Thursday, October 18, 2007

Did I ever tell you about the Merchants of Hope?

A recent Craigslist ad looking for a muralist, reminded me of a project I did last summer on an institutional home for children on the way to foster care.
It was interesting from the stand point of doing murals for a public client rather than a private one... of putting together a program of decoration that has meaning and signifigance rather than just decorative beauty, and working with other painters on a large project.

The client is the Merchants of Hope at 2222 N. Lamar. They are a children's home whose original focus was for children from the ages of 7-17, who are removed from their families and are in need of protection. An old nursing home was repurposed and renovated by Oli Ejirka and her dedicated staff. They painted the inside of the building in bright colors but couldn't manage to make the exterior as friendly as the people who would manage it. The building itself is a utilitarian relic of the '60s and all of us were concerned that it's aspect was grim and forbidding to children who may come to it in shock, in distress, and certainly with apprehension.
The murals were designed to create a more playful, serene, child friendly environment in the building's only exterior green space.

My local decorative painting organization Stencil Artisans' League (SALI) was looking or a group project and we were recommended to the Merchants of Hope by CASA. Here was a project we could all work on, and that would benefit our city's most vulnerable citizens.

We brainstormed for a design and rejected several until we lit upon the idea of Castaway Children. We thought the current interest in Pirates, and the TV show Survivor would help create interest in the imagery. As we considered it, the idea of children, who are castaways, pulling together to help each other and themselves sounded like a great metaphor for the children who would be in the facility. So we organized the long walls into vignettes that could be simply executed and that would have clear messages. Judy Morgan took on the task of going to local paint companies and getting us donated supplies (Thanks Kelly Moore in particular!) thumbnail sketches were drawn and the murals were underway.

More tomorrow!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Two Classes in One Month!

When will I ever get time to do all the rest of the work!

Well, the little tv tray replica is done... pics to follow, but I had a wonderful Glazes 1 class this last week! Teaching reminds me of how exciting learning those new finishes are. From left to right are Walter's son, and wife Olga, Walter, Armando and Kim

Good WORK, ALL of you!

We had a small turn out, but Walter, who drove from Houston, brought his son and lovely wife Olga to help translate and remember it all. His English was excellent, but this is quite a technical class, so it was great to have his son there to really make sure every bit of information got translated. We enjoyed having him.

Our other students, Armando and Kim also had a great time. Armando is a natural. I'll be seeing Kim this coming week in the Cabinets class. Armando works locally with a well respected painting company, but he's the ONE, out of sixty other painters who showed and interest in learning this fiddly, fascinating business.

They'll all three do well. I could see that 'spark' in each one of them.

Here is a picture of Armando's stencil board: I think it was his favorite one, though I must say I liked his 'Blush' board very much as well. He wanted me to post it here for y'all to see.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Restore, Refurbish and Replicate or How to make a client happy.

Here it is. One of those small projects that has a way of taking over the studio from time to time.

By itself, it's not much to look at... but what it represents to the client is a relationship with her family and memories of good times...How do you put a price on that?

So... poor little TV Tray.... needs a sister, and, those of you who know me know how ME this is... it presents a technical challenge as well.

First, it is a hobby project done in the mid to late 70's by my client's MIL. She was apparently a crafty woman who was pretty handy with a brush and a hobby kit. I think this was a kind of kit project that may have been sold back then. She would have probably received the three colors of paint and a sponge to apply it, a thick epoxy sealer and some mother of pearl chips to suspend in the finish.

Unfortunately the companies that put together these kits go in and out of production
of them in a season, so I don't think I'm going to have much luck finding the same kit any time soon... and there is only so much time any of us can afford to spend on such a humble little creative options! That's what I'm going to have to have to get a new raw wooden tray to look like the original. Here is a picture, closeup of the details on top. Finding Mother of Pearl chips should be interesting. In fact, I've found them, but there is no way to purchase them when the minimum for the site is a $300 purchase.... my little tv tray's sister is going to have to figure out another way to get glamorous.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Work

Here is another example of Shimmerstone at work. I love this stuff. It has all the glam and glimmer of a metallic, but it's not 'shiny' or plastic looking. Its just a subtle, warm glow on the walls.

