Monday, December 29, 2008

I've returned

Hello friends! I've been buried in... well, I'm not sure what, but I've found many excuses to not blog. I've been up to my knees in holiday crafts, decorations, bows, ribbons, cookie dough, chutney, snow, and a big ol' pile of procrastination.

I've dug myself out, I'm back and currently working on a few posts. Stay tuned. In the meantime admire the beauty of winter that covered Portland last week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Portrait Painting

I've been painting more and more these days. My goal is to speed up and not be that perfectionist that I mentioned in my figure painting post. Back at CCAD I did get pretty good at painting fast because if you fell behind in your assignments, especially first year, you would most likely fail. I had a classmate - Vince Vollo who used to drive me crazy. He had an amazing talent. For every assignment he would churn out masterpiece after masterpiece. But most of the time the night before class he would destroy the completed piece, then pull an all-nighter creating an even better masterpiece for class the next day. Looking back now it was probably the best thing he did for himself, creating great self-discipline.

Here are a couple of pieces I created for an illustration class. The first one is a self-portrait. I don't think it's a very good likeness of me, but I've always loved it. It was done in Dr. Ph. Martin's Dyes and after 20 years is just now starting to fade.

This is a gouache piece. I always found gouache to be an extremely hard medium to use and never really mastered it's qualities. It is a medium much like watercolor, but a different ratio of pigment to water and some chalk is present - resulting in a more opaque finish. This may have been my last gouache piece.

This is a current acrylic piece in progress. I can't show you the entire painting because it may spoil the surprise for one of my family members. If they are loyal followers to my blog then they will figure it out, but I have my suspicions that they only visit after I prompt them to do so. You know who you are - have you figured out the suprise? I promise to show the completed piece - after Christmas.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Faux Marbling Extravaganza!

yellow onyx marble sample

I thought I would finally share the marble boards that came out of a recent class taught by Andre Martinez, of Faux Design Center, Inc.

the master takes his stance displaying his own marble study

When Andre rolls around get ready to be wiped out. This man has so much energy and is full of so much information - scientific facts, business advice, funny stories, and compelling life lessons spew from his mouth non-stop. I mean that in a good way!

He's the kind of teacher that you could take classes from over and over and learn vast amounts of new informative facts or techniques in each class. You might even learn to like a new genre of music since he happily plays tunes from his massive music library between lecturing and demonstrating. Andre is also the first to admit that he, himself will never stop learning which is humbling for a teacher to voice out loud, and inspiring from the student's perspective.

We had two days of with him. The first day, in the morning we studied photos of real marble, staring deeply into the veins and shapes of all types of beautiful stone. We discussed the creation of marble - how chemicals, minerals, pressure, friction, heat all transform this metamorphic rock. Within the first day before lunch we were creating studies of marble with our paint. That was the moment we learned to step out of our comfort zone. There was no controlling the medium it was going to be all about muscle memory, the ability to mix color, our tools, and some ingenuity. We laughed, we cried, we got fed up.

This was our final piece. The first layer - the White Carrara was created the first day. The second, third and fourth layer were all created in the afternoon on the second day after transferring the Victorian design. Three different marbles were created working one section at a time. First the Royal Green, then the Rosa Verona, and finally the Sienna Marble.

finished marble sample

By the time I was laying down my final Sienna Marble layer I hit the wall. I could no longer function. My brain shut down and I became intensely sleepy. For the many hours to follow I was exhausted but so completely excited about the prospect of creating some beautiful, rare marble for a client that appreciates the beauty of this stone.

Thanks for sharing your talent Andre!

rosa verona marble sample created on day two

royal green marble sample created on day two

malachite marble sample created on day two

The master's tools

Other fun facts:

At this year's Salon in Chicago Andre got the brilliant idea for all the masters of our industry to have the first Speed Marble Contest - a competition duplicating a marble finish. They had five seconds to view the marble sample, then it was turned over - FIVE seconds people! Then they have (I believe) 15 minutes or something crazy like that to recreate what they saw in FIVE seconds. It's crazy I tell ya! This isn't the best picture, but from the looks of it they all managed to create a convincing reproduction. I asked Andre how he did - he said he had his ass handed to him. If I could only do half as good as all of them in one day I would be yelling from the rooftops.

