Adding a Bit of Family to an Outside Porch

I love my front porch. Over the years that I have lived in my house, my front porch has been a gathering place for neighbors to come and chat, a contained place for my boys to play with their monster trucks when they were younger, the location for many weird and wonderful Halloween decorations.

The summer of one particular year, 2012 as a matter of fact, was a tough summer. My Mom was battling cancer and my boys (ages 12 and 7 at the time) just needed a happy experience. I put my older son, in charge of getting the porch ready for the season. He selected the outdoor rug, he chose the flowers for the planters. But, we were missing something. There’s a little section of the porch that is just the vinyl siding. It needed some attention.

I brought my boys down to my studio and we sat on the floor one hot afternoon. I showed them the blank canvas and I had a closed set of colors that they could use . My older son already knew why we were using those colors: they matched the colors he had chosen for the rug and for the flowers. We brainstormed about things and places that make us happy. Once the boys had a loose plan, I gave them the brushes (of course I had to remind them to wash the brushes when changing colors) and within 15 or so minutes I had their collaborative art piece. They were so proud of their accomplishment!

kids art
This is the collaborative painting made by my sons.

Every spring season, that canvas comes out of the garage, gets wiped off, and hung up on the porch. I see my boys smile when I hang it up.

I smile too.

Artworks by Marcine creates custom murals and specialty wall finishes. Please call Marcine at (908) 599-2129 or fill out the contact form here with any inquiries you might have.

A Vanity Makeover

bathroom vanity, handpainted, renovation

Occasionally, I will get a call from someone who is not sure what to do with a piece of furniture that they have and because of the furniture’s purpose and/or locale, there is no reason to replace it.

This was such a call.

I spoke with the person on the phone and told her I’d be happy to stop by to take a look.  The piece of furniture was a bathroom vanity.  It was a beautiful piece and structurally, there was nothing wrong with it.  The vanity had been custom fitted to fit the plumbing under the sink and the basin was new.  Cosmetically, the vanity needed some tlc and an update.

hand-painted, furniture, renovation
Bathroom Vanity before transformation by Artworks by Marcine, LLC

I can do that!

The client was happy that she didn’t have to start over looking for a new vanity.  She was also happy that I would be able to do the vanity while she was on vacation.

My client has an antique chair that essentially, she wanted the vanity to resemble.  I did a mockup of the piece including the color change and a particular motif that she liked on my computer.  I find this so helpful for my clients.  The mockup helps clients see how the finished product will look and it is easier for me to make the changes digitally than on location, especially when she wouldn’t be there to check it out.

Furniture in any way shape or form is done in layers and requires patience, patience, patience.  In this regard, a piece of furniture takes time to do; every step has to dry before the next step begins.  I promised my client I would send her daily texts with photos so she could see the progress.

I made the necessary repairs such as fixing dings, scrapes, etc.  There was a lot of wood putty and sanding, washing, wiping.  The surface had to be dust free and clean from greasy residue so that the subsequent primer and paint layers would bond properly.  I also swapped out the plastic tarps so that any dust particles would not be an issue.

Using a bonding primer and  Benjamin Moore Advance , I began transforming the vanity.  Once the layers were dry, I used Modern Masters metallic paint to hand-paint the motifs.  Once that layer was dry, it was time to seal the piece.  The Benjamin Moore water-based paint is very durable on its own, but I’m always concerned about the amount of traffic and exposure to water, etc., so I’d rather take the time and seal up the piece with a commercial quality sealer.

This is the finished vanity.  It was truly a transformation that better fit the client’s space and best of all, nothing had to be installed or replaced.

bathroom vanity, handpainted, renovation
Bathroom Vanity-AFTER by Artworks by Marcine, LLC

hand-painted , renovation, diy
A closeup of the hand-painted details by Artworks by Marcine, LLC

What do you think of the transformation?

Do you need a transformation in your home or business?  I can help you!  Murals, wall finishes, etc.  Feel free to call me via phone, 908-599-2129 or fill out your contact information here.

When you ordered a desk online and it’s the WRONG color

rustic chic, artworks by marcine, nj

“Marcine, can you help me?”

I love that question.