Did I say I love this stuff?

Five rounds around the room to develop this finish..!! But, it's worth it. Look at the close up.

Its smooth to the touch, and silky feeling. Every nuance of the surface is just luscious.

We chose this color based on the warmer tones in the pebble mosaic in the Shower surround. The original was a rather dull beige.... and worked.... but THIS just pops the room!

Just 'cause I can... here are some more shots of the room. I suggested the ceiling color. Leaving that ceiling white would have just left the room flat. Painting the ceiling a deep chocolate brown add just the right touch of drama

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Learn a technique a day eh?

So much for learning a new web technique every day... sometimes real life seems to get in the way. I'm working this week with one of my favorite products, Shimmerstone, by Modern Masters. It's an acrylic fortified plaster with a pearly shimmer, which I intensify by coloring with Modern Masters' Metallic paint. Today I am making walls shimmer with a rich gold. It is such a joy to work with!

To the right you will see a blushed Shimmerstone, Lusterstone (Faux Effects) and troweled paint project on a barrel vault ceiling. Even though the ceiling is dramatic, the effect has a natural 'sunset' feel in the room. It is lively, but not oppressive... so I think its a great example of how a color on the ceiling does NOT weigh the room down. Careful choice and execution make a difference, of course, but color is powerful way to alter one's perception of the space. In this case, murky green light from the shadowy back yard, dimmed this room and cast a greenish pall on all my clients furnishings.. and... on them. Using a strong approximate compliment (orange is the nearly opposite green on the color wheel) corrects this light imbalance and subtly alters how the client feels in the room. What is even more interesting to me, is that while it is an intense color, it actually recedes in this application. The vault 'lifts' because of the strong flow of color and light. Every room is different. This is why I usually insist on choosing colors for clients in the space where it will be used.

I've used Shimmerstone in several different projects... here, on the right, I've combined several different red tones into one rich kitchen wall. Shimmerstone is washable and very smooth to the touch.

On the left, Shimmerstone and a creme glaze were combined to give the ceiling a coppery look. (I did the copper hood too... but that's another story.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday...Coffee... chocolate and some furniture samples!

Here are some samples that I use in the Cabinets and Furniture classes at Austin School of Faux Finishes......
I love teaching this class. People have such a great time and get to layer more and more techniques on top of one another. We do go into what the limits are, how to prepare the surface and make sure what they paint will last, but from there it's a leap into pure creativity. In smaller classes we even had the opportunity to work with specific projects the students had in their minds. Its a huge leg up when you are building.

On cabinets and furniture pieces, because of the limited surface, you can really layer different processes to create the most intense and developed finishes.

In the class we crackle, antique, distress, block, even do a faux skrimshaw if there is time. What I'm most proud of though, is the faux marquetry that our students do. To appreciate it you have to understand that most of my students don't 'do' faux bois or false wood... this is completely uncharted territory for most of them and to see the results they get, and their sense of accomplishment is really satisfying. This is an example of a board completed in class.... its relatively simple and incorporates what is termed 'rustic' graining, but its organized into a simple marquetry pattern that could be useful in embellishing cabinet doors, table tops or other boring, flat surfaces.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More, and more organized.

I hope some potential clients are reading, though I do hope to spiff this up a bit as I go on. If you're a friend reading this to give me feedback and tips, WONDERFUL! If you're a stranger or a potential client, Introduce yourself if you like, I'd love to meet you.

I'm open to any and all feedback.

