Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chalk Paint Blooming

I have this thing about flowers as a metaphor for so many things that necessitate description or definition or simply a place to be.  And is it not true that when we seek to express an idea or a plan, it seems to germinate through the process of words and images?  At least that is true for me because I am always torn between the power of phrases versus the beauty and tactile images of color and art. 

I have been so busy the last few weeks that I have taken refuge in a bouquet of peonies that have been in my living room for many days.  They seem to last forever.  I probably have taken twenty photos in various lights and unfolding, a way to chart a journey of their life, a source of continual engagement and inspiration.  It has given me reason to pause and reflect on the days when I am often at my computer or in my car.  And essentially, it has become a forum for me to reflect on variations of colors and movement and all that this manages to entail.

I will be moving into a retail space soon.  I think it was the bouquet of peonies that helped me arrive at this decision.  It was simply a thought, similar to that peony bud, knowing it would eventually unfold, gradually reveal its reason and strength.  I know I love the idea of story and metaphor, but truly it seemed to be an evolution of like-minded souls, the bloom and the action to decide.

It will be the perfect space.  If you look to the left you will see the industrial garage door.  Don't be fooled.  Behind this door is the most incredible space for workshops, painting furniture, and creating all sorts of amazing things.  The space in front of it, "the storefront" is where I will be wild with display and color and eclectic design, but the back room will be the place where all the magic happens!

Practicality precedes progress as well as dreams.  So this last week I was busy sawing samples for my first workshop.  I had so many to cut, and I nearly purchased an electric saw but when I saw the blade and the way it worked, I quickly moved on to the manual department.  I have this fear that I will cut off my fingers and be unable to create anything for the rest of my life.  That would be catastrophic, no question.

Holding a painting workshop in a dining room tends to be a lot of work.  I moved out the rug, covered the hardwood floors with brown paper, covered my dining table with plastic as well as paper taped all around and then "decorated" the table with notebooks, pens, and samples to paint.

I hand painted the charts and spent some time documenting each process, all six of them, so there would be a format of instruction to follow. 

All the cans were on my kitchen counter waiting to be favorite thing to do.....take a peek at the beautiful colors!

We started painting fast and furiously, thrilled to be using the Chalk Paint! 

We took a break for lunch.

And lingered there for awhile talking about our favorite project, the magazines we loved, and the plans we were making going forward. 

 We played and we experimented and we explored many possibilities.

 I have to say I was in the company of three amazingly creative and very confident women.
Three women and three amazing and different results from one technique.

When the shadows cast their spell in my garden at the end of the day, I felt that there was truly so much blooming in the world of paint, in me, the students in my workshop, and the idea of a retail shop soon to make its debut.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Truly, Truly Versatile and Magical Paint!

When I was about 15 years old, many, many years ago, my mother bought me a gallon of paint that was a combination of these two Annie Sloan Chalk Paint colors, "Emile" and "Henrietta". I started early on changing the colors of my rooms, the bedcovers, curtains, and decorative elements. I was always tweeking something, wanting new colors, new looks. This pattern of change has followed me my entire adult life. When I discovered Annie's Chalk Paint, I fell in love all over again with painting and color, but in a different way.

This is a sample that I painted from an unfinished piece of wood. There are three layers of paint on this piece as well as Annie's clear wax. It was quick, easy, incredibly fun, and immensely satisfying. I love this paint and all its magical possibilities!

I had an opportunity to take the most amazing workshop this last Saturday in Southern California from Anne Skougard, one of two stockists for California and Kari Saupstad, a mini stockist. I came away inspired, excited, and literally changed by the amazing potential of this paint.

Taking a workshop enhances the uses of the paint as well as creates knowledge and awareness of its immense possibilities. You learn why everyone calls it "magical" because it simply is.

This is the same sample in a different light. The colors and wax finish create so much richness, depth, and beauty. In some lights, it almost has an iridescent quality to it, but there is absolutely no metallic in the paint. It simply is the magic of the paint. Below is the back of this same piece and how it looked before I started, just plain unfinished wood.

This is another sample, again with three colors of paint.

Here is the same piece in another light, outdoors in my garden. I love how there are raindrops along the top. As I was photographing the sample, some drops from a rain-soaked shrub landed on the piece.

Crackle finish.....

Who does not love a rich green? Again, the combination of color and wax creates depth and shadow and mystery.

I have always loved the look of stenciling on just about anything, furniture or textiles. So when I heard that Kari was going to do stenciling with the chalk paint, I had to take this workshop. I could have spent a lot more time on this piece with shading and refining. I definitely will try many more pieces using stencils with this paint. I think this would be beautiful on an armoire.

I purchased some stencils for further exploration of this process. If anyone is interested you can find an elaborate selection of stencils here.

