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02 Dec

Portrait of an Artist: Ali Kay

During the IDAL convention, I went by to see my friend Ed Mattingly’s class during a break. A nearby set of boards immediately caught my eye, my heart sped up and I said, “Incredible! Who is the artist?” and he replied, “Ali Kay”. I knew she was a talent to watch. I would also admire her artistry while she was working on the convention’s philanthropic mural. I saw a few more of her projects and thought ,”That’s it. I’m contacting her – she’s phenomenal!” I hope you feel the same way. Without further ado, Ali Kay of Houston’s Positive Space Art.

Artist Ali Kay

Artist Ali Kay

Ali Kay has been an artist from day one.  She started painting murals for  friends  and family in high school and went on to study fine art at the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin.  After her graduation, she spent time in Rome and Florence to not only study but also absorb art history.  She officially started her decorative painting company Positive Space at the age of 19 in 2003 and in 2010, she and her husband moved from Milwaukee, WI to Houston, TX.   The new environment proved to be a valuable change for her company and she has had the opportunity to work with many talented designers and artists in the growing city.  In fact, Positive Space is an active industry partner with ASID and one of Ali’s murals was recently recognized at the Gulf Coast Chapter’s  annual awards banquet under the category of Best Wall Treatment.  While her work has always focused mainly on mural painting and fine art, she is now branching out into the world of faux finishes and decorative plasters.

Peacock Mural

Peacock Mural - Winner of a Best Wall Treatment award

To see a full view of the barrel ceiling, click here. To get even closer, try this one.

What are some great products you’ve come across lately?

My favorite new product is the artist paint by Proceed. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been using cheap quarts of wall paint for my murals for years and now that I’ve been introduced to this new paint line, I will never go back.   It obviously costs more but the results are worth it.  It dries so slow it’s almost like oil paint and it blends beautifully to create easy shading.  It also stretches so you don’t need to use a lot of it to cover a large space.

What have been some of the most fulfilling projects you’ve been involved with?

About a year ago, I was asked by a designer I work with if I would be interested in doing a pro bono mural for a local family. The mother had lost her arms and legs due to a devastating complication from giving birth to her daughter. A foundation had been created and the community had helped to purchase a house for the family. After meeting them and doing the mural for her daughter’s nursery, I couldn’t help but do murals  for their other two children as well. The family was so appreciative and kept thanking me. I felt like it was very little what I had actually done. It was so rewarding to be able to do anything to bring joy to someone who had been through so much. It was a much better payment than I could have received from any client.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you have received?

I think that the best piece of profession advice I have received has to do with my greatest struggle: pricing out work.

I was told not to focus so much on “How long is this going to take me?” but rather to ask myself “What is this project going to be worth when it’s completed?”.

Often times a project might not take a great deal of time, but may bring an incredible amount of value to the home or business and you should be compensated for that.   On the opposite end, there are projects that seem to take forever and the end product does not show it. Those are ones that I might decide to pass on.

In your travels, what have been some of the most inspiring spaces you’ve seen that had decorative painting?

In college, I took a short art history course in Italy and we visited Pompeii.   I was so amazed at the technical level of the art.   It’s incredible me that these ancient people were using atmospheric perspective beautifully.   When I think about the work of the middle ages and how primitive it was, it seems unbelievable that these people thousands of years earlier were so much more skilled at representation.

This collage includes custom finishes and selections from her Contemporary Cubism series and mosaics with painting incorporated.

What photograph or image really moves you?

I little over a year ago I came across photos on Facebook of orphaned children in Haiti. The images were so powerful that I asked the woman who posted them if I could have permission to paint them.  She happened to be the director of a mission in Aquin Haiti, Haitian Helping Haitian, and knew these children very well. These paintings turned into my “God’s Children” series. These are some of my favorite paintings I‘ve ever done, because the photos I used were so heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. I think what drew me in most was the look of the children’s eyes as they stared at the camera. About 6 months after I made the paintings, I went to Haiti and got to meet the same children I had been painting.

What is the first work of art you remember creating?

There are so many it’s hard to nail down just one as the first. My mom kept everything I did and I think by the time I was in high school she had filled a refrigerator box in our basement. One that sticks out in my mind though was a drawing I did of my grandparents when I was probably about 6. I had them pose for me at the kitchen table.

One of Ali's first works of art. She was six.

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Her pro bono project must have been so satisfying — imagine helping bring so much joy to a family that desperately needed it! I’m also glad she was able to travel to Haiti to visit with the children she had been painting. What an incredible experience that must have been! A big thank you to Ali for working with me to put this profile together. Please do stop by her website, Positive Space Art, to see more of her beautiful work. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s profile and found it inspiring. Have a wonderful weekend!

