Keith Haring sculpture,  in Golden Gate Park, on the grounds of the De Young Museum.

WEB2The decorative painter’s favorite, the “gilded” room in the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum, in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park.

WEB1The beautiful walk up the hill to the Legion, overlooking the Bay near Land’s End, is an old stomping ground, and doesn’t disappoint.

WEB2The walk holds floral pops of color amidst brush and bramble.

WEB1After a magnificent six days, including two of driving, we arrived back safe and sound to Santa Monica, in time for yet another magnificent sunset.

WEB3The sky changes colors moment by moment…

WEB2The fading panorama of sunset colors and dark clouds are set off dramatically bu street lights which set nearby palm trees aglow. This is Southern California, after all.

California, place of dreams, traffic, light, fire and stars. North or  South, you shower us with your magic. Best of all is the work we are privileged to do here, and the people and relationships that make it all worthwhile. Thank you!

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The Stuff of Color: A Picture Poem

The Stuff of Color: A Picture Poem

WEB_3The Color Wheel Unbound

WEBbPeople Power…San Francisco

WEB_2Shoes, San Francisco, Near Union Street

Dec192011_6429Gradated Tree

ribbonWEBRibbon World

WEBfEarth Hues

WEBgEarth Hues Underfoot

WEB_1Chakra Balancing

WEBePrimary Balloons

WEBhCarpet Color

WEBaDrinking in Color

WEBd1At the Paint Store,  The West Side of Los Angeles

))2Berkeley CA: The End of the Rainbow

 

Green Seen

Green Seen

A Peon to Green

Dec192011_6427Green gradating into red…its compliment and opposite. Nature’s magnificent paintbrush.

  LA, of course… From “Houzz”.)

cc2

The San Francisco version.  Notice the lack of sunshine…

GreenDoorjambPassageway…

Passageway…Green 0311

“up into the silence the green
silence with a white earth in it….” –: E. E. Cummings

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

To the Letter

To the Letter

When we think of lettering, fonts, text, and color, we don’t always think about marketing, or poetry, or decorative painting.  But the truth is, all of these things can and do work together to tell a story, communicate a brand, and create a mood.  For all of these things are more inter-related then we may think.

Cathedral School for Boys, an independent Episcopal school Founded in 1957 ,  located on the grounds of Grace Cathedral in  San Francisco  enrolls approximately 267 boys in kindergarten through eighth grade.  When their Development Director engaged me to hand paint the school’s motto and other signage, we had to think about the size and style of lettering, font, and color that would best reflect its essence.

The Development Director wanted to identify “Alumni Hall”, which holds commemorative plaques listing the names of the student body dating back to the 19560’s.  The lettering of the words had to command the wall on which they were placed, and the dates, to clearly identify each decade of  pictured. A deep, rich custom blue was designed, reflected in the existing visual identity of the School, and the font “Perpetua” was chosen, appropriately enough. (Was that a fluke? A “meant to be”…?  A so-called, “Freudian slip” ?)

The school’s motto, “Minds  Hearts  Hands  Voices” was lettered across the front of the architectural detail directly facing the front glass window, creating a potent and effective message.  Key was planning the spacing between the words, as the Headmaster wanted the look to be clean, simple and streamlined, and thus elegant. No muss, no fuss.   It was just to be those four words, after all.   Let the words do the talking, supported by their size, spacing, color and font.  The space between each word serves as a visual and aural “beat”, or resting point of space and silence, which becomes part of the motto’s overall rhythm and poetry.  Aural, because the words “speak” to us the viewer.  As we read them, we hear them inside our heads, and as we are moved to speak, recite, or chant them.  This process again supports and enhances the messaging of The School, and perhaps, the adjacent related Grace Cathedral as well.

Without being overpowering, the power of the words which embody the intent, spirit and brand, of The School communicate, while integrating perfectly into its presentation, its lobby, its front office, and its formal signage.

The architecture of the building, its purpose, where it is situated geographically, its urban and natural surroundings, and its spiritual identity and associations are also an inspiration for the aesthetic choices relating to it.

Seeking grace and maybe sometimes  finding it.  The elements of visual and literary art, architecture, design, urban planning, education, the natural world, our creative, quirky and infinitely original  imagination, these gifts are always at our disposal to feed our hungry souls, and those around us.  Here’s wishing you grace, and the ability to offer it to others, through the powers of  our own perception.

Have YOU found a moment of grace through the powers of Your own perception?

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

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all  finding our own manner of grace in this thing called Life, together.


Halcyon Days: San Francisco

Halcyon Days: San Francisco. A PictoPoem

A love poem to my home of so many years…

Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Land’s End, Sun Shining

The Presidio, Sun Rising

The Richmond District, Sun Setting

Land’s End, Fog

Legion of Honor Arch

Obama street

Celebrating YOU,  San Francisco!

