March 3rd, 2010

She Sells Seashells

In the sixties and seventies, my grandparents traveled extensively around the country in their VW pop-top camper. Up and down the East coast and around Florida they collected seashells which my grandmother used to create shell pictures, wreaths and more. She always seemed to have some craft project up her sleeve for my sister and I to work on when we visited. One day, it was to work on a tissue paper collage of shore birds (my grandfather cut these out of metal) running through the sea water. Our fun project for that day was to glue on the shells. It’s a beautiful, original work of art and a sweet reminder of my grandparents that still hangs in their house where my father now lives.  I’ve been thinking about it all day since running across this website, Christa’s South Seashells.


I am totally in awe and admiration of this architectural shell work!


Sure, it would be hard to clean, but who wouldn’t want a grotto-like bathroom?


or this whimsical mantle? Not your style? There is also a wide range of chandeliers, accessories, frames, and even furniture. I think my grandmother would think these pieces are a little “overdone”, but I love them!

February 28th, 2010

Faux Plus Design

I’d like to welcome another friend and decorative finisher to the blogging world. Debbie Hayes is a very talented Greensboro, NC decorative artist who has been featured a few times before on this blog. 


Her new blog,  Faux Plus Design showcases her photography and literary talents (she’s a former newspaper editor) as well as her artistic skills. Debbie has accompanied me on several of the painting adventures abroad that I’ve been involved with in the past, including France, Morocco, and Italy.

souk kitties

She talks about these (and her ongoing wanderlust) in some recent blog posts, including one on Moroccan Souk kitties….


…and one on our last trip to Italy.


Some of these travels have inspired the color-saturated decoration of her amazing, inviting studio!

Studio 2

I am happy that Debbie (and her talents and ever-ready camera) will be joining us on our next trip to Italy this coming Fall. To find out more about trips to both Italy and Morocco, click here….

February 21st, 2010

Inspired by Italy

You may have noticed that I have been absolutely HORRIBLE at accomplishing regular blog postings lately. Between a multitude of major new projects, trade show preparations, planning painting trips, and a honeymoon and a wedding (in that order), there seems to be precious little time to stop and EXPLAIN what I’m up to (and up against!). SO-this post is designed to cover a few topics at once, based somewhat loosely around a theme. Here goes….

Aaah, Italia. So enchanting, so delicioso, so artistically inspiring!! Italy is just one of the countries that have inspired the finishes offered in the upcoming European Cabinet Finishes class that we will be hosting here at the studio in June. Barb Skivington’s class draws from inspiration gained from past painting trips with me to both Italy and France, as well as finishes interpreted from the highly popular new Belgian look and what I see as an emerging trend towards Spanish-inspired design and fashion.


If you’d like to explore the possibilities and benefits gained from taking this class, Barb and I have created an informative free 30-minute webinar for the new Design Your Success site (another new project!) that details these elegant finishes and their possibilities for application. Barb has an extensive background as an artist AND and educator and was featured in this recent profile in The Faux Finisher that I authored.


Speaking of inspiring trips to Italy, and attempting a not so subtle segue; there is an upcoming opportunity for YOU to join us on a return trip to enchanting Italy this coming October. Gary Lord, Alison Woolley and myself are planning a return to the sights of two previous painting adventure tours, the Castello di Casigliano  in Umbria and La Fattoria di Maiano in Florence with our upcoming Art in the Heart of Italy trip.


These trips offer so much in addition to all the inspiration that the natural and man-made beauty of Italy provides.


The friendships that are formed through shared experiences…


and educational classes and group painting projects is truly unique and special. Are you feeling inspired?!

European Cabinet Finishes Class
Art in the Heart of Italy Trip

February 11th, 2010


Azulejos, traditional Portuguese tiles, are a highly recognizable expression of Portuguese culture and a great contribution to the world’s artistic heritage. The ceramic techniques and glazing methods were adapted during the centuries long ago when Christian and Islamic-Moorish cultures coexisted on the Iberian peninsula on the Western edge of Europe. It was there that the idea of combining large amounts of glazed-tile decor with architecture was adopted and developed with amazing abandon.


 I have had this book on Portuguese decorative tiles on my bookshelf for some time now. It is the kind of book where you wish you could just walk right into the pages. Just by looking you can experience the coolness of the glazed tiles under your hand, stand in centuries old rooms, and smell the flowers and orange blossoms in the garden. My wish for this will be coming true this April when I visit the lovely little country of Portugal for the first time while on my honeymoon. I will be visiting many of these very spots in Lisbon and Sintra. I can already smell the old plaster walls and the flowers…..






February 9th, 2010


Sideways….a classic name for a classic movie about one of my favorite things….wine! Another of my favorite things? Cool customer project photos showing interesting applications for our Modello patterns. For example, these two photos from two different artists showing a horizontal (sideways!) application of one of our contemporary allover designs, ModAll129.


For this project on a glass backsplash, Lesley Anne Kinney of Decorating Divas RI used a reverse painting technique using oil paint and mica powders to create a contemporary woodgrain look. Awesome!


Barb Skivington of Faux Works used a similar idea recently for a builders showcase project in Greensboro, N.C. It this case, Barb painted on MDF to create a contemporary headboard. She ran the design vertically but on very horizontal surface. Classy!

Pssst! Check out this article that I wrote on Barb and her art and business for the latest issue of The Faux Finisher……

January 26th, 2010

House Proud


Can you imagine commissioning a watercolor painting of your living room-or should I say parlor?? I would for sure want to do some serious redecorating first!!


