The Art of Stenciling, I Presume?

The Art of Stenciling, I Presume?

Once upon a time, after the New Year of 2011 had begun, and before 2010 taxes were due, I had the opportunity to collaborate with an esteemed Client and associate, to add that “finishing touch” (actually, the window treatments came afterwards) to a very special Guest Bath.

This Bath was in the process of being transformed, from a place of day to day use by his son, now gone off  to college, to a fresh and fun “new” space for his fiance, who tended towards a minimalist, Mid-Century,  New York sensibility.

My awesome Client, himself a long-time Berkeley, CA resident, has an eclectic design sense, informed by extensive travels around the globe,

art collected at home and abroad,

and a love of bright color,

rug patterns,


and funky furniture.

Indeed, he has done much of the interior painting in his home himself.

We discussed that bathroom in question, and I took a look…

It was freshly painted, with colorful artwork, of course,

and the green tile had to be taken into consideration.

I chose three repeating stencil designs, and made Samples for my Client and his Intended to look at on site, in the room. Taking my cue from the tile, the artwork, the colors in the adjacent hallway and throughout the home, I used cerulean blue and deep forest green, nature colors that would contrast beautifully with the base coat,  Benjamin Moore OC57, “White Heron”,  give a clean fresh feel to the room, and support its function.

I also wanted the design to reflect both a feminine and masculine sensibility, and be able to marry both eclectic-world beat-funky tastes with minimalist-Mid-Century-streamlined preferences. Or, try, anyway.

I was thrilled that the Client chose a custom stencil that I had created from an existing source years ago, for a master bath suite  in another and very different East Bay city.  Happily, the design contained both geometric and organic elements, that created both a sense of movement and stability.

It was fun, it was crafty, it was elegant, yet funky, and the Client supported my idea of applying the paint color in a mottled, layered, and textural way.  Best of all, in the words of my Client’s fiance, “It complete(d)  the room!”.  As I was concerned that she be as happy with the result as he, this comment was music to my ears.

The repeated design pulls out colors in the artwork,

and creates a bower for the painted lovers.

The blue and green hues set off the strong red accents prevalent throughout the home.

The stenciled effect is multiplied through reflection.

A spot application of invisible clear varnish protects the stenciled border from the effects of moisture.

With careful planning, enhanced by Client collaboration, even a room already containing strong elements of art and color can be “completed” through the well-placed pattern, whether hand-painted, stenciled, printed or plastered. That extra addition of artful love and care to a space can really “pull it together”, and bring it to the next level of design and artistry.  A stenciled border can contain and express both feminine and masculine elements within its design.  Eclectic-world beat-funky can marry minimalist-Mid-Century-streamlined. My Client/s, and our collaboration have proved that!

Have YOU ever “married” sensibilities, styles and approaches in Your projects?

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

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



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Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two

Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two

Our February 13th “Color Muze” segment on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, focused on the fascinating concept and phenomenon of “Synesthesia”, or “Unity of the Senses. I learned about Synesthesia through my color seminars at the IACC-NA (The International Association of Colour Consultants and Designers North America) from Mr. Frank Mahnke, President of the  IACC-NA and the Director of the IACC Education/Accreditation Programs conducted worldwide. Mr. Mahnke lectures on the  psycho-physiological effects of color, light and the human reaction to the built environment, as well as the role of color as information and communication in the field of marketing.  In other words… Color Rocks the Big One…our Perception.

In my first Seminar with the IACC-NA, I learned about how colors (the visual) can provoke associations with our other senses, (smell, touch/the tactile, hearing and taste), as well as affect our perception of weight, volume, size and texture.  In the words of Mr. Mahnke , “It seems that the centers for processing sensory information are linked with each other, leading to crosstalk between the senses.” If this is true, and it would seem from the evidence of our senses that it is, then the concept of Synesthesia is an important consideration in any and every color decision we make, with potentially profound consequences emotionally, physically, aesthetically, and even spiritually.   How does our perception of Color make us Feel?