Thank You for the beauty, inspiration, healing, energy, experiences, and opportunities over so many years.

Thank You for embracing me, and setting the stage for me to work so hard, and learn so much.

I remember You, I love You, and I will visit You in future halcyon days.

See You later!

On the Avenue

On the Avenue

In San Francisco’s Richmond District, the series of North-South streets called “The Avenues” start at 2nd Avenue, and run West, all the way to Ocean Beach…which may be 50th Avenue!

Many of the houses in this area are sheathed in stucco, and may be painted in stucco paint.  The paints may come in limited colors, and the homeowner may have to make a choice of color under pressure, such as my Client did, who owns the middle house below.

Once the paint was up on the surface however, my Client and her husband knew they had to make it work.  The house was already painted, and to repaint it would be expensive, and admittedly, a real hassle.  The only option was to choose trim and accent colors in hues that worked well with the stucco house body color, and achieved what the Client wanted: a dignified, and streamlined  look, that set off the ornamental details, but didn’t add fussiness to the scheme as a whole.

We had the window frames, sashes and boxes, the ornament, the front and garage doors, a bannister, and a cross piece over the garage door to contend with.

Hillsborough Beige” HC 1033 (from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Color palette)  was chosen as the accent color, and applied to  the doors, window boxes and bannister.  Possessing the same undertone as the stucco paint over the house body, it packs a slight punch, and brings out these details without adding muss or fuss.

The fresh, yet warm quality of Benjamin Moore’s “947 Navajo White” streamlines the trim and ornamental details, while adding an element of luxuriance to the scheme.  Using the same color on the window frames and sashes also simplifies the detail, and adds elegance to the facade.

The Navajo White and Hillsborough Beige work beautifully together, adding subtle interest to the scheme.  The satin sheen of the doors provides some contrast and depth  in an understated way.  The preferred sheen for stucco tends to be  flat, as it doesn’t reflect all the shifts of plane in the surface it covers.

Greater sheen offers greater resistance to scratching and dirt.  Helpful, as front doorways tend to be heavily trafficked, and the door often take a beating!

The bannister stands out slightly from the stucco background, making it easier to see, and thus grab onto.  The scheme also manages to work with the front steps, a large area of color and texture boasting a design and colorway of its own.

The detail gleams against the understated neutral of the facade, an indication that indeed, less may very well be more!

Have YOU had an experience of “less is more’ with color?

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

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all coloring outside the lines of this thing called Life, together.

Re-Creational Color

Re-Creational Color

Once upon a time there was a charming house in the Glen Park District of San Francisco, that looked like this:

Now, everyone’s taste is different, and some may love to live in a house with such a color scheme, but the lovely family that lives here  did not.  Upon deciding that they wanted to change their exterior house color scheme, the owners, a married couple with a young daughter, took action.

They hired not only a house painter, but a color consultant (associated with their painter),  who came up with this color combination:

This combination of colors, as I understand it, was closer to what the owners wanted (apparently they wanted to ‘get the red out”!), but still fell short of what they felt comfortable with, to say nothing of, loved.  In short, they were discomfited.  It just wasn’t right.

The neighborhood is eclectic, and creativity abounds. However, the owners wanted a more unified look to the structure, and when all was said and done, didn’t like having different colors on the house body (above) , and the foundation (below).  They decided they wanted to change out these  colors (which covered the main area of the house), and have the same color on both the body and foundation. There was already a lot going on with the trim and accent colors, which they decided to keep.

I had the good fortune of meeting  the owners while providing in-store color consulting for Benjamin Moore Creative Paint, located on Geary Boulevard, in San Francisco.  We discussed their dilemma, and they engaged me as color consultant (number two), so that we could really, as Brad Pitt might say, make it right. We knew that we were going to select just one color for both the foundation, and upper house body, and that the chosen hue probably needed to be deeper, richer and warmer then what the previous consultant had specified.

We sampled a number of options, but they all went too violet on the house surface.  San Francisco has a very particular kind of light, and the Glen Park neighborhood can get foggy. Although the violet tones worked with the burgundy trim, it was too much, and not what the Clients wanted.  Let’s face it, we had to get it right this time!

The second go-around, we sampled Benjamin Moore 1476, “Squirrel Tail”, “Taos Taupe”, 2111-40, and “Iron Gate” 1545.  The Clients knew, hands down, it had to be Squirrel Tail.  The hue contained the right amount of warmth, a bit of richness, and it worked with, rather than competed with, the “Bottle of Bordeaux” 1357  trim, and “Tarrytown Green” HC-134 accent.

