April 26th, 2008

Breakin in the Studio

Finally! The sound of laughter, paint talk and trowelling has been ringing through the studio as we have just held our first classes here the last couple of weeks.


I had a great group of 10 for the ever-popular SkimStone/Modello class, which is one of my favorite to teach because it only involves one product! It’s amazing how many different looks you can get by changing colors, patterns and application techniques.


Here is the lovely Diane (with the also lovely Julie) modeling her cool new Operation Decoration t-shirt. Wonder where she got that?


They were a dedicated bunch who teamed up and stayed late to work on not one, but two Concrete Carpet designs, which will be hung in the front stair landing.


I love the old crusty look of the Ibiza…


and the fresh color scheme of this one, a new pattern we have coming out with our new Design Library Binder. Thank you guys for a great inagural class!

April 21st, 2008

Modello by Design

We get so inspired from seeing the photos that our customers send back to us showing how they have utilized our Modello patterns in artful applications! A picture IS worth a thousand words. I know that our customer base of professional decorative artisans get a lot of great ideas by looking at other artist’s work and also how important it is to be able to show a potential client how a design will look in a real-life setting-in living color. And so, last month we announced that we will be publishing an inspirational book entitled Modello by Design, Inspiring Interiors from Artist’s Portfolios. We asked our customers to submit photos of some of their favorite projects which we will be compiling for a book to be released in late July. I love the idea of being able to get our talented customers “in print” while giving them a tool to spark their imagination and entice their clients.

Modello by Design 1

Cover photo by Terri Riesenman.

Modello by Design 4

Marquetry floor by JoAnn Kingsbury.

Modello by Design 3

Fabulous ceiling by Nichole Blackburn.

Modello by Design 2

Awesome niche by Dee Ann O’Neal.

The photos are still coming in! The deadline for submission for Volume 1 is April 31 so if you are out there and sitting on some great work we’d love to see it! Soon!! Here’s the skinny on how to submit.

April 20th, 2008

Behind Closed Doors

When I was imagining my wish list for a new studio, these things came to mind: Tons of space, lots of natural light with good ventilation and a place to stash stuff out of sight. Well, one out of three isn’t bad! I have a very hard time being creative in a messy, chaotic environment. I generally need to clean up and throw out (clear the plate, so to speak) before beginning a new project. My attention wanders so easily anyway, I don’t need the added temptation to dust off paint cans rather than getting down to work. SO, I planned my new studio to accomodate a VERY long wall of closet doors to conceal the seemingly endless array of products I seem to need to have at my fingertips.


For some reason known only to God, it took the contractor over 4 months to actually get these doors (ordering the right size to begin with would have helped) and then another month or so to figure out how to get them up and sliding (don’t ask!). Finally, the 4′ x 8′ blank canvases arrived and were installed so that they could actually move! My idea was to show some restraint with the designs (remember, I am trying NOT to distract myself) so I chose a neutral palette of 5 colors and super-sized some new Moroccan-inspired patterns we have coming out in the Modello line. Each door was painted a different color and I installed the Modello masking patterns all at once.


To keep the next layer of paint from bleeding, I rolled a coat of water-based varnish over the patterns to “seal” the edges and then rolled two coats of contrasting paint from my limited palette over each door through the open areas of the masking pattern. I chose paint colors from the new Benjamin Moore Aura line’s Affinity Color Collection. I LOVE this paint! It covers like a dream and dries very quickly. Other than the priming and base painting this project took just a day-and keeps a world of sins behind closed doors. If you are interested, here are the colors used: Hush, Pashmina, Weimaraner, Fossil, and Cotswold.



April 17th, 2008

Im still here!!!!

I haven’t died, been arrested, abducted by aliens, gone underground in Mexico or even into a government witness protection program.

I’ve been so busy trying to get the studio ready for my FIRST class here (along with working on Maryam’s Peacock Pavilions project) that my blogging feet have been kicked out from under me. I just wanted to drop a quick line to let you know that I haven’t completely abandoned this blog and PROMISE some juicy photos and details of all the projects that have been happening in and around my frantic painting life these past weeks. In the meantime, here are some tidbits and teases.


March 28th, 2008

Bamboo Forest Floor

We are closing in on getting all of our floors finished up in the new building-all 8300 square feet of them! We’ve done cork, wood and LOTS of decorative concrete. Our latest concrete floor project for our laser cutting room was inspired by this rug picture:


I wanted to do something organic and VERY different, so I reworked our Royal Design Studio Bamboo stencil into a Bamboo Forest that we cut from the Modello masking material. I decided that the best way to achieve this look of mottled color variations was with acid staining and acid etching.


Acid staining involves spraying on diluted acid stains (essentially muriatic acid, mineral salts and water) and letting it work it’s magic as the acid etches and opens up the concrete surface to allow the mineral salts to react with the lime, creating the soft, mottled color. Once that was cleaned up and dry we applied the vinyl pattern and troweled gelled acid through the open areas of the pattern.


