Siting Santa Monica: Ocean to Beach

Siting Santa Monica: Ocean to Beach

There is a magical walkway between Street and Santa Monica Beach.

WEBaOn Ocean…beguiling architecture can be seen…

WEBbcomplete with detail of tile, brick and terracotta.

WEBdTo the side..wooden shutters and pattern upon pattern,

WEBcgiving new meaning to “white picket fence”.

WEBeAs one moves down the walkway from Ocean to beach….one sees more layers, of pattern and material, plants and metal. Santa Monica knows from gates…weathered, imposing, architectural, artsy.

WEBfAt the bottom of the walkway, is another magnificent building that manages to combine quaintness and stateliness.

WEBgMore texture.  This side faces the beach.

WEBiHeading back up the walkway, towards Ocean Street again, one passes more brick, banked with foliage and flowers.

WEBhPalms, succulents, flowering plants and a mix of materials soften the concrete.

WEBkThe walkway weaves its magic…feeling for all the world like a picturesque country lane…

WEBjAlbeit one with some interesting signs, which betray its origins in the world’s entertainment capitol.

WEBlMore gates, and a visual archway created.

WEBmThese could be the gates to an Tuscan Villa, if one didn’t see the Pacific Ocean to the right, directly West.

WEBnTrue to ever artful Santa Monica, brick pattern and mosaic design add just enough visual interest to a garden wall to arrest and entice.

WEBoIt is no accident that the mosaic design leads our eye to the gate, and what lays behind it.

WEBpI turn, to take in the Western view…from where I walked,WEBrthan back Eastward, to Ocean, where I am walking to.

For now.

Material World (4)

Material World (4)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials.  Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed, “material pleasures”, we may be seen as materialistic…for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We can find our way to the ineffable through immersion in the materials and techniques we choose to create with. Here I share some of my own investigation into the qualities inherent in materials that create texture. Though I am a visual artist, I find the sense of touch as powerful as that of sight, and am fascinated with how the two work together.


web1“A Stitch in Time Saves 9”, Flag Book, Title stitched onto flags, covers textured with crumpled tissue paper and adhesive, collage and repurposed beads stitched onto cover.

WEBaTextured Fan, covers covered with textured, painted and glazed paper, accordion spine made of repurposed Neutra VDL House brochure

WEB4“Brown Paper Bag”, Covers textured with crushed plain brown paper and brown paper bags, bound with hemp cord.

WEB4PaperPaintPlant, single signature binding, using paper containing plant material.

WEBcTeapot Book, Japanese Side Stab binding using thick highly textured handmade paper for covers, and drawing paper for pages, teapot rubber-stamped.

Synesthesia” isa rare neurological condition in which two or more of the senses entwine.”

The sense of sight and the sense of touch. How can we separate the two?  Does something feel like what it looks like, or does it look like what it feels like? Powerful questions for anyone working in the visual, or any realm of communication and expression.  Powerful stuff.

Material World (3)

Material World (3)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials, and how to employ and combine them. The following shares one step of my journey exploring and investigating the qualities inherent in specific materials.   Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed “material pleasures”, we can be seen as materialistic… for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We find our way to the ineffable through the use and exploitation of the materials we choose to create from.

The following books are created from basic but sturdy  cardboard, the kind that drawing pads are attached to, wrapped with a felt that is made from recycled plastic bottles. That aspect alone would lend these pieces a feel-good quality, but the fact that they become warm, fuzzy and strongly tactile books for some reason is currently irresistible to me. Playing with the single signature bound book form in this way has been pure joy. All the books employ the pamphlet stitch.

WEB1WEB2WEB3WointerSuite: Gray

This is a multi-signature (gathering of folded pages) book structure, even though each signature is composed of a single folded page, stitched separately to a piece of felt that was then glued to the whole inside surface of the book. The pages are high quality drawing paper  designed for pastels.


WEB1WEB2WinterSuite: BlueBlack

This piece is also a multi-signature structure, each signature composed of a single folded sheet, stitched separately to a strip of felt that was then glued to the spine. Two other cerulean blue sheets of felt were then glued to the inside surfaces of both covers. The pages are also pastel drawing paper, of a different sort. Yes, that is a working zipper on the spine. “Unzipped“?  “All Zipped Up“?

