July 5th, 2011

Painting at the Monestir

I have been super fortunate to have been given the opportunity to plan and lead painting adventures to many beautiful cities and countries of the world: France and Italy with my friend Gary Lord, and Marrakech with the help of Maryam Montague. These trips have now actually become an integral part of my business AND personal life. I love doing all the research and planning for both painting and enjoying the local culture, and most especially introducing new experiences to the students who sign on to these trips.  With the help of my friend in Barcelona, Paul Deprez, I have just returned from a 2-week stay in Barcelona and the Catalunya region.

This was my fourth visit to Barcelona, and each time my love for this city grows exponentially. So much so that I am already planning a return painting trip for September 2012! But back to THIS trip….I have so much to share, but thought I should start with the primary reason *cough* for the tour-the decorative painting classes.

The trip was planned to include a 6 night stay in the city and 6 nights in a former monestary in the hills nearby.The monestir, Sant Jeroni de la Murtra, was partially burned and sacked in the 19th century during a widespread backlash against the corruption and power of the church. It is now run by a private foundation that maintains it as a place for solitude, silence, and encourages artistic pursuits.

We were able to set up some small, low-ceilinged rooms as studio spaces to work on a range of projects. I wanted to take the opportunity to incorporate some forthcoming stencils from The Hearst Castle Collection, as these were designs created by Julia Morgan to decorate Hearst Castle in a Spanish/Mediterranean Revival style.

The Delphine Panel sample was done on smooth textured plaster background. We laid in the initial color and pattern with a simple dry-brush stencil technique. I was inspired by the amazing work of Italian artist, Carolina d’Ayala Valva, to overpaint the stenciling with washes of color to create a luminous look.

Some day, I would love to have the opportunity to study with Carolina in her Rome Atelier, but in the meantime I have her wonderful book, which I highly recommend! After painting with watered-down acrylics (as opposed to the traditional egg tempera) the painting on plaster was sanded to distress, and given a soft toning glaze.

Here is lovely Nancy showing off her own completed panel.

Another panel that I have taken from Julia Morgan’s amazing architectural drawings is the Pescado Panel. It is full of whimsical birds and fish that appear almost happy to have been caught-ha!

This panel is stenciled with three colors of our new Royal Stencil Cremes over a background of composition gold leaf. The gold leaf has been patinated and distressed with a safe chemical process that I am still perfecting-as much as you “can” perfect a chemical process! Once I have it a little more “under control”, I will surely share the details. ;)

Another project that we worked on was a faux tile mural. For this we again used upcoming Hearst Castle Collection stencils. In this case we simply used them as patterns to trace and then add loose hand painting to create the look of classic Portuguese tiles. My sample above shows the mural in various stages of  completion. I hope to finish the mural in the next couple of weeks. It was thrilling for me to have the time to actually pick up a brush and paint, as it seems my hands are most often attached to a computer keyboard these days!

This study shows the final effect of the last step-adding a China Crackle layer (from Modern Masters) and rubbing in a toning glaze to reveal the cracks and add depth and aging.

Here is a completed mural by Debbie Hayes, who was the fastest painter of the bunch of us! It’s quite beautiful, isn’t it? All of the stencils featured in the projects above will be available soon from Royal Design Studio stencils!

Another decorative style that is synonymous with Barcelona is Modernisme, the uniquely Catalunyan version of Art Nouveau. I wanted to honor that heritage, and so we also did a tecnique using metallic foils with a new Modello Marquetry Masking Pattern stencil from Modello Designs.

On our way from Barcelona to the monestir, we stopped at Espintura Studio to do an embedded tile pattern technique with SkimStone and a Modello masking pattern.

Now that I am back, I’m continuing to work on the videos and lessons for my next Virtual Workshop combining these two mediums.

I hope you enjoyed seeing our painting samples from Barcelona! As I said above, I am already planning a return trip in Sept. 2012, so drop me an email if you want to be the first to get those details when they become available!. The details on this recent trip are still available here.

 You can view more photos from the Barcelona painting class and trip in my flickr sets!

10 Responses to “Painting at the Monestir”

  1. Theresa Cheek Says:

    Wow, so much to see here! I love the “Carolina” approach to stenciling having a warm and cool side to the panel. The crackled tile and embedded tiles are fabulous! Those backgrounds aren’t too bad either!!!

  2. Debbie Hayes Says:

    Hi Melanie, love all the background info so I won’t forget, and you obviously figured out your fab new camera! Beautiful. And thanks for everything – a magical two weeks. My mind is still there…

  3. Angela Gorini Perrone Says:

    What a well-written, beautiful synopsis of our time together. Thank you for the lovely memory! And please remember to make time to paint… you enjoy it, you’re quite good and it’s good for you! :)

  4. Lessandra Martins Says:

    Hola Mel (if I were to call you in a friendly way, in portuguese, that is how I would be saying -Hi Mel – it is just like honey….)
    Don’t try to understand, as you can tell I am “lost in translations”…lol
    I loved the way your words made me fell after all. Thanks for organizing my thoughts for me. It has been hard to really land!
    Yesterday as I walked through a not so lovely street as the ones in Barcelona, I heard some bells coming from a church somewhere up the road…it gave me this joyful feeling and just one more reason to be so thankful for such magical days. Aste la vista!!!

  5. Tamra/The Gilded Barn Says:

    I can’t wait for the Hearst stencils to be released. They look amazing!

    Beautiful work and love, love, love, the china crackle over the faux tiles.

  6. Cat Says:

    Fabulous and fun and I love the sample panels in the settings for the pics! Terrific!

  7. Nancy Jones Says:

    This is my fifth trip with Melanie including Italy and Marrakesh, but I can honestly say I LOVED this trip! The beautiful Mediterranean Sea, the cosmopolitan city with amazing architecture. the “old world” setting at the monastery, a well-planned itinerary with just the right mix of guided tours, painting, good food, our delightful Catalan hosts at Pentol and a wonderful group of women who enjoyed the whole experience. It doesn’t get much better!

  8. Melanie Says:

    It was a very special group of ladies and a magical trip!! I am so happy to share your great memories!!

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  10. Melaine Burgie Says:

    I’ll be following your blog. =)