Welcome to 2018!

change, artworksbymarcine, marcine, stars, lights, new year ,2018

I’m sitting on my couch (it’s a rarity, trust me) on December 30th in the afternoon.  The snow has stopped falling here in NJ and I was actually happy that it was snowing because I had nowhere to run to .  Two pots of coffee and a quick shovel of snow, I’m  here writing this blog entry.  I started to think about the year that has almost come to a finish.  I think the theme of “Change”  is a pretty good way to describe the year as a whole.

I’ve always liked changing.  Who wants to stay the same?  Not me.    I think that’s inherent in being an artist.  We’re all about change and embracing it.  That’s how we grow as creatives.   External  physical changes are easy to spot: different hair color (I think I’ve been every shade of red since I was 16) , different clothing styles, (as long as it comes in black–my fave.)   The real changes that are most important are the changes on the inside, in my opinion.  It’s those changes who help us grow and learn.

My son graduated high school this year and was off to college.  I had to deal with letting go.  He was my first one leaving the nest and since my mom passed away 5 years ago, he has been my rock.  Yeah, it was hard.  I had to grow up a little.  I think he was already grown up and ready to leave the nest, lol.  (There’s a saying I have that “We actually learn from our kids.”  )

My husband had Thyroid cancer, which he beat, but then developed lymphoma, and later Lyme  He has had two clean PET scans so no lymphoma but we are always watchful and stay  on top of bimonthly checkups.  The Lyme?  Well, that is another story.  We’ve become vigilant about our health and are proactive in addressing any concerns.

My younger son, who is in the sixth grade,  has had changes in school, which directly affects us at home.  We are trying to give him more responsibility to manage himself but in small increments so he doesn’t get frustrated.

And me?  Well, I’ve changed some of my habits, getting rid of not so good ones and replacing them with more good ones (still a work in progress.)  I’m making friends both online and offline with people who are more of my silly, sarcastic,  real, down to earth, creative ” tribe,” who are positive thinking, honest individuals which is a good thing, and I’m weeding out the toxic people.   Professionally, I have had the opportunity this year to work for  really wonderful clients who appreciate and see the value in what I do and trust my judgement. Yes: appreciation, value, trust.   Clients like that fuel my fire as an artist and a business person and for me, that has been super exciting.  The end result is some really cool projects I completed. This is one of my goals for the new year: to find more clients exactly like those people.  One of my other goals is to keep expanding my tribe.  In my personal artwork, I started getting back into making my art.  I have paintings in my studio that I feel are unfinished.  I just don’t have an ending for them now.  I tend to overthink my work and that has proved to be stifling.  That’s another thing I have to work on.

That’s just some of the changes here….I’m sure that 2018 will hold even more change.  I think the theme of 2018 will become (dare I say Change) Opportunities: opportunities to teach and be taught, opportunities to grow, opportunities to lead, opportunities to give,  opportunities to create.

I am so looking forward to it.

I hope you are too.

Happy New Year, everyone.  May 2018 bring us the most wonderful opportunities life has to offer!

 

Wallpaper or Faux? YOU Decide!

faux finish, wall art

Years ago, I met someone who was extremely involved in the interior design industry.  She was quite frank and it was clear she had little patience for someone like me:  an artist who creates murals and wall finishes.   However, I appreciated and respected her honesty.  “Why wouldn’t I choose wallpaper?  I don’t have to go through all these steps like I would with someone like you.  I measure my space, look through a book, pick out the paper, order it and arrange to have it installed.”  I can have it done the next day if I chose to.”

Maybe years ago when I was young in this profession,  my feelings might have been hurt.  I think my training as a fine artist and having to endure numerous critiques in undergrad and grad school plus the feedback I received showing my work to gallery owners kind of helped me develop a hard shell about what I do.  I’m not bothered by what folks have to say about my art.  Like it, not like it—it’s a matter of YOUR preference and YOUR aesthetic.  I actually chuckled after my meeting with this person because the conversation got me thinking.   Oh this thinking thing: I tend to do it a lot!