WEB1WEB2WEB3 WEB4WinterSuite: BabyPink

Fascinated by the use of Eco-fi felt, I wanted to see how felt pages would look and feel, and so bound this “BabyPink” book.   It’s 6 pages are created from a single signature of 3 folded felt pieces, stitched to a strip of felt that was then glued to the spine. A piece of off-white felt was  glued to the inside surface of each covers. The corners that were cut off the felt “wrapper” and other felt fragments were used for embellishment, in an effort to use the felt to its fullest. In this way, such activity becomes piece / peace work.

 There is something primal about doing this… primal as regards to materials, and creating the basic form of covers, spine and pages.  Even when open, the book remains  mysterious and primordial form in feeling. It seems to start at the very beginning…

Material World (2)

Material World (2)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking, is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials, and how to employ and combine them. The following shares one step of my journey exploring and investigating the qualities inherent in materials.   Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed, “material pleasures”, we may be seen as materialistic…for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We find our way to the ineffable through the use and exploitation of the materials we choose.

WEBaFront view…closed and tied.

WEBbPeeking open, ribbons wafting

WEBcAn open book…

WEBdSeen from behind

Single signature binding with wrapped covers, collage, patterned paper from scrapbook pads, drawing paper, recycled shirt-weight cardboard covers, binding sewn with hemp cord, ribbon. Ribbon inserted through book, between cover board and wrapping and over spine.

Artists Books, The Book Arts, Bookbinding, Bookmaking, The Making of Books, however you want to put it, is fertile ground for this exploration/exploitation.  In this sense, we are turning even our language on its proverbial head. For what might be seen as negative, such as materialism (being “materialistic”) and exploitation (making use of and benefiting from resources) becomes an act of creativity, imagination and exploration through this transformative  process.  Which becomes ultimately, an act of expression.

Material World (1)

Material World (1)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking, is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials, and how to employ and combine them. The following shares one step of my journey exploring and investigating the qualities inherent in materials.   Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed, “material pleasures”, we may be seen as materialistic…for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We find our way to the ineffable through the use and exploitation of the materials we choose.

WEB3Three Books in Bows…all dressed up and  ready to go. An exploration of textiles, papers, ribbons, beads, shells, repurposed materials,  collage, hemp cord, jute, nylon and bindings. Textures created with tissue and brown wrapping paper and adhesive, layering of transparent material over collaged two-color cover, and stitching. Detail added with recycled and found beads, a treasured shell, and gauzy, glittery, patterned and woven ribbon.

WEB1Two Friends…My own version of an “art pauvre”, …a simple structure of humble, repurposed materials existing quietly in the world. Single signature binding of recycled graph paper pages, using jute cord, covers and spine made of recycled cardboard, covered with scraps of recycled cloth. Repurposed ornament stitched to front cover with hemp cord. The pleasures and mysteries of the seemingly mundane and everyday.

WEB5Unzipped…so named because there is a zipper stitched to the front cover…(to be depicted at a future time if a good picture can be made of it.) Another example of my expression of “art pauvre”.  Single signature book with pages made from recycled paper,  covers and spine made of recycled cardboard, covered with repurposed cloth. Jute cord used for binding, and to attach exterior cloth to covers. Interior cloth strips/insets glued on.

WEBiWEBjZebra BookSingle signature binding with wrapped covers, patterned paper from scrapbook pads, recycled shirt-weigh cardboard covers, folded card stock weight spine, patterned gauze ribbon, embroidery thread used for sewing. Ribbon inserted through book, between cover board and wrapping.

WEBmWEBpLace 2… Single signature binding with wrapped covers, collage, patterned paper from scrapbook pads, drawing paper, recycled shirt-weight cardboard covers, binding sewn with hemp cord, ribbon. Ribbon inserted through book, between cover board and wrapping and over spine.

WEBfWEBgWEBhLos Angeles, California, Single signature binding with wrapped covers, collage, maps printed on multipurpose paper, patterned paper from scrapbook pads, drawing paper, recycled shirt-weight cardboard covers, binding sewn with hemp cord, ribbon. Ribbon inserted through book, between cover board and wrapping and over spine.

Artists Books, The Book Arts, Bookbinding, Bookmaking, The Making of Books, however you want to put it, is fertile ground for this exploration/exploitation.  In this sense, we are turning even our language on its proverbial head. For what might be seen as negative, such as materialism (being “materialistic”) and exploitation (making use of and benefiting from resources) becomes an act of creativity, imagination and exploration through this transformative  process.  Which becomes ultimately, an act of expression.

