Friday, August 26, 2011

Divine Roots

I recently found myself back in the neighborhood where it all began: an historic, charming section of Brooklyn, NY called Park Slope.  "It" meaning, Divine Rooms.

Streetscape. Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
Amongst the rows of beautiful brownstones, I took a break from painting and just sat on the stoop to take it all in.  I began feeling quite moved by all of my memories that came rushing back, without want or will.  "Transported" is a great word to describe this feeling.  It's an incredible experience to have the past, present and future all merge into one moment.  About 14 years ago, this is the place where Divine Rooms came to be.  (And incidentally, right at the corner, Methodist Hospital, was where I gave birth to my other "baby," my precious son.)

I knew, without a doubt that I was standing (or stooping, rather) on very fertile ground.

Before the business came to be, 1997 was a roller coaster.  An uncertain, rocky year in my life.  But it was a good year, one that ultimately changed my destiny as it led to the discovery of my true calling. A bit of the experience was captured in an article I wrote for NY Resident, and it is a story I love to share.  

While sitting on this stoop and feeling transported, I remembered the greatest lesson: the most beautiful things are happening to us during the "in-between" stages of life.  The symbolism of a "hallway" is a pretty good one.  Sometimes these hallways, or passages are disguised as boredom, indecision, searching, longing... Ironically, these fertile, powerful times are often faced with impatience and discomfort.  Swift changes, endings, confusion, even darkness.  Yet they somehow always lead to something special.  Something better.  You can never really see it while you're really in it.  It's as if your soul moves your vision out of focus.  Things are blurry and non-distinct.  If you cannot see, how can you move forward?  How can you actually do anything?

Ahhh.... that's kinda the point, isn't it?

An enlightened moment captured during a recent trip to Spain.
Wide awake, ready for action and forced to sit still.
Not an easy lesson for a "mover and a shaker."

The past few months have been challenging for me.  Quite familiar and quite reminiscent of 1997.  My life looked like it was going to change.  And I was ready to leave and start over again. Reinvent myself.  Do something else.  Things happened that were ultimately beyond my control to support these ideas.  The economic climate was nudging me as well.

I felt like a plane ready to take off.  Fully loaded and fueled.  Just idling in the tarmac.  A strange cocktail of frustration and curiosity was pretty much on the menu everyday, for months.  But this time around, I knew from experience that this was also a magical time... and something great was going on behind the scenes.  I had no choice but to remain patient and have faith.  I had to trust the unseen hand was moving me forward, even though there was no detectable movement.

That day, I looked down at my paint covered hands, and up at the tiny slip of blue sky visible between the narrow streets of brown sugar-colored stately architecture and it all made sense.  My roots are here, and my branches are strong.  An inner knowing washed over me, and I sensed I am exactly where I need to be.  I came full circle, and journeyed right back to the place where I belong.  For now.

Self-portrait and self-realized together with a work-in-progress.
Also that day, together with the brilliant and talented Jenn Danza, a stunning mural was born.  A nursery.  A baby-to-be.  A crisp, sunny summer afternoon.  All was well.  All always is.

And then that weekend, magic happened too.  The answer to a long-standing challenge arrived... with swiftness and precision, my world shifted.  I was rewarded for my faith.  Things fell into place.  And it was Divine.  Once again, a tree grows in Brooklyn.

Tree Mural for Baby's nursery.  Crib will be placed just to the left of
the trunk.  The carved heart features the initials of the parents.

Art truly does imitate life.  In very magical, symbolic ways.  And now it's back to the future...


Monday, August 8, 2011


Back to basics.

It's the simple, classic styles with a subtle new twist that are captivating my imagination this summer.  Horizontal striping, or banding, is tre' elegant in larger widths and shimmery, neutral colors.

8" taped-out, troweled-in Shimmerstone bands

A new twist on an old classic.
Subtle artist's trick: ceiling is painted a flat color that closely resembles the Shimmerstone hue, to maximize the drama of the top white stripe.  It's the "little things", remember?


Friday, July 29, 2011

Black and White

Beautiful girl in the garden. Dear comrade, Lexa Martins

Sometimes life is black and white.  Definitive.  Pure.  The things you know for sure.

It's yes or no.
Stay or go.
This way or that way.
Up or down.
In or out.
Right or wrong.