I've been busily organizing and sizing my last 20 + years of photos of many jobs I've done and projects I've been a part of. Some, like this whole kitchen demo and remodel,in which I was arranged to have the basic appliances bought, recommended the design and colors, arranged for the cabinets to updated inside and out, designed and implemented a new back-splash of French Limestone and broken blue willow plates, had installed, new granite and Silestone counter surfaces, and last, but not least painted the walls and painted the lower cabinets in a distressed green and the uppers copper leaf... antiqued....Whew... I'm tired again, just remembering it!

I have to say, these are wonderful clients who have new projects all the time. The picture I loaded yesterday, of Black Granite Mosaic CoffeeTable... We designed this to fit on an artisan made Mesquite base and trucked this bad boy up to their Winter home in Colorado.

I'd say they liked Traditional style with modern influences. I painted a tone on tone Victorian stripe in their guest bedroom, and most recently, transformed a room covered in 25 year old hunter green and white wallpaper into an updated, masculine western retreat by applying a handplastered Shimmerstone tones of gold and apricot, a perfect foil for deep oak moldings
and woodwork. Paint is a powerful thing!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Here I am once again,.. learning one darn thing at a time. SO Can I actually post a picture IN the frame of my blog rather than just the gallery at the bottom?

Lets see here... I'm moving them around MA! And I'm not sure how to wrap text, but that'll come later I guess! How cool is this, to sit in the super AC at Denny's, being fed nonstop coffee and whatever, and uploading to their server..... and learning how to do this... Ain't this a wonderful country! LOL

Not so elegant yet... but just wait... one little stupid darn thing at a time!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

First order of Business is Business!

Since I may have a class this month, I think I'll start with a bit about that.

There will be some examples of glaze finishes that I actually teach at the Austin School of Faux Finishing ( Since Glazes 1 is next on the agenda starting on the 16th of this month, I'll post some of the pictures of work done in class.

Glazes 1 is $500 for two solid days of instruction...... I like to concentrate on technique, and product knowledge. Students will have either 10 or 11 completed samples with printed recipes, so those of you who like to follow strict guidelines, will have it all printed out for them. But technique is something you need to learn hands on. With the proper technique and choosing the proper glazing products, you can do any glaze finish and even come up with new designs yourself. Creativity is what these new products will foster... and I want you to feel comfortable experimenting and developing your own unique style. In real life I work with the glazes we will use... I like Polyvine Tropical Scumble for most regular work... and Addicolor's Glacis for it's particular qualities. Wet Edge by Addicolor will also be covered in class and I love it.

I also cover a lot of information I wish someone would have told ME when I started this business years ago. Basic safety information, basic preparation, how to work on construction sites with professional courtesy..... these tidbits will help you survive on job sites.

One of my BIG concerns is safety. Do YOU know what an MSDS sheet is? Do you know it's limitations and uses? Do you know when you legally have to have them on file in your shop? I say in class and I'll say here, WATER BASED DOES NOT MEAN NON TOXIC. As an industry, we are getting 'Greener' and 'Greener'... but we're not all the way there yet. Even simple products that in themselves are not toxic can be harmful in other ways.... so, in class we discuss how to keep you and your assistants safe according to the best information available today.

So... big infomercial over.... except one thing... I'm offering a small incentive to use this blog and take classes. Make a comment on this blog and mention it for a discount on the class. It must be YOUR post....LOL.... I just want to see if people can find me, and can make the connection to the school.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Here I am

I've made a start. I'd love to hear from viewers how the pictures appear on other monitors. I started this blog in frustration... I've paid for three years on for webspace and have yet to figure out how to post the darn thing... and in response to the requests of my clients and of potential clients.... here it is. The beginning germ of an online portfolio.

I plan on doing this more elegantly later. But I would love some feedback on how it looks so far, and if anyone has any links, quick tips, or can kindly guide me to where I can practice putting a web page together without too much fuss... I' d love to hear about it.

And.... How do you like the work?


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Strong Decorative Paint

Here I am. I've wended my way to the web.
I'm not sure how to navigate this, but I do want to learn how.