“Artissima Transitiona” I

“Artissima Transitiona” I

Three years ago, for a number of reasons. my husband and I moved to Los Angeles…Santa Monica to be exact.   Since that time, I  have become involved with the making, study and teaching of artist’s books. I teach bookmaking around Santa Monica and LA County, and am continuously  evolving my own expression of this unique art form. Bookmaking, creating handmade books, unique books, artist’s books, and the book arts overlap as activities. In essence, they employ the form of The Book as an expressive vehicle.

WEBe

I have been the principal of my own decorative painting company, ArtiFactory Studio, for many years, primarily in San Francisco, where I resided, also for many years. In this post, I begin to share how I am finding ways to put these two forms together, one, bookmaking, often associated with the small-scale and intimate, and the other, decorative painting, often large-scale, which includes mural painting, glazing, faux finishing, gilding, and a myriad of other ways of “treating” the built environment, IE, the environment created by us humans as the setting for our activities.

d1

I hope to approach this subject in a series of posts, each showing a slice of what I am doing, and hope to do. I am fascinated with notions of scale, with materials, texture, space and design, as well as with the expressive, provocative,  and multidisciplinary nature of handmade books. In this post,  I will share how I brought techniques and notions specific to the field of decorative painting to the form of The Book in my own work. This process has been part of a greater transition in my life, work, business and career on all fronts.  Hence the post’s title” Artissima Transitiona“. The transition continues…

WEBa1Gilding, or the act of adhering metallic leaf over a surface adds a bit of bling, depth and dimension to an already complex surface on this handmade book cover. The gold rectangle also provides a focal point for the eye to rest on, adding order, focus and coherence to the piece. A piece of board was gilded, then added to the surface collage.

web1Texture can be a huge part of decorative painting. The artist manipulates glazes, paints and other materials over a surface to create both visual and physical texture. Here crumpled tissue paper is adhered to the surface in layers, giving it a satisfying texture, variation of color, and contrast to the look, and feel of the other materials used, which include cloth, hemp cord, beads and paper media.

WEB2The covers of this book are made of boards that have been dragged or “Striéd“, a technique by which paint or glaze is applied to a surface, and a large stiff brush is used to drag through it while it is still wet, leaving a up and down stripe-like pattern/texture.

WEB4Here a “brown paper bag” feeling is created by using humble brown wrapping paper (and bags) to create an earthy  texture on the surface of this book’s covers. Individual pieces of hemp cord are used for the binding, adding to the homespun simplicity and feel.

WEB5This book is created from boards that were originally painted with metallic paint and glaze samples for a client. I loved how these samples looked together, and added the rust, iron and verdigris sample pieces above them.  The rest of the book is made of paper with plant material flowing through it.  It  is bound with linen thread in a  single signature  (gathering of folded pages).

WEBaFinally, here is a book with an accordion spine; a “found” spine…meaning that I happened upon a design brochure, and its size, weight and color worked perfectly the book I developed. The covers are made of paper that has been textured, painted and glazed, then glued onto boards. The contrasting “edge design” is created by the addition of another painted and glazed decorative painting sample, glued on the open edge, then folded over, and glued onto the inside of each cover, giving it more stability, integrity, and visual interest.

I hope you will join me as I journey through this time of creative transition, exploration, and discovery. Although the waters feel uncharted, there are plenty of inspirational and provocative artists, makers and craftspeople to help light the way.  Here’s to diving in!

The Big Draw LA: Drawing for All

The Big Draw LA: Drawing for All!

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of leading a drawing event for The Big Draw LA at the Fairview Branch of the Santa Monica Public Library.

The Library staff set up four large rectangular pieces of white paper on tables, for participants to work on together and create “Big Drawings” that would be hung on panels around the community room, and serve as decor, color, inspiration and fun!

Children from the ages of two to twelve showed up with parents, and jumped into the activity with gusto! Moms and Dads followed suite….

WEB3They used a myriad of colored pencils…

WEB7and markers..large and small.

WEB6Artist moms got the opportunity to play with color, shape, line and pattern…

WEB9and some young artist chose to work on their own drawings, separate from the group projects,

WEB93c0mplete with lots of detail.

WEB91Toy horses were outlined,

WEB92and rainbows were born.