IT IS YOUR PREFERENCE; that’s the bottom line.

But, how to figure that out?  Well, in my twenty years of being in business, I’ve done work for many a former wallpaper lover turned disliker and lover of faux finishes.  Yep, I could be partial to the questions and key points I’m going to direct your attention to, but I will do my best to be as neutral as possible.

1.  Are you a “I want it done YESTERDAY” kind of person?

If you answered, “Yes” then wallpaper may be for you.  Yes, you can go pick out a pattern from a book and order the wallpaper.  Just know that there is a delivery turnaround and hope that your pattern isn’t out of stock.  Also, make sure you order enough because paper is printed in “runs” (dye lot number) and you have may not match another roll from a different run.  Also keep in mind that you have to hire an installer unless you plan on doing it yourself.

Yes, there are limitations with hiring someone like me.  Unless you are hiring a crew of finishers, generally folks like me are a one person army.  And as my original critic said, there is a process.  Why?  Because we (collectively) want to make sure you get what you want.)

2.  Do you like a mechanical design or a more loose handmade look?

Orderly images that come in a repeat pattern actually can be done by both industries but to have something completely devoid of any personal touch, is usually left to the wallpaper industry.  Yes, as artists, we have wallpaper stencils at our disposal, but again, we do things by hand so there are instances where things beyond our control happen.  If you appreciate the look of things done by hand, then the faux-finish/unique wall finish  is for option is for you .  (De Gournay does sell hand-painted wallpaper and there are companies who will hand print wallpaper for you, provided you have the budget.)

3.  Is having something created for you completely custom of importance to you?

Remember the answer I gave  in question 1 about the process?  Please hear me out:  As I mentioned before, we want to make sure YOU get what YOU want.   I do have to note here that there are companies on the internet who offer “custom wallpaper” creations, as long as the art is provided by you.   As far as customizing minutae such as a tweak of a color, I have not yet heard of a company who can sit down with you and customize the repeats to your liking. Yes,  we meet with you, we show you samples, we look at your decor to offer creative options, we show you colors, we make colors, we tweak what ever needs to be tweaked so you get what you want.  The personal experience is of high importance when dealing with an artist or an artisan.  We want to develop a relationship with you and make you happy.

4.  Do you love the unique and have an appreciation for art?

Do you look for things or images that are out of the ordinary?  Something that  perhaps no one else has?  Something that you can’t do yourself but you can articulate to someone exactly what you want done?  Again, the personal one -on-one experience of dealing with a wall finisher will help you accomplish your goals.  We basically turn your walls into works of art.  Consider tour walls or ceiling:  shimmering foils,  sparkly glitter, or large mica flakes, or even Swarovski crystals attached to areas for special interest–how unique!  And just think, you are supporting the arts!!!!

5.  Are you concerned about durability?

Wallpaper has been known for its durability, expecially if you have commercial wallpaper installed.  That stuff is just indestructible.  However, in our industry, we work with plasters that are lime based and harden over time, we use concrete based plasters in addition to a wide array of protective topcoats.  Many products on the market today contain newer technology to provide additional protection.  In addition, many manufacturers have incorporated UV technology to prevent colors from fading quickly.

6. Cost effectiveness.

Cost effectiveness can be argued for either arena.  There are so many variables that can be thrown into this equation, that there really isn’t a definitive answer.  Some wallpaper rolls run upwards of a $1000 and that doesn’t include installation.  Some faux finishing products can cost a couple hundred dollars per gallon.