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30 Nov

Moving Beyond the Walls

The reason I enjoy writing Fauxology is because I love showcasing how incredible decorative painting and faux finishing can be.  There is no doubt, however, that our industry has changed and evolved due to the current times.  Many artists have found other avenues to supplement their lives while maintaining their sense of creativity — and Boston artist Susan Siefer is no exception.  I thought it would be great to hear about her journey and how she has moved beyond the walls and added an incredible new direction to her studio offerings.

Susan Siefer: You could say I am returning to my roots. I started out as a fiber artist, fabric designer and painter. I was then hired as a store designer by a large retail furniture company in the Boston area. I painted walls at a time when decorative painting (well…faux painting) was just becoming popular.  We had a team going from store to store creating beautiful walls and vignettes. After about 15 years, and many, many large walls later, it was time to go out on my own and I started MadPatter Production. That was in 2002, the year my first granddaughter was born. I have been lucky to have some great clients that have  inspired and encouraged me to create fabulous walls, ceilings and floors.

Susan Siefer Modello DesignsImage from Modello by Design, Volume 2

Working with designers and clients, it seemed there was a disconnect between artful walls and art on the walls. I am fascinated by the relationship between Architecture, Interior Design and Art. With a little understanding of all three, I  have created canvas panels using Modello Designs, leafs, foils, plasters and glazes to compliment some of the wall finishes. They were applied with hot wax on the back…much easier than wallpaper paste…and they were framed out with frames and moldings from Beaux-Artes.

Susan Siefer Beaux-Artes

Frames and moldings from Beaux-Artes showcase panel artwork.

Running has been a constant for all of my adult life and I often get my best ideas and clearness of thought when hitting the roads. One day last spring was no exception: I thought “Why not implement this same concept on a small scale that could be interchangeable art?”. I’ve always liked the idea of multiples and the idea of changing a throw pillow, a lamp or any decorative accessory. Thus, Change of View© canvas were created.

Susan Siefer Studio

Change of View© Studio

I use the products I love…Venetian plaster, leaf, foils, metallic plasters, stencils from Royal Design Studio and Cutting Edge, among others, and apply onto the flat canvas.  I have them in my Etsy store and they are carried at the boutique Soirée in my town of Andover, MA…

susan siefer painted furniture

Painted furniture and artwork featured in the Soirée boutique.

…and, of course, in some of my client’s homes.

susan seifer paintings

susan seifer paintings

I chronicle the story of the process on my blog, Change of View (at the Studio). When people start playing with the pieces, they really have a good time mixing and matching. I am working with a marketing person that has been a great help. It is a really interesting process.

My wonderful clients and designers do keep me in the game with some interesting and fun projects and it pays the bills. I have found an amazing company to help with implementing my finish designs in a couple of larger commercial commissions that recently have come through. I am also excited about a collaboration with my good friend and incredible designer and color consultant Linda Holt of New Light Redesign. (Check out her amazing blog).  We are absolutely in love with Annie Sloan Chalk Paints and have become paint groupies.

annie sloan chalk paint furniture

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Dressers

We have spent the summer and fall painting repurposed pieces of furniture that we find, pick, buy and beg. The name of our business is Chalk It Up!  and we will soon have a Facebook page and site. We are rather yin and yang, and bring our own different and unique talents to the table (literally!). I am excited to be taking an ASCP workshop with Barb Skivington next month. 

susan siefer painted furniture studio

Showhouse mudroom we did together to highlight paintings and furniture.

I am also moving into a new workroom space with other artists and designers in the beautiful new Mill District just north of Boston. There is a common space I will be using for workshops and seminars on paint and design. I was fortunate to see the Alexander McQueen show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York last summer and the beauty of his fabrics and materials got me thinking about fabric design again, so who knows? Maybe that’s also part of the future big picture. Thanks to Regina, I have been inspired to enter the social media foray and am muddling through as fast as I can! Finding a community of like-minded creatives, I know we will get through these challenging times together and figure out our own vision for the future.

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Thank you, Susan! It’s great seeing many artists have found ways to supplement their lives with their artistic talents and collaborations. I know our company did something similar when we branched into alternate surfaces. It has made all the difference; I’m sure it will for Susan! I hope today’s post has inspired you to take a hold of those ideas that pop up in your mind begging to be fulfilled. Have a wonderful day!

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29 Nov

Lovely Lace

I will admit that lace is not always first in my thoughts when thinking of decorative painting and interior design. However, I’ve started to think differently.  I believe it’s the decidedly contemporary take on the look today.