WEB95The result was magnificent…the result of many artistic voices.. An enterprising eleven-year-old started this piece off by drawing in the horizon line, and adding a few mountains rising up above it, to show distance. The composition grew from there, as each participating artist added their “thing”. Slowly the land and sky developed into a wonder world.

WEB99 Rowan volunteered to be outlined on  another sheet,

WEB94and so did Ellie on yet another.

WEB96It took the devoted efforts of several drawers coloring to make this piece complete. Are his hands purple, or is he wearing purple gloves?

WEB97Two young artists with a  love of green created the border around the edge of this drawing, then Ellie was outlined inside. parents and children worked together to make the dress as green as the one she was wearing. What a happy face!

WEB98As patrons came into the community room, they were invited to outline their hand along the edges of the fourth piece of paper, then design, develop and decorate it, adding their name if they wanted to.

WEB990The community room is now alive with the work of the community.

WEB991Line, shape, color, space, composition, perspective, proportion, scale…who knew learning about these could be so fun! Learning by doing, making art in community, and having a blast at The Big Draw LA, at The Fairview Branch Library

Many thanks to The Fairview Branch Library Manager, Erica Cuyugan, for the vision and commitment to make this event possible.  Thank  you Erica!!!

!

The Big Draw: Exploring Elements of Drawing

The Big Draw: Exploring Elements of Drawing

This coming Saturday I will be leading a drawing program at The Fairview Library in Santa Monica, as part of The Big Draw LA.  I am hoping to get some photos of participants creating big murals on white butcher paper with drawing tools and techniques that The Library and I provide!  Here I share the information, concepts, terms and techniques I plan to share with them tomorrow in a handout, and through our drawing projects, which will then grace the library’s walls.

I invite you to learn, study, play, enjoy…and DRAW!

Composition is the placement, arrangement, combination or organization of visual or pictorial elements such as line and shape in a work of art. Composition is not the subject or theme of a work. It is the arrangement of everything we see within the borders of a drawing or other work.

space3

The foreground, middle ground, and background are three parts of a composition that can help to create the illusion, or sense of depth in a flat or two-dimensional artwork such as a drawing or painting. The foreground is what appears closest to the viewer, while the background looks furthest from the viewer. The middle ground is located between both the foreground and background.space2

Line is the most basic element of the drawing. Lines span a distance between two points. Lines are what separate one area of the drawing from the other. A single line will divide your drawing into two areas. The more lines that are added, the more complex and detailed your drawing becomes. A line has a width, direction, and length. A line’s width is sometimes called its “thickness”. Lines can be all the same width or a single line can vary in width. A line can start out thin, get thicker, and then get thin again, depending on your drawing tool, and how you use it. Lines of varying widths can add interest to your drawing!

lin2

Shape is another important element of visual art. Shapes are flat spaces enclosed by lines. The boundaries of shapes are, or create, lines. Shapes are limited to two dimensions: length and width.

shape5

Shapes can be geometric, such as squares, circles, or triangles, or organic, such as the natural shape of a puddle, cloud or leaf.

shape6

Geometric shapes have clear edge, are precise, and related to mathematical principles. They can require a guiding tool to draw such as a ruler. Geometric shapes usually look organized, and have names such as circle, square or rectangle. Most geometric shapes are made by humans, and don’t often appear in nature though crystals, which appear in nature, are considered to be geometric.

shapes2

Organic shapes have less well-defined edges, a natural look, and are usually outlined in curvy lines. They are typically irregular and asymmetrical (not exactly the same on both sides). Organic shapes usually do not have a name. They aren’t circles or squares. People, trees, flowers and other things that have been alive or are alive are usually made up of organic shapes.

shape4

Space is the distance or area around, between, above, below or within what is put into the composition. Space includes the background, foreground and middle ground of a composition. There are two kinds of space: Positive and Negative Space.

space9

Positive space is best described as the areas in a work of art that are the subjects or actual things being shown. The area around the positive space is called the negative space. Negative space is area around and between the subjects or things being shown in a work of art. Which is the negative space, and which is the positive space in the image below?

space1Is the negative space the black shapes around the white goblet, or is it the white space between the two faces? Is the positive space the white goblet, or the black faces?