Lean into the moment.  It is perfect just the way it is.  

It's clarity.
And, although it's concrete, it's also elegant.  And easy.

And refreshing.

When you have clarity, you have security.

Enjoying a golden sunset.
Sag Harbor, NY

I'm embracing black and white these days, against the colorful landscape of life.  A world of absolutes against a world of change.  Balance in a world in transition.  And I love the contrast.  Apparently my friends do too!  These outfits were not planned, mind you.  Spontaneous wardrobe choices on an enchanted summer evening!  A good reminder: great minds think alike.

What's on your mind?  Get Clear.  Be happy.


PS: Synchronicity: there's something called a black moon (or a "chance moon") happening this weekend... It's quite special... and it's right on time.  Thank you for posting this M!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pinch Me!

Just me.
Natural and happy.
I am fresh from a great adventure.  Life handed me a magnificent opportunity and I somehow, magically, divinely was able to step into it with grace...

What can I say?  In a nutshell, America's greatest living designer needed a painter.  And I was available.

Only one caveat (don't you know there's always a caveat?).  It was a "Top Secret" project.  And I am now limited as to what I can "Show and Tell." (Apparently privacy and discretion are paramount to the super-rich, super successful and super powerful.  Can't imagine why.)

That's all OK by me.... I'm an artist, remember?  We are specialists at creatively solving problems and managing loopholes!  "Allegedly..."

So here goes...

"Allegedly" there was a lavish wedding to take place on the grounds of a private estate in Bedford, NY.

A tool shed and maintenance house on the Estate.
Hmmm.... makes me wish I were a handyman.
The vast grounds are "park like" and "private" with both rolling
acres of open land and small nooks of natural enclaves.
Everywhere, the air was perfumed with the scent of blossoms.
The wide open space and blue sky was breath taking.
There were also ponds, a lake, bridges, a brook...
Guest houses, stables, garages...
Oh gosh.
As with all splashy affairs (ie, "movie sets") there are elements of custom made and hand-painted "props" to create the venue and anchor the ambiance.  I can't really show too many decorative pieces that were created, lest I give away a valuable piece of posterity not actually "mine" to show... but I can and will show you a very small, yet poignant piece of the puzzle... ("allegedly" innocuous is best!)

There was a pool.  And a pool house.  And some stone around the pool and pool house that needed to be duplicated in "faux" as "riser" for some decorative urns that would showcase some important flower pieces.

Pool House
Me, at the Pool House.
Am I really here?!
My work space...
My Ride
My set up (before)
Yes, those are bales of hay in the background.
Good thing foresight had me bring Benadryl.
After!  Pool Stone successfully duplicated.
Detail of "pool stone"
Taupe, grey 1, grey 2, grey 3, beige, cream, followed by taupe 2.
(all custom mixed...)
Rolled, Hand-brushed, Sponged, Sponged, Cheeseclothed, Brushed again,
Sponged again, and Cheeseclothed...again.
As I was working it occurred to me the easiest route would've been to use Ralph Lauren's River Rock.  This product is misunderstood and under utilized.  In the right hands it is a fantastic medium.  We adore it!  Amazingly, this product in one or two coats would've had the same effect.

A recent project using Ralph Lauren's River Rock
Hand brushed (cross hatched) over a rolled out coat.
Ralph Lauren's River Rock.  Can you imagine the the irony!  Ooops.  Did I just say that?!  I mean, "allegedly" that's very ironic!  ;)


P.S. - On my private Facebook I made the jokey-announcement to my fabulous friends that I witnessed and photographed many, many things that I am not permitted to publicly disclose... but that if you took me to dinner and liquored me up I would tell and show you "everything."  I had many offers, but one stood out.  Ha!  Love you Melanie!  Off to Barcelona, Spain on a special mission to do just that... and more!  See you on the other side of wonderful...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sorrow and Tomorrow

"It is possible that a miracle was not something that happened to you, but rather something that didn't."  (Jodi Picoult)

According to legend, even the angels weep.
Sadness, Loss and Sorrow are a part of the human experience.  It's normal, natural and healthy to feel these emotions.  "Endings" and "change" are usually the culprits.

Pain is a sign you are walking through an important passage in life.  Sadness is a sign you were attached.  Fear is a sign that you don't have all the answers.  Listen to your feelings.  They have much to teach.

