Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and...


Alice McCully Mead
November 15, 2011
7 pounds, 5 ounces, 20 inches long

Chair and wall behind painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Wax
All photos Twirl Photography, New Orleans

Wouldn't life be worth the living
Wouldn't dreams be coming true
If we kept the Christmas spirit
All the whole year through?


I hope all of my readers are enjoying a wondrous Holiday season.  One of my resolutions is to be a more regular blogger in 2012.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In progress: Silver ceiling

Earlier this summer I wrote a post regarding the inspiration of this silver ceiling.

Suzanne Rheinstein's New York Pied d'terre:
floor and ceiling by Bob Christian

Completed silver ceiling:  residence on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans

another view

and another

Stay tuned for more updates as the wallpaper has not been installed yet.  It is a hand-painted Shagreen paper by Anya Larkin.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baby Lair: A glimpse of what is to come

So at 22 weeks along I have finally come up with a plan for a space for this new baby of mine.  I will keep the nursery discussion minimal but knowing me you can be sure that any posts related to the topic will be decorative painting related and not themey or overly juvenile!  

So this project has a few challenges.  Our current home will not be our home much longer, as we own it and adore the location it is not the best set up for a couple, an 80 pound hairy beast and a newborn.  The room that is soon to be the nursery has had many lives(space for the broken-hearted, homeless, and air-conditionless) since our marriage and will have one more transformation before we sell and move on.   

All of this being said the palette and items need to be restrained since it may need to be quickly transformed from baby lair to chic guest quarters very quickly if Mead Manor II presents itself!  Luckily, we have chosen not to find out the gender of the baby which also helps keep me on target and focused.

I thought I would start with furniture.  I swore to myself I would steer away from child/baby specific furniture with the exception of a crib.  I have been looking for a mid century credenza to paint and use as a changer and dresser for months but my Ebay dealers in NYC have gotten so pricey and then there is the shipping, a real heartbreaker.  This past week, I found these siblings on Craig's List locally.

I realize that their finish is very unfortunate but we should never judge a book by its cover or pass something along because it isn't love at first site.  These are actually vintage Childcraft children's pieces from the 60-70's.  This piece above actually is a changing table!  As I was very apposed at the beginning to a changing table specifically, this piece has useful storage and I could not pass up the solid wood construction and price including the other dresser for 200 bones.

Months ago, in the not so fun beginning months of pregnancy, a designer friend sent me this picture to cheer me up and get me re-focused.  Knowing Dorothy Draper is one of my all time favorite style icons, of course I think this changer is adorable and a practical piece for a new born and beyond.  The real truth is, I can't afford it since I will have to educate this little one!

Behold, the Uptown Changer from Nursery Works:

  • Taking inspiration from the architecture and furniture design of 15th century Britain, the Uptown Changer is reinterpreted with a modern twist and playful and sophisticated colors. 
  •  Designed by Tamara Honey of House of Honey

Not to be confused with the España Bunching Chest by Dorothy Draper:
The España Bunching Chest was designed by Dorothy Draper by invitation of the Spanish government to design a collection to raise the profile of Spanish design in the international market. 

Both historically based in their design, functional, simple and easy on the eyes.  These will be my inspiration for the dresser and changer from Craig's List; the whole room's design will start here. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trompe L'oeil in Fashion

So most mornings I get an email from Kate Spade.  I don't know why because I really don't buy a lot from her these days.  I do enjoy reading about what she is up to in her business and her designs have always been some of my favorites; simple, clever and practical.

This was in my inbox today:

Advertising her Trompe L'oeil Lace Dress.  
Adorable but not on me in my current physical state!  

This is the Postmaster bag!

So I guess even the fashion world loves a good surprise and dose of Trompe L'oeil!

Roberta di Camerino

Proenza Schouler, Louis Vuitton, Zac Posen

Sonia Rykiel

Neon Brunette

Darryl Hannah as Elle Driver in Kill Bill


My all time favorite...The Hermes Birkin on the decorative painter's budget!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Developments

I hate to make excuses for my absence of late but I have a few and they are pretty good!

So there are some changes going on here at Inspired.Paint.Repeat.  All good but all change.  For once in a long time I am completely swamped with work all summer!  This is good thing however it gets so hot here that it gets hard to focus on anything other than when and where you can locate your next snowball!  Lots of furniture, gilding, a mural for the City of Gretna, a few painted floors, lots of fun things to keep my mind and hands busy for a while!

Secondly, I am expecting my first baby in November!  Thrilled but overwhelmed with many emotions.  Now that the fuzzy tired feeling has left I am starting to feel like myself again.  It is not a myth, morning sickness feels like a really bad hangover and that inability to focus...that is real too!

Last but not least, I am working on something new.  Something not really related to painting per se but most definitely related to design.  I got a call from a designer, client and friend who gave me the most random job request(challenge) I have ever received.  I honestly love these moments, since more often than not, the greatest challenges spawn the greatest reward!

