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Decortive Artist School Decorative Arts marbling and graining techniques

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Professional Decorative Painters Association;
History in the Making

After three incredible days in September, the 2nd Annual Education Summit in Golden, Colorado is still the talk of the town!  Kathy Carroll attended early, and for those of you who know Kathy, she is always in the midst of the action.  She is active on the Steering Committee and loving it.   Flying in early to attend the committee meetings, Kathy explains why she became involved with the Professional Decorative Painters Association.  In addition, she explains a few of the goals they are working towards.  “I wanted to become a part of this, to do something.  The PDPA is trying to raise the awareness level between the architects and the decorative painters.  They are educating the architects of the world so they will better understand decorative painters.  Preserving art and making sure it is something special is imperative to them.  They are also making an effort to ensure that the younger talent becomes involved and learns.  They have a tremendous influence in the art industry as well as huge growth potential for the future.”

A huge impact was made among those who attended the summit from the entertainment and education to the friendships forged, professional connections made and even the products that were introduced.  The committee did an amazing job preparing for and executing the summit.  They thought of everything.  Live music was prevalent throughout the day.  Beginning with breakfast, and ending after dinner, music would surround the attendees and traveled along with them.  Music has been known for its soothing qualities to the point of even physically lowering the heart rate, blood pressure and slowing down breathing or it can even have the opposite effect and stimulate all three.  How many times have people been able to recall a momentous event in their lives, recalling the song that was playing at that specific time?  Music has also been linked to influence learning.  Music is powerful; this is something Andre Martinez, Board President and Education Chair must have known when he and the committee had planned on the well thought out music accompanying the skits as well as traveling throughout time beginning with classical continuing through to modern music.  Kathy found the ambiance of the music to be incredible.  “It was wonderful.  It was a great way to start breakfast, continue through the day until it was time to rest.  It was beyond wonderful.”

A local Improv Theater group performed 12 skits to educate key points in the history of decorative painting.  Kathy could not say enough about it.  “I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It just gave my brain the ability to relax so that I could absorb more afterwards.   I still think of some of the lines in the skits, they were so cute.  It was very impacting.  I have made up my mind that I will never miss another one.  It has already impacted my business.  Understanding and using products differently was an added bonus. Meeting other people and making business connections that lead to immediate results was invaluable.  For example, I will have William Cochran coming to the Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes in May teaching classes.  In turn, I will go in November to Utah to take a class with Jon Sunde and soon back to LA to be with ILia Fresco.”

“I really enjoyed being able to sit down one on one with people that I hold at high standards in the industry.  Being able to discuss fresco painting with ILia Fresco, Grisello with Nicola Vigini and how it’s done, listen to a lecture from Pierre Finkelstein on decorative painting and the centuries before Christ to the 20th century and how they tie together, watching and learning wood graining and marbling from Pierre, Jill London from the Society of Gilders was absolutely fascinating, Dean Sickler lectured on color and tied the whole thing together.  Meeting and seeing Bonnie Norling Wakeman’s technique as bas relief was outstanding, I just had to buy her video, Ellie Van Dijken Ellis who is simply fabulous! There are so many more talented individuals who attended and shared their knowledge so freely. I made friends that I will have for the rest of my life.  I am so inspired.  It has already changed my business.  It has made a tremendous influence on me as well as other people.”

The Professional Decorative Painters Association has something for everyone.  The education summit is clearly something that is a must from a personal as well as a business standpoint.  Not to mention the sheer enjoinment factor!

For more information about the Professional Decorative Painters Association please visit http://www.pdpa.org/Elevate/Home.htm

Professional Inspirations from Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes

After taking a private class in June, inspired by their subscription to Quick Inspirations, Holly Henkel and Sharon Taglienti used many new exciting techniques as well as cutting edge trends.  In that private class, a few of the experiences included the crocodile roller, gorgeous new stencils, exciting appliques for cabinets, tiles and glass, as well as working with Meoded Plaster and Paint that is able to span the field of delightfully playful to a timeless beauty with the array of possibilities it provides.  

Once they arrived home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, where their business Carezza Decorative Artistry resides, they immediately began to have an increase in profit margin in relation to their new finishes.  Within the first two weeks, Holly and Sharon sold five of their finishes from Kathy Carroll’s private class.  With such a spectacular success at hand, they decided to fly back to the Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes to enroll in an additional private class that covered countertops and flooring utilizing the Aurastone finishing system by Granicrete International. 

