May 29th, 2009

More Foil Fun

Here’s more foil fun from my friend and fellow Morocco traveler, Debbie Hayes!


Debbie did this metallic foil finish in the niches of an authentically decorated Southwestern home.


She adapted the idea from my “Loose Screws” metallic foil finish and used the pattern from our Nairobi Concrete Carpet. I love the impact of this pattern done in the foils. You can see a great example of how using different mediums and colors with the same design can give you dramatically different results by comparing these photos with the Nairobi carpet photo in this blog post.

May 29th, 2009

Heavenly Stenciling

Stacey Tapinis of House to Home Designs,  has a loving family, a VERY pretty website, and an adorable furniture and home design shop in Babylon Village, NY. She is also an accomplished decorative painter who has used Royal Design Studio stencils for years. Recently, she took on a large church decoration project and turned to using a custom designed Modello Decorative Masking Pattern instead. It was her first “Modello job” and it was a biggie! She said she was very nervous about it but it looks like she handled it like a seasoned veteran….


Stacey comes from a family of painters. Her grandfather came from Greece to America and her father has been painting for over 50 years. He has actually donated his time to pain the entire church for free.


Stacey’s Mother helped her with the gilding. Now that’s what I call some good quality family time!

May 27th, 2009

Foilin Around

Metallic Foils are smokin’ hot! They’ve been around the decorative painting world for years, but I’ve just started playing around with them a year or so ago. Sometimes, I’m a little slow to get to the table….but now I’m a certified foil addict and it seems like every new surface finish I start involves the thought, “hmmmm, how can I get some foil into this…”



SO, when it came time to create some new finishes to teach to our artist group in Italy, out came the foils. I wanted to do something cool (and quick) so hit on the idea of using stencils to create a multi-layer foil finish in JUST ONE LAYER.



On some of them, I expanded by going back and highlighting the pattern with some additional color and on some used the reverse image I was able to get with the foil after applying in through the stencil.


It’s WAY cool!


So, I taught two of these new finishes at our class in Italy, and everyone’s samples turned out awesome-and we discovered even MORE options.


One of our group, Pattie Nickel, loved these techniques SO much she did this fabulous accent wall almost immediately after unpacking her bags.


Isn’t this just “WOW”?! She used one of our most popular stencil patterns, the Foliate Damask Allover stencil. I’m working on some instructional material and “recipes” for these techniques to include a mini-book and DVD that I hope to have in time for the IDAL Convention in July, so I’ll be foilin’ around in my studio quite a bit in the next few weeks…..

May 26th, 2009

Color Capture App

Well, I’ve finally joined the iPhone tribe. I’m still “learning to love” my little rectangular connection to all things Apple-and stuff like this helps! I saw this on Style Court and, yeah, it’s pretty cool!


They say that there is an “app for everything”. Maybe not yet, but they’re working on it. This new iphone app, available June 1 for FREE, will help you color match photos on your iphone to the 3,300 available Benjamin Moore paint colors. You can then use your GPS to find the nearest store. I already know where mine is and have long standing relationships with MANY Bennie Moore colors (as evidenced here). It will be interesting to color match to a photo Bennie Moore paint cans and see if it even comes close!

More info also from geeksugar.


Yes, we lived the sweet life for a week at Castello di Casigliano. It had rained pretty much the whole month of April there (the most in 200 years), but that was all in the past and the sun shone brightly 0n the green hills (low 70′s, thank you) for us!


The region of Umbria is known as “the green heard of Italy”. It’s between Florence and Rome. Not as touristy as Tuscany, but still with plenty of wine, medievel hill towns, gorgeous views, and yummy fresh local recipes.



The Castello has a storied history, included stays by Popes, family murders, and oooooh, a current ghost perhaps? Romano gave us a tour on our first day and the photo above shows the group in the beautiful courtyard.