We gave a nod to the house foundation by painting it in an intensified (150%)  version of the “Squirrel Tail”, to add a sense of weight and stability to the structure, without further complicating the color design.   Both foundation and upper house body were done in an eggshell sheen to add a bit of resilience, and wash-ability, but almost no shine.  The garage door, also painted in the 150% formula, was done in a satin sheen to set it off slightly, and deflect a certain amount of contact and dirt!

The result is a unified appearance, which lent the house solidity, warmth and that touch of richness and depth the Clients were seeking. By unifying the body and foundation colors, the multitude of trim and details became less prominent, also adding to the desired unity.

Finally, we “got the white out”!

It was a pleasure to work with these wonderful Clients, and see their home transform through the healing use of color.  My hope for them is that they live long and prosper, in their “new” home.

Three times a charm!

What color dilemmas have YOU had lately, and how have you solved them?

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

Remember, we are all healing ourselves through this thing called Life, together.

Happy Color!

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!

Color Me Eclectic

Color Me Eclectic

On a recent sunny and magnificent day, I took a ride South, then West, first to see a Client, then to return to my studio in the western part of the City.

Little did I know what house color adventures awaited me during this relatively short excursion.  From  the middle class, to the well-to-do, to the downright funky,  the inhabitants of this variegated city never cease to amaze with their use of imaginative, and I must assume, highly personal  combinations and placement of color on their dwellings.

Here is a bit of my colorful, and oddly poetic romp, from the edge of nicely heeled Monterey Heights, to the Pacific reaches of the Sunset District’s outer Avenues.

Pale green and pinky red: not exactly Christmas

Across the street and down the road from my Client, who has resided in the same earthy gold stucco home for at least three decades, in a neighborhood of many more stucco. earth-toned  houses, I saw the above brightly hued structure, nearly vibrating in its complementary red and green intensity.  I noticed it also, because I expected to see it clad in it’s former strong yet earthy orange, (still quite noticeable in the neighborhood), next to the house pictured  below.  It has since been painted, but managed to avoid a Christmas glow, because of the paleness of the green, and pinky quality of the red.  Some might say that the placement of the paler color on the foundation’s garage door makes it feel ungrounded, but making such claims is not the purpose of this post.  You may draw your own conclusions.

Orange sherbert and Chocolate plum...vaguely gastronomic?

This house is the red and green home’s  direct neighbor on its left.  No slouch in the bright color department itself,  it no longer coordinates with its vibrant neighbor, and perhaps, fades into commonplace next to it.  However, it still stands out and reads as bold amidst the browns, ochres, golds and ivories that dominate the street.  Credit should be given where credit is due.

You could forget where you are....

Out of Monterey Heights, and away from the adjacent St. Francis Woods, one enters the world of the Outer Sunset Avenues,  punctuated by alphabetically named  streets which slope down to the blue Pacific.  Concentrated Asian populations, among others, reside in this area, their cultures reflected deliciously in colors and architectural details, as well as restaurant cuisine.  While gazing at the Church above,  framed by some of the few trees that grow out here, one could forget where one is for just a moment, and imagine being in other lands across the water.

Yellow ochre against jewel blue sky

Artists, musicians, and other creative types also live beach-side, and it is not completely unusual to see self-styled architectural additions, mural applications, faux finishes, textural surfaces, and decorative painting treatments like the one above, brightening up the often grey Avenue climes with strong color and whimsy.

One side of the street...

Driving West, I noticed that both sides of the street in a particular block had stretches of colorful houses directly facing each other.  Above, the shiny blue car adds a counterpoint to yellow,  green and red brick building fronts.

And the other side of the street...

Brightly colored cars would have been a distraction on this side of the street, and taken away from the yellow, green, ivory, mauve and blue house hues.  Happily, the homeowners complied with the concept of “variety within reason”, and maintained a balance of unity and complexity through their choice of dark gray automobile.  Thus, viewers and passers by, such as myself, were saved from the potentially negative effects of  overstimulation….

Backside View: weathered, poetic pastels...

Some might find the pale,weathered backsides of painted Avenue buildings understimulating, which could lead to restlessness and boredom in the viewer.  However, to me, these pastel-colored patinas,  slowly fading over time in the constantly shifting weather and light conditions of sun to fog, to rain, to sun again, contain a grave poetry . Perhaps they mirror the ultimately somber poetry of our lives: no matter how brightly we color the exterior, the facade will fade and crumple over time.  All is eventually claimed by nature. But what color we can create in the meantime, as we paint the portrait of our lives, reflected in our buildings, neighborhoods, cities and art!

If you have the time and the inclination, tell me what you think!  We are all in this thing called Life, together.