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Category: History of Color & Design

18 Jul

Kitchen Week: Zebo Ludvicek

Kitchen Week: Culled from submitted entries, the week-long series focuses on five artists with extraordinary projects.  For the first time ever, each artist and five readers are receiving prizes for their beautiful artworks. Look to the end for today’s sponsor and your chance to win! Our Kitchen Week continues with an incredible artist based in Sarasota, FL: Zebo Ludvicek.  She has also been profiled in several books and we’re happy to feature her with a historic technique: Marouflage.  

Drawing by Zebo Ludvicek

Marouflage (a French word originally referring to sticky, partly hardened scraps of paint) is a technique for affixing a painted canvas to a wall to be used as a mural, using an adhesive that hardens as it dries, such as plaster or cement. Marouflage is a 3,000-year-old technique.  Historically, artists used several types of adhesives including a rabbit-skin glue. White lead ore was used in the 19th and 20th centuries in the mixture to help it dry.

The murals are normally painted on large canvas in the studio and attached to the wall on site, using a starch based glue (applied to the wall only). Once the canvas is mounted to the wall, pressure is exerted with rubber hand rollers to smooth the canvas and remove any bubbles.  By following proper technique, the murals can then be moved by a professional with minimal damage and re-instated elsewhere if required.

I was contracted to paint a mural on the underside of arches and their columns in an open kitchen/bar/wine closet area. The clients, designer and I preferred a design with a bit more whimsy than grape leaves with branches twining around a lattice.  Haven’t we all seen that WAY too many times?  I looked up at the arches and saw monkeys in my mind…as simple as that.  Drunken monkeys to boot — like in the game “Monkeys in a Barrel” where the monkeys hook around each other in a variety of ways.  The clients loved it.

Since I had previously painted a large tropical scene in their entry foyer niche and the space was very open, you would see both murals simultaneously from various vantage points.  We wanted to keep this painting neutral so as not to clash. The palette was tone on tone, browns and white with a slight blueish tinge to the monkey faces and background.  So as not to compete, we also opted for a totally different style of art than the trompe l’oeil mural: more like an etching – an exaggerated, quirky etching.

I decided on marouflage for two reasons.  One, my neck, my arms, my back!  Because of the fine detail of the artwork, it would take many hours on scaffold with arms and head up.  No way!  Two, the surface of the arches was too rough to airbrush and paint a refined, detailed line.  I needed to work on smooth canvas.

Each arch design contains a different group of wild and crazy monkeys, though the wine glasses remain consistent. The monkeys are contained by an acanthus leaf border. Each column contains the same acanthus leaf scroll design, fairly formal. A nice juxtaposition with the whacky monkeys on the arches.

The big question was whether to paint each arch mural and connecting column mural as one continuous strip of canvas or paint separate canvases for each. There are disadvantages to both. With the continuous strip, the area where arch and column meet may bubble over time and is difficult to repair. Painted separately, the seam shows. I opted for one strip. I would not suggest this option unless you have an excellent installer, which I fortunately do.

I utilize Golden Proceed Acrylic paints in my work. Their qualities mimic those of oils, but are water soluble.  After I lay down the basic shapes, I airbrush highlights, lowlights and shadows.  Finally, I detail it with a variety of materials from gouache to tomboy pens. For repetitive shapes, as on borders, I sketch the design, then cut a stencil (both positive and negative) out of mylar. Now I can quickly trace the image and then airbrush through it.

(above) Extreme close-up of Ian, one of the many monkeys that Zebo affectionately named. (below) More of the extraordinary “exaggerated, quirky etching” type of artistry she was going for.

Since we wanted the canvas to virtually disappear on the wall, I took the same paint as the walls and columns, and painted the outside edge of the canvas to the acanthus leaf border. We did two skim coats to smooth the walls, sanded, and then primed them before our installation began.  When the canvas was finally installed on to the arches, I finger troweled plaster on to the edge of each canvas and painted over the dried plaster with the wall paint.  Now, no edges showed and the walls and columns blended perfectly with the canvas, making it invisible!

~  ~  ~

What a cool project!  I thought it would be wonderful to not only share Zebo’s considerable talents but also to include a kitchen project that involved an age-old technique.  Do be sure to visit Zebo’s site — love her style!  She is based out of Sarasota, FL, but has and does travel for commissioned projects.