One area of the castle has been restored into an elegant suite and others are planned once they figure out how to proceed with the frescoes that they’ve discovered since the big earthquake in Assisi 10 years ago conveniently dislodged some plaster from the walls to reveal them. Here, Gary and I are “mugging” in front of them. All those holes in the fresco were gouged out by the plasterer so that the new plaster would bond better to the walls. You see this a lot throughout Italy, in many of the churches. It’s absolutely heartbreaking!


The Castello is surrounded by a small, quaint, supporting village that formerly was inhabited by a few hundred people, but now is down to about a dozen. It reminds me of a Hollywood movie set. A place frozen in time. Guest apartments have been created in some of these buildings and this is where we stayed.


Pssst! There is a secret garden area with a tempting hammock that I had to check out one afternoon. It works! What really made the place so special, though, was the outstanding and attentive treatment by the staff, as well as the delicious lunches we enjoyed daily on the terrace overlooking the magnificent view. Romano was so pleased with our work that he treated us to an exclusive Friday night party….


complete with local dignitaries and colorful locals-and champagne….


and even a sparkly cake!


It was almost painful to leave but the bus was waiting, and we gathered one more time in the courtyard for our group photo. You can see that poor lucky Gary was the only man among the bella donnas. Seated left to right, back to front: Scooter Dykema, Rae Westermeyer, Vicki Cromwell, Patty Nickel, Sherry Fleck, Alison Wooley, Nancy Jones, Melanie Royals, Barbara Stratmetz, Gary Lord, Jan Moody, Nancy Escobar, Debbie Rye, Georgia King, Lori Slusarek, Dagmar Alexanderson, Romano’s wife Francesca and the pretty girl who worked there. Thank you to all who made this dream trip a reality!

May 21st, 2009

Painting at Casigliano

Wow! What a great group of people showed up in the Rome airport to participate in our little painting adventure at the Castello di Casigliano. I’ll share them with you in the next post but first wanted to show you what we DID. Here’s the thing: Modern day Italians seem to like to keep things on the clean and simple side with their decorating. Maybe growing up surrounded by all the extreme art and decoration of the Renaissance leaves them wanting something a little less “in your face’. No matter, it’s all good. Additionally, the space we were working in is used extensively for large wedding parties and what should be the focus in the room in that case? The bride, of course. So-our goal, as laid out by the man in charge, Romano, was to create an elegant, understated atmosphere that tied into the history of the building and the land surrounding it. The space is called The Granaio, and it was restored from a part of the Castello complex that  used to house grain.


We did a soft stone-texture finish on all the walls using the standard production method of rolling it on in high and low areas and then knocking it down slightly. This finish worked out really wall with the many different hands we had working on it (16). You really can’t see a difference from section to section.


We then did a random embossed stencil that was cut from the Granaio logo. Nancy Jones from our group gave Romano a quick lesson. This was his “first time”….see the smile?!


We did a soft, allover glaze and then lightly sanded back the tops of the wheat motif when dry to make it “pop” a little more.



Alison Wooley created a lovely original design for the pilasters that incorporates grain and bread, grapes and wine, and an olive trimmed cartouche to hold the painted family crests of the four families whose history is tied to the Castello, which dates back to the 16th century.

I created a stencil from Alison’s drawing and had it cut by my company Royal Design Studio so that we could more quickly block in the main shapes and shading. Alison custom-mixed a range of 5 values for the grisaille painting.


We did the stencil pattern on a series of 8 pilasters that ring the room.


Gary Lord helped to add some of the final hand painted touches.


Alison and me in front of one of the finished pilasters. One thing that was really cool was getting the chance to introduce Alison to using stenciling as a possible tool for laying in the groundwork for some of her beautiful handpainted pieces.

All in all, it was a very successful project. Everyone worked very hard and very well together, we finished, it looks beautiful, the client was happy-and we are now a part of the long, rich history of this beautiful Castello. Una molto buona esperienza!

All of my photos from this trip are now up on my Flickr photostream.

