Friday, December 10, 2010

Alice Lane

I feel proud as punch to be remotely associated with the Alice Lane Home Collection. By "remotely associated," I mean that I went to high school with the owner, Jessica, and we've had some small occasions to work together in the past few years. Yes, I know, that is VERY remote, but I digress...

She probably doesn't know this, but in the art class we shared when I was a junior and she was a senior, I envied the heck out of a super cool painting she did of a hand with a globe on it. I remember it vividly. Do you remember, Jess?
Anyway, if you haven't been to visit Alice Lane (store, blog, or website) do it SOON! I have to say, the home collection is up there on my favorites for the entire state. And not just because we came from the same small town stock, either.
Right now you can enter a giveaway contest (they hold them regularly) for this fun holiday pillow. I'm going to try for it, too! Click here to find out how!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All I Want For Christmas

Having trouble figuring out what to get that certain someone for Christmas? The idea is as old as the hills, but it never loses its appeal: COUPONS!

I remember making a coupon book for my parents for Christmas when I was a very young girl. There were coupons good for "one doing of the dishes" and "one getting along with my sister" and, of course, plenty of hugs and kisses. A few years ago, my mother pulled out one of these booklets she had saved and attempted to redeem some of that dish-doing fifteen years later. Unfortunately for me, I had failed to include an expiration date on the coupon, and I found myself at the kitchen sink.

Coupons work especially well for that person who doesn't give a fig about presents. Perhaps the language of love they speak the most is quality time or acts of service. Wouldn't a coupon for a romantic dinner together or a freshly washed car make someone squeal in delight as much as diamond earrings? (okay, I might be stretching it a bit....ha!)

Pictured above are coupons I made for my husband one year for Valentines day. He has tried to re-use these coupons on several occasions. I'm happy to report that I have led by example and for my birthday this year, he was the one making the coupon for me:

I loved it! What an awesome gift. FOUR EPIC MASSAGES. "The kind of massage that Moses would have given Pharaoh had the locusts and stuff not worked........You're going to think King Leonidas is back from the grave and somehow mistook you for Xerxes daughter, but instead of a spear, he has massage oil."

Don't you just love it? There are coupon books you can buy and fill in the blanks, but I prefer making my own. So, ask yourself what those special people really want for Christmas this year. Perhaps a coupon is in order?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Joan of Arc

I wanted to share my favorite painting with you today. This is "Joan of Arc" by Jules Bastien Lepage, painted in 1879. She hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and I've had the fortunate privilege of seeing her in person four or five times.

Without fail, I've cried every time I see her. I often ask myself what it is about this painting that moves me so. Is it the story of Joan of Arc, her passion, her mission? Is it the beautiful naturalist style of the work, controversially combined with the two surrealist angels Joan saw in vision? Can you see them? I missed them the first time. Perhaps it is her sheer size (I've included a photo with me and the painting so you can get an idea). Like my 8-month-old seeing the Christmas tree lights turn on for the first time, there is a sense of wooooah......

I think the real reason I cry whenever I see this painting is because I wish I had painted it. Have you ever felt that way about something? I look at Joan and think, "your face, your skin tones, the folds of your dress....and those wrists have got to be the most beautiful wrists in the world.....why can't I paint something like that?" She intimidates me. The tears are those of stress and fear. Fear that I will never be the artist I want to be. Fear that I will spend yet another day doing everything an artist is supposed to do (including blogging about art) but not actually painting.

I have been procrastinating a painting commission I need to finish, and my wise husband suggested I make two paintings: one for me, and one for the person who commissioned the work. The idea behind this is that with the version I paint for myself, the pressure for it to be perfect will be gone and I will lose the fear to start on the project. I think this is helping. I started on the painting yesterday and made some progress, but told myself the entire time that this one was for me anyway, so I could just have fun with it. We shall see.

I used to have a quote hanging on my door that I looked at every day. It said, "If it didn't have to be perfect, I would try...." At one point, that thought was the driving force behind me finally recording a CD of the songs I had written, a goal I had been procrastinating for ten years. Perhaps I need to hang that quote back on the door. Maybe this time I will allow myself to paint and make mistakes and struggle and in the end, have my work look absolutely-nothing-like Jules Bastien Lepage. And be okay with that.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

It was the first thing to go, I said to myself. Now, after living with it for over a year, it has sort of grown on me. I'm talking, of course, about my beautiful wagon wheel chandelier in our sixties kitchen. Are we going for "pioneer chic" or the "Chuck-a-Rama?"