For her winning submission for Kitchen Week, Zebo will receive her choice of either a Granite Countertop Kit or Stainless Steel Kit from Giani Granite.  Would you like to win this prize as well?  Scroll right below or click here!

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25 Jun

Ca’ d’Zan – Part One

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I just got back from the Haven Conference and it was a wonderful time! Lots of bloggers, lots of information, lots of new friends. I also recently spent time at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL which encompasses the grand home Ca’ d’Zan in the same complex.  We recently profiled their gardens and statuaries.

Walking up to Ca' d'Zan with a pair of sphinxes leading the way.

Ca’ d’Zan is frequently described as the last of the Gilded Age Mansions built in America.  It was built in 1924 by John and Mable Ringling with architect Dwight James Baum.  It is 200 feet long and encompasses 36,000 square feet.  (You can see Mr. Ringling here in front of the home.)  It cost 1.5 million at the time and in 2002 it underwent a 6-year, 15 million dollar renovation.

The architecture is called Venetian Gothic and you can see the influence Venice had in its construction, including being right on the water (in this case, Sarasota Bay).   In the Venetian dialect, Ca’ d’Zan translates to “House of John”.

Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy by Claude Monet

Ca' d'Zan patterned after the Doge's Palace

The pavement of the terrace is both imported and domestic marble laid in a chevron pattern.

The view into Sarasota Bay

I’m going to break up the interior into several posts but here’s a peek at some special areas…

Gilded doors in the Foyer

Close-up of the gilded doors.

There are some areas that are less ornate than others.  Below is the Breakfast Room.  Great windows, no?  Also, I enjoy the colors in the room — the checkered black and white marble flooring extends quite a bit around the first floor.

Of course, the less ornate areas are far and few in between.  Gilding and ornamental artistry abound.  The paneled walnut ceilings after the painting below are in the State Dining Room.

The Game Room below is in the third floor.  The Commedia dell’ Arte-inspired mural encompasses the entire ceiling and was painted by Hungarian artist Willy Pogany.  It includes John and Mable Ringling in costume, dancing couples, figures in masks and festive gondolas representing carnival life in Venice.

This image photographed by Giovanni Lunardi.  Here’s another angle and a few close-ups.

If you’d like to see and learn more about Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling library has an excellent article and there’s also a virtual tour.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this initial post — the remaining rooms to be covered have extraordinary decorative painting and design to share. Can’t wait to put those posts together!

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16 Apr

L’Hôtel de Ville

Straight from Regina’s laptop.  Bonjour!

A few weeks ago, this image of L’Hôtel de Ville captivated me.

I had to find out more.  I originally thought it was a hotel but I found out that L’Hôtel de Ville is actually the City Hall of Paris. (On a side note, I’m somewhat miffed my City Hall doesn’t look like this.  As in, not even remotely. Clearly, the French have a patent on making even the most mundane exhibit beauty.)  The interiors are blessed with gilding, sculptures, decorative painting and fine art.  Murals were commissioned from the leading painters at the time, including Jean-Paul Laurens and Henri Gervex.

The Paris City Hall Hall has been the center of the capital’s municipal institutions since 1357.  It was redesigned in the 16th century and then again in the 19th century.  The exterior boasts a Neo-Renaissance design while the interior ranges from the Renaissance to the Belle Epoque era.  The building has played a key role in many political events.

Exterior in the evening as photographed by Benh Lieu Song.

(above, below) Two of a series of photographs on Flickr by Hotels Paris Rive Gauche.

Below is just one pic from the excellent post The Paris City Hall in Some Details by ParisOslo.

They also host wonderful private events…

…and fun events for the public.

By the way, the very first image is by Audrey Felix, a French photographer and art director, who also blogged about her visit there.  (<– There are so many gorgeous images on that post I suggest you NOT miss clicking on it, trust.) Well, not only is L’Hôtel de Ville the seat of government, it also houses popular (and free) exhibitions.  It is closed on Sundays and holidays but open at all other times.  They also offer guided tours.  (Check for hours, though!)  The building also has a Metro nearby.  Have you been?  I’d love to go — it’s on The List.  Have a great day, everyone!

P.S. As a side note, it was also the background seen in Le Baiser de L’Hôtel de Ville by Robert Doisneau.  You might recognize the photograph. :)

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23 Mar

A Day in Washington, D.C.