We tend to talk about color in terms of the visual; “Oh, that red bedroom is so bright!”, or “That’s a very pale shade of lilac.” But, if we tune into our own phraseology, we may just as often hear ourselves speaking about color in terms of our other four senses, the auditory, (hearing), olfactory, (smell),  gustatory, (taste), and the tactile (touch).  “Oh, that red is just so loud!” “What a sour green!”, “Such a sweet pink room!“, “I love that soft blue.”

Let’s awaken all our senses by taking a closer look, and tuning into what we feel, and how we respond to color.

What do colors sound like?

Warm colors such as yellows and oranges tend to feel loud to us, and can potentially make a space feel “noisy”.  According toHeinrich Frieling, Director of the Institute of Color Psychology, we associate gold-yellow with major keys, and orange with loudness and major keys. Cooler colors such as blue on the other hand, tend to feel quieter and more distant, with darker-hued spaces seeming to  further muffle sounds.

What do colors feel like?

What texture does a particular color “feel” like it has?  It’s not surprising that yellow tends to “feel” smooth. When we consider yellow’s associations, this makes sense.  Have we ever felt a ray of rough or scratchy sunlight?  Looking at yellow’s opposite or complement, purple, we can get a sense of velvet.  Would this have anything to do with our association of purple with royalty, and the images of purple velvet which we may associate with royal robes?

What do colors smell like?

The  chroma, saturation, lightness, and brightness of a particular color  can affect its sensory associations. Under Frieling, the Institute of Color Psychology has asserted that the color brown is associated with a musky, or roast taste.  We may even use the word “browning” in lieu of the word “roasting”, or to describe part of the roasting process.  However, green-blue may elicit fresh to salty associations, while the hue “blue” is essentially odorless. Add to this the nature associations we have to brown in all its aspects (think “earthy”), green-blue (sea) and just “blue” (sky), and the sensory meanings can become clear. Different blue and brown combinations will give different effects, making us think with our noses, as well as our eyes.

What do colors Taste like?

Taste and smell are closely related, and tend to hold the same or similar color associations. Red is sweet and strong, as long as it contains no yellow, and doesn’t cross over into the realm of orange, which may not be so sweet, despite our associations with the fruit.  Perhaps the holiday of Valentine’s Day has played upon this “red as sweet” association, with its emphasis on red-wrapped boxes of chocolate, and other sweets.  I would add the term “rich” into the mix, my association with Valentine’s Day chocolate, if its worth its salt- er, sugar.  Green, and yellow-green by contrast (red and green being complementary colors, and opposite each other on the color wheel) associate with sour, with yellow-green veering to the tangy, and green, to the juicy.  Consider green apples, kiwis, limes, fried green tomatoes (well, maybe not fried…tomatoes ARE fruits though!)  Green to yellow-green hues can make our mouths water and our lips pucker just by thinking about them!

Thinking about it.  In a way, that is the point.. isn’t it?  Because, as we know, as scientists, colorists, designers and artists know, however subliminally, that color IS a matter of perception.  Color exists in our brains. As Frank Mahnke says, “There is no doubt that a unity exists from one sense to another.  Perception is not just a mosaic of separate sense stimulations.  In certain aspects of psychology…the entire organism is looked upon as a whole.”

All of our senses play into the impressions we receive, the internal images we carry, and the ideas we form. resulting in how we feel.  How we feel affects how we behave, and vice versa. When we understand, or perceive of color that way, we realize how amazingly,  incredibly important and powerful  it is.  Color really does Rocks the Big One…our Perception. And as some would say, “perception is reality”.  What do You think?

If you feel so inspired, share YOUR sense and sensibility with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all experiencing this thing called Life, together.

Newsflash: for another yummy look at the phenomenon of Synesthesia, please check out Elizabeth Brown’s Colorific blog post on the same subject.


Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part One

Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part One

Our February 13th “Color Muze” segment on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, focused on the fascinating concept and phenomenon of “Synesthesia”, or “Unity of the Senses. I learned about Synesthesia through my color seminars at the IACC-NA (The International Association of Colour Consultants and Designers North America) from Mr. Frank Mahnke, President of the  IACC-NA and the Director of the IACC Education/Accreditation Programs conducted worldwide. Mr. Mahnke lectures on the  psycho-physiological effects of color, light and the human reaction to the built environment, as well as the role of color as information and communication in the field of marketing.

In my first Seminar with the IACC-NA, I learned about how colors (the visual) can provoke associations with our other senses, (smell, touch/the tactile, hearing and taste), as well as affect our perception of weight, volume, size and texture.  In the words of Mr. Mahnke , “It seems that the centers for processing sensory information are linked with each other, leading to crosstalk between the senses.” If this is true, and it would seem from the evidence of our senses that it is, then the concept of Synesthesia is an important consideration in any and every color decision we make, with potentially profound consequences emotionally, physically, aesthetically, and even spiritually!

Let’s look at some examples.

Considering Temperature: Painter, designer, teacher, writer and theorist Johannes Itten wrote about experiments that supported the thesis that we can feel a 5-7 degree difference in temperature in rooms painted blue-green, and red-orange.  When we consider the associations with blue-green (water, coolness), and red-orange (fire, heat) this would seem to make sense!  What experiences have YOU had temperature-wise, being surrounded by architectural color?  Does blue/green always feel cooler, and red/orange warmer to you?  Does it depend on the value, saturation, intensity, tone and context of the color?  And what about the color of that color- its hue?

What about Volume? We can see through experience, that lighter, cooler  colors seem to recede, thus making a room feel larger,  (giving it more “room”) while warmer, more saturated, and darker colors seem to advance, and take up more space in a room, thus making it appear smaller.  Have YOU had this experience? As a color designer, have you used these principles?

Can color affect our perception of weight and size? Darker, warmer and more saturated colors tend to seem heavier, and the areas they cover seem to be larger, while paler, cooler and more pastel colors seem lighter, and the areas they cover, smaller.  Thus a darker, warmer, and more saturated color will seem to bring a ceiling “down”, and the opposite for  a paler, cooler and more pastel color.  Can YOU see this effect in these two ceiling areas?  The effect may be complicated by the fact that the area surrounding both is in the hue range of cream to white!


The above are just a few of the infinite examples of “sensory crosstalk”, or Synesthesia, which I suspect pervades our daily lives far more than we are conscious of.

In a subsequent post, I will explore Synesthesia in terms of our five senses: the visual effect of color as regards to our sense of hearing, touch, taste and smell.  In other words, What scent does the color lime green conjure up?  What flavor would rosebud pink be? Does cobalt blue “feel” rough or smooth?  These are illuminating exercises to try for ourselves, and I am going to discuss just how to do that.

As an example, during her interview,  I queried special guest Rebecca E. Parsons (co-host and creator of Artistically Speaking Talk Show) about her chosen Word for 2011: SOAR.

“What color would you assign to this word, and the meaning it has for you at this time?” I asked her.

“Aqua” she replied, without missing a beat.  This only makes sense.  Rebecca lives in Florida, on island, near the water, and walks on the beach nearly every early morning.  The Aqua color of sea-blue water  which reflects the sky, with its associations of both airiness / expansion, and sublimity / depth would make it the perfect expression of Rebecca’s intention to  dive into her dreams, and Soar with them, making her cre8tive life vision a reality.

You can hear my Muze with Rebecca, as well as her complete extraordinary and  inspirational  interview with co-host Lyna Farkas on Artistically Speaking Talk Show on your computer anytime you wish.  I hope you will tune in to it, as well to Artissima, Blog of ArtiFactory Studio, for Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two, and join our Color Full exploration.

What a luscious, luminous world we have as finishers, decorative painters, muralists, artists, artisans and humans, to explore! Please join our Color Muze on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, and Cre8tive Compass Magazine, “where we honor your passion, and your vision, in this community we are co-creating”

Have YOU had an experience with Synesthesia lately?

If you feel so inspired, share YOUR sense and sensibility with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all experiencing this thing called Life, together.