Some Kind of Wonderful

Some Kind of Wonderful

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It is wonderful fun to create these “Artissima Lumens

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These (plastic!)  light switch plates become tiny canvasses, ready for adornment (including the tiny metal screws).

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Each one is carefully sanded, primed and base painted with waterborne paint.

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The surface is then ‘textured” with semi-transparent, waterborne glaze.

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The glaze is manipulated over the dry,  base painted surface with tools such as sponges, rags and specialty brushes.

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Because the glaze is semi-sheer, the base paint shows through, but as an altered hue, with added depth and complexity.

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When dry, the glaze treatment provides an evocative  surface to paint, stencil, stamp and further embellish on.

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Next, pattern, imagery more texture and color are added, often with stencils artfully arranged.

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Finally, the whole surface is varnished, sealed with a clear coat of acrylic (again, waterborne), to add sheen and durability.

Some kind of wonderful experience…this process, and the satisfaction in creating “Artissima Lumens“!

Crawling the Wall: The Making of a Mural

Crawling the Wall: The Making of a Mural

Lest you think that only smooth interior walls or whitewashed exterior ones can provide the surface for mural magic…let me set you straight.

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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…WALL!  And…there are so many kinds of walls…

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Some sport a trellis, such as the wall I was to paint for my client, Maureen.

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This was her view through her kitchen window, in a neighborhood that is often permeated in dense fog.

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Well, picturesque though it might be…the trellis had to go.

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Underneath, the corrugated texture of the wooden siding posed another painting challenge.

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Maureen’s contractor and landscaper, Greg Spry of  Spryscapes had designed a bench for the deck, so the mural needed to work with it.

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The deck opened out directly from the living/dining area, which informed the mural’s color palette.

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I also took inspiration from the colors, textures and patterns of pillows, textiles, artwork, and other details inside,

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as well as from Maureen’s business card.

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She loves flowers and plants, and with that fog,  they can be challenging to grow and maintain on the deck.

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Taking a cue from the wall’s trellis “history”, I designed a composition of curving vines, punctuated by big splashes of brightly colored blossoms, and made it to-scale.

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On a rare lovely, sunny day, I set up a little outdoor studio right on the deck , and set to work.

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The essentials: mockup, palette, and rags.  Oh yes…the paints are out there too.

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I began with a rough chalk outline on the wall, closely following the design depicted in the mockup.

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I laid in the underpainting for the leaves , “vines”, and and stems, over which the other colors would go, in a cool green hue.  I had cut stencils (incredibly useful!) in varied sizes for the leaves, and adhered them to the side wall with blue painters tape in-between color applications.

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Next came the underpainting of the flower blossoms in a brilliant yellow.

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All the paints used are artist’s  acrylic designed for mural painting, which I bought at the Precita Eyes Muralists Community Art Store in San Francisco.

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Next, I laid in the other colors, and added details, complexity and depth with layers of color that shifted in value from dark to light and back again.

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I used sets of strongly contrasting complementary colors to add energy, intensity, “pop” and vigor to the design.

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I disregarded the edges of the strips of siding, and its corrugated texture, and painted right over it and into its texture, applying layers of slightly watered down paint to the painted surface to fill each area, and give the sense of unbroken blossoms of color dancing across the wall.

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Maureen’s painter had base painted the wall in a neutral color, which made the technicalities of my task easier, as his efforts helped to unify the surface.

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The idea was to create a rhythm, and feeling of movement, color and pattern across the wall.

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The colors would change with the light, but always add a

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sense of whimsy, magic and joi de vivre to the deck and to the home,and to animate it,

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all the way to the end.

(Of course the painting is varnished to protect it from those foggy elements.)

  Now Maureen has a magical, motion-filled garden to look at when she raises her eyes from the kitchen sink, and looks out the window to  the deck. These are flowers that don’t require watering!

Here’s to the bon vivant, Maureen, Cheers!

 

 

Contemplating Work – Three Year Round Up

Contemplating Work – Three Year Round Up

In the spirit of the process of the necessity of the…well…updating, overhauling, revamping, refurbishing, and just re-ing the online presence of ArtiFactory Studio, and Artissima ventures….and, about to add/subtract/move around work from my site, I thought I would share some of the work completed since my last site update (yikes, was it really three years ago?), and look at some of the media, processes, forms and approaches that are part of the wide world of decorative painting.

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I created a line of hand-painted light switch plates which I call, “Artissima Lumens“, which though small, do take a lot of work and focus to complete! Sanding the plastic or wooden surface, as well as screws/hardware, priming it, base painting it, and then…the embellishment, adornment, decoration (hmm…not a good word in art school!), whatever you want to call it. This can include hand painting images, gradating color, stenciling  a design, pattern, image or scene, adding layers of semi-transparent glaze, and most often, a combination of some, many, or even all of these!

