Monday, December 31, 2012

Marion Davies and the Beach House

My daughter knows my love for museums and fascinating people highlighted through history and so one morning we loaded the car with the boys, the dog and headed off to the Santa Monica beach to a place called The Annenberg Community Beach House. Originally it had been owned by Marion Davies and had been a huge mansion with many columns, a large swimming pool and a smaller beach house for guests.
These chairs were outside the beach house and reminded me of the Chalk Paint™ color Paris Grey.
This was a photo that was inside Marion's beach guest house. This was the back of the mansion on the beach side showing the expanse of the estate and the surrounding buildings. The beach guest house, the only original remaining building is to the far left in this photograph and this is the house we were able to tour.
This was a close-up photo of the mansion from the front with the swimming pool and beach on the back side.
Marion Davies was the stage name of Marion Douras, a daughter of a New York magistrate. She was the chorus girl at the Ziegfeld Follies when Hearst noticed her late in 1915 or 1916. Hearst's infatuation with her was enduring and caused his estrangement from his wife and family. Marion was a comedienne and a movie producer as well as a shrewd business woman.
Davies was a fascinating and intelligent woman who loved staging elaborate parties at the mansion. She owned this property through the generous salary Hearst paid her, but also through her own wise real estate investments. The mansion was demolished sometime after her death by a developer who had other visions for the property.
Over the years the property changed hands several times, but the last contractor installed these large posts to commemorate the placement of the original pillars of the mansion.
This was the original swimming pool.
These were some of the tiles that were in a bathroom of the beach guest house, so one can only imagine the interior of the mansion as being magnificent and filled with beautiful paintings, furniture and other fine art as Hearst was a consummate and discerning collector throughout his life, and many of these collections were shared with Marion in this property.
It was such a lovely morning and enjoyed by all, including my grandson who loved watching the water feature outside the swimming pool.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A walk through Hancock Park

My daughter and I love going on walks through the neighborhood of Hancock Park in LA. The homes and gardens are so beautiful.
We both loved the simplicity and elegance of this garden.
This home could be off a street anywhere in France.
Sometimes when I walk through this neighborhood, I am taken back to some of the books I have read over my lifetime with descriptions of beautiful homes. What would it be like to live in a house with such stature and beauty?
I have noticed on Pinterest that many pinners have boards under the category of stairs. I can see I am going to have to create another board for this. I would hope that if I lived in this house I would climb these stairs a few times a day for good exercise!
And "gates" might be a great Pinterest Board as well. Tonight I will write about two museum points of interest, but this afternoon we will arrive in San Francisco for the new year and our anniversary as we were married in San Francisco 15 years ago.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

LA Style

I have to say I have never been a fan of Southern California for a number of reasons and always avoided LA because of the traffic and freeway congestion. However, since my youngest daughter moved there with her husband and two little boys, I have gotten to know it a little better. I have to admit, I have enjoyed the experience, and each time I go I find something surprising and fun. Where else could you pose with Santa on a street corner and not feel the least bit self conscious?
Jeanette and Ben seem to have a knack for finding the best coffee shops in the area near where they live. The Sycamore Kitchen has the best pastries and coffee drinks, and I loved the decor.
What a great way to use color for an exterior wall to designate privacy and a special place to retreat from the life of the busy street of La Brea.
I find it quite amusing that they serve Portland's famous brand of coffee, Stumptown.
Our next visit along La Brea was to a contemporary design store featuring colorful and trendy accessories as well as some furniture. This rug was such a great splash of color and texture.
Jeanette loved the look of this clean, contemporary chair.
Across the street, we came upon a museum with a statue of Lenin at the entrance. Always expect the unexpected in this city.
A few blocks down from this museum we walked into the store American Rag. I had not been in one of these stores since I moved away from San Francisco. They had a section that housed the most beautiful collection of housewares as well as furniture.
I loved the way they displayed their glassware, really colorful and beautiful.
In this gorgeous display cabinet, which I will show you in the next photo, they displayed an arrangement of fun pink pottery. It reminded me of toile designs, very fresh and updated.
This was the detail on the cabinet. Beautiful piece. I keep studying it, wondering how I will find a way to duplicate the technique and tones.
As we headed back to Ben and Jeanette's home, we walked by the store that sells all manner of items from the movie industry. I think this pretty much sums up the diversity of LA. One can go from the truly kitschy to the sophisticated and sublime all within a few blocks.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