7.  Ease of removal.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog entry, many of my clients are former wallpaper people who just had a really hard time removing the wallpaper and they do not want to deal with that experience again.  Some wallpapers, such as the wallpaper was that foil/velvet flock from the 1970’s  (I’m chuckling because I’m thinking about the wallpaper my parents had in our kitchen–yikes!!!) was super difficult to remove.  If the wall wasn’t prepped properly to begin with and the client may remove large portions of sheetrock along with the wallpaper.  In addition, you have to make sure that all of the remaining wallpaper glue has been removed from the wall.  Painting on top of a surface with adhesive still on it will cause cracking of the newly painted surface.  On the other hand, some of my clients had no problem removing their wallpaper and were just looking to get away from the wallpaper look.

I’m going to throw a wrench in my entry here:  some faux finishes are a pain to “remove.”  Removing a faux finish is sort of a misnomer.  Why?  Unless it is a painted finish like a colorwash which may need a light sanding and then a primer to begin repainting, technically, you are adding texture to a wall.  If you’re adding texture, the only ways you can prevent that texture from telegraphing, i.e. showing through , in the future, is to sand, sand, sand, or skimcoat (applying a thin coat of plaster or mud to the wall to even out the surface), or re-sheetrock the wall.

No matter what choice you make, there is a level of commitment. You simply cannot repaint the walls if you decide you don’t like the way they look.  An immediate change in either wallpaper or faux finish would prove to be rather costly.

I’m sure there are additional points that I have overlooked.  But, I think if you look at what I’ve mentioned above and think about your responses to the questions and to the points, you will see what YOUR preference is a little more clearly.   I already know what my preference is 😉

What are your thoughts?

If you’d like to schedule an appointment to discuss your redecorating project, please contact me at (908) 599-2129 or fill out your contact information here.

 

 

 

Shiplap isn’t for everyone

Everyone likes shiplap, right?

No.

You would think that Joanne and Chip of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” (which I am now reading may be over?) convinced everyone that it was the “must have” for everyone’s home.

Well, they certainly didn’t convince my client.  She had shiplap in her basement rec room area and it was grouped with a beautiful wood tone bar and nautical ship light sconces;  not the look she wanted.

shiplap, faux, barnwood
Before picture of shiplap

An interior designer friend of hers suggested barnwood.  My client showed me images from Pinterest of what she had in mind.  The images I saw were monotone and I feared the look wouldn’t get rid of that shiplap feel.  Both she and her husband like a somewhat contemporary  simple streamline look. But, there was the issue of the bar. There was beautiful dark wood molding and crown as well.  I wanted everything to look integrated as though all the pieces were intentional and belonged.  My idea was a little different.

As an artist, I have been fascinated with things eroding, revealing, decaying.  I used to wander the streets of Manhattan with my Dad as a kid and take in all the posters that were pasted up over other posters, signs half painted over other signs, graffiti, paint chipping, concrete crumbling.  Yeah, that stuff.  I just love it. (Hmmmmm….I’m thinking of another blog post to write now!)

Anywho, I thought of barnwood the same way.  Each piece is unique and different.

But, I couldn’t get too crazy.  I had to stay within the matrix of grays, keeping it light.  I suggested to the client that we do some wood tones too to match the bar.  She was receptive to the idea but cautious.  I get it.

We pulled grays out of the floor tile and pulled wood tones out of the bar.  I showed her each color on the Benjamin Moore deck and got a yay or nay.  Now I would begin samples.

As with anything I make, it is a rarity that the first pass is a success.  Art and being an artist is a learning process.  Add to that equation respecting a client’s aesthetics and the challenge becomes a little greater.  That said the first group of samples was mediocre,  just “meh.”

barnwood, faux
The first group of samples

But, she said, “We need more wood.”  BINGO!!!!!  That was my clue.

It’s all about listening.

The second set of samples had more wood tones revealed, some samples were basically dark wood that matched the crown and baseboard molding.  I had a feeling that these samples were going to be the winners.

Always see the samples in the space where the project will be installed.  Lighting does crazy things to color.  Everyone knows that.  I brought the samples over and watched her face for reactions.  Once I explained that there wouldn’t be too many dark pieces of wood, and I taped the samples on the wall, so she could get a sense of pattern, I got the smile.  Thumbs up.