Last year, we visited Washington, D.C. and while there, saw the National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden.  The Hubs and I were on a double date for the day with two of our favorite friends, Sharon and Chad.  Sharon really wanted to see The Hope Diamond and so we started off at the Smithsonian National Museum of History.

The most famous diamond in the world -- and apparently, only the Mona Visa draws more visitors.

At the Natural History Museum, it was a bit surreal to also see one of the Easter Island statues.  (The Hubs had an altogether different reaction. He thought Dum Dum might want some Gum Gum. Sigh.)  It was the National Gallery after that.  It houses one of the finest collections in the world with paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from artists such as Raphael, Lippi, Pollock and Rothko to name a few.  They also have a gorgeous wide atrium with columns that’s quite a site to see.  Unfortunately, a few of my photographs came out shaky (no tripods and this was before my new anti-shake camera) but here are a few gems.

The frame and a bit of a Lippi masterpiece.

The only Leonardo da Vinci in America. It is entitled "Ginevra de' Benci" and unfortunately, was reduced in size at one point in its history.

This is "Naiad" by Antonio Canova. She is exquisite.

Close-up of a gorgeous William Turner named “Mortlake Terrace”.  Here is the full view.

Beautiful faux woodgrain to hide the unmentionables. Love to spy those!

Speaking of wood, this is a sculpture made out of one full piece.  It is of Saint John of the Cross and it is polychromed, gilded and attributed to Francisco Antonio Gijón.

At the Sculpture Garden, there are many incredible works of art ranging from the headless and disquieting (above, Puellae (Girls) by Magdalena Abakanowicz) to the whimsical (below, Thinker on a Rock by Barry Flanagan).

We ended up at the Smithsonian Castle.

Within it was what was once the Children’s Room.  In 1899, Grace Lincoln Temple was commissioned to design it and it was a beautiful place for children for nearly 45 years.  After that, it was painted over and used for sorely needed storage space and remained that way until it was restored in 1985.  Here you can see Smithsonian conservator Ron Cunningham uncovering the original ceiling mural.  You can see the restoration below.

Close-up of the stencil border.

The original idea for the ceiling was to re-create a fresco by Correggio in Parma, Italy, in which “playful cherubs peered down at the viewer through a leafy arbor”. It was cost-prohibitive and so an inspired variation was designed.  Ms. Temple’s design encompassed a fanciful trellis with grapevines and birds perched against an blue sky.  Do click here to read more of the fascinating story and see here for a pic of Ms. Temple and an artist at work.

I must go and take more complete pics with the new camera! hope you’ve enjoyed this day tour.  D.C. has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to museums, decorative arts and interesting places to visit and eat.  I love visiting at least once per year.  I have covered both the Library of Congress (Part One and Part Two) as well as the U.S. Capitol before.  I do have more D.C. jewels coming up — including Whistler’s Peacock Room.  Have a fantastic weekend!

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20 Mar

Tented Ceilings

A few years ago, we painted a tented ceiling and ever since then, I’ve loved seeing different variations.  Traditionally, the tents have been created with fabric but it also works beautifully to just paint them.  (I’m sure that’s probably the safer route, too.)

The architects and interior designers for Napoleon’s first wife, Josephine, were Charles Percier and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine.  They designed her chateau of Malmaison and, drawing inspiration from the textiles and tents of Rome’s Golden Age, proceeded to drape several rooms with sumptuous fabrics.  The idea was possibly to recreate and pay homage to, in an elegant a manner as possible, the military tents her husband was used to and his prowess on the field.  It was incredible work and, of course, the designs were copied throughout Europe and the Americas.

Let’s take a look at a few beauties…

Designed by Miles Redd

Featured in Architectural Digest, this beauty is by Jayne Design Studio.

Designed by Timothy Corrigan, photographed by Firooz Zahedi and featured in Elle Decor.  Love the fantastic use of the primary colors.

An inspired dressing room for a man designed by Mario Buatta.

(left) Beautiful kid’s bath idea from Pottery Barn Kids and (right) a cheery, more adult version on House Beautiful.

Gorgeous handpainted ceiling by New Jersey artist Charlotte Sullivan. The design was inspired by one of the Newport Mansions.

The Deering Bathroom in Vizcaya.

Residence featured in Sköna Hem.