May 18th, 2009

Roman Frescos and Mosaics

In Rome, there is an amazing series of museum buildings and collections that make up the Museo Nazionale Romano. My favorite (I just visited for the third time!) is the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme which is located a block away from the Termini train station. Iwrote a post about it before, in fact. I always head straight to the second floor (which is actually the third as they don’t “count” the first. I think it’s a conspiracy to get you up those many stairs.) That is where the frescos and mosaics from the excavations of nearby Roman villas are housed.


The most famous fresco, of course, is the Villa Livia garden fresco and it is recreated in its own room.


This has to be one of the most copied works of Roman art by decorative painters working today. Not hard to figure out why. The simple painting in predominantly soft blue and green colors is truly breathtaking.




The other recovered frescos there are just as inspiring, and many are housed in their own rooms with as many pieces as they could find placed in so that you can get the sense of how it looked in the original space.


Some of the rooms contain fragments of bas relief plaster. Unfortunately these rooms are dark and roped off, but I leaned in as far as I could…. I only wish I could have captured more. There is so much delicate decorative detail in these pieces!


I showed this mosaic already in the previous post, but it’s my favorite so I’ll show it again! The smallest mosaic pieces in this work are 1/8″ square. The colors are just to die for!

So-when in Rome……Palazzo Massimo alle Terme!

May 15th, 2009

Vatican Museum. Wow.

Ciao! I’ve just returned from my 2 week trip to Italia. It was FABULOUS, thank you! I’m still getting my “back to reality” legs under me and it’s taking quite a bit of time to sort through photos (and here I felt like I was hardly taking ANY). While I plug away on THAT I thought I could at least quickly share some of my favorite shots from the Vatican Museum. While this was my 4th trip to Rome, this was my first trip to Vatican City (it’s its own state, you know). Three words come to mind: jaw dropping art.  You could point and shot your camera aimlessly and still always capture something amazing. Well, at least if it wasn’t full of tourists rushing about….


Trompe L’oeil Drapery. Yeah, it’s cool. This was hiding behind a door.


Proof that Roman’s had foot fetishes.


Grape vines. Always a classic.



Trompe l’oel ceiling panels. These are really flat surfaces. There were so many of these they almost started to feel “ordinary”. Almost.


A bronzed Ceasar. On his way to the shower, I think.


Just your average carved wood shutter.


Faces frozen in time.

We did this tour on our last day. Frankly, I was exhausted but LOVED it. Since I threw a coin over my shoulder at the Trevi Fountain I guess I’ll get to go back to Rome. It’s hard to resist….


Our local customer, Kim Longo, recently shared this Concrete Carpet project that she did in her own home. Kim took a “Wild Workshop” from Colormaker Floors and then proceeded to transform here living room floor with a concrete overlay.


I love the bold use of color and the distressed look she got by using solvent-based dyes through the Modello Concrete Carpet and Royal Design Studio stencil. Her house was built in 200 but she has set about making it look lived in and timeless. The perfect compliment to her efforts came from someone visiting who asked her husband, “Didn’t this house used to be new?” I love that! She’s now looking for great ideas for the ceiling. Any ideas??

May 8th, 2009

2128 Mirrors

They say that the best things come in small packages-or something like that….Well, I think that our little studio bathroom (in progress) is definitely proof of that.




After spending quite a bit lot of time in stenciling the upper and lower walls with some of the new Moroccan stencil designs from Royal Design Studio (thank you Karen and Vicki!) the next area to tackle will be the ceiling. This is one of those projects that just seems to grow exponentially as it goes along. I’m a firm believer that once you start down a path of excess decoration you have to just keep letting that snowball grow as it rolls down the hill.


For example-rather than just paint the ceiling this lovely shade of metallic teal and leave it at that, I’ve decided that the only thing that will “do” is an allover treatment of silver leaf accented with small round mirrors. 2,128 mirrors to be exact. I did it first on a sample board to see if it was going to be worth all the work. I definitely think so-and will tackle it when I return from my painting trip to Italy. It will really pull in the silver leafed poem by Rumi that runs around the room just above the Moroccan zellij tile treatment.

In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that site becomes this art. -Rumi