Every emotion is a gift.  No matter what you are going through, at any moment, please remember you are a part of the great human experience.  Your feelings are an experience.  That's all they are.  An experience.  Be in it... be conscious of it... and flow with it.

Look with clean eyes through your tears and you just might see the miracle.  Ultimately, you are always being taken to the place where you belong.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Shine On

Metallics in design have long been sought after for their versatility, elegance and glamour.  Need a little drama in a room?  A "shine" or "glow" could do just the trick.

Metallics by nature reflect light, so they look different from every angle... hence their mysterious beauty.  But to welcome this "phenomenon" you must be willing and open minded to experiment.

A stencilled accent wall, angle 1
(Wallovers "Decodence" rendered in copper & gold over olive green)
Same wall, angle 2
(Wallovers "Decodence" rendered in copper & gold over olive green)
I've always said, paint is a great metaphor for life.  What do you have in front of you that looks different from every angle?  I'll bet the true beauty shows best when it's the angle that reflects the most light...


Monday, May 23, 2011

Maybe, Baby

Maybe is a big word these days.
There is so much volatile energy on the Earth right now.
You feel it.  And you're pretty much flowing with it, or fighting it.  Or both.

Remember this: You are creating and being created in the same moment.
The universe is alive.
There are no absolutes.
You are living (active) your destiny (passive).
Positive and negative.
Yes, it is duplicitous.  Hence, your power.  And your powerlessness.

Life is long, the Earth is big.  So many choices, so many options.  Maybe I'll go here.  Maybe I'll do this.  Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe...

I'm an optimist so "maybe" to me is a sexy word.  Sizzling with potential.  Tell an artist "maybe" and it's a first class ticket to a dream.  Artists are natural creators.  Seamlessly, effortlessly, powerfully our brains click into gear and the engines start running.  Road maps are created, options explored, emotions gauged.  The imagination is sparked.

Think.  What do you have in front of you that is a big "maybe?"

Should we paint?
Maybe it's perfect just the way it is...
Maybe it has potential to be better than you ever imagined...
(Metallic & Antique Washes, private residence November 2010)
What is fueling you towards this "thing"?  What is blocking you from this pull?


We are all magnets.  You feel the pull every day of your life.  That "pull" is in your soul.

What are you feeling when you think of the "maybe?"  Narrow it down to one word.

I promise you...
In fact, I am willing to bet my life on it...
That two words will come up over and over again.


Yes.  Those two words motivate every single individual, every single day.  In their own way.  Duplicitous.  Accurate.  Honest.  Every single thing you do is motivated by either LOVE or FEAR.

Ready?  Let's play.

What energies do you give in to?  LOOK AT YOUR LIFE.

Do you play it safe?  Do you stay small?  Do you go by the book?  Tradition at all costs?  Rules?  Are you constantly worried about what other people think?  Have you continuously let opportunities and chances pass you by?  Are you sad?  Depressed?  Do you abuse substances?  Do you wake up in the middle of night, unable to sleep?  Do you suffer from anxiety?  Regret?  Do you have continuous health issues?  Do you need multi-tasking, constant entertainment and distractions to function?  If you died tomorrow, is there anything you have left unsaid?  Undone?  Unfinished?  (Um, we could go on and on over here...  but I can't... because just thinking about it sucks the Life Force Energy out of me.)

On the flip side:

Are you happy?  Grounded?  Clear?  Do you feel like a part of something greater than yourself?  Do you like your life?  Do you feel blessed?  Do you have a purpose?  Do you regularly and quickly see the fruits of your labor?  Have you felt passion flow through your veins?  Do you set goals and achieve them?  Do you live in color?  Do you feel better in nature?  Do you keep your own counsel?  Do you sleep well?  Are you healthy?  Can you look others straight in the eye?  Can you live within your own silence?  Are you honest?  Authentic?  Are your relationships meaningful and real?  Do you feel a connection to spirit?

Need I say more?

Some things are sacred, but weathered.
Should they remain untouched?  Unchanged?
Maybe not.
Everything looks better after it's been loved.
(private residence, July 2009)

I was struggling with how to end this posting, since it occurred to me that sometimes there are equal amounts of both LOVE and FEAR when presented with a MAYBE.  Hmmmm....

