archiTEXTUREal

archiTEXTUREal

homage to downtown los angeles

the many textures of frank gehry’s disney hall and environs…

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textural treasures revealed…

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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!

 

 

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!

Tracking Texture and Giving Thanks

Tracking Texture and Giving Thanks

The palette of warm gray/green, with terracotta/brick hues…translates from architecture,

to walkways,

to utilities,

and back to architecture again…

sometimes combining materials and textures in new and unexpected ways.

The type of material, and its texture, offer us a myriad of ‘takes”, on the colors, and how they play together.

Stone,

the glory of weathered wood, artfully used,

even concrete…reveal their charms, as the value, intensity and emotional impact of their colors shifts through their textures.

Nature’s palette too, plays out differently through texture….elegant branches punctuated by new green leaves against smooth ivory walls,

and  new life pushing its way indomitably through rock…

Let Us Enjoy These Gifts!

Giving Thanks this Season, for the never-Ending Wonders of our World, and the Power of our Imaginations to Create With Them Continually.

Peace and Blessing to All this Thanksgiving Holiday

Surface-ing in Santa Monica

Surface-ing in Santa Monica

Right here in Santa Monica there is a house completely covered in mosaic…every surface touched.

The patio table top allows for dining on mosaic, while gazing upon mosaic.

A tree of life is flanked by trees of nature.

Aquatic life swims across the wall…

allowing a close-up view.

A doorway to the surely magical intrigues.

The wind is in the details

Not too far away, also in Santa Monica, is different sort of embellishment: a wall encrusted with crushed cans.

In the display case on that wall, folded paper cranes fly.

Around the corner is

an  entire wall of apartments surfaced with crushed cans.

People live here.

With all the accoutrements.

They barbeque here.

Lite transformed into art.

What other surface music is played visually here in Santa Monica?

One must stroll without a goal…play the flâneur...

Expect the unexpected….

And reap the delight.

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.

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.

Real Verdigris

Real Verdigris

Having recently written about verdigris, and the art of creating its look as a faux finisher and decorative artist, I was attuned to a variety of naturally occurring verdigris surfaces I saw all over beautiful Balboa Park, on a recent trip to sunny San Diego.  Such beautiful texture, hue, and depth of surface,  to say nothing of the sense of history, and paradoxically, timelessness, that the oxidation process produces…or, shall we say, creates.

Here are some Varieties of Verdigris for your viewing pleasure:

Remember, 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. The verdigris above was produced by the slow tarnish of the bronze equine sculpture seen at top, galloping  into a cloud-studded sky. The green-hued substance has, over time, formed on the bronze surface, and dripped onto the stone base of the statue, lending it an air of age, mystery and grandeur.

Above, the powdery residue of verdigris has formed predominantly at the base of this bronze sculpture.  For the scientifically-minded, verdigris is a “complex chemical mixture of compounds, complexes and water, with  primary components of copper salts of acetate, carbonate, chloride, formate, hydroxide and sulfate.  Secondary components include metallic salts, acids, organic and mineral.

A soft patina of blueish verdigris is forming over the bronze surface of this Barbara Hepworth sculpture, further texturing its surface, and adding visual depth. The addition of the natural blueish-green pigmentation also ties the piece into the landscape of the sculpture garden where it resides.  Living outside really does help that verdigris process along!

The same could be said of this wall relief.  Perhaps the verdigris process is moving more slowly here because this piece is somewhat sheltered by the pavilion style open-air cafe  where it is installed.

The heavily verdigrised sculpture rising out of the cafe’s pool provides a perch for a brightly-hued visitor.  Here both the elements of air and water are definitely at play in creating the strong verdigris hues.  Both the surrounding chairs and the duck’s feet add a complementary pop of color to the scene.

This fellow just seemed so comfortable on its verdigris perch.   Its green head feathers, the blue pool, and saturated verdigris coloration come together to create a scene of both harmony and humor. The feeling is peaceful, yet alert, as we know the duck could take flight and vanish from the picture at any moment.  While watching this beauty, my friend Janet said, “I am communing with the duck”.  I hope, through this post, you can, too!

Have you seen a beautiful, or timeless verdigris surface on one of  your daily jaunts lately?

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

Remember, we are all communing with this thing called Life, together.

Happy Verdigris!