A beautiful Sunday morning seems a fine time to finally get around to sorting and posting some pictures from my most recent Peacock Painting trip to Peacock Pavilions in Marrakech. I feel like I’m taking a “virtual” trip back there….if you want to come along, you will see…


..the most efficient form of transportation for getting quickly around the souks…


..where purple silk hangs to dry….


…and rusted hinges pile up and just BEG for you to grab a handful (tempted!)…


…red thongs sit on a “factory” line…


…and random pots form a perfect still life.


On the edge of the Medina, the gardens at La Mamounia invite you to take a casual stroll…

…where stately palms cast shadows on a building halfway down the path.


Perhaps you’d prefer some quiet reflection at the Medersa…


…or a morning walk in the Koutoubia gardens under the watchful eye of the mosque tower.


How about browsing for Fortuny inspired, henna-decorated goatskin chandeliers? It was hard to resist purchasing one of these, so I got two!


You might enjoy a quiet game of chess in a historic hotel in Essaouira… 


…or an afternoon enjoying the cactus gardens at the Jardin Majorelle?


If you think a “virtual” trip is for the birds and are considering a REAL LIVE trip to Marrakech in the future, I am compiling an “interest list” for a 4th Peacock Painting trip in the next year or so. Drop me a line if you are interested…..

July 17th, 2010

Double Vision

I have spoken here before about the lovely Helen Morris of The Stencil Library. The Stencil Library company is a collaboration of Helen (the stenciler extraordinaire), her husband Chips (the artist/designer) and Helen’s cousin Rachel (the business mind with a creative bent). Speaking of collaboration (which I conveniently just was)….Helen and I will be teaming up for a lecture/demo on all things “stencil”  called Double Vision at the upcoming 25th annual Decorative Artisans League Convention in Portland, OR. Our presentation will be on Sunday morning from 8am to 12pm. Not exactly prime time, but if you are there and awake we don’t mind if you bring your latte with you! The cost is $150, and includes a CD with hundreds of inspirational photos from multiple stencil companies, printable PDF’s detailing the many stenciling techniques we will be demoing, and$50 worth of vouchers for future stencil purchases from our respective companies, Royal Design Studio , Modello Designs, and The Stencil Library.


While compiling the CD images, I have been appreciating Helen’s uniquely witty and whimsical approach to utilizing color and pattern combinations and thought it would be nice to preview some of those here.


This shot is TOO classic! The cat is obviouslya “natural” when it comes to modelling.


I believe that this allover snakeskin design was actually done by Rachel for the last iteration of her bedroom…


Helen has done a lot of things that are a take-off from the classic British print room concept; of course, with a twist! This postcard arrangement is so much fun…


…as is this free form floral tree that serves as a one-of-a-kind gallery for family photos.


I have done some similar pattern in pattern looks with Modello Silhouettes and Stencils, but I think that the photo above shows the perfects juxtaposition of design, scale, color and composition!

You can find MUCH more at Helen and Rachel’s Design Inspiration blog! More info on our Double Vision presentation here!

MORE EXCITING Collaboration! Through an exclusive arrangement between Modello Designs, and The Stencil Library, we now have the possibility and opportunity to offer Modello patterns to be cut here in the U.S.from the many thousands of unique and elegant designs from The Stencil Library collection of stencils.

July 8th, 2010

Master of Plaster

Would you like to become a patterned plaster master of easy to execute, cost-effective Venetian plaster-type finishes? It’s easier than you think! I will be teaching a class at the 25th annual Decorative Artisans League Convention in beautiful Portland, OR on July 24 that features the versatile Vella Venetian Plaster system. This widely available plaster trowels “like butta”, can be applied directly over level 3 drywall, bridges ugly sprayed on wall textures in one pass, and costs a mere .30-.50 cents a square foot.  It’s the ultimate solution for ugly white walls. What more could you ask for?


How about the addition of a fine marble aggregate that allows you to create the look of an expensive Marmorino or Travertino finish at a fraction of the cost? The breakaway look of the Provence Plaster finish above is done in three simple layers with a random stencil pattern, plus wax.


Another cracked Marmorino look brings the background color forward with the addition of a simple, embossed stencil border.


Need a little more glitz? Simple layer a smooth plaster with metallic foils and one of our exclusive Stencil Impressions designs.


This ornate allover stencil pattern only “looks” complicated. Stenciling with mica-laden wax provides instant depth and speedy coverage.


We will also create a sample that features inlaid motifs using one of our one-time-use Modello Pronto patterns.

I will be assisted in this class by one of the fine men from Vella Venetian Plasters, so you will get all the ins and outs of this user-friendly system from THE source. In addtion to leaving with newfound knowledge and 5 gorgeous 15″ x 20″ samples, you will also take home 4 quality stencils from Royal Design Studio.

