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Category: History of Color & Design

07 Sep

The Cutler Majestic Theatre

Welcome back to Fauxology! I hope your Labor Day weekend was wonderful — mine was restful and yet I got a lot done. Love that! Well, we are moving on to the second site our roving correspondent, Monica Arrache, visited during her hometown visit to Boston. Please be sure to see her visit to The Paramount Center.

219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

The Majestic Theatre, designed by architect John Galen Howard and Beaux Arts enthusiast, opened as an opera house in 1903. Emerson College purchased the theatre and a 20-year renovation of the intricately colored washes and detailed ornamentation was finished in 2003. It was often called the “House of Gold” since every piece of decorative plaster is gilded. It also features murals by William de Leftwich Dodge. After a past of opera productions, vaudeville and a movie house, today it is a 21st-century venue for all types of student and professional productions. The renovation won major awards from such organizations as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who says that the interiors are like being “inside a Faberge egg”. That, in itself, would get me there.

You may ask yourself: How does a college get these renovations funded? For the Cutler Majestic, the tag was $14.8 million over a 20-year span. It also took the efforts of hundreds of volunteers (starting with debris removal), private donors, foundations, corporations and both city and state government cooperation. It was renamed the Cutler Majestic after one of the major donors, Ted Cutler, who is the chair of Emerson College’s Board of Trustees.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to the Cutler Majestic. Private walking tours are $5 per person and if you have a group of 10 or more, a docent is provided for you. I’ll be sure to visit the Majestic the next time I’m in Boston. Will you? I want to thank Monica again for the lovely images and information she provided. I’ll see you tomorrow, same bat time, same bat place. :)

01 Sep

The Paramount Center

When one of our team members, Monica Arrache, told me she was traveling to visit her hometown of Boston (one of my fave cities) I hounded her asked her nicely if she would photograph anything Fauxology-ish in order to share with the readers. She finally had enough of my begging kindly did so with not one, but two amazing spaces.

Emerson College came upon the closed and dilapidated Art Deco-styled Paramount Theatre and commissioned it to undergo a $92 million dollar renovation to transform it into The Paramount Center. The renovation was overseen by Elkus Manfredi Architects. The interior theater has been restored to look like the movie palace that opened in 1932, complete with gold figurines, murals and restored historic finishes. It now houses classrooms, offices and several state-of-the-art performance spaces for Emerson College. There are guided tours for the public as well. Here are some of Monica’s images…

...and they do mean, ANYBODY...

559 Washington Street, Boston, MA

I found an excellent article on its history and current interior design. Additionally, there is a 5-minute video from The Emerson Channel in case you’d like to see further into the space:

YouTube Preview Image

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the new Paramount Center and that it inspires you to visit it while traveling in Boston. I’d like to send out a special Thank You! to Monica for the images and information. I’ll have the second location up soon. Have a great day!

31 Aug

Blog Nibblers: Art’s the Answer

I’m just horrible with crafts or artistry on small objects. Big walls, sure, but small surfaces? Can’t do it — and I’ve tried, trust. Which is why when I saw The Art of Ebru post over at one of my fave blogs, Art’s the Answer, I was overtaken by the sheer mastery the blog’s writer, Theresa Cheek, has of the art form.

Ebru is the process of floating ink on water to create marbleized patterns. A fellow decorative painter in Texas, Theresa shows examples of Ebru on different surfaces, talks about her collection, demonstrates the process and showcases some of her work.  That’s just so impressive.  My Mother, who is a creative genius with small objects, thinks it may come around for me eventually.  I’m not so sure — but I do hope you enjoy Theresa’s artistry.  Have a great day, dear Reader!

30 Aug

Natural Pigments

I stumbled onto the Natural Pigments website via my friend, Jeff Huckaby. When anything has the tag “rare artists colours and materials” — well, how can you resist? The company and site are based in California and their goal is to help artists acquire hard-to-find art materials. They provide supplies that have been used in “historical painting since pre-historic times up to and including the eighteenth century”. Amazing to find such a company, no? They go further to say that they obtain minerals from mines as far as Russia and resins and other materials from India, Kenya and Malaysia as well.

The reason Jeff called me about the site?  It’s because they offer an affordable and wonderful True Fresco Painting workshop.  The 3-day class runs $425 and teaches the historical technique “as practiced in medieval Byzantium and Italy”.  It really does look like an incredible workshop.

Their newsletters are always full of great information as well.  Just in the last three, I’ve learned about the metalpoint drawing technique and the use of oil colors and materials.  I enjoy them greatly.  If you are in the New York City area on September 14 – 15, they are also sponsoring a free lecture series open to the public at the Art Students League of New York.  The subjects include the Origins of Color: Secrets of the Old Masters and Color Theory & Practice.  They will last approximately an hour and George O’Hanlon, technical director of Natural Pigments, will follow his lecture with a digital presentation and a question and answer period.  I wish I could attend, I tell you what.  To find out more, check out the Events column on their site.