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Mid-Century design, style, decor and imagery can be rich fodder for decorative painting on the wall, as evidenced by these bedroom accent walls. The dawn of the atomic age, coupled with star-bursts, floral imagery, and geometric shapes and patterns can be inspirational. These treatments, based on a sketch (above with mirror), made by, and a re-imagined image, (immediately above), found by the Client constitute a creative collaboration that bore Mid-C fruit in both a guest and master bedroom.

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There is nothing quite like custom,  hand painted imagery on a wall, or ceiling.  Above, the Fightin’Irish and Michigan State logos find a home in the room of a young boy, with an avid avian interest. Custom-designed stenciled and hand-painted birds fly across his ceiling and desk wall, and perch above the entrance to his bath.

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Stenciling, and the art of repeated pattern is an effective and beautiful way to create a border. Especially effective in a room, such as this bath, with no crown molding.  The bright color ties the room together with the strong artwork displayed there, and connects to the vibrant colors seen throughout the rest of the house.

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Exterior  decorative painting on the wall, any wall, can go a long way towards brightening up an area that is often dark, and shrouded in fog, as many decks, patios, yards and porches are in the vast and often overcast Sunset District neighborhood of San Francisco. The painting of a colorful wall mural on the rough textured shingled siding of this deck not only brightened the area, and extended the adjoining living space to the outdoors, it also gave the inhabitants a colorful “garden” to look at through their kitchen window.  Doing dishes is going to be a lot more fun now in that house!

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“MINDS HEARTS HANDS VOICES” is the motto for  Cathedral School for Boys in San Francisco. The painting of the motto so that is can be seen through the front windows communicated the basic approach and philosophy of the school. Samples of blue hues, and font styles were presented to the Headmaster and Development Director, who chose which to use. The intent was to keep the image and the message clean, clear and simple, albeit elegant, and let the words do the talking!

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House numbers  for HGTV Curb Appeal, “It’s All in the Details” episode were created with customized, hand-cut stencils, based on a font chosen by the host, John Gidding. Gradated shading using highlight and shadow was added to give the illusion of depth.

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The Flying Cranes project at The Briggs Residence (a historic residence in the West Adams District of Los Angeles) was the brainchild of architect Kaitlin Drisko, of Drisko Studio Architects, who wanted to transform the living room TV cabinet into a work of art . In conjunction with the Owner, and Owner’s rep Paul Davidson, designs and imagery for both the interior and exterior were developed collaboratively.  The exterior sides of the cabinet doors are gilded with composition gold leaf, or schlag metal, then painted with the cranes composition.

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The interior of the doors are stippled with  layers of gold, blue and red paint hues, then stenciled with a custom motif adapted especially for the project. When open, the articulated doors frame the TV screen.  The piece is designed to be a focal point in the room whether the doors are open or closed, the television on or off.

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It is fascinating to look back over a three year span of work, and contemplate all the uses of decorative painting.  It is a form that marries function and beauty, usefulness and aesthetics, craft, visual art, architecture and design.  Playing at once subtly and powerfully through our visual landscape, decorative painting makes its mark!

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!

E-Lumen-8 Part 1 Take 2

E-Lumen-8 Part 1 Take 2

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E-LUMEN-8 Your Life! 

The story of “Artissima Lumens”…painted light switch plates for your e-lumen-8-ed pleasure!

Nov072012_7170 The adventure begins  with prepping: sanding and priming the front surface of the nascent “Lumens”…making a tiny white canvass to frame the light switch aperture.

Nov072012_7157The “Lumen” prepared “canvasses” begin to stack up. Their tiny screws get the same treatment. Each is sanded, primed with a white-tinted primer, painted, and treated in the same manner as the rest of the piece. The entire surface is treated as one composition.

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  It is fun to play with the aperture, and use it as part of the composition.

Nov072012_7160Pattern rules. Words can express dreams, hopes, even prayers.

The possibilities are endless…the size restrictions a creative stimulant….as opposed to a limitation.

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Nov102012_7145  The interplay of textures, (built up through the application of  layer upon layer of stippled paint), and pattern, color and image, only become more fascinating to manipulate and explore.

Nov152012_7228Metallic paints provide glow and glimmer, sheen and shimmer, adding luster and elegance, or perhaps a celestial quality.

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Nov152012_7225The addition of paint, texture and color add depth…while sanding between the layers with wet-dry sandpaper makes the pieces smooth and sleek, creating a tactile experience to match the visual. Layering imagery over texture, then softening, or slightly obscuring it, can suggest an air of mystery, softness, and complexity.

Nov152012_7229The elements are engaging to play with, mix, and and match.

I hope that the addition of “Artissima Lumens” will add an element of detail, joy or  artistry to a room and make turning on the light not only an illuminating, but fun!

E-LUMEN-8 Your Life!

Turn it On!

May Your Holidays be filled with light, joy, and FUN!

Decorative Painting: Leaving Our Mark

Decorative Painting; Leaving Our Mark

Encompassing a seemingly unlimited pantheon of forms, functions, mediums and media, the discipline of decorative painting goes everywhere.

A chosen vase provides colorways, pattern, and a touch of whimsy to the wall detailing over a living room fireplace for a creative client’s new home.