Texture, another element of art, is the way a three-dimensional surface feels to the touch, or how the surface of a two-dimensional or flat work looks like it might feel if touched, I.E., its “visual feel”.

texture1Visual Textures created through Drawing

Objects appear smaller and closer together as they recede in the distance. This is how we see. Things aren’t actually smaller and closer together when they are farther away, they just look that way, and how our eyes perceive distance. This is called perspective.

perspective7

Perspective is the illusion the further away things are, the smaller they appear. Perspective drawing is a system of representing the way that objects appear to get smaller and closer together, the further away they are.  To make something appear to be farther away from the viewer than the picture plane, draw it smaller than the object that is closer to the picture plane.

perspective2

Perspective is the technique used to represent a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional/flat surface, such as a piece of paper, in a way that looks realistic and accurate, as we would see it in real life. Perspective is used to make a flat image look as though it has space and depth.

perspective3

The horizon (or skyline) is the line that we perceive as separating earth (which includes bodies of water on earth) from sky. The horizon line is also known as eye level. In real life, the horizon is where the land (or sea) and sky meet. In creating a flat/two-dimensional work of visual art, it is the level your eyes are at, an imaginary line to which things recede.

perspective1Horizon line…at the horizon

As things get further away, from us, they seem smaller and closer together. When they get far enough away, distances become ever tinier and so form a single point, called the vanishing point.

perspective8

In perspective drawing, the vanishing point is the spot on the horizon line where receding parallel lines appear to come together, or converge. It is the point where buildings, rails, roads and anything in the background of a drawing or other flat work of art seem to converge into one single point on the horizon, where objects seem to disappear.

perspective4

Foreshortening is a technique used in perspective to create the illusion of an object receding strongly into the distance or background. .Foreshortening is used in drawing to create a sense of depth and make objects look like they are going back in space. Of course they aren’t…they are drawn on a flat piece of paper or other two-dimensional surface.

foreshort1

An example of actual foreshortening is when you look down a long straight road lined with trees and the two edges of the road appear to move towards each other, while the trees look smaller the further away from you they are…until they seem to disappear altogether, at the vanishing point.

perspective5

Proportion is a principle of visual art that refers the size of one picture element in relation to the size of another, such as the size of the head in relation to the rest of the body.

proportion2

Proportion can give a sense of balance and harmony to a drawing, or other piece of visual art. It is similar to scale, which is how one object relates or compares to another one in size, such as how a dog relates to a cat, or a cat to a rabbit, as regards to size.

proportion1

If you happen to be around the Los Angeles Area tomorrow, October 25th, and want to drop into the Fairview library between 12 and 3PM and join in the creative fun, please do! Until then, maybe this post can illuminate and inform your approach to drawing, and broaden your knowledge and even your skill!

  Practice makes, well, there is no perfection, but practice certainly does help, so, draw on! 

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.

Fleur7

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…

Web1

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

Web1

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

Web2

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

WEB3

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

Web3

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

Web1

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

Web2

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

Web2

as well as from Maureen’s business card.

Web1

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

Web0

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.

Web1

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

Web2

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

Web3

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

Web4

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.

Web5

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

Web6

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.

Web7

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.

Web8

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

Web9

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.

Fleur4

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.

Fleur2

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

Fleur3

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

Fleur5

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

Fleur6

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!

 

 

Color: A Balancing Act 3

Color: A Balancing Act 3

 Between Unity and Complexity: Achieving Balance

GreenDoorjamb

As discussed in previous posts, color balance in our environments can have a profound effect on our health and well-being. The “emotional loading of a space” in architectural psychology terminology, is the emotion we feel when we perceive color in a space. Perception happens in the brain, and is a process. What we perceive, as regards to color, and thus the resulting emotion, may be influenced by many factors, such as the size and shape of the space we are in, the interplay of the colors that are there, our state of mind, and, of course, the light. I would go so far as to include pattern and texture, weather (affecting the natural light which may be entering  and thus informing the space), cultural associations with the colors used, and our own personal associations with them.

So complex! But also, so much fun. Evocative. Provocative.

archFBa

Unity and complexity are two opposite poles, unity related to parts fitting into a coherent whole, and complexity involving variation.  Both are important.  Too much unity, and we can experience monotony and sensory deprivation, in a word, under-stimulation. Symptoms can manifest such as irritation, restlessness, difficulty in concentrating, and interestingly, excessive emotional response.  Why? As I understand it, because  we do not have enough to capture our attention, indeed, perhaps to distract us from our emotions, or to direct them.  As color consultant Helen Gurura says, “People expect all their senses to be moderately stimulated at all times.”  What is the key here? The word “moderately”.  As the saying goes…“All things in moderation…even-  moderation!”

