October 13, 2012

My Oriental Flair

     This little gem of a project happened into the store a few weeks ago.  The old tole-style chandelier needed a complete redo; from cleaning and washing, to rewiring and painting.  The burly, yet competent boys in the workshop took care of the inner-workings of this vintage beauty.  The chandelier had great bones but a tattered exterior.  I was given the job of painting this fixture in an unexpected style which challenged my scope and, honestly ,made me a bit leery.

The "store", aka Summerour Lamps, is a 40 year old family business in Charlotte, NC.  The facets of the business include lamp building and design, shade making, restoration and repair, as well as a retail side open the the public, and a wholesale line which is shipped and sold throughout the U.S.  The stores style is mostly traditional, but style does not take precedence when is comes to what we can restore, repair, and custom design.  We can make a lamp out of pretty much anything...within reason;  boots, guns, antlers, golf clubs, musical instruments, wine bottles, etc seem to come to mind.  We work extensively with antique porcelains and chandeliers.  We can clean, restore, rewire and UL Approve most lamps and fixtures.  Lampshades, from drums to traditional full fabric shades, are made in-house.  Our services extend to relines and recovers of your special lampshades as well.  This synopsis will hopefully give you insight as to why I like cool lamps! This business in not in my blood, it is my husband's family business, yet I am immersed in it and inspired by it everyday.

The chandelier was brought in by a long time, loyal customer who was redesigning a bathroom in her home.  The antique dresser, shown below, was being re-purposed into the bathroom vanity and plumbed for a sink. She wanted the chandelier to match the dresser...

When I paint, I paint without rules.  I've never taken a class, so I simply do what comes naturally to me.  My style has definitely evolved over time, however I don't feel I am a "seasoned" enough artist to paint in someone else's composition.  Does that make sense??  Even though the technique used on the dresser looked fairly elementary, I was very intimidated!  Oriental/Asian is really not my personal style even though we sell a lot of it in the store. It took me about four days of walking by the chandelier, circling it, making mean faces at it...before I actually took the plunge.

I used this funky little paint brush, that I bought at a local art store, to paint all the scenes in red.

The ivory/ecru background was first spray painted on, then I went back over it with a brush to better match the color and to give it more of a hand painted, old look.  A few strokes of umber on a very dry brush finished off the weathered look.

I work with a lot of interior designers and I truly respect what they do.  I am sure all of these designers have a personal style, a comfort zone where their energy is most in-tune; however I admire the way they adapt.  They face the challenge of stepping outside of their box and into someone else's personal space and designing it for them!  Their eye matters, but their personal style has to be set aside.  It's not about them.  Kudos to those designers who accomplish this on a daily basis.  It's not easy!  This chandelier project has taught me to open my mind, to broaden my scope, and to experiment with different techniques and styles.  Who knows what I have yet to discover about myself...an unforeseen shade of indigo!

September 26, 2012

Color Me Turquoise

Blue is my feel good color.  I am magnetically and hypnotically drawn to tones of aqua and turquoise.  Truthfully I find this a bit odd considering my tendencies towards achromatic, organic hues.  In life and in design, I believe, balance is the name of the game.  All elements should be present to obtain optimal "chi".  Ahhh Zen!  However, pondering the five elements of nature, I am most drawn to the earth; crude textures, and mountainous views.  I am least attracted to water.  So I wonder why I am so drawn to the color of it?  My canvas art is often blanched with varied greys and muted, unrefined color, quite earthy actually.  However, upon careful examination of the layers, you will almost always find a dabble or stroke of my favorite blue.  I mostly love small, warm, cozy spaces that draw you in with a warm mug of tea, cashmere blankets, and a favorite book.  Hmmm?  In summary, I am a tad bi-polar when it comes to design.  While my bedroom may not be me in my natural element; when I walk into my space I feel an overall sense of "aahhhh"!  There is so much I want to tell you about this room..my journey to explore my many shades of indigo.  The artwork, the bed, the lamps...

     The painting is an original by moi.  It is one of the few abstracts I have ever attempted.  I find abstract art the most difficult of all the styles I have ever tried to paint.  I started this painting with absolutely no idea of what I was going to do or where it would take me.  I love the idea of painting this way, but I can't seem to wrap my mind around it on a consistent bases.  My sister is an amazing abstract artist.  She has such an unlimited, free vision.  I encourage you to puruse her website at www.erinashleyart.com.   In the end, I was please with this acrylic painting.  The color, of course, uplifts me.  It is done on a large gallery canvas and really makes a statement.  I added lots of varied texture, and the touch of warmth really completed this piece for me.