It's rare, but possible, to be exactly at 50/50 most of the time.  How does one manage that?  Wait til one emotion wins out?  Act passively and let life make the decision for you?  Surrender your own power?  Yes, you could do that... if FEAR seems to be at 51%.  So, I turned off the computer and went to Yoga this morning.  Many answers come to me when I am in that space.

And like magic (or as they say, when the student is ready the teacher appears)... I heard my Yoga Teacher, Nancy, say in today's class: "All you need to do to is just push yourself to your personal edge every day.  Things are always changing, so just go to your edge.  Give it your all and then let go."

Ahhh... yes, that makes perfect sense to me.  If LOVE is at 51% bring your energy to your edge.  And then let go... The flow will do the rest.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Everyday Magic

Cold Spring Harbor, July 2008
I do believe in an everyday sort of magic... the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence when we think we are alone. 
-- Charles de Lint

"I often have extraordinary experiences wherein I sense that something important or meaningful is happening.  The more I do whatever I feel called to do in the moment, the more this sort of thing tends to happen.  This is how the universe aligns us with the information, connections and experiences we most need; it nudges us to get up and go somewhere, to open up to a stranger, to suddenly reach out.  The more we listen to these nudges, the more amazing synchronicities bless us with an extraordinary, mystical sort of journey." -- Julia Melges-Brenner, editor of Kajama.

Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life. -- Paul Coelho

"When people first attempt to develop their psychic abilities, they are often tripped up by a tendency to try to think their way to answers instead of vibrationally aligning with guidance and allowing it to flow in.  When we are stuck in logic, our own thoughts are so incessant that they prevent us from hearing the voice of spirit; when we relax and open our whole being to guidance, insights naturally begin to bubble up from within." -- Julia Melges- Brenner, editor of Kajama

Relax.  This is a test.  This is only a test.
Had this been a real life you would have been given instructions and told what to do.

A card that was taped to my door.  It suddenly won't stay in place.
It just keeps falling on the floor.
OK, OK... I get it.  I hear you!
Image created by Anahata Katkin
As a true artist, I am a person committed to living the essence of a creative life.  Simply put, I must always stay in the Flow.  The flow of Life Force Energy.  It means surrendering. It means believing that everything is both "destined" and "in genesis" at every moment.  It means trusting in the unseen.  It means living in a state of grace.  It means always moving forward.  It means allowing things to unfold.

This commitment is the greatest commitment any human being could ever make.  It is a commitment to Life.  It is the greatest leap of faith, the greatest show of trust and the most powerful, intoxicating ride you could ever experience.

It's not always easy.  And it is not an event or a one-time choice.  By nature of it's meaning, It's a LIFE-style.

What sustains me?  Every day magic.  Ordinary miracles.  Clarity.  Synchronicity.  Signs.  Second chances.  Major shifts.  Vibrational alignments.  Sudden endings.  New beginnings.  Insight.  Intuition.  Knowing.

Buckle up, baby.  It's all happening.


PS... congratulations to my dear Protege'.  It came to be!  Witnessing your journey tested me to live my faith in action.  I am so proud of you.  Bliss! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Me and my boy: both of us a work-in-progress.
Dear Mom,

Without you I am an empty tissue box.
With you, I am a strong tree.
Without you, I am a TV with no sound.
With you, I am safe.
My life is full of joy with you at my side.

Andrea Perrone Jr.

My mother's day poem.
I especially treasure the eraser marks and misspellings.
And I adore that he used his full name.
Only a mother could understand that!
Me: Oh, Peanut!  What a beautiful, touching poem!  Thank you!  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  You are so talented, and so expressive! (wiping away a tear)
Him: I wrote it for you.
Me: Yes, I see that.  It's signed "Sincerely, Andrea Perrone Jr." (and I begin to chuckle)
Him: Do you like it?
Me: Yes!  I love it!
Him: Then why are you laughing?
Me: Um, well, honey... it is a beautiful and touching gift from your heart, and I will treasure it forever.  I just think it's kinda funny that you used the word: Sincerely
Him: But why?  Is that wrong?
Me: No, it's just that "sincerely" is usually only used in business correspondence.  Not heart-felt notes or letters.  I'm laughing because it's precious!
Him:  Yeah.  And I'm laughing now because you don't realize that being my mother is your job!!!

Ha!  I love this kid with all my heart!