The actual installation process was interesting; an analogy I think of when doing this type of random work is “creating a composition.”  The eye has to dance all around the space and the walls should look balanced but not in a contrived way.  there also should be areas that are calm for the eye to “rest.”  There should be unexpected pops here and there.

I started with one middle value board.  I created a random dance of different lengths of this one board.  Each board I made was slightly different.

barnwood, shiplap, faux
Beginning the process of creating the composition

Next came the lighter value boards.  Knowing my client wanted the total look light, I made sure I created boards like that.  Next came the little darkest boards, just here and there.

faux, barnwood, shiplap
Darkest board

Again, the dance.  I kept hearing the voice of a professor I had at Penn State who would constantly say, “Work all around the canvas at once.”

Lastly, like the highlights on a still life, were the lightest boards.   Some of the boards were grouped together according to their value, but not in a contrived way.  Again, I had to pull off that idea of randomness but there couldn’t be total chaos.  There had to be some semblance of order.

barnwood, shiplap, faux
Finished wall
barnwood, shiplap, faux
Finished walls

Of course, the project took longer than I thought.  I am a perfectionist and I naturally fiddle with things until they look right to me.  I freshened up the white paint here and there.  A contractor I worked with a long time ago always told me, “Leave the space cleaner than it was when you came in.”  I will never forget those words of wisdom.  (Thanks, Frank!)

The end result accomplished what I had set out to do.  The client absolutely loves it.

See ya later, shiplap.

 

Do you have any questions?  Ask away!  Want to schedule an appointment?  Give me a call, (908) 599-2129

 

Portable Nursery Decor — is it possible?

I had any inquiry from someone from my page on  Houzz.com.  This expectant mom wanted to add a bit of personality and uniqueness to her soon-to-be son’s nursery.  She wanted something transportable in the event that her family moved to another house.  Of course, this idea had to be within a budget.  (I’m going to discuss the topic of budget in another blog entry.)

Think outside the box.

First of all, canvas can be applied with wallpaper paste.  There is a certain technique that can be used which will allow you to remove the mural at a later date.  I googled temporary murals and there are directions and recipes that decorators use in The White House to put up murals and relocate them when necessary.

Secondly, a very thin piece of birch can be used as a surface and screwed into the wall.  You can purchase thicknesses of 1/4 inch.  Birch has a smooth surface and takes paint well.

MDF (medium density fiberboard) can also be used.  Thicknesses start at 1/4 inch.

Lastly, I want to show you a nifty surface I just happened to come across while at Lowe’s:  underlayment Plywood.  In the description card attached to the shelf, there was mention about this surface being ideal for craft projects.  The surface was smooth and light.

artist, materials, mural
Underlayment plywood. (Sorry about the triangle icon in the middle of the photo; I screen shot a frame from a video I took.)

I think this material was a winner.  Once I sent her the photo of the item, she also agreed.

The client sent me specs.  I needed to create a circular image, 30″ diameter with the Yankee pinstripes and Derek Jeter’s #2.  I have a carpenter friend who is able to cut circles nicely, so he was able to help me out.  Once cut, I knew this material was a winner; it was so light!

I primed both sides of the material and weighted the board down  after the material was dry, to prevent warping.  The painting went off without a hitch.  I matched a blue to the Yankee blue.  Easy-peasy.  I kept the board on the wall and made sure that there was a “level” piece of wood attached to the wall to serve as a support shelf.  Because i’m a perfectionist, I used a level to make straight lines and then figured out the proportion of the parts of the #2.  A few coats of protective topcoat and voila!

Here’s how it came out:

nursery decor, boy's room decor
Portable image for a nursery

To make things even more easy, industrial velcro can be used on the back of the piece to attach it to the wall.   Or, if the client preferred to attach it to the wall, I provided flat headed screws, with the heads painted blue so everything would blend in.

Bottom line: anything is possible; sometimes it takes a little more research but the time invested creates success!