Skylar's Lace by Bella Tucker

This is the Skylar’s Lace stencil by Royal Design Studio used on a ceiling by Bella Tucker Decorative Finishes.  Below you will also see it in two separate flooring commissions: left, on concrete as profiled in My Marrakesh and on the right as featured in Better Homes & Garden’s DIY magazine.

Skylar's Lace by Royal Design Studio on Flooring Skylar's Lace by Royal Design Studio on Flooring

Below you can see lace digitally transferred onto walls. Might be a bit much for the eyes but I think a variation on the idea would be fun. Via 4ID Interiors.

Lace Walls via digital image

Lace Inspired Walls Lace Wallcovering Wallpaper

 Above left is the Lace Fence from Demakersvan and above right is InTrend wallpaper as featured in Bloomerism. Please click on the pics to enlarge.

How cool is this wall, btw?  Via Craftzine.

Lace Walls

Here’s an accent area — please do take a close-up look of the finish as the repeat pattern is quite interesting.  Via Home to Decor.

Lace Finish Accent Wall

Finally, French Lace as created by Elitis.

French Lace Walls

Designer Sarah Glynn also wrote a cool blog post entitled Embrace the Lace, citing it as a trend.  As far as creativity in other mediums, you must check out the incredible artistry of both Cal Lane (see her Works) and Doreen Westphal (pictured below).

Concrete Lace by Doreen Westphal

Concrete Lace by Doreen Westphal

Faux finisher John Charles has a Lace Impressions sample line. My friend Denise Lunsford from The Wall Nut trowels shimmery plasters through lace designs for niches — so, so pretty.  Hard to wrangle but worth the effort!  Have you done lace inspired finishes?

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26 Nov

IdeaPaint Giveaway Winner!

We had a fantastic Giveaway by IdeaPaint during our recent Deets post on the product line.  Readers were asked to comment on the post about the materials and their creative plans for it.  One Reader was picked via Random to receive their own complimentary HOME kit to work their magic. Without further ado, the Winner is…

Based on number of eligible entries. Winning entry generated by

Kass Wilson!

Atlanta-based Kass Wilson started her journey into decorative finishes in 1992 with the launch of her company, Wallstreat Studio. Inspired by a passion for nature and a flair for the unconventional, she combines multiple mediums and techniques to offer her clients over 300 finish techniques to choose from.  In 2006, Kass published a book, Creative Finishes, where she shares the secrets to creating a few chosen artistic techniques. She also has a wonderful blog, Design Visions, where she chronicles many of her beautiful commissions. Please do visit her sites or her Wallstreat Studio Facebook page. Congratulations, Kass — do keep us posted on your IdeaPaint project!

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I do want to say “Thank You!” to all who left a wonderful comment on the post and also to Jeff Avallon and Brenna Fitzgerald of IdeaPaint for facilitating the wonderful Giveaway.  There will be more opportunities to win products and other great giveaways so be on the lookout — have a wonderful day!

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24 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  May it be filled with love, laughter and moments to be thankful for!  Much appreciation, Regina

18 Nov

Deconstructed Elegance

Today we have a wonderful guest blogger for you: the creative design and wall finish company, SuperStrata!  We met on Twitter and I quickly became enamored with their cutting-edge style and vision.  SuperStrata specializes in integrating quality plasters and paints with innovative materials and processes such as clay, semi- precious stones, micas, screen printed patterns and many other high design combinations.  They truly create an interior design experience that goes beyond the traditional.  Today, they share one of their incredible projects with us. So without further ado…

We were so excited to be asked by the lovely and talented Regina Garay to contribute to Fauxology, one of our favorite blogs! Our answer was an immediate and resounding “Yes!” What to actually focus on was another matter. The world of decorative wall finishes is an exciting, multi-faceted place.

In the end, we decided to write about a project where we got to do what we love: collaborate. It’s such a joy to work with interior designers, decorators and architects to bring their concept to reality. Both our clients and our artisans really get to shine due to the creative collaborations; our artisans provide their considerable creative prowess in combination with in-depth knowledge of the materials’ capabilities in order to achieve the often groundbreaking results that our clients aspire to.

A favorite custom design project of ours is the playfully sophisticated New York City apartment of Interior and Furniture Designer Nicole Fuller. Working with the immensely talented young designer on her own home was truly delightful. The result of our collaboration: two original and cutting-edge wall finishes. Displaying her innate flair for the fashionable and chic, Fuller coined the new finishes Nico and Farrah. Later, her home was photographed by Richard Powers and featured in the August 2011 issue of LivingEtc. In this post, we contrast our casual in-process shots with the final, decorated and styled presentation in the editorial.

