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!

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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: A Life in Review

Decorative Painting; A Life in Review

Having spent many years, and still spending them in this broad arena we call, “Decorative Painting”, I wanted to take a moment to step back, and look into what comprises this multifaceted field…which could be described as the enhancement of the built environment.

Decorative painting can involve the coating, texturing and stenciling of small, utilitarian objects.

It can be the embellishment on an “industrial” scale with latex paint and big brushes, of a commercial establishment….a kind of  “branding”.

Exterior, …

         or interior, with graphic design and lettering

Decorative painting is

wall glazing…

ceiling stippling and custom stenciling…

and layering of color.

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It is pattern…

and marble

,                  and gold

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It is pure joy.

It can be pure love.

It will transform.

HeARTfull Stone

HeARTfull Stone

In a recent article published in the  Bay Area Women’s Journal called  “Faux Finishing…Get the Look of Marble and Stone“, I discuss the “faux” finishes of stone and marble (a kind of  rock).  I created this “sister” post to show more painted and glazed stone and marble faux (fake!) finishes, and to share a bit more about the process.

Stone blocking is a technique in which individual “blocks” of stone are depicted, as well as the grout between them. Below, the lower part of an exterior shed door is painted (stippled and pounced) to look like the actual stone blocks on either side of it.  The grout, of course, is also painted. The painted door meets the real flagstones underneath it.  Underfoot, as it were.

Careful match of color helps create the illusion, despite the obviousness of hinges.  The “Trompe L’Oeil” (‘tricking the eye”- to make us think something is there that actually isn’t) effect is broken when…

 the door is opened, which adds to the fun. The treatment satisfied the aesthetic yearning of the homeowner to have the eye perceive  a line of stone blocks  unmarred by the more prosaic brown-painted door.

Below we have an ornately detailed fireplace, with a lot of carved character.  It sits resplendent in its prepped glory, primed but not even base painted yet.  Looking white white, it is set off by a new marble surround and hearth.

Voila, here we have the same fireplace with a stippled “limestone look”  finish, which draws out its ornate detail, and works with the colors of the marble.

The carving plays with the light, both reflecting and absorbing it.  It is highlighted by the glazes (semi-transparent veils of color) that are stippled across its surface.  Details like  this can be coaxed out and showcased through the addition of color and texture!

The same “limestone-like” stippled technique can be used to add character to a one-of-a-kind table that already has plenty,  (again, the technique pulls out the carving),

or, a smooth, plastered, rather standard issue stove hood, which needs to be brought into line with the other splendid details of its Spanish Revival architectural setting.

Stone finishes can also be used in tandem with their sometimes showier cousin, marble finishes, also known as marbling, or marbleizing.  On the fireplace below, semi-transparent glazes were used to create the marble finish, and opaque paints in equivalent colors for the stone.  The marble and stone treatments are both set off by the classical detailing, which is in turn set off by the treatments!  At their best, architecture, decorative treatments and detailing work hand in hand, each strengthening the other.

The pillar below is treated in a subtle limestone finish, with the same glaze colors employed in a marble finish on its base.


In the same room and colors, the hearth below is marbled through the combination and simultaneous manipulation of several glaze colors over its smooth, base painted surface.

The same technique is employed on the fireplace mantel and pillars, unifying the piece.  The Clients wanted to enhance the architectural details of their white-walled living room in an elegant yet subtle way, and the paint and glaze colorways were designed accordingly.

The fanciful marble treatment designed for the white, latex-painted built-in below is enhanced by the addition of gold, not only in the veining, but also on the inset frames on the cabinet doors. The diamonds are created by a second application of marbleizing.

  The fantasy marble finish employing pink, gold, and antique white glazes adds sumptuousness. The marbleized diamond offsets the rectangular shapes that comprise the cabinets.

Whether the goal is to integrate, enhance, create elegance, luxury or history, the application of stone and marble faux finishes can add depth, character, mystery, and even fun and fantasy to a space. Take a look around your environment, and imagine the addition of finishes true to nature, to the imagination, or both! Consider drawing out classical or whimsical details,  harmonizing your color scheme, or adding a bit of eye trickery to where you live, work and play.  You’ll soon feel the benefit of the Magic of Decorative Painting.

Have YOU used Stone and Marble finishes in your Home, Business, or Community Spaces?