Aurastone Finishing systems Faux by KathyHolly commented on her many amazing experiences from the class.  “The Aurastone finishing system is unbelievable; the countertops were fabulous!  The end result is something we have not seen anyplace else.  It is a new material you can use a torch to move the color around, it is really fun to do.  For the floors, we came back with samples that look like aged wood, New England bond board, and aged chestnut; wood colors that turned out exactly like we wanted.”  Holly and Sharon went into the class expecting to learn about incredible products, to be trained in the Aurastone finishing system and to gain the added benefit of learned the ins and outs of the products, chemicals and reactants in a classroom environment rather than on the job.  They attained all that and so much more.  In addition, they got something out of the class they did not expect.  This class sparked exciting new plans for the future growth of their business.  “Learning the new technique with the torch to manipulate the color with the Aurastone finishing system is something we will definitely use for furniture.  A nice option will also be to make large pieces of art; this opens up a whole new product line and will eliminate lugging around heavy scaffolding!”  Sharon explains.  With Holly and Sharon’s extensive background this is something to definitely watch for!

Their first private class resulted in an instant success as well as the second evolving into an expansion of their business into a whole new realm.  Kathy’s class brings about profits, innovation, creativity, learning and just plain fun!  As Sharon describes, “We had so much fun; we had Kathy all to ourselves for two whole days.  She is so clear and concise with her information.  It was like a vacation rather than work.  One of her strongest points is her knowledge of the products and how the chemical makeup reacts to the products.  We love Kathy and her school, it is now an annual thing that we want to do forever!”

Sign up for one of Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes Classes today; you never know what can happen!

To enroll in a private class please call 630.653.2400 inside IL or 800.797.4305 outside IL.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Carezza Decorative Artistry Faux by Kathy Aurastone finishing systemTo learn more about Carezza Decorative Artistry please visit http://www.carezzadecorativeartistry.com/home.htm


Interview with Bonnie Norling Wakeman of Norling Wakeman Studios And www.TransformingWalls.com

 Walking into the home of Bonnie Norling Wakeman, it’s easy to see where she gets the inspiration for her multiple story bas relief wall sculptures; framed by a single frame window is a picturesque view of the Colorado Rockies.  On a blue-sky day, Buffalo and Red Mountains* look as if they could have come from one of her own murals-painted directly onto the living room wall.  In October of last year I had the opportunity to sit down with Bonnie in front of one of her bas relief creations: a stunning bristlecone tree in a gorgeous Rocky Mountain home.  The following is part of our conversation.

Hi Bonnie, thank for doing this.  To start, why don’t you tell me something about the piece behind you?
We are in a beautiful home in Breckenridge CO, sitting in front of a series of three bristlecone pines.  This is one of my favorite pieces, not only because of the way the light reflects off the texture, but also because these are what I consider to be sacred trees.  I found pictures I had taken of the bristlecone trees-and created what you see behind me.  One of the reasons I love these dramatic trees is because of how textured they are.  It lends itself quite well to the bas relief.  After I sculpted the trees I covered them with a bronze transparent glaze that complements the floors of the room.  These trees are extremely old and dramatic and definitely created the “wow” factor the clients wanted.  They both really love it.   

So how long have you been doing the bas relief?
I started the bas relief art about thirteen years ago, adding it to my decorative painting and mural business, which I’ve had for about eighteen years now. 

What inspired you to start the Bas Relief?
Joe, my husband who is also an artist,(abstract art and faux finishes), and I, took a trip to Italy in the mid 90s and we saw the bas relief everywhere.  Italy is just one big piece of Art. Of course, the murals were exciting, but there was something about the bas relief that struck a chord with me. I knew we could do something like that here but give it our own kind of flare, our own kind of flavor.  Then, when I got back, I saw a raised tree someone had made.  It was a little different than what I do now, but it confirmed my idea that I could do something like this. So, I researched the materials and started doing aspen trees.  As time went on, I developed the material I now use.  I found different elements that I could attach to the trees and over the years I’ve come up with a technique that allows me to take the medium to a level where I can sculpt entire scenes.  All in all, it’s been really fun for me and exciting for my clients.

Where are you from?
I’m from Duluth Minnesota. But I’ve been [in Summit County] for about twenty-eight years. I moved here probably because of the Rockies.  I first saw the Alps when I went over to Switzerland and Germany and I think that’s when I first fell in love with mountains.  I knew there were mountains in Colorado, so I came out here for a visit when I was nineteen and fell in love with the place.  At the time I was driving a forklift and I worked as an electrician (laughs). I then did some other odd jobs until I finally decided that art was the way I wanted to go.