My first night home, I hardly slept. I kept thinking about the paint, the number and combination of colors that can be created from the 24 colors. What I am also realizing is that I can never go back to painting with only one color, ever. Nor will I buy anything but chalk paint for my furniture and walls. Now I am going to explore the possibilities of using the paint and stencils on my collection of textiles. Please visit me at my textile blog for further stories on this possibility.

Thanks, Anne and Kari for such a great and inspiring and exciting workshop!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Elegant Paint

It seems to me that elegant paint needs elegant storage. Somehow cardboard boxes do not do justice to this beautiful paint.

It is nice to be able to see the names of the colors and reach in for one whenever I need it. Speaking of the colors, I really love going over the names of each one and memorizing and connecting each color. Now I am discovering that these colors and the names are so embedded in my mind that I find I am identifying them in nature and objects all around me. 'Oh, that car is "Graphite" or that house is "Chateau Grey" or that rose in my garden is "Scandinavian Pink", the sweater I am wearing is "Greek Blue"'.

And I think this rose just might be a combination of "Emperor's Silk" and "Old White".

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Paint Arrived!

Today was a new Annie Sloan Chalk Paint arrived!  To say I was excited was an understatement.  And I happened to be on the phone with the person who got me into this exciting venture, none other than Anne Skougard, the whirlwind stockist from Southern California!

When the Fed Ex guy knocked on the door, and I opened it, I am sure he thought he was dealing with some bored and frantic homemaker.  "Oh, the paint!  You have no idea how thrilled I am that you are here!!!  Thank you for arriving this early!"  And I can read his mind......"Lady, it is just paint."  (Well some people just don't realize that) "No. It is not just paint.  It is THE paint!"  But I understand, all he wanted to do was make his delivery and get to the next one on his list.  But terrified, he could see the fire in my eyes.  ("Better to assuage this one than linger and wonder why she is so enraptured.")

And then when I saw my name on the pallet, it was just about all I could do to contain myself.  "Sign here and then that is pretty much it for the delivery." put my name on the pallet.  There I am!  (Those were my silent thoughts.)  I let him go on his way trying to contain my explosive enthusiasm.  What could he possibly know about this product?  I was trying to peek in his truck and see what other things he was delivering but decided it was all pretty boring.
 So here are the boxes in my kitchen waiting for my inventory efforts.  Actually this is better than waiting for the Christmas packages in the mail.
So guess what I did after I opened all the cans?  I painted stir sticks to get a true reading of all the incredible colors. 
I have to say these are my favorite.  Every time I opened another paint can of these cool and elegant tones, I would just swoon.  Opening a can was like opening a present....just what could be inside, and then as I took off the lid, I just sighed. Oh my...the beauty and the softness and elegance of the colors.....really, really gorgeous.
And then the neutrals...entering the room with such elegance, confidence and grace.  How in the world could I possibly not be smitten?  I immediately wanted to get on the phone and order another pallet of every single color and double the cool tones, especially, because these are my favorites.  However, I have to remind myself that I am in the business of selling to customers who have all different kinds of preferences just as I do.  My answer to this?  They are all incredible.  I can't wait to begin my job in spreading the word that these are, the best paints on the market!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Paint Projects

I had a discussion on the phone recently with a potential customer asking me about Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint and how it was used. We talked for some time about the many uses of this great paint as well as how easy it was to apply, no prep work and how the finish was simply a wax application. Then I recalled a project I had completed in 2003 in a small studio in Mendocino, California.
It took me many days to complete. I used a milk-based paint, casein, that I had to heat in a double boiler before I could mix it with the powdered pigment that I intended to use. As base, I used a yellow ochre and after I completed the four walls with this, I applied the red powdered pigment,  Irgazine Ruby. I wanted the yellow to show through in parts so I applied it in large brush strokes. At first, I used a rag, but I was not achieving the look I wanted. However, the chalky look was just perfect and to this day wears the colors and the matte finish beautifully. I did not put any glaze or wax over it so it took awhile to cure.
Long story short, it was all a long process to achieve the same look I could achieve today with Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint with a much simpler method.

My first project with the paint was a small table using Annie's "Old White".

I started with the table upside down as Annie suggests and continued painting until all the wood was covered, no sanding or prep.  The color was beautiful, a very soft and creamy white.
I added a second coat, but if I had to do it again, I would have painted the first coat another color and then the top coat, Old White so that when I stressed it later after buffing the wax coat, this other color would have shown through in parts of the piece.

I painted the inside of the drawer with "Paris Grey" and then stenciled some birds inside.  I liked the idea of the drawer having another color and surprise element.

This is  my current project, a small end table with barley twist legs. 

I loved the Paris Grey so much that I decided to do a base coat with it and then either add another color on the piece or do something interesting with the waxes or another color just on the top. 
I am still undecided.  It is completely covered in grey now so my next step will be the one that adds a bit of magic.  The paint is amazing, so forgiving, and so much fun to play with.  I get the first shipment of all the colors tomorrow and can hardly wait to  open the cans and take in all the beauty!