My sister is a graphic designer and she often sends me some great posts and newsletters on design.  These are by Paul Rand is a legendary design icon, he is also well assosciated with the modernist movement in all forms.  I find these quotes relevant because when I get swamped with work and life I find it easy to lose sight of why I do what I do.  I have mentioned this before but as a painter/artist we all have the same skills or can arrive at them with practice but at the end of the day our discerning eyes and skills are what brings value to a project.  Enjoy!

Paul Rand on good design:

Even if it is true that the average man seems most comfortable with the commonplace and familiar, it is equally true that catering to bad taste, which we so readily attribute to the average reader, merely perpetuates the mediocrity and denies the reader one of the most easily accessible means for aesthetic development and eventual enjoyment.  

from Thoughts on Design

Good design adds value of some kind, gives meaning, not incidentally, can be sheer pleasure to behold; it respects the viewer's sensibilities and rewards the entrepreneur.

from Design Form and Chaos

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Verre Églomisé: An ancient Roman technique, who knew?

Hello again!  The last few weeks have been filled with finishing up some projects, starting some new ones, and trying to grasp control of life in general.  The change of a season seems to bring that out in everyone, so I am not feeling so guilty about writing more often, although I have missed it!

Since everyone seems okay with my rambling I thought of a few things yesterday morning that may be interesting to you.

I am an avid reader of Heather Clawson's Habitually Chic.  Heather has her hands on the pulse of all things New York and most recently the  Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse 2011.  A little history on the eponomous Showhouse:  In 1973 several supporters of the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club launched this event to showcase the work of celebrated interior designers and to raise funds for after school enrichment programming.  Each year, the designers transform a luxury Manhattan home room by room, into an elegant exhibition of fine furnishings, art and technology.  Personally, I love how this event raises funds for something wonderful but has also grown to be quite a career honor if you are chosen as one of the "celebrated designers" to use your best skills to transform a space!

Heather's post yesterday was about the Lady's Library in the Showhouse designed by Celerie Kemble of Kemble Interiors.  

Courtesy of Miriam Ellner
So not only is this space gorgeous and very feminine without being too girly(for a library) but since finishes are my business, I can't stop thinking about this ceiling!  I would love to see this room in person because the ceiling has an unexpected sparkle which makes this wooden paneled room feel so bright.

This is the work of Miriam Ellner.  I first heard her name from my involvement with The Society of Gilders, as she taught a class this past year at the annual meeting and convention of Gilders which takes place each year here in New Orleans combined with a community project.  I sadly, did not take her class and now I regret it(terribly). 
The technique which Miriam is known for is called verre églomisé .  To quote Thomas Jayne from a blog post on Interior Design's website: "The art form of verre églomisé can be described as reverse painting on glass. The process has several steps, starting with etching the design, setting it off with color, and then gilding precious metals to it. The gold and silver metals, of course, are the reflective ingredients that give it its mirror like effect.  Historically, verre églomisé is an ancient medium that underwent a great evolution of technique as technologies changed. It began with application on bowls and vessels, then later added as a feature into furniture and mirrors, and finally with the advent of sheet glass and then plate glass, wall decoration. Within room settings, the effect is truly transformative and magical."

Verre Églomisé used in its "expected" and traditional sense
Reliquary of Mary Magdelene, 14th or 15th Century Tuscany, Italy
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
What I find impressive about this work of art is Miriam's vast knowledge of this ancient technique and how she uses her design skills to create something so modern.  Brilliant!  In my mind, the mark of a true craftsman.

Close up pictures of Miriam's ceiling panels before installation

In this field of decorative painting we all have the same skills, or we can learn them.  Some are easier than others and they all become second nature to us with lots of patience and practice.  The real question is what will we do with them that sets us all apart?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brilliant Collaborators

I started a new project last week with a designer that I adore but only work with a wee bit, so when she calls, it is always a highlight for me.  

To help me with her vision she lent me Suzanne Rheinstein's new book At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past.  If you read other design blogs and the few remaining design mags I am sure you have seen Suzanne's Manhattan pied-à-terre  which flanks the cover of her book and the pages of Elle Decor.  The designer I am working with lent me the book to look at a silver finish for a ceiling that she asked me to work on but of course, I cannot stop looking at this mural, every time it crosses my path:

All Images, Elle Decor

Instantly I was reminded of Zuber Wallpaper!
James Andrew in the Zuber Showroom, New York 
Grisaille “Les Courses de Chevaux” 
However, the scale, depth of the tone-on-tone colors and dimension tell your eyes that this is the hand painted work of a real talent, Bob Christian.  I did some searching and found a podcast of Suzanne on the Skirted Roundtable where she describes Bob as one of her frequent collaborators; she describes him as "genius."  "He doesn't do straies," Suzanne says "you go to him for the special things that make the space."  Their collaborative inspiration for this mural was 18th century sepia toned wall paper.  Since this apartment was once a duplex with lots of angles and weird areas she couldn't hang her art on the walls, and she had to have art.

Bob in his Savannah, GA studio
Bob Christian has been painting and working in the decorative field for 33 years and it shows.  He is widely known for his painted floors which I am sure you have seen as well.  They are so understated and beautiful.  To me, it is often a misconception that quality decorative painting has to be bold.  Bob's work is a perfect example of that.