I’ve been drawing and painting my whole life. I actually started when I was really young drawing other people. I loved portraiture and I did a lot of that when I was in high school, so I’ve always had art in me and I knew I was going to do it as a living, but I didn’t know how exactly that would work until I went to college and got an illustration degree.  Initially, I thought I was going to illustrate books, which I have done, I love illustration, but then the “mountains called” and I had to come back to Colorado.  I did several portraiture jobs here first, even sitting on Main Street in Breckenridge, drawing people as they posed. But soon, because of the incredible beauty here, I started doing canvas art work, and then began painting murals. 

Why do you create nature scenes at this point, why not something else?
I do the Trees and Mountain Scenes because being in nature is so important to me.  I grew up in a beautiful place overlooking Lake Superior, and then I came to the mountains and got even more inspired.  I love bringing the nature I see around me inside a house, I can’t get enough of the beauty.

It’s also not just about creating the pieces for me, but telling a story. I think that’s why I wanted to be an illustrator, because you can tell stories.  I still try to do that with my murals. For example, this tree tells a story. The bristlecone pine is an ancient tree and I can reproduce it on the wall, the way you might find it in nature and that is exciting to me.  Every time the client shows somebody this tree, he tells the story of the bristlecone pines.  I love that!  

We’ve been playing with different subject matter for the bas relief as well.  Art that can go in wine rooms, portraiture, and contemporary pieces that flow with the architecture and design trends.  I really think anything is possible with this medium and that’s one of the things that are so exciting about it-you can always create something new. 

What is it about the art that you enjoy so much?
In terms of murals and bas relief, I like them because the pieces fit in the room and complete the space.  I think it’s so much fun to walk into this huge, beautiful house and see this blank wall in front of me.  To me, it’s just like a canvas that’s waiting to be completed.  It’s the finishing touch!

But more than that, I love art as an expression of not only who I am, but also what I see and I think.  Especially right now, I love to paint what my clients want and it actually excites me to have that collaboration. We have a vision together and discuss what it is we’re seeing on the wall and then I produce that for them.  That to me is special because I like making people happy through art.  I never know how someone’s going to see a piece that I do; everyone gets something different out of art work. But when it’s collaboration and I can create a client’s vision with them, it can be a fun and meaningful experience.

Who or what are your inspirations?
Illustrators such as Norman Rockwell, Mucha and Maxfield Parrish, and of course contemporary artists who love to push people’s minds like Julian Beever, and William Cochran.  I love the artists of history, but I also want to acknowledge the artists of today…and honor the breakthrough work they are doing.  All these artists get reactions from people that see their work…and that’s what I strive for.  I loved the saying one contemporary artist wrote over and over again:  “I will create no more boring art!”  laughs!

What has been the greatest challenge?
The most challenging part of the bas relief has been to develop the product I use.  It’s taken years to find something that works well with what I’m trying to say through the art work.  When you work with the texture or different materials you never really know how it’s going to behave. Is it going to stay on the wall or crack and chip off?  That’s been a bit of a challenge but it’s been fun too.  I love the process of seeing a piece grow.  This whole art form allows me to continually expand and shape what I’m doing. 

What has been the most rewarding part?
Beside it being a fun art form to create, I would say meeting the clients and people I’ve worked with over the years.  I’ve come in contact with people I would have never met otherwise and we just have so much fun together.  I’ve been blessed to have clients who are open to new and exciting ideas and who have given me a lot of artistic license to work with.  The people are a large part of why I do what I do.

What is next?
Continue to push the medium and the art to new heights and bigger venues.  I love the big walls, whether it is murals or the bas relief work.  It is so dynamic when it is on a huge wall…
I am also teaching the bas relief through a new video and workshops.  I see this as a perfect fit for artists wanting to try something new and expand their businesses.  I can’t wait to see what they can do with it.  I also look forward to working with younger students in their schools as I have done with mural work, and teach them to sculpt and play with this medium!

Interviewed and written by
Lisa Wallace
All False Reality Productions

Faux by Kathy Quick Inspirtations
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Quick Inspirations

Quick Inspirations

September's Sample Pack
Keep your portfolio up to date with high quality boards sent right to your door each month!  Each Quick Inspirations sample pack includes a 9 x 10 sample with a recipe for the finish as well as three 3 x 3 color waves.  What an amazing addition to your portfolio without the demands on your time!

Try our sample pack for only $27.50.  For the most cost effective savings order a 12 month supply at only $260 and receive a new Quick Inspirations sample pack delivered to your door each month.  Call now, we look forward to hearing from you!

Click Here to purchase Quick Inspirations >

Artisan Spotlight

Kathy, thought you'd be interested in seeing the walls I finished  in Los Angeles... used my residual oil-Rolco sizing after all (sent it in my suitcase w my tools!) The plain holographic sheets are too subtle - like the confetti more.


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The increased visibility alone is worth it!  What have you got to lose?  Contact us today!

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