The gelled acid pulls the color back out from the concrete in the exposed and treated areas-again in a way that is random with subtle variations.


Acid is not the most pleasant material to work with and you must take precautions and get lots of ventilation going, but it’s a standard finish for decorative concrete and MAN it’s gorgeous!! Special thanks to Melissa and Richard for their help with this project. We actually were able to get through this in a few hours. This type of pattern would typically be used on a vertical wall surface, but the stripe effect on the floor really looks quite nice and makes the room seem a little bigger as well!


Speaking of concrete! Please check out this post from my Artofliving blog about our weekend wine country trip with the fabulous Bob Harris and Bob and Lee Ann’s harley ride across the country to raise money for Breast Cancer Research.

March 24th, 2008

Blue Doors Down

While it is mandatory in Marrakech to have your building be one of a few slightly varying shades of a peachy terra cotta color, it must be mandatory in the pretty little seaside town of Essaouira (2.5 hrs drive west to the Atlantic Ocean) to paint your ancient wooden door a fabulous shade of peeling blue paint. Me to my son: Look! There’s another great blue door, I have to get a picture. Him to me: (in the dry way only a child can say) Mom, they’re ALL blue! I guess I’ll have to go back to photograph the other 1,429.


Even the boats….


Maryam just recently posted about doors as well. Even better than what you see is what you can’t see behind them. Ahh, the mysteries of Morocco.

March 23rd, 2008

Marrakech Express

All aboard/that pla-aa-aane! Wow! I had such a hard time figuring out where to begin to share all the exciting sights and happenings on my trip to Barcelona/Marrakech/Madrid that a whole week has already gone by since my return. I’ll start with Marrakech first:

It’s just hard not to be made speechless by the quantity and quality of the decoration there. Everywhere there! Even the most humble restaurants and buildings are a visual smorgasbord of color and pattern. The colorful fabrics, the lacy metalwork, the painted pottery, berber carpets, intricate carved plaster, inlaid wood, embroidered leather, zelij tiles, bebouches (leather slipper/shoes), the tadelakt walls that are everywhere with sgraffito borders ”scratched” into them: Everywhere you look is a feast for the eyes! Here’s just a sampling-


Left are the 2 story high windows at the Marrakech airport that is undergoing renovations. I looked at these closely, of course, and believe that the vinyl was all cut by hand! At right is an antique painted wood door that was in our courtyard at Riyad el Cadi.


Zelij tile floor at Ali ben Youssef Medersa and, right, a wall in a hammam.


A trip to Jardin Majorelle is required I think, if just to experience the most pure blue and yellow colors you will ever see. At right, stencil templates are used to transfer patterns for carving wood and plaster.


Tadelakt and a Sgraffito border at a restaurant off the amazing Jemaa el-fna and, right, the berber carpet that is hopefully winging its way to my dining room as I write!

My son Dan and I had a wonderful time meeting the most lovely Maryam, both in town and at Peacock Pavilions. She is all that you would expect, and then some more! One of my favorite memories is her and her friend bargaining (in perfect French, of course) with a vendor for about 10 minutes to get me a good price on my new fake Ray Bans. She’s tough, this girl! Our creative journey together continues!! Maryam and Chris’ style is very chic and sophisticated and their goal is to incorporate traditional Moroccan designs and motifs in a very modern, unexpected way into their interior spaces. And so we shall……more to come, of course. I am chomping at the bit to get back there with our painting group in May! Morocco is definitely NOT the kind of place to visit just once.

There are more of my trip photos here and here also is another great flickr set on Marrakech by someone who is actually a very GOOD photographer, rather than the accidental one that I seem to be!

March 19th, 2008

No way! Way!!

I’m still a bit out of it from my Spain/Morocco trip-Trying to catch up with new business, reintroduce myself to ongoing projects and organize my trip photos on flickr so I can share them in some semblance of order. Why does everything take so long? Oh yeah, it must be that you can/should add titles, descriptions and tags now to all your photos. That on top of my need to crop each one at the exact same size, adjust the “curves” because I can, etc. in Photoshop. Almost there.

Meanwhile, I found out by linking back through my incoming links from The Crafty Cameleon in California (thank you and love your sand art!) that this blog was listed on House Beautiful’s website under their “sites we love” area. How cool is that!!!! I had no clue. Not surprising. I just love this blogging stuff….

March 18th, 2008

Living in Morocco

Of the many books I have on Morocco and Moroccan architecture and design this is one of the best…..Living in Morocco-Design from Casablanca to Marrakesh.


As a PS to this post I have to share that if you EVER find yourself in the Marrakesh airport-which currently pretty small but undergoing an expansion-CHECK OUT the bookstore!!! They have the most amazing selection of art, architecture and design books. They are mostly all in French, but who doesn’t just look at the pictures most of the time anyway!?

I was too loaded down at this point to pick up a heavy book, but next time I will know better….


March 10th, 2008

Morocco Modern

Some pretty images from Morocco Modern


More carved plaster designs….


And that amazing blue!