Just a little help

“Mom, I don’t want to sleep in my room! Can I stay with you, please???”

I’m sure you’ve heard this quote before. And, I’m sure you’ve heard the the parent say she (or he) was at wit’s end.

What to do?

Such was the case with one of my clients. Her son was just not a fan of staying in his room. That’s when I got a call to come over for a meeting of the minds. I told Mom to include her son in this meeting. I was going to have him make some decisions.

I was pleasantly surprised! At the meeting, my client’s son was very prepared. He knew what he wanted in the room (jungle) and the particular color family (jungle/grassy green) he was also thinking of. Of course, the parents provided guidelines (and I’m chuckling as I write this story because I remember how prepared this munchkin was!)

We went with a rainforest/jungle theme and my little project manager told me specifically what types of monkeys he wanted, snakes, etc. I fanned out my color deck and he lead Mom and I to a group of greens. I further discussed with Mom furniture placement, etc and by the end of our discussion, we had a general game plan.

From my notes, I drew sketches in various scenarios so my client’s son could choose. Once the plan was finalized, I came in to do the artwork on the walls. This little guy was very curious and asked questions, which, in my opinion was a great thing. That means he was totally committed to this project and becoming more and more excited about it. Every day he would ask his Mom when his room was going to be done. (That in itself told me we would have no problem having him transition into his big boy room.)

On the last day of my project after I cleaned up and was in the middle of packing up, I had a discussion with this sweetie. I told him he was in charge of his room, and I was leaving him the job of taking care of the animals. I reminded him to keep the animals company at night and to keep his room clean. He agreed to the job.

jungle mural by artworks by marcine in nj

That week, I got an email from Mom. Success!!!! He was sleeping in his room.

A little bit of empowerment goes a long way.

Pleasant dreams.

Want your space to STAND OUT with something unique? Call Artworks by Marcine at 908-599-2129 or click here to fill out my contact form.

Under the Carousel Top

Back in the day (I’m thinking it was 2002), I was asked to convert a room into a carousel for a nursery. When I meet with my clients for the first time, I like to get an idea of their decorating taste–likes/dislikes etc. With this meeting, there was no doubt Mom was about simple elegance.

This nursery was going to be a celebration of her third child and completion of her family. Mom wanted the room to be girly, but meant for a little one. We talked about her love of carousel horses and I immediately had an idea: we would convert the whole room into a carousel, complete with a carousel/circus tent ceiling. The room itself was going to be the artwork. There would be really no other decor, except perhaps a carousel horse (which Mom mentioned she was thinking about getting.) I was going to create wide stripes around the room and hand paint carousel horses on them. The colors were all in a pastel primary color scheme, with the addition of pale lavender, which was Mom’s favorite.

The ceiling of this room had a ceiling fan that could not be taken down. Time for plan B. I took precise measurements of each wall length and checked the measurements of the fan’s diameter where it met with the ceiling. My husband constructed a template to go around the ceiling fan base for me and told me how far apart to make the tick marks on the walls. (I’m definitely dating this project; laser levels weren’t part of my budget back then.)

This was definitely a case of proper planning yields results. I snapped the lines and had my ceiling. Each stripe was the same width. Once the ceiling was done, the atmosphere of the room changed. It truly felt like an environment, and a happy one at that!

Here’s how the ceiling turned out, thanks again to my Hubs.
Here’s a portion of the whole room.

Remember, the ceiling is your fifth wall; don’t be afraid to decorate it. Also keep in mind that having some type of plan saves time, reduces product waste, reduces stress, and ensures a more successful outcome.

Happy Decorating!

If you’d like to set up an appointment with me to discuss a project you had in mind, please call (908) 599-2129 or click on this link to my contact page. Thanks!

When you need a little bit of home…

Many years ago, I painted murals in a nursery for a couple who were transplants to New Jersey and were from Colorado. The Mom-to-be was naturally happy to be meeting her baby soon, but she was sad at the same time. She missed the landscape of Colorado and she missed her family. I can understand that. When you’re in a new place that is more busy and congested and it is nothing you are used to, it can be overwhelming.

Both she and her husband recounted to me with pride, some of their favorite places in Colorado and described them to me in depth. Thank goodness the internet existed back then and I was able to research the beautiful landscapes that make up Colorado, because I had never been there.

We brainstormed together and decided that an approach would be to paint various key destinations in Colorado that Mom and Dad had been to. One destination would flow into another.

White paneling, about five feet high, was going to be installed around the room. The scenery would encompass the upper portion of the walls. So that the room wouldn’t look to choppy, I recommended that I paint a sky with clouds on the ceiling.

Mom didn’t want dark colors; she wanted a very light happy feel. This room was going to remain a nursery as the couple planned on having more children, so the end result had to look gender neutral.

Based upon these specifications, I created a room for the family that would serve as a home away from home. So, when Mom or Dad missed their home state, all they had to do was step into this very special space.

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.  

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!

Don’t be afraid to show your sparkle!

sparkle, artworksbymarcine, glitter, metallic

A decorator friend of mine asked if I could help her out on a powder room project.  This particular project was located in a new upscale lashbar business here in New Jersey.

I love this decorator friend.  She gives me carte blanche to do whatever as long as I stay within budget and adheres to a theme.  (Debi, you ROCK!!!)