Here is our version…

Via Garay Artisans

We enjoyed the opportunity to create a tented ceiling. One thing I can say is that the work is better done with a team!  If you’d like to check out other great posts with tented ceilings, please do take a look at Habitually Chic and Apartment Therapy.  Do you have a project you’ve done with this design?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!  Hope you enjoyed the post — have a fantastic day!

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15 Mar

Gorgeous Green

From the keypad of Peggy Pardo…

This Saturday is St. Patrick’s day; so I thought it would be fitting to celebrate the color green this week. While I don’t have any green beer to share with you, I do have some fabulous photos of rooms all decorated around or with the color green.

This bath is one of my favorites. I love white and green together, even more so when it’s combined in a pattern as beautiful as this wallpaper. The look is so fresh and elegant. I especially like it combined with the rustic sink base – which is a great way to re-purpose an old farmhouse table. You could recreate this wallpaper using a stencil; I found some similar designs here

Green and white bath

Source: House Beautiful

A bright shot of green cabinetry brings this kitchen to life.  If you want to change your kitchen but don’t want to re-do the whole thing, try painting your island in an accent color. Love the gingham print ceiling…

Green gingham kitchen

Source: House Beautiful

Let’s move into the dining room now, shall we. The bright green vinyl on the chairs plays beautifully with the traditional styling of the table’s pedestals – I am so loving the finish on these! I wonder if the walls are done with a stencil similar to this one

Green dining room

Source: House Beautiful

My last inspirational photo from House Beautiful shows an elegant sitting room in a softer green palette. Hanging the drapery higher above the windows then taking them all the way to the floor brings attention to the height in this room, thus making it appear larger…

Green sitting room

Source: House Beautiful

This kitchen was designed by Emery & Cie. The blue and green are so calming. And those tiles. Wow!…

Green kitchen

Source: Emery & Cie

It wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s without Kelly green. This is a bold color, but it works so well with the black and white accents…

Kelly green walls

Source: Apartment Therapy

Green comes in all shades. The finish on this wall is gorgeous! Regina MUST show me how to do this!…

Green wall finish

Source: Traditional Home

By painting the walls, ceiling and trimwork all the same color, this large room feels cozier and more intimate. The large window allows in natural light as well as a view of nature. I am so loving the fact that they added a touch of red in the chandelier…

Green living room walls

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

You don’t have to commit to doing the whole room in green. Bring in touches of it, as they did in this room with the green chair and accent pillows. Most of this room is done in neutrals, but the pops of green, yellow and red invigorate it…

Green accents

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

This had nothing to do with design, but I couldn’t resist this green Kate Spade bicycle. I just want to hop on and cruise around the streets of Paris! By the way, did you notice the Champagne and flowers? Someone has been good…

Green Kate Spade bicycle

Source: Adeline Adeline

Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth and harmony. It also represents tranquility, good luck and good health. You can use it as the main color or to add vitality to a neutral scheme. Have fun with it!

What is your favorite color of green paint to work with?

Cheers to all,


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09 Mar

Portrait of an Artist: Jacqueline Moore

I met the lively and artistic Jacqueline Moore on Twitter. She graciously shared a gilding tip during a #DecArts TweetChat and we’ve been fast friends ever since. I’ve admired her glorious work for a while and was thrilled when she agreed to be profiled on Fauxology.  Her studio creates various works of decorative art, including stunning wood tiles.  I think you’ll find her ethereal work so enticing…

Artist Jacqueline Moore

“I see my life as being one on a lively ocean seated keenly in a rowing boat with one oar, navigated only by the wind and wave and will,” says artist Jacqueline Moore.  In England, Jacqueline was born into a family of artists and was encouraged to study Decorative Painting and Drawing as well as the history of Art, Design & Architecture.  After traveling throughout the world, she settled in Santa Monica, CA and opened her eponymous studio in 1996.  She says of her background, “From this foundation and vigorous body of schooling and study that has been so deftly observed and considered, I can release the work through me and allow it to fly free and soar”.  In addition to her thriving decorative studio, Jacqueline was recent approached to use the works of architect Julia Morgan, who designed Hearst Castle, to create an incredible line of wood tiles.  She’s also been featured in several publications, including Interiors magazine.  We talk a bit about her influences and that exciting venture with Hearst Castle.

Wood Tile Countertop by Jacqueline Moore

Ornamental Doorway

Handpainted Furniture

Jacqueline, you have an incredible artisan philosophy.