Masters left to right: Michel Nadai, Pierre Finkelstein, Pascal Amblard, Andre Martinez and Patrice Kreitz

photos courtesy of Pierre Finkelstein & Faux Finisher Magazine

Reviewing the photo of the masters at work I remembered I was the only left handed person in Andre's class - one out of 13. I felt alone! Usually there's at least two of us uniting in one class. In a sea of right-handed people you run, you fight, you do whatever you can to get the end seat. Left-handed people, you know what I'm talking about. Left-handed people unite! We're only about 10-15% of the U.S. population don't you know. Did you celebrate your right to be left-handed on August 13th, 2008? P.S. Our new President-Elect, Barack Obama is left-handed. Is anyone else excited about that?

Friday, November 7, 2008

MGMT - Electric Feel

I'm loving this song. I just want to dance and paint when I hear this song. The bear in the video reminds me of the bears from Country Bear Jamboree or the bear in Bjork's Human Behavior video (one of my all-time favorite videos).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reaquainting Myself With Figure Drawing

I'm getting ready to paint a large figure painting for Bianca Benson. She and her husband want a painting for their bedroom. It's exciting because it has been a long time since I've drawn or painted nude figures. The big, black leather portfolio made it's way out of storage this week and I've been going through some of my past work. These are my most recent drawings - over a decade old. Done in a class taken at PNCA - back when PNCA was small and located at Portland Art Museum.

From the late 80s to the late 90s I moved around the US so much that I got really good at purging - unfortunately I may have gotten too good because I didn't keep many drawings or figure studies from my days at Columbus College of Art & Design. I managed to hold onto this self portrait.

I loved that shirt! It was my father's and it was my favorite painting smock. When he passed in 1985 I wore that shirt and his big flannel robe until they were tattered and torn.

Over the last two years I've discovered that I really love painting. I love creating compositions, mixing color, studying value. But I've been away from painting and drawing for so long I struggle daily with my two brains.

I spent most of my childhood, teens and young adult life in my right brain - drawing and painting, living in my imagination. Then I left it all for the corporate world where I spent 15 years in my left brain marketing products, building databases, analyzing data, figuring out corporate politics. During those 15 years I tried very hard to keep my right brain in use as a way to keep my wits about me, saving me from corporate stress.

When I started my business almost six years ago I realized those 15 years were going to help a lot with the day-t0-day business. However, I was going to need to get out of my own way if I really wanted to build the mural/fine art aspect of my business. Unfortunately I didn't realize this until three years ago when I met Andrea Tober and was taking one of her mural classes. I came face-to-face with myself and really saw the perfectionist in me, and realized how much of a controlling person I had become. It's been a challenge to move out of my own way and it will take more time before I'm not controlling what goes onto my canvas. But in the last three years I've gotten so much better. I really have Jennifer Carrasco, William Cochran, Pierre Finkelstein and Andre Martinez to thank. All of them are wonderful, nurturing teachers. Most importantly they have taught me to constantly think about speed, not to fear paint, observe the world around me with a creative eye, explore my talent, be creative on a daily basis, and nurture myself.

I wish each day I could turn the world upside-down or spend my day hanging just to visualize the world in a different way and shake up my left brain. What about you? How do you shake up your brain hemispheres?

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Love Fall!

I'll try to make it back this week to do some new and exciting posts. Until then I hope you're having a great time watching the leaves transform and enjoying the crisp air.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Old Fireplaces Are New Again - Going Green

Hey Bridget Otto, did you know that this fireplace doesn't need to be ripped out of the house in order to be transformed? It's also a 'green' process to keep this intact and use the existing structure as my armature. It's also a cost savings to the homeowner.

Pardon the dust - but I haven't completed the project yet. I'm transforming what was once a traditional fireplace to a limestone finish. It will be glazed today. Stay tuned for the finale!

I'm embarrassed to post my original before photo. I've been trying to get good at taking before shots, but that day I didn't have my tripod and this room is DARK, and I don't believe in the flash if I can help it. Well, that day I should have used my flash. But hey, the finished photos will make this project look that much better.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thank You Desire To Inspire

I just returned from a week of off. I need to give a big thanks to Kim Johnson over at Desire To Inspire for highlighting our latest project while I was away. Thanks Kim!

If you haven't visited Kim and MidCenturyJo's blog you should. There's a reason it's part of Martha's Circle.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different - Transforming your AT-AT

What in the world is an AT-AT? It is a large All Terrain Armored Transport from the Star Wars universe that traverses the landscape on mechanical legs. The AT-AT was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back during the Battle of Hoth.

Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm

This blog entry may not pertain to your design sensibilities, but it's fun nonetheless. Some of you readers may find yourselves relating to my story.