In the 19th century in Europe particularly, it was highly fashionable to aristocratic and upper-class homeowners to commission such paintings of their homes interiors.


These would be collected in albums to be passed on to future generations, given as gifts to visiting royalty, and proudly displayed in drawing rooms.



Of course, now we can just whip out our digital cameras. …


…but this is so much more incredibly charming!!!


Loving all the pattern and decoration on the walls and ceilings, of course.


Images from the delightful book,  House Proud-Nineteenth Century Watercolor Interiors from the Thaw Collection, published by the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.

January 23rd, 2010

Flower Girl

As soon as I became engaged 2 1/2 years ago, the questions started….”So when are you getting married”?, “When’s the big day”?, etc, etc. I haven’t been dragging my heels due to marriage doubts-rather because of wedding planning doubts. Like, when am I going to be able to fit this in to our busy life?? We toyed with the elopement thing and the civil ceremony during lunch thing, but that seems-well-lame. I was just really afraid that planning a “real” wedding would get out of hand. Now, when I say “would get out of hand” what I REALLY mean is that I was afraid “I” would get out of hand. I’m pretty much “hands off” or “all in” about things, you know….

Well, we finally did it! We set a date for April 25. So far, I’m keeping it pretty well in check. Mainly, I think, because I have SO MANY new projects I’ve started (I think that this ecomomy has everyone working harder just to keep up!). To demonstrate HOW busy, I can tell you that we arrived at the date a couple of months ago and I am JUST getting around to posting about it!! So far, my plans haven’t gotten TOO much out of hand. I HAVE gone from thinking about a ceremony in a park to The Rancho Bernado Inn, from a dress from the mall to something custom just for me from Cinderella’s Closet (she’s telling me I’m getting a REALLY late start on this-typical!), from a potluck to an elegant lunch buffet, from iPod tunes to a Spanish guitarist….Now, my thoughts turn to flowers.  My goal is to have a not-completely traditional, traditional wedding  (like that makes ANY sense). My floral “style” leans more toward “a bunch of random flowers randomly stuffed into vases”. So I am loving these looks and the idea of just picking a color scheme of pink, coral, green, and creme and making some informal arrangements in a variety of pretty different containers for the tables. These will be placed on antique mirror rounds, of course… I’m really inspired by these first two photos from the latest Veranda magazine….



…and these pretty pics from a recent post on decor8…

decor8 flowers 1

from Creative Mint….

decor8 flowers 2

and Wood and Wool Stool. I think I need to start hitting some flea markets for some vase shopping!!!

January 10th, 2010

Peacock Painters Fly Again

The Marrakesh Express is leaving once again this May for a fabulous painting adventure to Peacock Pavilions in exotic Morocco. This will be the third trip to this intoxicating country where we will enjoy the warm hospitality of our lovely hostess Maryam of My Marrakesh as we paint, dine, tour, shop and partake of the many incredible sights, sounds, tastes and treats that this city has to offer.

Peacock Pavilions exterior

This will be the first trip where we have the opportunity to stay at the soon-to-open Peacock Pavilions during our painting days,


as well as the ever-enchanting Hotel du Tresor, which is located in the heart of the Medina and its famous souks.

Peacock Pavilions Suzani

On past trips we have painted dramatic ceilings,

Peacock Pavilions Zellij tile

done zellij  patterns on some stairs….

Peacock Pavilions Henna

and henna patterns on others-

Peacock Pavilions April

as well as ourselves!

Peacock Pavilion smural

We’ve done Art Deco murals


and graphic floors.

Our next trip will focus on the decoration of an entertainment and separate bar tent, which will be used for parties, wedding, and other special occasions at Peacock Pavilions. We will also do some smaller projects in the guest houses.


For inspiration, we are turning to classic Moroccan textile embroidery patterns


Moroccan Embroidery-5

in classic shades of black and cream


as well a bold and bright colors.

Would you like to join us?? We have a few spots still open….and for the first time, I am offering a savings of $300 dollars off the trip if you pay in full. But you have to hurry! All the details are here.

January 9th, 2010

Artist Crush: Miriam Ellner

I’ve just spent the last couple of days filming some of the video lessons for the next Virtual Workshop I will be offering, Patterned Mirror and Glass. Next week, I’ll beging filming the mirror antiquing lessons, but this week I focused on techniques that incorporate etching, metallic foils, and reverse gilding, also commonly know as verre eglomise.Verre eglomise is a decorative technique that dates back to the Romans and antiquity and traditionally involves applying precious metal the the backside of glass over a gelatin size. Designs can then be etched in and further colored. MY techniques are definitely less traditional, and employ less expensive leaf, quick applications that are easily accomplished, and our Modello masking patterns, of course, but OH, if I had the time I would love to learn and explore the “master” techniques. Cue my latest artist crush, Miriam Ellner. She has an amazing studio and body of internationally renowned work that ranges from classic to contemporary to newer “collage” pieces.












Are you drooling yet? You might also like to view the work on another highly renowned verre eglomise artist, Francis Federer…..

January 5th, 2010

Off the Shelf

I have been on another MAJOR book buying bender lately. I have talked about my book collection here before…..well, in the last two years it’s grown considerably. As I write, I am literally surrounded by stacks of beautiful books that are not going to fit on my already groaning bookshelves. Luckily, today I got an email from featuring these inexpensive and super cool book shelf hanger concealer thingies. I think it would be so cool to do a whole wall with  books this way…..though I’ve just ordered two to start….