I have a client that ordered a desk online for her business.  She had someone assemble it and the color was just wrong for the space.  It wasn’t what she had expected, through no fault of her own.  Sometimes what you see online and what you get in reality are different.  It happens.  Usually, the company will take items back but since this piece had already been assembled, sending the desk back was not an option.

This is the back of the desk in its original color.

Quite often I will get asked to make something visually fit into a space.  At first, the client wanted the desk to really have contrast.  I took photos and superimposed different colors on them using my computer.

The initial results were not on point.

The decorating style of this commercial  location is “farm-chic.”  The desk had  had to be elegant, to stand out and yet fit in.

I figured making the desk look like it was created out of barnwood, but chic barnwood was the way to go.  I asked the client if I could use a metallic silver in the finish and she was excited.  My stipulation was that I had to keep it light.

Many layers of bonding primer, base paint, glaze. metallic paint, barrier coat, topcoats…

VOILA!

Farm Chic Desk

Detail

Problem solved.  The desk fits into the environment, continues the theme of the space, and the colors are just right.

Need help with your space?  I can help you!

Please call me at (908) 599-2129 or fill out the contact form and I will get back to you!

Accent Walls: Yes, yes, YES!!!!

Did you ever go to museum and step into a gallery where there was a large piece of art taking up the whole wall such as a Jackson Pollock or a  medieval tapestry?

BOOM.

That’s what accent walls do.  They make a statement.

This wall, created with various products creates a wall with a great deal of visual interest.

A wonderful way to hi-light an architectural feature on the ceiling.

A metal reactive technique really makes this wall a work of art.

They are an opportunity to create something really unique that is a portrait of you.  They also serve to set the “tone” or atmosphere of your space.  They are also a great way to make your space unique when you’re on a budget.  And, if you’re someone that is more neutral, accent walls are a great way to add a bit of color or texture without going overboard, (unless you want to 🙂 )  If you love imagery, consider doing something such as a mural or a visual graphic. The benefits far outweigh the negatives.  Suppose you decide you want to change that wall down the road?  In the case of textured applications, just skim coat the wall.

In my experience, accent walls are generally the first wall you see when you walk into a space.  It just makes sense to have your statement “heard” as soon as you enter a space.  Accent walls can also be part of a wall such as in the case of a fireplace wall.  Or, accent walls can hi-light an interesting piece of furniture.

Accent walls can also be a ceiling.  Oh, yes they can!  (I saw you shaking your head.)  Your ceiling is your 5th wall.  It will never be obscured by furniture, or hanging artwork, other than a light fixture.  Why not use it?

Still not sure?  Baby steps.  Paint the wall or ceiling a different color and live with it for a bit.

Isn’t it great when there are no rules to creating the space you want?  Accent it!

Let me help you create an accent wall by turning it into art!  Call me at (908) 599-2129 or send me an email.  

Hygge and why I love it so

Remember the obsession with lights I have?  I found the reason why.

At a recent meeting I attended, someone mentioned Hygge.

Who-what?

Hygge.  It is pronounced “Hoo-gah.”  It is a Danish word that means a feeling of happiness, coziness, contentment.  The person at this meeting started talking about  a book by Meik Wiking,  The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living and gave a brief synopsis of what it meant to be cozy, and to have a life of contentment.

Of course my mind drifted that night to creating a feeling of coziness.  How was that accomplished in a space?

I did further research, because I’m a bit on the nerdy side.  In their youtube video, The Mustards explain how they try to maintain Hygge in their home .  Because of their geographic location, Scandinavian countries have long winters.  They look for ways to bring in light to those long nights.  Candles, warm white lights, light walls, fire crackling in a fireplace all do the job.  Of course, a fuzzy throw blanket and fuzzy pillows also help.  Simple furnishings creating the least amount of visual clutter, and keeping the space tidy also creates a space to relax in and not feel anxious.  Plants bring a bit of life to the space.  And, of course there’s always a hot cup of tea and the company of friends to complete this feeling of coziness.

Well here in NJ, our climate is a little different.  We have the heat and humidity and a decent growing season.  We are also CROWDED and there’s always A LOT going on.