BLOG1

On the other end of the spectrum, we have complexity, which in the extreme, can lead to over-stimulation. and increase muscular tension, pulse rate and blood pressure. Hmmm…not good. Too much saturated color, brightness and pattern demand  attention both voluntary and involuntary. This can mess with our capacity to concentrate visually and thus interfere with tasks that require this, resulting in among other things, lowered productivity.

Blog1,jpg

Thus we see that both over and under-stimulation can impair our concentration..one by not giving us enough to focus on, the other by giving us too much.  In both cases we get distracted…by having not enough to see, or by being inundated by too much visual stimuli!

Our goal is balance, the balance between these two extremes, and apparently our minds, bodies, and perhaps our souls and spirits too, crave it.

dj_a

Let’s see how balance, or, “the securing of unity in the midst of variety”,  is achieved in the following spaces, visual environments, and color schemes.  We are all human, and require certain things to stay alive, and to thrive.  However our personal tastes, needs and requirements may differ, based on our genetic make-up, backgrounds, psychology, and cultural influences.  There is no one-size fits all for design. Most of us know this from experience. We may need to “play around’, to discover what fits, or “works for”  us best at any given moment, knowing that this may very well change over time!

1st_aThe inhabitant of this sleek urban space wanted a minimum of color. Warm wood, and neutrals punctuated by crisply framed black and white photographs gave her what she wanted, and saved her from the dangers of monotony, sensory deprivation, and under-stimulation. A favorite painting adds a tiny pop of color, and a variety of materials and light-reflective sheens add visual interest without bringing too much complexity into the space.

1st

bernalRed plays a starring role in this open plan kitchen/living room, adding strength to both spaces in the accent wall below the bar. The warmth of red, wood and rug is offset by the  white trim, and cool metal of the bar stools. Red is often used as an appetite-stimulating color in dining spaces. Here it is kept to an accent, so as not to overwhelm the space and our senses.

lomThis bedroom is in a condo that serves as an “urban getaway for its owners, who wanted a space both warm and restful for their city place, and  high on the “unity” end of the color balance spectrum.  Use of creams, ochres, and warm woods achieve this, while the painting brings in some drama and contrast (IE variety and thus complexity), while staying within the chosen color scheme.

soulAnother use of red as accent, doors are a popular surface for red hues. (Why? Check out this Houzz article on the subject!). The red door of Soulful Pilates Studio in San Francisco (painted red on both sides) ushers students and practitioners into a serene, yet energetic space. Like the bedroom above, warm, creamy ochres are used, but the palette is enlivened by colorful mats, and equipment sporting a variety of textures. The red, intense by contrast, adds complexity by creating a focal point expressing the idea of passing from the outside world to the internal realm, both mentally and physically. A multitude of windows add more visual interest, and plenty of light to the space during the day, as well as framing street “scenes”. Below, the purple mat provides pleasing and complimentary contrast to the golden walls.

soul_e

spear_eCream, red and strong pattern are used to great effect in this Parisian-inspired living/dining area,  another example of an urban “get-away” for the owners. Detail, but a minimum of artwork was added to the walls to break them up visually, and our eye is drawn down the “walkway” to the brilliantly colored and patterned curtains at the end of the corridor. The hue on the wall matches the cream in the curtains, reducing visual complexity through a limited color scheme, and the smooth, polished wooden floors warm and ground the animated, yet elegant space.  The heavy, dark painting is offset by playful patterns, streamlined ornamentation, and  an illusion, of retrained opulence. Comme que c’est tres-francais!

spear_f

There are many ways to visually balance an environment, and the approach may be different for each person.  You may try changing paint colors, adding or subtracting pattern and texture,  curating works of art, decorative items or textiles, rearranging furniture, or even changing your floor surface…with a rug, a coat of paint, or just a bit of “spit and polish”.

I hope this series of posts on Color: A Balancing Act has offered some insight into how to better live and thrive in your environment, and have more fun in it too.  Color, like most things worth investigating, is a life-time study.  Mysterious,energetic, scientific, emotional and physical…it truly seems to weave its own magic, and power.

May You use it well!