Sunday, April 6, 2014

Opportunity is Knocking.....


Do you always recognize an opportunity when it comes knocking?




 This September, two of the greatest decorative artists in the world will be combining talents for an 8 day workshop plus 2 days of touring in Rome!


 Carolina d'Ayala Valva will teach for 4 days the art of grottesca painting......
and Pierre Finkelstein will teach for 4 days and the students will then have 2 days to sightsee Rome!


Can you hear the knocking? This is an incredible opportunity! Rome! Pierre and Carolina! Students will study marbles, stone and trompe l'oeil with Pierre and grottesca done with egg tempera with Carolina.



I assisted Pierre a few years ago in a class....I was green as grass and he was very tolerant of me!


I have also studied with Carolina and am thrilled they are combining their talents for students to benefit from.


How can you miss this? You can't! The classes will be in September, so plan now and check out the websites!


Roma awaits!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tea and Da Vinci...only in Texas!


A friend invited me to High Tea at a nearby old plantation home today.....

 Promptly at 2:00, sixteen women were seated to a lovely menu of fruit, scones, tea sandwiches and desserts.


On the left of me were two women from Louisiana(friends since college) and a woman originally from New Jersey celebrating her birthday. These teas book early and are only offered three times a year. Look at those unusual tea spoon rests, aren't they fabulous!

The owners of the plantation live in this home and keep it spotless for tours and teas. The grounds include a log cabin, chapel and other buildings.

I kept wandering off from the group, shooting pictures of the original bricks made on the plantation in the 1800's....

...and the old cast iron vents for the pier and beam structure. I have been to this home over the years for parties and other events, but never a tea.

One treat on the tour is a 15 feet by 28 feet life size copy of the Last Supper..who knew?

An earlier home owner had traveled to Milan and was so taken with the original, they hired artists from Greece to come to Texas and produce this oil copy on canvas.


Never turn down an opportunity to spend time with a good friend, you never know where it can lead!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gianfranco Mello....capturing Firenze light



Gianfranco understands Firenze light. He has captured it successfully for years from his home terrace in Florence, Italy.


Walking into his studio on Borgo Pinti, you are transported into his world...paintings hang on every available space and lean on the walls,  vintage woven wool rugs cover the floors and just enough period furniture made me think of Gertrude Stein's atelier. It was no surprise that opera music flowed through the high vaulted ceilings.


He never tires of capturing the light on the Duomo which is easily painted from his terrace. If these images seem blurry, it is due to the fact he works with a mixed technique on canvas. To see one in person is a privilege. The layers  are grainy and textural against the canvas. His colors are vibrant and he understands encaustic and paint in a way I never knew was possible.


I first visited his studio three years ago but did not meet the artist until this trip. I took Lynne Rutter to see his work and we were both surprised to be there when he was in the studio. It is moments such as this that draw me back again and again to wander the streets of Florence and discover another layer it has to offer.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Sweet Smell of History...



Step off via della Scala into the perfumed world of the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica . Florence is full of many treasures waiting to be discovered and this is certainly one of them.


Over 400 years old, this pharmacy has operated, first serving the needs of the monastery and later, the world. Herbs and potions made by Dominican Friars and backed by the Medici family were the basis of the business.

Creams, lotions, soaps and perfumes are viewed through glass cases. I choose to see the soaps. A wooden tray is brought out with all scents represented. You may touch the samples and smell the scents.


Once a decision is made, your purchase is transferred to a plastic card that you take to another room to pay for and receive.


Even if you are not shopping, the building is worth visiting to see the virtual explosion of decorative ornament.

Five rooms are open to the public -Antica Spezieria, Sala Vendita(sales room), Sala Verde(Green room), Sacrestia(Sacristy) and the Museo. 


Take time to visit this historical building while visiting Firenze!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Glorious Gracie....!



I think you all know by now that I have a penchant for all things Chinoiserie.....


I recently was asked to embellish a small powder room done in Gracie paper. The trim and door were white and competed with the scene.

I based coated everything in a high green. Gracie wallpaper is very complex with layers of  subtle washes of color for their backgrounds. I used three to four washes to make the design seamless.


Details were extended into the moulding to complete the scene...now, on to the door!




I based the door and then began the layers of washes....all straight acrylic paint thinned with water and wiped back. No glaze.


The layers gave a soft patina of age and depth. Accents of corals were added to the edges and bevels...


A main element of ornament was added to the top panel with small accents in the lower panels...


A bird cage of bamboo was added with songbird and foliage...colors were  a traditional palette..cadmium yellow, burnt sienna, raw sienna, burnt umber, alizarin crimson and bone black


The client designed the birdcage with thatched roof and bamboo design.



 This is a teeny room under the staircase and hard to shoot an interior shot with a camera!



It's always about the details...there are no shortcuts.


I can't wait to see the room with the sconces and mirror hung! It was a lovely project to be involved in.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Mentors...Kelly Fearing and Gibbs Milliken




Did you ever feel like a square peg in a round hole? Most artists do growing up.

Attending college at the University of Texas was an eye opener for me! There, I found my niche.



Austin, Texas 1976....Eeyore's Birthday Party, Zilker Park and a diverse art department...what more could anyone want?


I was introduced to graphite powder, texture boards, gouache, silverpoint and so much more. I made collages from textures of wood, woven bamboo, even my artist smock was morphed into rock-like formations.

Kelly Fearing showed me a world of alien landscapes made of layers of texture. He had me create countless texture boards from onion bags, screen netting, the end of bamboo paintbrush and other items pressed into texture medium.

I learned old school....no cell phone, computer, pinterest or facebook for inspiration.  Paper was placed over the texture boards and rubbed with Pentel "japanese crayons" and graphite sticks.


Gibbs Milliken was my life drawing professor for two years. He influenced me with his simple paintings of weeds growing in cracks in the sidewalk and feathers hanging from a string.


This is acrylic and gold leaf on linen done by Kelly Fearing in 1968.  It is as relevant today as it was in 1968 because he understood the medium and how to manipulate it. I was educated to explore mediums and understand their properties, not to use a "kit"approach and then be frustrated when something goes wrong.

Gibbs Milliken carved an ink quill for me from a yucca plant, he had learned the technique from native americans and how the yucca stem is absorbent. I still have it and treasure it. He taught me to loosen up with my drawing and to never let a project become "work".


Kelly Fearing showed me there is art in everything and gave me his passion for color.
 Without these two men, I would not be who I am today. Who's mentoring you?


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

All Tied up in Knots....!






I love the San Francisco airport...they often have mini exhibits to view while waiting to board a plane.


Imagine my surprise when I saw this exhibit on sailor knotting ! I had seen one of the finest examples of knotting  a few weeks prior to this trip and it had stayed on my mind.


While on ships, sailors got creative with their spare time and developed the art of macramé into an art form.

They would tie the knots over wine bottles, boxes and even the ship's wheel!

Although they had some great examples, none compared with the jug I had seen earlier.

It was in a lamp shop in Little Rock , Arkansas...Lamp Shades Etc.  Those teeny knots called to me from across the room.

Have you ever seen a more exquisite example of sailor knotting? Even the lid has a cap! I swooned! The price was a little out of my budget, but I am optimistic about finding another one in my future. Never underestimate a woman on a mission! I'll let you know if I find another treasure...!
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