There is a life-long road of studying Art History in my work and a reverence to the differing artistic influences that flow through it. Historical reverence and reference is paramount, and fantastically present in my work. I am a history major, a copious reader who hungrily devours the “whys and wheres” of everything. What is the story behind the work, what is the reason for creating this image or that colour, there at that time? Everything is truly felt and handled in a loving form of expression. I align myself to support the work being historical and faithful but still make room for my personal take on the whole thing.

Occasional Table in the style of Sheraton with hand-crackled age, softened black tones and worn gold leaf.

Who are some of your influences?

I was always keenly inspired by the Expressionists, because I admire the powerful stand the artists took in the face of rising Nazism and the immense potential consequence of persecution that they balanced and had to face, and consider, in creating and presenting their work. The absolute boldness, the dare in their work, is what moves me. To be different, to say what is inside of you, regardless of whether it rocks and disrupts people and ultimately will not serve yourself in well being except for the expanse of the spirit.

I am also drawn and moved by the artists of the Surrealist period because of their immense creation of atmosphere, of dreamlike sequences and hyper reality. Each of these movements strove to say something not yet said before. One was to report and be strong, bold and with definitive opinion in the face of potential adversity, the other looked at recognizable forms and showed them in an entirely new way. Unusually juxtaposed, re-scaled, altered just enough to make them part of an unconscious thought, of the absurd and of the imagination. Their profound mystery and vigour and provocation of image have always stirred my spirit.

The awareness of the amazing creations of Jean Antoine Watteau is really supported throughout my work, because I think, the architecture and composition of his work is so finely executed, so rich and daring. It provides essential energies and rhythm, being complex in the same moment it is full of life and of play. For me, he is the Father of Chinoiserie, the father and forerunner of frolic, and play and the Rococo style coming through his 17th Century work that was later from him, given more clear Asian underscore and format. I have had a life-long romance with Chinoiserie and of the Asian style throughout my whole career so far.

Please click to enlarge.

Besides Watteau, there is likely no other driver and constant in my work more significant and factoring than Max ErnstIt is the decalcomania works in the early 40’s that inspire my work, my own paintings and my decorative tiles. For me, he is all you need to see on the use of texture and layers and colours. Fantastically realized, brilliant and imaginative, these almost hallucinatory landscapes have rhythm, layers, and texture that span a lifetime of inspiration for me. Every time you look, you see something else, the detail and consideration.

Sketches, Paintings and Photographs

What artist would you like to commission to create a painting for your home?

The treasured trail of beauty and influence falls to Edvard Munch, because he is my first love in Art. He is the Artist I wrote my thesis on and for whom this thesis now sits at the Munch Museum in Oslo. Here I would have to say that his influence for me is his absolute emotive expression in his work. He absolutely had to paint, and had to paint the images, people, scenes that most haunted, moved or affected his whole way of walking through the world. The need for, and capture of, his life and his emotions released into and found through his painting, holds for me their greatest power.

What has been your most creative act so far?

This is surely dedicated to the development of my wood tiles. I thought of the idea whilst wandering the micro climates of a green garden in Montecito. They are really are an exploration of the self, and prescribe to allow the viewer in on so much information about the creator and influences. Life is always in the details anyway and the journey is ever the holder of the key.  Julia Morgan came to me when one of the folks closely associated with Hearst Castle called me and wanted to talk further. Julia’s archives, created and drawn between 1919 and 1937, were all I needed to bear witness to in order to begin with this particular collection. The tangible, layered and finite details of the drawings and hand coloured sketches  called out across the a divide in time. I took the impetus, reacting to which image and which facet and element resonated for me and carried it to a different place. A “duet” with Julia is, I hope, what resulted.

Sketches and samples for the Hearst Wood Tile Collection.

On artistry, Jacqueline says, “The idea of folly and play is essential (Watteau) the notion of background and foreground is dedicated (Ernst) but then I exact a truthful kind of independence with it all and create with fearless passion (Munch).”  I love the way she looks at life and art — and the eloquent, charming way she expresses herself.  Isn’t her work sublime?  Please do see her website which has links to a Studio Tour as well as many images of her studio’s work.  You can also keep up with Jacqueline on her Facebook page.  I’m so glad we were able to profile her today.  Thank you, Jacqueline, for your time — and I hope you, dear Readers, have been incredibly inspired.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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