I’ve featured some of Nichole Blackburns lovely work on this blog before, and you can find many more examples on her company website, Celadon Studio, showing her high end residential work about the Los Angeles area. Some of her most meaningful and personal work, however, can be found all over the world.


In Thailand…




…the Philippines…




..and New Orleans.  Nichole had already graduated with a degree in fine art and had traveled all over the world when, in 2005, she made a commitment to put a purpose to both these passions and she began to paint “donation murals” in orphanages around the world. Her first 5 international donation murals, shown above, were paid for out of pocket, but Nichole has recently formed a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit corporation and launched a website www.bigskycountries.com to help raise money to sponsor her trips and help to spread the word about her cause.

Nichole’s next mural is scheduled for an orphanage in Morocco this fall, with other murals to follow in Indonesia and India. She is planning a Moroccan-themed fundraiser party August 8 in Manhattan Beach, CA (which I am looking forward to going to!). Tickets are still available, but going fast! Maybe you can make it?? If not, a small donation would be most appreciated for this art from the heart!

I’m so happy to announce that my good friend Barb Skivington of Faux Works Studio in High Point, NC will be coming out to San Diego to teach one of her famous and highly regarded cabinet and furniture finishing workshops at my studio this coming November. All of the training will be done on exquisite cabinet doors that will be finished in class using both HVLP spray and hand applied techniques. Barb has created a whole new series of finishes for the premier of this Artisan Cabinet and Furniture Finishing class using both Royal Design Studio stencils and Modello Designs Decorative Masking Patterns. While the incorporation of the patterns adds an additional custom touch, the underlying finishes are all classics that can stand alone with ease. Below are six of the amazing eight samples that will be taught and mastered.







Cabinet and furniture finishing and resurfacing are HOT and an important and potentially profitable niche market to excel in during this ecomomic “down time”. Register by July 31, 2009 to save $145 on this premier workshop!

I was recently contacted by the producers of the show Moving Up with Doug Wilson (on TLC) as they were looking for an artist on Long Island to do some work in a house that they were featuring. I was happy to pass that opportunity along to Joyce Frey of Elegant Touch, a longtime customer. Joyce and her partner did some work with some Celtic-inspired Modello Masking Patterns in the dining room, as well as a hand painted mural.

The premise of the show is that they follow the people moving in and out of homes as they move up the “property ladder” ( I think that they wrote that description some time ago….). At any rate, they are encourage to weigh in on what the new owners have done with “their” old home. Joyce has heard that the old owners dissed a bit about the house whe was working in, so she’s a little nervous though she has no ideas what their issues were.

Venetian Plaster 1



If you’d like to tune in to find out how this, and other, rooms turned out and if the previous owners approved, tune in tomorrow evening, Tuesday, July 28 at 8pm to find out. Hopefully they will show more than 2 seconds of it. You never know what will and won’t end up on the cutting room floor with these shows! I think it’s lovely Joyce!!

This is the first post in a series I’m calling “Artist’s Who Care”….because there really ARE more important things in the world than pretty patterns. Yes, it’s true.

My friend Cynthia Davis is a talented decorative artist…. but her most important focus these days is as a devoted board member of Hope For Ariang, a non profit organization which is helping to bring primary education to war torn areas of Sudan. Cynthia is working closely with Hope’s founder, Gabriel Bol Deng, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan“.


Gabriel was 10 years old when North Sudan government-sponsored militiamen led a violent attack on his village in South Sudan in 1987. He fled, not knowing the fate of his parents or siblings. After his escape, Gabriel embarked on a harrowing, four month journey across the Nile River and the untold miles of desert, surviving disease and paralyzing hunger to reach Ethiopia. While at the Dimma Refugee Camp in Ethiopia, Gabriel first learned English by writing on cardboard with pieces of charcoal. Four years later, he fled from violence again, leaving Ethiopia and traveling cross-country to Kenya, where with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Gabriel received an education at the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

In 2001, Gabriel came to the United States, and along with other Sudanese refugees he received help resettling in New York State. After settling in Syracuse in 2001, Gabriel earned an Associate’s of Arts degree in Mathematics and Science at Onondaga Community College in 2004.  He then continued with his education at Le Moyne College where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education and Philosophy, in 2007.  He was named “Student Teacher of the Year” by the Education Department.


In May 2007 Gabriel returned to South Sudan after 20 years to search for his family, a journey documented in the upcoming film ‘Rebuilding Hope’. Upon his return, he founded Helping Offer Primary Education (HOPE) for Sudan with a mission to provide educational opportunities and health services to Sudanese people adversely affected by political turmoil in Sudan. Gabriel has thrived in the United States and is now working to help his village enhance their education by building, maintaining and supporting the Ariang School. He strongly believes that education is key to achieving lasting peace and development in his native Sudan.


Cynthia became involved with Gabriel’s organization through her daughter Stephanie’s high school work with Students Taking Action Now in Darfur. To date, she  has helped the organization raise over $20,000 by working to introduce Gabriel and his powerful story around the state of Connecticut.  An even more personal touch-she now sells her home-baked granola, “Cereal of Hope” at local farm market’s and to devoted customers, helping to raise an additional $1400. With the help of these fundraising efforts, the organization has now drilled 4 wells in Southern Sudan and plans on breaking ground on a first school there this December.

If you’re like me, you may not find the time to work on fundraising, help dig wells, build a school, or even bake granola….but it only takes few minutes and a few dollars to make a difference. Yes, it’s true.


July 13th, 2009

LM Pagano LA House Tour

While cruising around the internet this past weekend I came across a “home tour” of the colorful LA home of LM Pagano on the Los Angeles Times website. Pagano herself has quite a colorful life and past: she made shirts for Bob Dylan out of antique fabrics, embroidered jeans for David Lee Roth, cooked for Speilberg and has decorated numerous homes for Nicolas Cage and even Johnny Depp’s yacht (most impressive!). Oh yeah, she’s also an accomplished jazz singer. SOME people!!






I love, love LOVE this blue color and all these adorable Chinese dolls. Don’t you just want some?

July 7th, 2009

Trend Alert-Florals

House Beautiful is one of my favorite home magazines (esp. now that it’s one of the few left!), and I always tune in to their “Trend Alerts”.


Hmmm. Florals, you say? Well, it just so happens that we are releasing our latest stencil patterns this week and there are LOTS of florals in the bunch. I just love staying ahead of the trends…..


Blossoming Allover Stencil


Flower Patch Stencil


Kimono Allover Stencil


Berry Romantic Stencil


Butterfly and Peony Stencil

I’m having so much fun creating new finishes with these to debut at the IDAL convention in 2 weeks! You may have noticed I haven’t been posting much-SORRY! All these and more now available through Royal Design Studio here.

I’ve also been playing with our new Facebook Fan Page, posting lots of photos and “insider” info. Become a “fan” of Royal Design Studio and Modello Designs here http://bit.ly/MQoWI

BTW, if you’re “in the trade”, meaning a professional decorative painter or interior designer, we are now offering a Trade Discount on stencils of 20%. Email sales(at)royaldesignstudio.com for details!