The funny thing is, a lot of people seem to really like it. Does it speak to some sort of hipster sensibility? I'm not sure. But I do know that I don't hate it anymore. It provides great illumination, a function light fixtures these days seem to take for granted. And I wonder if the wagon wheel trend will make a comeback like jelly shoes and leg warmers.

Trends are a tricky thing. I recently saw this jade chandelier above by Murray Feiss, and I fell in LOVE with it. The picture does nothing for it, but it is amazing! Yes, you will be ah-mazed (my husband thinks we use that word wrong in our culture). But will the beautiful lines and incredible jewel color of the hand-blown glass chandelier be the "first thing to go" in some future person's life? Probably.

So what's a gal to do? Stick with something "neutral" for maximum resell-ability? Well, guess what: neutral is also a trend that will be out of style some day. Think about it.

If I decide that my trusty wagon wheel is no longer working for me, I would love to have the jade number. In the mean time, however, life is good. Sometimes, the "first thing to go" needs to be the idea that life is better with new stuff. After all, the latest and greatest will someday be the dated-est!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Branch Out

After my rant on Monday about Black Friday and my suggestion we make art instead of buy cheap crap on sale, I started doing some major brainstorming. What I’ve come up with is an idea that incorporates gratitude, family, and a seriously cool art installation.

The idea was inspired by something I saw a few weeks ago while attending Salt Lake City’s Gallery Stroll. It was a traveling art exhibit, installed in the back of a moving van. Inside the van was an enormous ball of string (we’re talking maybe 4 feet in diameter?) and hanging at various levels from the top of the van were tiny tags with things hand-written on them. On closer inspection, the tags said things like, “make a can telephone” and “tie around my finger to remember stuff.” Oh, I get it. People must have been asked to write on these tags what they would do with a piece of string. Then, the artist hung up the tags at varying heights, and voila; art.

Yesterday I had some friends over, and instead of asking them what they would do with a piece of string, I asked them to write on these cool shipping tags things they were grateful for. You know, getting us all in the Thanksgiving spirit. Then, since we had quite the snowstorm and several broken branches lying around (waste not, want not) I found a branch I thought was extra interesting and tied on the tags. You could use any sort of tag, or even just strips of paper. Gather as many tags as you can, by listing just one item per tag. You could then hang them from a branch like this, or the ceiling or light fixtures at different levels. Or, hang them on your Christmas tree as ornaments and let thankfulness infuse your entire holiday season. I’m heading to my hometown for Thanksgiving, where I will bring some tags to let my family add to the tree. Every year we go around the table and say what we are grateful for, so this year I’ll ask everyone to write them down, too! I’m excited to watch my Thanksgiving Tree "branch out!"

Now, surely, you could do something like this on Friday instead of buy stuff you don't need to impress people you don't like, couldn't you?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Give Thanks

Has anyone else noticed that it seems the holiday everyone is most excited for this week falls on Friday instead of Thursday? I, for one, feel sort of sick to my stomach. And I'm sorry I even called it a "holiday." It is just a day. I think of holy things as white, not black.

I was thrilled that the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special was on TV a few days ago. Thrilled, and surprised. I didn't think they allowed words such as "The Lord" and "faith" on channels other than BYUTV. It gave me a little glimmer of hope that perhaps there were some out there who were still celebrating Thursday, not Friday.

I will not be buying anything on Friday. I will be spending the day with my family (and if they want to go shopping, I will gladly go with them, because it is about spending time with them, after all). I just won't be getting out my wallet.

Hey, I've got a great idea. Why don't we all spend Friday making art together instead of shopping? That fits in perfectly with one of my goals this year: Be more of a PRODUCER and less of a CONSUMER.
Yes, I like it. Thursday for giving thanks and reflecting on our abundance, and Friday for making art. What do you think?

Friday, November 19, 2010

If you love it, you will love it

We've all heard the horror stories about the people who are violently taken from their homes and locked away in mental institutions for foolishly putting two fabrics together that don't match. Oh, wait. You haven't heard those stories?

So why is everyone I talk to these days afraid of making horrible design mistakes? One theory is that there is just too much design advice out there (watch me give you more) and it gives people the impression that if you break the rules, they'll come and get you.

While there are some gentle guidelines that will help, you will find most of the "rules" broken and looking fabulous in a magazine somewhere. It can get very confusing.

The other day my friend called and asked me if she could put pillows in a small circular pattern with draperies that had large squares on them. I told her the variation of scale (small circles vs. large squares) was a good thing, but the ultimate questions she should be asking are, "Do I love these pillows? Do I love these draperies?" If she can say YES to both, then when she walks in the room she will light up and hey, mission accomplished. If she were to design her space based on fear of making a mistake and worries that everything go perfectly with each other, she'll probably end up with something that "matches" but does nothing for her soul.