As the new year approaches

The Purple Pear will be closed through the holidays and will re-open on January 3rd. On January 5th I will be teaching a "Basics" workshop and there are still openings if you want to join us and get a early start on your furniture painting ideas for 2013.
I have many new ideas for the shop including new workshops with Annie Sloan's new and beautiful fabrics. We will be making lampshades as well as easy pillows with her fabrics that I have in my shop.
This is one of Annie's beautiful toiles, Normandie. Wishing you all a relaxing and safe holiday and I will see you in the new year!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Work Book Inspiration

The lights were dim, but I was waiting and ready for the launch of Annie Sloan's newest book, Work Book!
I love this little book on Doodling in French by Anna Corba's. It seemed a perfect match for Annie's book too.
We are just beginning here....
There is something about the Rococo style that captivates me. I think it is because the palette is so soft and serene.
I guess I am a little hesitant to categorize a style other than what it is, Classical, but when I look at this palette, I think immediately of something a little more complex, sophisticated, and thoughtful. I want to pick up a book and read or simply sit and think within this palette. I find it invigorating as well as introspective.
When I page through Annie's Work Book and I arrive at the page that says "Asian style" I am immediately transported to my brother's home in San Francisco which has the most wonderful collection of Asian art and furniture. These are the colors that you see when you enter his world, the colors of Imari, Chinese reds, beautiful greys and golds. It is a world that gives one balance and peace and a sense of the earth.
I have to admit, I am not one to lean toward a Modern style in furniture. However, I appreciate the artists whom I am familiar that have stimulated my thinking and allowed me to go beyond my predictable palette. Annie knows how to introduce a person to another style, another way of seeing. I love her for this. I don't want to live a warm and cozy life in my secure corner of the world. Occasionally I want to see other designs and be exposed to other ways of thinking. This is why I have had this fascination with Annie for a very long time. She is an artist who will nudge you toward another way of seeing and feeling and interpreting. And so this is why all of her books are so inspiring and prolific and perennial.
In the weeks ahead and into the new year I will be spending a little more time with her fabric and working on my new Work Book with doodles, paint swatches, magazine clippings, and my own stylistic explorations!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Annie Sloan's Work Book Launch

I am really excited about the Work Book Launch Party tomorrow night. All the Stockists in the US are going to join Annie Sloan in celebrating the publication of her newest book. She will be celebrating in her own shop in Oxford, England while we are having our own parties. This is such a fun book and one where you can actually paint swatches, draw or sketch inspiring ideas, collect fabric swatches and magazine inspiration, and share what you love on Pinterest at the same time!
Today in my shop, I spent some time painting in the swatches for the different styles that Annie has designated in this delightful, useful, and fun workbook. What I discovered as I was painting the various pages was that I was drawn to a specific palette. I love all of Annie's colors, but I have never sat down in this way and categorized them in terms of periods or style. What I was strongly drawn to was the colors of the Rococo Style. These definitely resonated with me in so many ways.
I am guessing this just might be the experience of many who buy this gem of a book and find themselves immersed in the ideas and colors and how they are represented in this unique and inspiring way. Hope you all are able to find a class close to one of the stockists in your area so everyone can participate in this fun and exciting event!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A City Store Window

Last night my husband and I went to see a movie, a rare event these days. On the way to the parking garage, we stopped in front of a store window display selling some very unusual painted furniture. It was in one of those "pop-up" stores right in the heart of the city near Pioneer Square.
I kept staring at this paint and the application....
But when I turned to look at this bedside table I was really stumped. It looked like it was a piece that had originally been painted and someone had decided to strip it, but tired of the project and left it as it was. My other thought was that the whole set: screen, table, and coat rack were designed to look patinated. Hmmmmmm, it could also be a very avant garde look, a trend, something that is weathered by years in an old castle with musty interiors.
I love the colors, but the look seemed contrived. The other side of me says it is an expression of what is a popular style with a sort of advanced or over-the-top expression. Should we take this seriously or is this a tongue-in-cheek adaptation?