February 20th, 2007

The Walls are Growing Trees

A recent message thread on the Atrium, an online chapter of SALI that I belong to, got me looking at the work of Tom Moberg.


This man creates carved sculptural landscapes on walls using joint compound and plaster. I picked my favorites to show. These are the “simpler” looking ones. They discuss his process on this DIY web page. It would take a considerable amount of time to develop his skills, but I am thinking that you could get something reasonably good looking by starting with a thick plaster application through a heavy foliate stencil and start building and carving from there.

February 17th, 2007

Found on Flickr

Just for fun today, I typed in Modello in the Flicker search and there appeared a series of photos of a customer’s work-in-progress, The Art of Illusion Studios. You can see the slide show in this Flickr Set.


The artist has used a custom-designed Modello pattern to create a really pretty trompe l’oeil architectural grill over”glass” that looks through to a painted vineyard landscape. Pretty cool!

February 15th, 2007

Yeah! Studio time

I just CAN’T WAIT until we get to started decorating (beg. of May) and move into our new building (beg. of July). Right now, I have my business spread out over three buildings in the business park where we are currently leasing. My studio is the farthest away and I never seem to get over there lately. It’s actually not the most appealing place, anyway. As my friend Kari says, “It’s never gotten any love”. I am so looking foward to having everything together and making it all pretty and wonderful and ALL MINE.


I did get in there last week, though, to create some new samples for the Modello Class that I teach. When you teach the same class samples over and over it starts to get a little TOO routine (for me, not them!) and I really wanted to stretch out a little. So, I ended up mixing it up and came up with these, among others. We are definitely going to be having some wood floors put in the new building so I wanted to experiment with some different stain colors for the inlaid marquetry effect that we do. My favorite, though is the Venetian Plaster finish on the bottom right. It uses a negative, embedded image (an innie) of a floral design balance with a stronger positive image (an outie). Burnishing the plaster brings out the faint image as the trowel hits the high areas where the plaster has built up around the pattern. Subtle, but very cool. I am imagining a whole wall done with botanical images in this tone-on-tone effect.  This weekend it’s all new SkimStone sample!

February 14th, 2007

Feline Fetish?

Well since I have stated that this blog is about all manner of surface decoration, I thought it would be appropriate to post this then I got an email this morning from Heather Moss with all these crazy cat photos attached. I imagine it is making the rounds so you may have seen it?


Apparently there is this little Painted Catssubculture in our society, balanced by the obligatory counter-revolution of those outraged by the use of cats as canvas. If you want to jump into the fray, check out the Why Paint Cats website.

I though people were a bit crazy when willing to pay $40 for a doggie sweater. That pales in comparison to the reported $15,000 that some are willing to pay for their cat paintings (with touchups every three mos.) I think I prefer my pets au naturale. How about you?

February 12th, 2007

Ceiling Spectacular

I have been getting a lot of REALLY great photos lately from our Modello Designs and Royal Design Studio customers. This thrills me to no end, so if you are reading this and sitting on some good photos, PRETTY PLEASE send them along. These photos using our Modello decorative masking patterns are from Gina Wolfrum of Elegant Finishes by Gina. Gina wrote me saying,

“Since adding Modello Designs to my portfolio, my reputation as a decorative artist has been elevated to a new high and I am able to command premium pricing for my Elegant Finishes work. I just can’t say enough. Thank you again for these great products.”


Woo hooo!! Thank YOU Gina! So just to give you an idea of the scope and scale of this project, here are some “in process” shots. This is the Chateau Panel design that was modified to fit the space perfectly. To cover the large area the design had to be broken up into 36 “tiles” which were then applied and matched up over the ceiling surface.


Gina and her team then used a combination of gilding and custom-tinted plaster to create an ornate and elegant design that was custom matched to both the scale and coloration of the interior space. You can see more photos of the process on Gina’s new blog.

February 7th, 2007

Present day History

My grandmother, Dorothy Chestnut, was instrumental in instillling a love and appreciation of decorative art in me. In the late 1950s-the 60′s she took classes in all manners of surface art, including bronze powder stenciling, pontypool, theorem painting and strokework for decorating tin. Her house was full of painted trays and tinware, spice boxes and pretty chairs. I am fortunate to have some of her work and her books, the most prized of which was written by Esther Stevens Brazer who founded what is now know as HSEAD, The Historical Society of Early American Decoration.


