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...