More class details available here and general convention information available here

Online registration ends today, July 8, but don’t fret! You can still fax in your registration with this handy form.

June 25th, 2010

Modello Mural on decor8

What a lovely surprise to see the art deco mural I designed for Peacock Pavilions today on decor8! It seems that Holly is leading a group over there this coming October for a weeklong  focus on decorating and successful blogging. I blogged about the creation of this dramatic, black and gold mural after Peacock Painting trip there in January 2009.

Modello stencil mural

I actually had the amazing experience of sleeping under this mural just this past May, as I took another flock of Peacock Painters back to Marrakech to stencil a dramatic black and white hospitality tent on the property. Maryam did quite a few blog posts about it, but I am obviously VERY far behind on my own blogging as I have yet to even post picture myself here. Ugh!!! Pay no attention to that large “L” pasted on my forehead….

Modello Mural detail

Meanwhile you can see more on our previous 2 magical Marrakech painting trips right here!

June 16th, 2010

Cover Girl

I am very happy to report that the long-awaited followup book to Modello by Design-Inspiring Interiors, from Artist’ Portfolios Vol. 1 is at the printers and will be available for shipping in a few weeks time. This latest version, Vol. 2, features some amazing work by 68 professional decorative artisans from around the country. Three different artisans were chosen as “featured artists” based on the depth and range of their work, as well as the beautiful photography that they submitted. First and foremost in the book is Gracie Reed of Grace Designs in Dallas. Her work is featured on the book’s cover.


Gracie brings a special quality to her decorative work. Her amazing attention to detail is evident in the way that she blends patterns, colors, textures and finishes. Also outstanding is the way that she carefully styles each room. The barrel ceiling shown above features our popular Chambord carpet and panel pattern.


Here, a patinated and patterned mirror, using Flourish969,  rests atop an elegantly stenciled furniture piece.


Embedded pattern on Venetian plaster walls, FlorentineGrille705,  is beautifully accented with more patinated and patterned mirror. Here,  OrnTile137  is repeated in custom shutters.

Modello-stencil 5

One of our tribal panel patterns, IndPan105 , was cut small to create a custom art piece that seems perfectly balanced with an entry table.


Our Prajna concrete carpet pattern anchors this rich Victorian-style parlor with a complimentary punch of color.

You can see much more of Gracie’s work, and many more inspirational interior shots (175 in all!) in this new book. Due to the high cost of printing, we are offering a very limited amount of these books for sale. You can pre-order the book until July 15 at a $3 savings. Additionally, we will deduct the U.S. ground shipping charges upon invoicing for a total savings of $17. Book sales are brisk! Don’t miss the opportunity to reserve your limited-edition copy of Modello by Design-Inspiring Interiors from Artists’ Portfolios, Vol. 2!

May 20th, 2010

Flamenco Dress Up

Flamenco is a passionate dance with it’s roots and influences in Moorish, Gypsy, Jewish, African and even South American culture. The dancers ad-lib each performance from their heart and soul to beautiful voices, Spanish guitars, and percussive hand clapping. It gets inside you and is deeply moving  to watch and experience. If you are a woman, and you think like me, you want to experience that freedom and passion too–but most importantly–you want to wear one of those DRESSES!


If you are lucky enough to be one of the beautiful ladies of Sevilla you get the opportunity, once a year, to play the dress-up part in the week long La Feria de Abril. We were there a week before the start of this annual festival that attracts over a million visitors, so did not get to see and experience this full-blown event but the dresses, hair flowers and combs, and oversized earrings were on display in MANY store windows.


 You could be pretty in pink…


…rock some serious polka dots with even more serious fringe…


…go basic in demure white…


…or choose from literally any color in the rainbow! Tell me ladies, how GOOD would YOU feel wearing one of these dresses?!

May 4th, 2010

Portugal: A Sweet Treat

After my recent post on Azulejos and my upcoming honeymoon trip to Portugal, I heard on THIS BLOG from a lovely lady from Lisbon, who also happens to work as a decorative painter there. Ana suggested that we go to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, which we DID promptly upon our arrival in Lisbon from Newark. IMG_6317

She also kindly offered that if we wanted more advice to please ask.


Just before leaving on the trip I received a very thoughtful and detailed list of suggestions and an additional offer to meet for coffee.


And so we did, surrounded by beautiful azulejos tile dados at the famous Pasteis de Belem, home of the most delicious pastries in the world. Seriously! I don’t generally even like sweets and I gobbled down two of these mouth-watering custard confections right out of the oven. Mmmmm, even their cafe con leche was the best in town.


If you don’t want to sit you can stand in line for the take away counter service!


It is easy to find! Just look to the right of the amazing Manueline inspired Mosteiro do Jeronimos, where the secret recipe for the pastries is said to have originated.