Elle Decor
Not sure of publication, I think Southern Accents

Bob Christian currently resides in Savannah, GA but  began his studies in decorative painting in New York with John Rosselli.  John is most commonly known for his eponymous antique stores in New York and Washington, DC.  
This is from John Rosselli's bio, you can see why I had to include it: "Originally trained as a decorative painter, John has a special affinity for painted finishes. He feels that the artistry in a painted scene or hand-applied surface creates a connection between the craftsman and owner that elevates a piece of furniture beyond its functional value. The artifact creates a relationship, and through its choosing becomes an element of the new owner’s personal story."

Disclaimer: I often get onto tangents when I research these posts.  I research one topic, and find out some other tid bits(re: John Rosselli, had no idea his first career was decorative painting) that I find interesting even though they are completely unrelated to the topic at hand! 

Some facts about Suzanne Rheinstein and her career:
She was born and raised in New Orleans.  Her mother worked in and eventually became the owner of an antiques store on Joseph Street.  (Does anyone know which one it was?) She was educated at Tulane and received a degree in English Literature.  She started her career in research and journalism.  Her first employer was Hodding Carter, a pulizter prize winning editorial journalist who was a fellow at Tulane at the time.  She later went on to produce documentaries and talk shows in Washington, DC and later in her long time home town of Los Angeles.  She quit her life of journalism when she was seven months pregnant with her daughter and a few years later opened her shop in LA called Hollyhock.  She says it is her love of diligent research and growing up with an antiquarian mother that eventually brought her to design.  

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Michael Wolff

My high school English teacher just sent me this link and it has been a great start to my day.  Something for all of us creatives to think about: Imagination is a muscle.

I guess she remembers how "obsessively interested in everything" I was even way back then.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Miles and Miles of Inspiration

I don't think he needs an introduction.  Honestly, as "blogged about" as he is, the more I read, the more I am intrigued.  A man and his work rooted in tradition, with a very effortless yet intentional yet unexpected way of using color, layers, objects, and furniture that are high and low, and a design that is perfectly timeless; in my eyes, quite an achievement, and I am a painter, NO designer.  Mrs. Blandings did a fantastic interview with Miles, here that I enjoyed a lot, a must read.   

What I love about Mr. Redd and his work is he doesn't see decorative painting as a trend.  In his work he uses decorative painting to enhance something ordinary to make it extraordinary.  The finishes that he employs are in fact decorative and not "faux"(no sponges or tissue paper involved).  From my perspective, he seems to really appreciate the craft and artistry of it all.

I did some research on this particular room because I did in fact recreate it for a client about two years ago.  So subtle but, so striking.  Something that I really try hard to achieve in my work, if I hit it, I don't lose sleep. 

From House Beautiful:
How did you get the inspiration for ivory walls and horn trim?
Givenchy, the old couturier, has a little low horn table in his house on Cap Ferrat that I've always loved. I always thought it would make a great decorative paint finish. And I've seen faux-ivory boxes all my life — I just borrowed the technique for the walls. I take so much from history, but the way to create fresh decorating is by using it all in a new and different way.  
Painted Ivory square walls and horn trim
via House Beautiful
Horn trim
via House Beautiful
Faux Tortoise painted table
via House Beautiful, April 2011

This table is from my parent's storage unit.  This could easily be a flea market, garage sale, thrift store or estate sale  find.

The real question is why can't it be as fabulous as the Miles Redd Tortoise table?  No reason!  With a little imagination you can make the ordinary into the extraordinary!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Decorative Arts of Placencia, Belize

A little history on Placencia:

In the 17th century, Placencia was settled by the English Puritans, originally from Nova Scotia and latterly from the island of Providencia. This settlement died out during the Central American wars of independence in the 1820s.  The Placencia Peninsula was resettled in the late 1800s by several families. Placencia prospered and soon became a village, earning its livelihood from the sea.  The Spaniards that traveled the southern coast of Belize gave Placencia its name. 
The eastern side of the Placencia Peninsula is a long expanse of white sand beach; the western side is bounded by a long narrow north-south trending bay of the Caribbean Sea

I really couldn't find much history on the decorative arts of this charming place.  I do know that all things Placencia are a little Spanish, a little English, primative, simple and vibrant.  You can see this in these examples of works by their artisans.

Wooden Carving
Inn at Robert's Grove
Carved and painted wooden jaguar
Inn at Robert's Grove
Painted tiles
Tikki Bar-Inn at Robert's Grove
Lovely painting
Inn at Robert's Grove
One of my favorites
Inn at Robert's Grove

Wooden mask
Inn at Robert's Grove
Placencia Village
Placencia Village
Placencia Village
Dive Shop
Placencia Village
Placencia Village
Placencia Village
Artist Studio
Placencia Village
Placencia Village
Mural- "the Shak"
Placencia Village

Book store
Placencia Village
Mural- The Cozy Corner
Placencia Village
Placencia Village