On a more meaningful note, if I were to write back, my poem might look something like this:

Dear Peanut,

I am a better mother to you 
for remembering this one small truth 
every single day of your life: 
God is just loaning you to me.

Love always,

Happy Mother's Day to all of the women being celebrated for the greatest and hardest job in the world!  Sincerely!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lost & Found

iphone 4 + AGP = ?
It's been a rough week.

I recently lost the second Great Love of my life.  Or was it the third?  Fourth?  Hmmm... Can it be that I'm losing count of my losses?  Or am I losing count of my Great Loves?

My iphone and I had a whirlwind courtship.  After years of admiring this sleek little technical toy from afar and dreaming of one day calling it my own, the day finally arrived when Sprint pissed me off enough to divorce them after 12 years.  Verizon, my desired carrier was now offering service for this phone, I had a little spare change left over from a recent job... things just connected. BAM.  Within a few hours of pulling the trigger, I carried home this long desired, prized possession.  It was finally mine.

For 16 days I had the priviledge of marveling over this brilliant gadget.  I truly was enamored with the power and precision of this ultimate utility.  Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, and still recalling the rotary phones of days gone by... with their ultra long, tangled cords and having to step into the kitchen pantry to get any sort of youthful privacy as I chatted with my friends over nonsense... simply having a hand-held mobile phone was a brilliant miracle and it profoundly changed my life.  But this... oh this.  An iphone. There is quite simply nothing to compare it to.

Within a few days, that iphone became my everything.  It was there greeting me with a wake-up call in the morning, came with me everywhere on my adventures throughout the day, kept me in constant contact with friends, family and clients... held my photos, music and calendar... not to mention the hours of meaningless pleasure simply spent gazing upon it.  I admit, was hooked and touched it almost compulsively.  Suffice to say, it was too hot to last.  Some things are just not meant to be.

Lost... stolen... dropped... swiped... misplaced... accidentally thrown away?  I don't know.  I just don't know.  But when I realized it was over, gone, vanished, my loss was profound.

Anger.  Shock.  Denial.  Bargaining.  Hope.  Despair.  Elizabeth Kubler Ross and her seven stages of grief were coming in quite handy here.

I won't bore you with the details of what transpired, but I will quickly share what I learned.  And I promise you... it won't be a waste of time.  Please read this with an open mind.  Remember, I said, it's been a week of great loss and gain... and near misses.

Thank you, Great Spirit, for allowing me to hold onto my greatest
gift.  Thank you to the driver who stopped on time.  Thank you for
the mother who cried out and stopped the car.  Thank you to all
of the angels who were there in my absence.  And thank you, dear
Andrea, for staying for another day and letting me be your mother.
1.) Technology is a gift.  It is a privilege, not a right.  It won't always be there, so never, ever take it for granted.  And if you have to live without it for awhile, so what.  SO WHAT?!  The world will not end. You will not die.  Nothing will happen that can't be fixed or solved with minimal effort on your part.  People matter.  The people you love matter the most.

2.) Breathe.

3.) Always have a back up plan.  Always.  In my case, an old phone (battery charged full and removed to insure it didn't corrode, along with a charger) stored in a ziploc bag in my desk drawer enabled me to rescue 3/4 of my contacts.  I also have a land-line which enabled me to make and receive calls.  A back up plan in life allows you to remain grounded while experiencing change.  Change that is planned or unplanned.

4.) Notify your nearest and dearest, and let the rest go.  Enjoy the silence.  Think.  Be bored.  It's OK to sit and a red light in your car and just... stare at the red light.  Relax.  You are not missing anything important.  You are not that important?  The world will still continue if you miss that text.  Be unavailable... and take the extra time to focus on your life and what is meaningful in it.

5.) If something is meant to be, it will happen with or without your approval.  God is never going to send you a memo, you won't be invited to the board meeting, your vote will not count and there is a chance you will not have very much say in it at all.  Does it matter?  Yes.  Nothing is ever truly within your control.  The minute you know that and accept that, is the minute it all comes together.  Live in the flow.  It's all there is.

6.) You are all you have.  You are not your job.  You are not your address.  You are not that image in the mirror.  You are a spiritual being having a human experience.  You have a profound responsibility to surround yourself with like-minded beings if you wish to enhance this experience... and if you falter, you risk lowering your experience.  See who and what you are.  Own it.  Attitude really is everything.  It's OK to compromise.  But never settle.  Ultimately... you deserve what you get.