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

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



Varieties of Verdigris

Varieties of Verdigris

The word “verdigris” comes from the Middle English vertegrez, from the Old French verte grez, an alteration of vert-de-Grèce, or “green of Greece”.  The modern French spelling  is vert-de-gris. What a  romantic and poetic linguistic lineage.
Verdigris is  the natural patina which forms on the surface of  copper, bronze, or brass as it is exposed to air and water, wind and weather over time.  In essence, it is the weathering, or tarnishing of these metals, and shows itself in a variety of green hues.  As a faux finisher, and decorative painter, the “look” can be achieved through the controlled (or not) application of chemicals to these metals, which form a blueish green “deposit’, or pigment.   Indeed, verdigris was used as a pigment to create greens in paintings and other art objects.  Until the 19th century, verdigris was the most vibrant green pigment (paint colorant) available.  It’s earliest known use was in the 14th Century.

The other way of creating a verdigris finish. i.e., the look of verdigris, is by the simple or not so simple, application of green and other-hued paints manipulated over a base coat. This method, to my way of thinking, is by far the more fun, as  a virtual universe of verdigris can be created.  The effect of painted verdigris is by and large controllable, a claim which cannot always be made for chemical reactions.

The vibrant, yet natural-looking verdigris finish above and below  was created by manipulating one custom-mixed hue of green over an exterior latex base coat: Benjamin Moore’s “Pueblo Brown 2102-30”.  The “verdigris” color is one part Benjamin Moore “Pear Green 2028-40” and three parts “Blue Spa 2052-40 “, drybrushed over a completely dry surface.

The verdigris color is wiped off is some areas, leaving a strie effect, and accentuating the texture of the base coated metal.  The surface textures, shifts of plane, and interplay between base and top colors offer enough variety to make the treatment visually interesting, and believable enough for passers-by to comment on the “copper“!

A verdigris treatment is often associated with copper, but as discussed above, also works with both bronze and brass.  On the door above and below, the client wanted a loose  (“messy” as she termed it!) look, that nonetheless complimented the charming building, and worked with the teal shutters and trim detail.  As the kick plate, address numbers, door knob, and mailboxes are a bronze hue, (as well as details of the light fixture), Benjamin Moore “Aged Bronze 231” was used as a base coat, with three blue to green hues dry-brushed over it to create the effect.

The bright golden-bronze hue provides a nice contrast to the cooler yet still warm greenish-blue flat exterior latex paints layered and manipulated over the darker base.  The textures  as well as the colors had to work in tandem to create a complete, coherent picture, “messiness’ not withstanding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The rails above were base painted in a deep blackish green, Benjamin Moore “Black Forest Green (Exterior ready-made)” latex, then four more colors were applied consecutively over  the base painted surface. First, the coppery-toned Benjamin Moore “Suntan Bronze 1217” was dry-brushed sparingly, then “Cypress Green 509”, followed by “Garden Oasis 699” were stippled,. (All Benjamin Moore exterior latex colors.) Finally, a touch of the custom “Blue Spa 2018-40” and “Pear Green 2052-40” mix mentioned above was added as a subtle accent. The application and layering of five colors in total adds depth and detail to the final finish.

As the balcony railings are partially obscured by trees, and the Clients were less concerned about their appearance,  we opted to use only the two softer greens, “Cypress Green – 509” followed by “Garden Oasis 699” stippled over the same ready-made “Forest Green” base coat.  Because three of the five colors in the steps railings are the same, the color impression looks the same from a distance, an effect we wanted to achieve.

It’s interesting that verdigris, an actual effect of tarnishing and oxidation processes, can result is such  vivid green, teal, and even turquoise colors, as well as beautiful, variegated textures and patina.  It begs the issue of the value, aesthetic or otherwise, of antiquing, aging, even decay.  For what better purpose can we create art, decor and deign, then to both uplift, and deepen the human spirit by raising questions  of beauty and mortality, and the possible connections between the two?

What effect, finish, treatment or application, verdigris or otherwise has touched you with its beauty or other wise lately?  What has caused you to contemplate aesthetics…or, life’s big questions?  How about the relationship between the two?

If you feel so inspired, please share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all traveling through this thing called Life, together. Here’s to beauty…in all it’s forms.