Nicole standing in the living room of her "masterpiece"

Nicole standing in the living room of her "masterpiece".

For the living room, Nicole came to us with inspirational tear sheets of worn, deconstructed walls in a stunning Parisian flat, a custom platinum gray color, and a verbal description of her vision.  Nicole envisioned a two-color treatment with the dominant gray color ending high on the walls, in undulating, and varying heights.

The living room lime paint wall finish in process.

The living room lime paint wall finish in process.

Gradations of a pale platinum gray and bright white meet in textural brush strokes on the living room walls in  Nico, a custom contemporary lime paint finish conceived by Nicole and brought to fruition by our artisans.

Gradations of a pale platinum gray and bright white meet in textural brush strokes on the living room walls in Nico, a custom contemporary lime paint finish conceived by Nicole and brought to fruition by our artisans.

In the resulting wall finish, the gray pigment of the lime paint design stops short of the ceiling in wide, uneven brushy strokes at diverging heights giving it the “deconstructed elegance” that Nicole desired. Nico is elegant and edgy. Perfectly contextualized, it is reminiscent of the silhouette of the storied Manhattan skyline surrounding her 16th floor Chelsea apartment.

Deconstruction meets ecletic elegance in the finished living room as styled for LivingEtc.

Deconstruction meets ecletic elegance in the finished living room as styled for LivingEtc.

The classic drapes in warm, deep red contrast the cool gray color of the contemporary wall finish.

The classic drapes in warm, deep red contrast the cool gray color of the contemporary wall finish.

How to deal with the intersection of the undulating finish with openings like doors, windows, and the kitchen pass through was worked out before installation began.

How to deal with the intersection of the undulating finish with openings like doors, windows, and the kitchen pass through was worked out before installation began.

Nicole’s playful and fearless sense of style can also be seen in Farrah, the limestone plaster wall treatment in the master bedroom. She provided the inspiration and parameters for Farrah. Working closely with Nicole, our artists designed the technically and visually elaborate finish.

The master bedroom getting the treatment!

The master bedroom getting the treatment!

A multi-faceted installation process needed to be devised and carried out. The horizontal stripes of custom rose-hued Marmorino plaster in varying saturations were applied first in twelve measured sections. Then each of the sections received another layer. When the plaster design was complete, a final layer of wax was applied, both to protect the finish and to give it a satin sheen. Only then could one of our artists create the one-of-a-kind looping wall drawing in white beeswax.

The master bedroom complete: a beeswax line drawing does loop de loops on the pink, striped plaster wall finish, Farrah. The white elements provide unity and ground the space. The bedside table is from Fuller’s own furniture line, Isabella Wolfe.

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Stunning, no?  With the lime paints and waxes, I bet they even feel good to touch.  I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s guest post (Thank you, Tyra and Jonas!) and please note that you can see more of their incredible work on their SuperStrata website.  You can also keep up with them on their Facebook fan page and Twitter stream, where they post great links and wonderful images.  They also have a new blog called Walls Surround You — it’ll be one to voraciously devour!  I hope everyone has an incredible weekend!


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17 Nov

High Style Finishes

I wrote about the Faux Expo 2011 back in September.  In the post, I mentioned the Double Down workshop taught by Sheri Zeman of Chicago’s Faux Design Studio and Donna Phelps of the Sarasota School of Architectural Finishing.  I had actually hoped to take the class but didn’t sign up because I was unsure of my schedule at that point.  I ended up visiting both Sheri and Donna while they were teaching the workshop and each took a moment to show me their samples in person during a class break.

To say that I was devastated that I did not take the workshop would be an understatement.

They were some of the best samples I’ve seen in a long, long time.  They were fresh, they were contemporary, they were hot.  I literally wanted to gather them all up and run away with the pretties, all the way home, and never give them back.  I controlled myself but my friend Mary Childs had to console me.  Feel free to ask her.  It took me quite a bit to get over losing out on the one-time class.

I found out Sheri Zeman was teaching another class at The Paint Factory, an excellent studio here in Orlando.  This time she is solo but, of course, I’m taking the class and I couldn’t be more excited.  Here are three of the eight finishes…

I’ve only heard great things about Sheri Zeman and her studio has been on my Must-Visit list.  It seems they consistently teach finishes that help elevate what we offer to the savvy clients and designers of today.  The class was organized by the three Florida IDAL chapters: Florida’s Golden Palette, Southwest Florida Decorative Artisans and the Professional Decorative Artisans.  Many thanks to them for putting the workshop together! The class is November 18th & 19th.  I’ll be doing a round-up but also hope to provide pics for you as the class progresses.  Be sure to check our Facebook fan page and Twitter stream for that.  Talk soon!


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