You see, I have this wonderful man in my life, and said wonderful man is a pack rat, and owns a rather large collection of Star Wars toys. Over a year ago his aunt phoned to say that he needed to get his boxes out of her storage space. We pulled over 30 boxes from that storage space and brought them home. Yikes! Right?! Well, we built a spreadsheet and cataloged every piece in the collection. He has decided to let most of it go. However there are some pieces that are worth more than others and he does not want to part with them.

His mother used to run a day care and those children were allowed to play with this AT-AT. So it came to us beat up and quite dirty. He may have parted with it but after it sat on the floor of his computer room for months I sensed he was having trouble letting it go. So, I started thinking about how I could incorporate it into our main living area - I do want to show him his things are important to have in our space. With his permission (because he has another unopened AT-AT in a box) he agreed to let me play around with it.

Over the last couple of months it has transformed from it's original putty color to being silver-leafed, then glazed to make it look aged.

Voila! The finished AT-AT

What do you think George Lucas? May I have a job a Lucas Arts?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Melbourne International Arts Festival - Kristy Edmunds

I have the privilege of knowing this astounding human being, Kristy Edmunds.

I met Kristy while working at the Portland Art Museum from 1990 - 1993. Shortly after meeting Kristy we became friends. Several times a week we would wonder over to Coffee People or up to Rich's coffe cart and enjoy a coffee break together. I would sit in the presence of this woman in awe of her talent, wit and intelligence. A talented artist in many mediums, and at that time a curator then director at PAM's ground-breaking 'Art On The Edge' Program, introducing contemporary visual and performance art to Portland. I was membership manager at the time and we would strategize how to build AOTE membership and lower attrition of museum membership by keeping then current members intrigued. Kristy opened my eyes to many amazing artists. I had never been exposed to artists like Diamanda Galas. My Mid-West sensabilities were blown through the roof when I saw this avant-garde performance artist. I'll never forget sitting in the audience of Susie Bright hoping that some of those older museum donors hadn't read the description of this show and were squirming in their seats as we heard some of the best erotic tales to be told. Kristy left the museum soon after I moved back to the Mid-West and launched Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. That's when her career really started to soar.

When I moved back to Portland in 1999 I was able to sneak several hours of her precious time catching up over cocktails. Soon after Kristy's life changed and off she went to Australia. For the last four years Kristy has been Artistic Director for the Melbourne International Arts Festival, and this is her final year before she moves on to Head, VCA Performing Arts in Melbourne – Australia’s premier tertiary training and education institution for the performing and visual arts.

This is a great picture of Kristy with the exception that this image should be in reverse, because this woman goes 100MPH, 24/7 while the world stands still. If you're lucky you catch a glimpse of her. She is one of the brightest stars in our world. If live in Melbourne and have the chance attend this year's festival, you should do so. It seems Kristy has some many wonderful surprises for you. I wish I were there to experience some of them.

Kristy you continue to astound me. Congratulations to you my dear friend. I wish you the best in your new endeavor. Call me when you come back to Portland - I need a Kristy fix!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Obsession with Faux Crocodile

I think it's officially an obsession - the amount of blogging I've done lately about faux crocodile one might say I have a fetish. I can't help it, I just get so excited when the ideas I have to do projects are reinforced by the design world.

Yesterday I had a little time to catch up on my pile of design magazines. How happy was I when I came across the Trend Alert in the October issue of Elle Decor? Ecstatic! Last week I was flipping through channels and watched a moment of Rachel Zoe as she oogled a croc skin armoire in the Fendi Casa store. I believe she said - "this is a must". Crocodile is everywhere! Love that!

Luckily no crocodiles were harmed for this finish.

I'm really considering making the sample board into a table. Seriously, if I had wood tools and knew how to use them I'd be all over it. Anyone in Portland that has a wood hobby and wants a project that would be great fun? Call me. Rachel Zoe - call me... I'll croc skin your powder room or the wall of your studio - it needs a little texture and color.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Continued love for Lusterstone - Fireplace Finishes

I finished this contemporary fireplace in Lusterstone last week. I love it when the builder offers me a choice on the substrate finish. I chose level 4 to keep the cost down for the owner, and I can deal with the tape on the drywall. If you're not careful sometimes it can transfer through to the finish. I could work with Lusterstone 24/7. But not today. Today I'm in the studio playing with limestone finishes for another fireplace.

I might be the fireplace finish expert in Oregon. Got an old fireplace with a horrible finish, call us and we'll help you create a beautiful design. We can get it done right before the holiday season closes in on us.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Beach setting

I want to be here right now. Happy Friday!