I find it fun to poke around their site and read about materials for disciplines such as encaustic painting, tempera, gilding and others.  The site also has cool articles (check under each category for “articles”) and a forum to talk about the materials and techniques. Until next time!

26 Aug

Going with Green

Green is a color that signifies life — growth, renewal, healthiness. It is a color that denotes nature and balance and can usually be found within a calm color scheme. Used well, it can help alleviate anxiety and relax both the mind and body. Many famous phrases revolve around the color, such as “going green”, “green with envy”, “green-lighting a project” or “it’s not easy being green”. Mmm…maybe that last one not so much. ;) In entertainment, there is even a “green room” — it is the area a performer can be found waiting until his or her time to go on stage. Interestingly, it is rarely painted green.

Sensational Color has wonderful further information on the color green. In the meantime, I found a few catalog and magazine images that showcase this beautiful color.

Wallpaper or Decorative Artwork

Venetian Plaster on Accent Walls

Unexpected Areas


I hope you’ve been inspired to Go Green! Until next time, dear Reader!

Image Sources: Architectural Digest, Interior Design, Benjamin Moore, Phoenix Home & Garden and Elle Decor

17 Aug

Blog Nibblers: The Ornamentalist

A few weeks ago, we profiled the wonderful artist Lynne Rutter. She writes an incredible blog, The Ornamentalist, and I look forward to reading each post she writes. The latest one, A House Inspired by a Jasperware Teapot, talks about how she took inspiration from an unusual source — and created an exterior masterpiece for her clients. Here’s the Before

…and you’ll have to click on the post link to see the results. You’ll love it, trust. (Jasperware certainly gets around since I’ve also found it to be inspirational.) BTW, in the post Lynne also includes information on how black can be a serious contender for the exterior of your home. I kid you not — I’d slather it on if the architecture of my house would allow it. (Sadly, no.) Have a great day!

13 Aug

Albert Whitlock, Master of Matte Painting

I stumbled onto my decorative painting career when I roomed with a film scenic artist. Her home was right out of a movie set (with props, too) and to this day I smile at the memories of my time living there. She taught me how production designers and scenic artists work to create a particular mood and how spaces are truly tailored to fit their characters. If only everyone adopted that theory and brought it to their own homes.

Since then, I’ve paid attention to the sets and design of the movies I watch. I also love to know about the artists that create so much of this work. One artist was Albert Whitlock, one of the film industry’s most skilled illusionists. Here’s a fascinating 1-minute excerpt from the educational film, Albert Whitlock: A Master of Illusion.

YouTube Preview Image

His specialty, Matte Painting, refers to the visual effect of creating the background scenery of a film. For instance, these visuals:

Painted Mountains in the Background (Movie - Earthquake)

Can you see where the set ends and the painted background begins? It's tough! (Movie - History of the World: Part 1)

Albert Whitlock’s painted backdrops can be seen in over 500 films and television shows and he is a two-time Oscar winner. He is generally known to have been the best of all the matte painters. He was able to create scenery that was impossible to film realistically, such as periods in the past (like 1930′s Chicago), disasters (the Hindenburg) or because they were too expensive to build (a mountaintop city). The trompe l’oeil work had to be masterful since the better you were, the less your work was able to be detected when seen with live-action photography. In fact, directors used to check with him first before they took on a project — they wanted to make sure the visual effects could be achieved within the budget and scope of the production.

Incredibly, Mr. Whitlock referred to himself as a craftsman rather than an artist. He was unassuming and sought to demystify his craft, saying that it was something that could be learned by anybody willing to make the effort”. Syd Dutton, who used to be his assistant, says “I remember one beautiful landscape Al painted that was supposed to be a whole bunch of weeds, chaparral in California. When I looked at it up close, it looked like Persian writing — just squiggles — but when you stood back, it looked just like chaparral. Al always said, ‘Paint is the effect of light, not the object itself.

Mr. Whitlock passed away in 1999. Here is an 8-minute tribute to him created by Craig Barron, of the Visual Effects Society. It’s educational and inspiring (and has Mel Brooks, another fave of mine prominently featured as well). Rest in Peace and Beauty, Mr. Whitlock.

YouTube Preview Image

Interested in learning more about the art form? Check out The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Painting. Many thanks to the following blogs and sites for information and visuals: Rays in Blue, IMDB, Film Reference, The ASC and YouTube. I hope you’ve enjoyed this feature!

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