I knew the connection with Hygge was with the lights, and the attempt to make my space less cluttered.  But with a 13 year old boy who drops his stuff everywhere, that’s a constant challenge.  I wanted more.  When it was time to repaint my downstairs,  I kept thinking about what made me feel cozy?  Besides the lights, summers out on the deck chatting  with my Hubs by candlelight, it was also the sight and smell of the Jersey Shore and how relaxed I felt going to the beach early in the morning and drinking my coffee while watching the waves meet the shoreline.  It was the colors in driftwood.  All of those things funneled into my space.

You can feel cozy no matter where you are.   It’s up to you to create it.   Think about what those things are that makes you feel cozy and happy, and how they appeal to your senses.    The hints are there.  Happy Hygge!

Choosing colors: keep it simple and stress-free!

Choosing colors for your room: it’s fun, trust me!

Many of my clients find this part of the process extremely stressful.

First of all, relax.

I always tell my clients to not look at the “whole picture ” in this case.   It is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out.  After all, did you ever see a color deck?  Many paint companies have more than one!

Breathe.

There are many ways to figure out a color scheme.  The method I use for a single room is the following:

Find a “source of inspiration.”  I know, you’re probably saying, “What does she mean?”  Basically, this is something you are visually drawn to.  It may be a work of art, a photograph, a rug,  a favorite sweater, a memento from a trip…anything!!!

Now, in that piece, what colors do you  really like?  That’s your starting off point.  Usually, folks pick 3: a main color and two supporting colors.

Yes, there are “color theory 101 rules.”  Primary color scheme, secondary, tertiary, analagous,  complementary, tints, shades, blah blah blah……

Guess what?  I don’t follow rules, at least , not in this case.  If there is one color I like in that inspiration piece, I go with that.  Then, I may look for additional colors in the color deck that go with that color nicely.   Going horizontally across a color deck usually insures success that the colors will go together.  But, you can bump up or go down  one color from the horizontal will also work.  See?  not so hard.

I will also pair up a trim color and a ceiling color.  How to do that?  Well, let’s talk about trim.  Put the color deck colors that you want to use for the trim up to the color you’ve selected for the wall.  You cannot just randomly pick a trim color.  Why?  Simply put: color changes depending on the colors they are next to and what we’re looking for is color compatibility.

Ceiling color.    The ceiling is your fifth wall.  Convention tells us to go lighter.  If you really like that one color that you picked out from your inspiration piece, why not choose a lighter tint of that color?  Or, If there’s another color in that piece but your comfort level  tells you it is too dark, you can use a tint of that color.  For a bolder move, go dark!  Why not?  My rule is that you should be happy in your space!

Lastly, invest in pint samples of the colors.  Paint  some pieces of posterboard but make the pieces a decent size, i.e. 9″ x 12″ Or, if the paint store sells “designer chips” get those.  They don’t cost that much and are the size of a piece of paper.

I always tell my clients to live with the colors for a little while.  Move the larger samples around the room.  See how the lighting affects the colors.  See how the colors will look against your furniture or kitchen cabinetry.

Small investments of time and the purchase of some samples will give you a stress free start to getting the job done right the first time.

Hope this info was helpful to you.  If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments,   If you’d like to schedule a color consult, or discuss a project, please contact me here .    I’m happy to help!

Finding The Right “Tool” For The Job

Recently, I visited a potential client who has  a tall wall in her entrance hallway.  This wall was narrow  but tall.  She was concerned about choosing a finish that would not only look great but was able to withstand the wear and tear of family traffic.

There are all kinds of products out there in the decorative painting world.  Want something to look like suede? Yes, we’ve got that.  Want something to look like metal? Yep, we’ve got that.  Want something to look like stone?  Yep, we’ve got that too.

The right “tool” for the job.

There’s an extremely durable plaster that would fit the bill and, it can be painted.  As a matter of fact, this stuff is magic.  I can manipulate it into brick, I can make a cracked old wall–all kinds of things.   The fact that I can hand paint it to further customize the project is an added bonus.  The paints will be wall paints.  It can also be top-coated for further protection, but honestly, it will dry to a hard  colorful finish that will be washable with mild soap and water.

I provided three samples to the client, all with the same colors and the same materials.  They were just executed differently.