7.) When faced with loss... know that something better is coming.  The universe cleans house before it sends a gift.

Closure... that is a haunting word.

Guess what?  There is no closure.

When you experience a state of "non-closure" it means you are ALIVE.  Always remember that.  And that... with it's duplicitous blessing... can one day maybe "be" your "closure."

Loss, like many other things in life, deserves a cocktail and a toast: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."  (George Santanyana).

Stay awake.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Translating A Foreign Language

The hallmark of good ambiance is a feeling of being transported.
The blend of warm/cool elements in color, shape and texture lend a distinctive
 style, that is reminiscent of grand kitchens in the European countryside.

Project notes:
This was a challenging job for me.  Presented with the raw elements of the space: dark wood, white tile, pops of dark blue, grey marble, terracotta floors, various appliances...  it felt disjointed, all over the map.  I saw Provence.  Tuscany.  Belgium.  Barcelona.  And a hint, just a hint of Manhattan. Pulling all of the elements of a "world vision" space together is not easy.  Electric eclectic!

The clients are dear friends (and neighbors!) of mine.  They are extremely well traveled, and clearly wanted the kitchen to be a Euro-blend.  The first step was clarifying a vision.  What is the common denominator, the inspiration behind all of your selections... these greatly varying elements? "We selected only things we loved."  During the planning stages, I often heard them say: "I'm not sure if this works, but I love it."  My attitude?  Then we will make it work.

A lot of heart clearly went into their choices.  Years of travel.  Years of experience.  Rich, fluid moments of foreign adventure.  It was up to me to pull it all together.  Have it make sense.  Create something cohesive and useful.  Love went into these decisions... how could it NOT turn out right?

I covered the hood range in Anaglypta, an embossed, paintable wallpaper 
from England.  It was treated with layers of metallics and antiquing
glazes to mellow and tone... and give the illusion of a time-worn surface.

Detail of Anaglypta.
The copper color is reminiscent of the terracotta floor
and helps balance the warm tones in the space.
The walls really unite the space.
I envisioned a gentle patina, in the tradition of limewash, but with more "body."
A soft grey and a warm ochre were independently washed onto the walls so that the 
colors would lay together in "continents" without blending.  A rustic, elegant finish.
I ended up re-learning, re-membering and re-applying the most elementary art lesson: Color is the great unifier.  The international language of love is color!  A journey well traveled, and I never even had to leave the block.


PS: Very special thanks to Lorraine Spina for the gorgeous photographs.  It is so difficult to capture the subtle nuances of decorative painting, but you managed to do just that.  You have a great camera and an even better eye!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting Stoned

A Photographic Journal of Transformation
My client told me this fireplace reminded her of a Jack-o-Lantern!  Ha!
My reply: this fireplace needs to get stoned!  
Viola! A Fabulous Faux Fireplace.
Smokin' Hot!
Like a good plastic surgeon, I marked the stone shapes before committing to the sculpture.
The facade was cleaned and protected. The bricks were primed white.
I began by sculpting the "keystone" and worked out, right to left.
Work in progress, detail.
It's important to hold your vision.
Art in progress is often messy and unattractive.
The original bricks are buried under my "clay."
The sculpting clay is a special mixture of paper mache, clay and another binder.
It is sandable, paintable, lightweight and easy to work with.
We will soon find out how flamable it is!  (ha ha... just kidding Susan!)
With wet hands, I "surface skim" the stones to smooth
and level them, while carefully preserving the textured finish.

Now, we let it dry for 24 hours.  We will return to aerate the
special clay mixture stones by pricking them with a sculpter's pick.
This insures deep curing, not just surface set-up.
Spaces between are caulked and stones are individually painted.
Each stone is given 2 to 3 layers of custom colored,
tinted glaze washes for depth.  And sealed 3x with a dull varnish.
Stone details... (left)
The background was layered with a sand-additive mixed
with paint.  Then a top coat of Ralph Lauren's River Rock
was hand-brushed over that for additional fine texture.
Stone details (right)...
I wish this lovely family many beautiful moments as they celebrate life in front of a crackling fire!  (And I hope they invite me back to roast marshmallows.)

From my hearth to yours...