Gold, black, sparkle, glam.  Those were my parameters.

The powder room size was quite small, 4×6.  There was going to be a mirrored vanity and the toilet.  That’s it.  The walls were going to be the canvas.  I suggested a metallic paint for the walls and then a random placement of stencils using glitter and stones.

I showed Debi the ideas I had and she showed them to the client.  The client was excited.  It was going to be a spin on the retro 50’s glam.

I used Modern Master’s Metallic paint in a matte finish.  I did a matte so the walls wouldn’t overpower or fight with the glittery stencils I was going to install. I went for a champagne instead of a gold.  I wanted the space to really read elegance.  Metallic walls look best sprayed.  I don’t know how to use a sprayer–yet–so I used the traditional roller method.  For those of you planning to do a metallic finish, I would highly recommend that you base coat the walls in a color extremely close to the metallic.  Metallic paints are expensive and if you can avoid doing multiple coats, all the better.  i added Modern Master’s extender to the metallic paint so the paint wouldn’t set up and dry quickly, reducing the chances of lap lines.  I would up doing multiple coats because the paint is semi-opaque.  Make sure when you roll a section, you back roll the paint in the same direction ceiling to floor.  This will point all of the mica particles in one direction for a smoother looking finish.

Once the paint was done, it was time for the fun stuff!!!!  I added glitter in both black and champagne.  Despite all the sweeping and vacuum cleaning, there was still glitter on the floor. And yes, I used disposable tarps plus covered the vanity and the toilet.  Unfortunately, if you remember doing holiday crafts as a kid, I’m sure you have memories of Mom complaining about glitter being everywhere.

It does happen.

Once the glitter was dry, I found stones in my local Hobby Lobby store.  I asked Debi if I could use the clear prism stones in addition to the black and gold stones.  She loved the idea! Those clear prisms went well with the mirror vanity.  Gorilla Glue helped adhere the stones onto the walls.  Use the glue sparingly because adding too much will cause the glue to run out from underneath the stones and drip down the wall.

craft, stones, sparkly
Gold stones from Hobby Lobby

The drop ceiling was painted a flat black.  The result is simple glam and elegance.

sparkle, artworksbymarcine, glitter, metallic
Here is the finished result: Simple. Glamorous. Elegant.

Differently sized stencils with alternating champagne and black glitter.

Letting that sparkle shine!!!

Don’t be afraid to add materials like glitter or stones to your walls.  A little sparkle is a good thing!

Questions?  Feel free to reach me at (908) 599-2129 or marcine@artworksbymarcine.com

 

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.

 

 

 

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!

Repairing a 44 year old mural

wall repair, mural,

I had received a phone call from a client last year about repairing an existing mural.  There was cracking and buckling of the wall surface.  Upon inspection of the mural and getting a little background by the client: age of home (around 100 years old) age of mural (completed in 1973) I knew that I had to do a little more research.  I pay great attention to detail and am thorough in every job because the end result will have my name on it.

mural, repair, wall
portion of wall before repair by Artworks by Marcine, LLC

I contacted Scott Haskins of Fine Art Conservation Lab in California ( www.fineartconservationlab.com )  He took the time and explained to me various options of what needed to be done.  I am very grateful to this gentleman for sharing his expertise with me.

Because the house was older, traditional plaster on wood laths was how the walls were constructed.   From close inspection of the photos, we both agreed that there was some kind of water damage.  Therefore, the origin of the damage should be found to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and then the wall needed to be stabilized: scraping away the loose layers of plaster and reapplying new plaster to stabilize the wall.  I took this information to the client and she had contractors come in to look at the damage.  Superstorm Sandy was to blame for the water.  Thank goodness there were no other water leakage issues.  A plasterer came in and then repaired the damage.  Last on the checklist was me to come in and repaint the areas of the mural that were gone.

Here’s a photo of one of the sections:

wall repair, mural,
Section of wall once plaster was completed.

This area was the largest of the repair areas that had to be done.  The other areas were smaller and were the result of necessary electrical work .   Once the area was clean of plaster dust,  I began with two coats of primer and then studied the mural work in the surrounding areas.  Because I only took small shots of the damage itself, I didn’t take whole wall shots.  My bad.  I had to look at the contextual clues of the surrounding areas to paint in the missing pieces of the puzzle.  I studied how the artist painted the sky, how the mountain range was done, the trees and the foreground .  There were different colors intermixed and my eye is pretty good with such things so  I honed in on doing the sky first.  I always work back to front, top down.  The sky was the most challenging area.  One has to account for fading of colors, etc.  Once I had addressed that area, sections began falling into place.  Upon closer observation, the original artist did a red underpainting in the mid to foreground area!  Consistency is the key, so in the repair, I did the same thing.  While I was working, I thought about when I was a child and I would spend hours copying works of art.  I always felt that in doing so, I had an understanding of how the artist worked and could understand his or her rationale in doing what he/she did.

Within 7 hours, this section was repaired:

mural, repair, wall
Section mural repair completed by Artworks by Marcine

The end result was to have everything look like it belonged.  It was as it should have been.

I’m glad I was able to reach out to Mr. Haskins for his expertise.  I’m glad that the client did the steps necessary to ensure a good result.  The effort was worth it because the end result  was seamless.