Also in the neighborhood, down along the Rio Tejo, is the Torre de Belem….


a World Heritage site that is often pictured as a symbol for Portugal,….


as well as a glorious monument to the “discoveries”. On this side of the Atlantic we refer to these people a conquerors, but the truth is that Portugal at one point led the world in navigation and exploration back when it was thought to be flat.


We met up with Ana again on our last night in Lisbon at A Ginjinha, where locals begin their evening out with a shot of this brandy-fortified sweet liquor! It made our trip so much more special getting to know Ana, enjoying the city under some of her guidance, and benefiting from her local knowledge and perspective.


Cheers Ana, and obrigada!! We hope to see you again very soon!

April 29th, 2010

Portugal: In Living Color

When most Americans think of traveling to Southern Europe the countries that first come to mind seem to be France, Italy, and Spain. I had bought some quidebooks and done some web research, of course, but we were not really sure what to expect from tiny Portugal when we went there. What a wonderful surprise to find that it is an amazingly beautiful and diverse country, easily traveled and totally “tourist friendly”! The weather and topography are very similar to our own Southern California, it is very easy to travel around by car, an amazing value (your Euros will go much farther in Portugal than elsewhere), and the people are incredibly friendly and helpful; most speak English very well. This last item is important as Portuguese is a VERY difficult language to master, even for the Portuguese according to my new friend Ana in Lisboa! I HIGHLY recommend that anyone add Portugal to their wish list for their next trip abroad. Here is a quick overview of this warm country from a color perspective.

Looking from the hilltop Castello over the red roofs of Lisbon


Confection colored facades in Belem.


Orange life preservers on boat ride on the Douro in Porto.


Blue sky over Porto.


Shiny silver fishat the old market  in Porto. (Oh, they DO love their fish!)


Green doors in Pinhao.


Blue azulejos tile mural at the train station in Pinhao.


Lush green woods on a hike in Sintra.


Looking back at one of the fairy tale palaces in Sintra. Those two large cones are actually the chimenies for the wood burning stoves in the massive kitchen!


More to come! Still wading through 100′s of photos and lovely memories…..

April 26th, 2010

Melanie vs the Volcano

I was just shocked to see the date of my last post was almost 6 weeks ago and am now filled with guilty, bloggy remorse that I’ve been away so long. BUT! I have good excuses people!

You see, I was extremely busy with a trade show and hosting Aurastone classes at the studio just leading up to leaving for my 2 week HONEYMOON trip to Portugal and Spain that I cutely decided was going to occur BEFORE the wedding. It WAS a good idea, in theory…. Go on the honeymoon and come home relaxed with lovely photos and stories to share at the wedding reception scheduled to follow a week later.

And then….Bum! Bum! Bum! The volcano erupts, spewing dangerous (or so they purported) ash over Northern Europe. Lucky us, we were ending our trip in Barcelona, Spain and felt quite safe as we packed our bags and headed out for our final, lovely honeymoon dinner at Pla. We returned to frantic text messages about the airport being closed, flights cancelled, chaos erupting (pun intended). We were promised a flight out the following Friday, assuming that planes WOULD be flying, and were forced to extend our stay another 5 days. With so much incertainty we had no choice but to postpone our wedding day, which was a difficult, but necessary decision. The happy ending to this story is that we are home safe, had a lovely, LONG honeymoon, and were able to reschedule our wedding date to August 22 without any problems. You can be sure I will NOT be planning any trips in the weeks leading up to the nuptials!!

Honeymoon photos to follow…..

March 8th, 2010

Feeling Crafty?

My upcoming wedding has me traveling around the internet seeking to find inspiration and affordable decorating ideas in short order. Recently, I found this fabulous website for wedding planners AND people just seeking cool, crafty stuff at great prices, Save On Crafts.


They have TONS of stuff, and it’s all photographed rather nicely, which makes surfing their website all the better. For instance, check out this lasercut filligree cake stand wrapper. I LOVE the delicacy of laser cut paper…..


They have all sorts of silk and paper flower heads in different colors, which would be fun to work into a  wall finish somehow….


These cupcake wrappers are so pretty I almost wish I hadn’t chosen a tiered wedding cake.


Love this pair of pretty partridges!


I have no potential place to put this silk fabric lantern, but wish I did! It’s quite cool…and quite inexpensive.


You may have read my earlier post on wedding floral arrangement inspiration? Well, alas, my budget and time constraints don’t allow me to seek out and purchase all the beautiful porcelain vases I would need to complete THAT look, so it’s on to “Plan B”. I’ve decided to use these inexpensive urns and follow THIS idea with the trailing ivy and focal point flowers. They will be places on patterned and patinated mirror rounds that I hope to complete this coming weekend with the help of some friends, wink, wink…..