Custom stenciled butterflies flutter over the curved wall of the Dress for Success boutique. Architect: Justin Martinkovic of Martinkovic Milford.

Move over Nike  “swoosh”, Top 1 Oil‘s in town…and it’s all painted. Interior designer: Kelly Berg of Arte Styling.

Ceilings beg a variety of adornments…painted beams being one of them. Woodworker: Larry McCanse, Palmer Creek Hand-Hewn Wood Products.

Softly blended glaze colors tease out architectural nuances. Interior Designer: Anne Norton-Dingwall:   AND Interior Design Studio.

It takes a brave and bold client to live with strong color…a real treat to create with custom tinted, blended glazes.

Glazed stripes layered over a glazed wall create depth and character in The Polished Lounge nail salon.

The high ceiling and walls of a narrow powder room are dramatized by layers of glaze creating visual texture.

Glaze and paint create the effect of  marble and stone on a living room fireplace.

Once white latex, these tub cabinets have been transformed into wood…known in the business as “faux bois“, literally “fake wood”.

In the same bathroom, the closet door and cabinetry are also faux bois…inspired by the door to the room, which is “real” wood.

This cabinet sits at the top of a staircase, and serves as a focal point when ascending the stairs, or just passing by and looking up. It’s faux bois application matches that of the staircase banisters.

The wonder of decorative painting, and its myriad of applications is that it is are never-ending. Continually changing and evolving, and showing up in any and every nook and cranny, or open interior or exterior space, the glorious enhancement, beautification, communication and transformation of the built environment continues, and will continue, as long as humankind is willing and able to leave its mark.

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!

E-LUMEN-8 your life

E-LUMEN-8

Your Life…

In an increasingly technological world, there is a corresponding need for work created by hand.  As humans, we respond to useful objects of wonder and beauty.

“Artissima Lumens”  are hand-adorned light switch plates created custom, one at a time  as art, celebration and decor. They are created of water-borne primers, paints, semi-transparent glazes, stencils, metallic media, and varnish.

The plain plastic, or wooden plate is sanded to create texture or “tooth”, readying the surface to receive the primer which creates a bondable surface for the painted base coat.  The surface is thus  prepared for more intricate layers of adornment.

Paints, semi-sheer glaze or other media are manipulated across the surface to create visual interest and an interplay of color and texture.

Gold, silver, copper and bronze metallic media add luminescence, glow, and glimmer which  catch the light and animate the surface.

Stenciled or hand-painted pattern and imagery establish a composition which can become playful, elegant, whimsical, retro,  nostalgic , contemporary or celebratory.

The necessary hardware or screws are treated as part of the whole, and treated to each successive application.  They become part of the visual composition, as does the aperture for the switch itself.

When at last complete, the work is sealed and protected with  water-borne varnish. The “Lumen” is now is ready to eLUMENate its chosen light switch, and give the user a jolt of light energy.

Experience shows that we can become more calm, energetic, stimulated, peaceful and alive through interaction with our visual surroundings.  Color, texture, pattern and imagery can enhance, beautify, communicate, and  transform our feelings and surroundings, and thus both our interior and exterior landscape.

If YOU are interested in ordering or commissioning an “Artissima Lumen” please email: debra@artifactorystudio.com

BELIEVE

CREATE SUCCESS

 HAVE GRATITUDE

Lumens for Humans II

Lumens for Humans II

In an increasingly technological world, there is a corresponding need for work created by hand.  As humans, we respond to useful objects of wonder and beauty.  What we surround ourselves with can make us feel more calm, energetic, stimulated, peaceful and alive.

“Artissima Lumens”  are hand-adorned light switch plates created custom, one at a time  as art, celebration and decor.

They are created of water-borne primers, paints, semi-transparent glazes, stencils, metallic media, and varnish.

The unadorned plate is sanded to create texture or “tooth”.  This readies  the surface to receive the primer which creates a bondable surface for the painted base coat.  The surface is thus  prepared for more intricate layers of adornment.

Paints, semi-sheer glaze or other media are then manipulated across the surface to create visual interest and an interplay of color and texture. Color, texture, pattern and imagery can enhance, beautify, communicate, and  transform our surroundings and our state of mind.

Stenciled or hand-painted pattern and imagery establish a composition which can become playful, elegant, whimsical, retro, contemporary or even mysterious.  The tiny pieces function as both art and decor;  frame and focus.

The necessary hardware is treated as part of the whole, and receives each successive application.  It becomes part of the total composition, as does the aperture for the switch itself.

When at last complete, the work is sealed and protected with layers of water-borne varnish. The “LUMEN” is now is ready to enhance, beautify and transform the deceptively simple act of eLUMENation.

“Artissima Lumens”  can be designed to integrate with murals, wallpaper, artworks, and anything else which is part of the wall, or “built environment“.

If YOU are interested in ordering or commissioning an “Artissima Lumen” please email: debra@artifactorystudio.com

Shine on…Believe, Create, Succeed, Have Gratitude…

Here’s to YOUR e-LUMEN-ated Life