Plaster finish option 1

Plaster finish option 2

Plaster finish option 3

I’m curious to see which one she chooses!

Is there a space you’d like to change or turn into a focal point?  Contact me at marcine@artworksbymarcine.com or (908) 599-2129 today!

Budgets: necessary in a creative project?

faux, metallic, artworksbymarcine

It all boils down to money.  Not my favorite topic, but something that must be addressed.  Yeah, I know–insert eyeball roll.

From my point of view,  the conversation is not only about dollars.  It is more about communication and education.  The client needs to tell me what he or she wants and then ideally, a budget is discussed.  (   What if the client is unsure of what he/she wants?  The artist can show a variety of samples from his/her portfolio as ideas.)  Then, I can see if there is a product that will accomplish the task using a reasonable amount of labor.

In other words, is the project doable for a certain price???

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the scenario.  I do, quite often, ask the clients if there is a budget in mind.  Sometimes I’m given a ballpark and sometimes not.  I’m not really one to engage in a numbers game.   Remember the communication and education thing I mentioned before?  I, as an artist, want to keep the communication lines open.  I need the client to tell me yes or no on a finish,  and how much they are willing to spend.  This way we aren’t wasting each other’s time.   For example, there are some metallic paint products out there that cost over $100 per gallon.  This is just the materials!  If the products are imported from overseas, there’s a good chance they are going to cost more money.  In terms of labor, my labor price is pretty average.  This is where I need to educate the client: it’s the labor involved with a particular process.  Some finishes require 5-7 passes, meaning that there are 5-7 times I’m applying products  around the room.   In terms of mural work,  if you are looking for something much more intricate and hyper-real, you can expect to be charged more. Why?  You are paying for someone’s time.  Everyone’s time is valuable, isn’t it?  Lastly, let’s not forget the artist’s “artistic vision, i.e. ability to see things creatively or creative problem solving, come into play .  All of these things hold value.  That value will be reflected in the final project result.

My advice is that as a client, be up front with the artist.  If there’s a strict budget, make that known.  Ask questions about products.  Ask if there are alternative products that can be used.  If you’re requesting a mural ask the artist if he/she can do what you’re asking within a monetary framework.  If you don’t ask, how will you know?  Communicate these concerns to someone you may hire to create a vision for you.  That person will in turn, appreciate the teamwork effort and will do his or her best to educate you on the most appropriate way to achieve your goals.

Have questions? Give me a call at 908-599-2129 or send an email to: marcine@artworksbymarcine.com

 

Restaurant reno: quick and easy

A designer friend of mine contacted me a few weeks ago.  She was helping a restaurant owner do a low budget renovation in one area of his restaurant.  The reno didn’t involve tearing down anything or relocating booths.   This was strictly a cosmetic update.  The booths were a red orange in color and they were permanent.  So, how was I going to integrate that color into the new visual overhaul?

Being that this restaurant is Italian, we were going for an Italian appearance in the takeout area.  The designer chose a  Benjamin Moore warm honey wall color for the background in a matte finish.  She was also adding a few decorative hanging pieces that I had to work around.  Plus, I was to pick up the dark red and dark green colors from the dining room  So, I had red -orange booths, a warm honey background, some additional sculptural elements and dark red and dark green to incorporate into the final outcome.

After showing the restaurant owner my portfolio, he liked brick breakaways  (where walls look like they are cracking and revealing bricks) and grapes.  This would be the subject matter of my handpainted art.  The designer showed me where the sculptural elements were going to be installed.  I like when project elements like this create a matrix.  It’s a matter of fitting all the additional pieces into place to make the puzzle complete.

I drew grape vines and grapes on the upper portion  of the walls and had them cascade over strategically placed breakaways.  I measured where the sculptural elements were going to be installed and made sure the design fit accordingly.  I was going to incorporate the reddish orange and dark green  into the grape leaves and make the grapes dark red.  The designer wanted light bricks.  I chose neutral colors from Benjamin Moore that would work with everything else.

The interior of the takeout area of this Italian restaurant was given a new look with paint.

A closeup of the updated look by Artworks by Marcine

another view of the visual update by Artworks by Marcine

Voila!  It all fit into place, just like the pieces of a puzzle.  The result was a warm inviting space on a low budget.