     I've owned my bed for 19 years!  I was so sick of the grainy, midtoned wood that made this space look so dated.  I hesitated painting my bed white; I was afraid it would look like my bedroom when I was nine with my bright white bedroom suite and pastel floral comforter.  On the contray, painting it (and my armoire too) really opened up the space and made it come alive.  I did use raw umber, very diluted in a glaze,  to soften and distress the "whiteness".

     The lamps and lampshades are the creme de la creme of this room.  The lamps are made from vintage wallpaper printing rolls.  They are old, distressed, and full of character.  They do not match, which, I think, adds to their coolness!  A little insight into my indigo life...my husbands family has owned and operated a lamp and shade business for over 40 years.  They specialize in lamp building, shade making, restoration and repair.  I work there, 40 hours a week, helping the trade and the public design their lamps and lamp shades.  So...you may be getting an earfull, in this blog, when it comes to lamps and chandeliers.  More about the shop later...! 

     The lampshades are made from scratch.  The shade frames are recycled.  I stripped off the old, tattered fabric and cleaned them up.  I adore the vintage feel of this tall drum style shade with a slight silloutte.  The wallpaper printing rolls are already very tall, so I thought the idea of adding an equally tall shade was dramatic and a bit unexpected.  The fabric I chose is a very simple cotten with an impactful punch of my favorite hue.  The lining has a satin finish and is ecru in color.  I used my serger machine on the seams of both the lining and the outer covering of the shade.  The seam is nice and strong so I can stretch the fabric really tight.  I used fabric glue at the top and the bottom.  I also made my own bias tape and created a 1" trim.  However, next time I will line my trim with interfacing before I make it.  The fabric was a little thin and when I turned on the light I could see my folded edges.  To remedy this I applied another trim in taupe, underneath the blue trim.  I actually like the effect because it pulls up just a hint of the lamp color into the shade.

This space has evolved over time.  With a nearly non-existent decorating budget, I spend time looking for deals and making things myself.  I believe, even if I had unlimited funds, I would still look for deals and create.  There is something very satisfying and special about a space that is uniquely yours.  However, above all else, I want to feel relaxed and soothed when I walk into a room.  My advice...find your feel good color and embrace it.  You may think you are beige, but you're probably not!  It's amazing what a little color can do.

September 13, 2012

A Day of Reflection

Something you should know about me is that I have not always been interested in art, at least I didn't think I was.  My mother is an artist.  I have seen her drawing and painting a hundred times.  Never once did it occur to me to pick up a pencil or a paint brush and give it a try.  I often wonder if I was intimidated by her talent - a feeling that I could never measure up.  However, a larger part of me believes that it has simply taken me a very long time to find my way.

Below is my lastest painting.  This original acrylic was done on an 18 x 24" gallery wrapped canvas.  It is the first "human subject" that I have ever attempted.  Painting people REALLY intimidated me!  But I find rugged cowboys irresistable, so I decided to go for it!

This painting, that I have put off doing for months, has turned out to be one of my favorites.  I am now planning to do an entire series of cowboys!  I named this handsome wrangler "Reflection".  I look at this painting and find myself wondering what he is thinking about.  Is he thinking about a lost love?  Is he reflecting on his life?

The art of painting is so interesting to me.  My progression on canvas is almost always the same; a fine start, everything is looking good, then I hit a wall of discouragement.  There is a span of time, somewhere between start and finish, where I am sure I have failed, that I might as well paint a big black "X" across the canvas and call it a day. But I keep working.  At last I start to see a glimmer of something real, something that brings me joy.  I wash my brushes, clean up my paints, and then really stand back and look at my work.  The best feeling in the world, and it doesn't always happen, is when I wonder if I really, actually painted that.  Is this my work?  It seems so surreal.  It is amazing to accomplish something that you really didn't know was inside you. 

 My forty-something years of gathered wisdom has taught me this:  the reflection that you see of yourself in the mirror, or the reflection of your story thus far, may only be a fraction of who you are and what others see you to be.  Dig deep.  Listen to your soul, and don't be afraid to try something new.