I have belonged to this organization on and off-never having the time or opportunity to take any classes. Just recently looking at the work on the website has inspired me to join again, even if just to support the work of these talented people and to receive their publication, The Decorator, which is full of photos of exquisite work.


Looking at this recent award-winning work by current members, I can’t help wondering how long it will be before there is no more work produced like this. The time, focus and energy involved in learning and perfecting these kind of skills and then applying them is something that we seem to have less and less of in our society. True craftsmanship at this level is definitely in shorter and shorter supply. My guess is that most of these woman are in their later years, which makes their work seem all the more precious to me. I hope you enjoy!

February 3rd, 2007


The chalk painting photos sparked my interest to do some googling and I came across some more really great photos and learned something new: Madonnari is the Italian word for street painters, who have been around since at least the 1600′s. They are so named because originally their subject matter centered around the Madonna. I don’t think you were ALLOWED  to paint much else at that time, judging from past trips to Italy!


You can now find festivals in many cities around the world, where the classical subject matter still exists but many artists are turning to more contemporary subjects. Here is some great work by artist Traci Lee Stum.

February 2nd, 2007

Golden Girls

I have been working somewhat diligently today on updating the Showcase area on the Modello website with new customer photos and wondering about a couple of things. 1. Why did I put this off to the point where it is now more than 6 months since the last update and the size of the pile is making me grumpy and craving a glass of wine (whine!), and 2. Why don’t I have someone else doing this?. Upon brief consideration I can answer that 1. Because my brain is faster than my hands can keep up with.  I take on too much stuff and 2. I like to keep in touch with what our customers are coming up with in using our designs. Plus I am still a bit of a control freak. At any rate, I thought you might like to enjoy a little eye candy. These projects were done by the team that makes up Custom Design Gallery, Susan and Todd Allemand and Rhonda Canales.


Rhonda, a very talented artist and teacher herself, came and took my class some time ago and they have been incorporating Modellos into many of their residential projects. This grand staircase design features an adaptation of one of our Carpet/Panel patterns, the Chateau.


These finishes are done with a Distressed Gold Inlay technique. It is somewhat amusing to me to note that this Bacchanalian girl, part of a series, was originally design with her breasts showing. Apparently many people were having a hard time with this kind of exposure and all of the girls are now available in a PG format.

February 2nd, 2007

Chalk it up

My good friend Gary Lord recently forwarded me some photos of chalk artist Julian Beever.


Click on the link to see more. Pretty cool!

January 31st, 2007

Oh, the Wonders

I’m sure you’ve heard that someone is running a contest for people to vote online for the new and improved, updated 7 Wonders of The World, (since man and time and destroyed all but one of the originals), and that Egypt is really, REALLY PO’d that they are asking people to vote if the Pyramids of Giza still deserve a spot. As if!!! OK this has nothing to do with that (interesting to take a look at the site though because these places are all pretty marvelous and worth learning more about) BUT it did start me to thinking….

What would the wonders of the decorative painting/surfaces world be? Of course there would have to be more than 7. Hundreds, thousands, maybe jillions. Just in Italy alone. I think that the last thing that I created in my studio that I really, really love is a wonder, SO, I’ve narrowed down my criteria-loosely. If some one offered you a trip around the world to see all of the most inspiring sites and buildings that feature surface decoration, where would you go? These sites must be visitable, or someone needs to have some really good pictures! This is the ultimate artist’s road trip.


The other thing that got me going on this was looking up information on the Caves of Lascaux, as I was referencing that as one of the first possible examples of stenciled art that we have in something I was writing. SOOO the Palaeolithic art at the caves of Lascoux, France is the beginning of the list. Discovered in 1940 by 4 teenage boys, it was actually open for tours until 1963, when they had to stop because the carbon dioxide produced from all that talking and breathing was destroying the caves. They have reproduced the two most significant spaces, the Painted Gallery and the Great Hall of the Bulls, EXACTLY as they really are. A “Faux” cave. Very appropriate, and in such a beatiful area of France.

I have already thought of many other sites that I want to list, and want to go, of course. I can certainly use some help though. If you have ideas, please email me at . Photos greatly appreciated!