I think I've never had this fear of making a mistake because I always follow my number one rule: If I love it, I will love it.

Take a look at my beautiful teal armoire in the photo above. You may have noticed it from the photo I posted yesterday showing my little corner of Vermeer. What you didn't see is that there is virtually no other teal in the entire room. On paper, it doesn't "go." I have a small obsession with the color, as you will surely notice if you keep reading my blog, and it thrills me to no end that the armoire turned out so well. I purchased it from a thrift store for $60 and painted it myself. To me, it "goes" and I'm the one who lives here. Do that for yourself, will you? Don't buy one more thing that you don't love, even if it matches perfectly.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Step Inside

There is a certain place on the sofa, if you are looking just so, where you can see it. I noticed it one day a few months ago, not long after we put new flooring in the bathroom. Yes, there was definitely a quality about it, but what? Could it be that all those years of studying one of my favorite artists of all time, Johannes Vermeer, caused me to unwittingly recreate one of his paintings in my living room? And I don’t mean painting an actual study of his paintings, though I have done that, too. No, I mean I am in a painting. At least when I am looking just so:

Can you see it, too? The red and black Persian rug, the black and white tile, the lute (okay, it’s a mandolin in my house, but still). Perhaps this is why I liked those items enough to purchase them in the first place. Maybe there was a subconscious yearning to connect with one of the true masters of art, and it spilled out all over my decorating sensibilities.

Whatever it was, the results are that at any given time in the day, I can sit in that spot on the sofa and feel sort of fuzzy inside. I have come to learn that the things we love become who we are, whether we know it or not. You are what you eat, so to speak. I love, love, love Vermeer. He used the same room in the same studio with the same props in practically every painting he ever did, and they are each one brilliant. If I must live in a painting, I'm sure glad it's a Vermeer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Collage Art!

What a great time I had today as a guest contributor of Studio 5! If you missed the show, you can watch my entire segment on the Studio 5 website by clicking here. You will also find more detailed written instructions on the website, so there are no more excuses for why you can't make one of these collages yourself! In fact, I would love to see what some of you come up with. Will you share?
I just hope my husband will forgive me for cutting out that goofy picture (goofy, yet still undeniably handsome and debonaire) that Darren chose to show the entire world. Come to think of it, will my sister forgive me for showing the entire world a picture of her in a swimsuit? Oh, come on, you know you looked good.
Thank you to Studio 5 for having me on the show, and for all the support of my wonderful friends and family!

Now, go make art.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grandparents Gone

As a young girl, I loved looking at the family photo albums, especially those that had the really, really old photos. Like those of my parents. (Ah, just kidding, Mom.) Seriously, though, there was something about those old photos that drew me in. I fancied myself having been born in the wrong era. Wouldn’t I have fit in better in the twenties or thirties? I wanted a pair of aviator trousers, not hammer pants.

Today, that obsession has turned into quite the collection of paintings I’ve done of those very photographs. In almost every room of my house, one of my ancestors is watching over you. By the time I was sixteen, I had already lost all my grandparents, and half of them were gone before I was even born. Painting them is my way of honoring them. And let’s be honest, I dig the clothing.

Are you still wondering about the ostrich? The top painting is from a photo taken in 1920 of my grandfather, James Oscar Jessen. He’s the one on the bird. The other fellow is an un-named army buddy. If I have no other source of pride in my life, I will always have the fact that my grandfather rode an ostrich.

The painting above is from the other side of the family; my mother’s parents and two younger sisters. The photo was taken not long before my grandmother passed away, leaving an entire slew of young ones alone with Grandpa. Even though I never knew my grandma Grace, I feel connected to her through this painting. And look, we even have the same glasses!

That is the magic of art, isn’t it? What paintings have significance in your life?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Welcomed Guest

Yes, honey, I will create a post about our typewriter. As we were discussing this new blog last night, my husband's main concern was whether or not the typewriter would get its fifteen minutes. Isn't it lovely? We found it in the garage. Almost exactly a year ago, we purchased a home built in 1894 (more on that later) and it came stocked with all sorts of fabulous treasures.
Since the ribbon still worked, we set up the typewriter in our home and began writing love letters to each other. Then, we invited house guests to type a line or two, and now we've got quite the collection of quips and quotes from our favorite people.

This idea is a throw-back to my single days when two of my roommates and I started the "quote board." It was actually a long strip of butcher paper taped to our kitchen wall. As the content grew, so did my love for it. My meals at the kitchen table were always accompanied by a good laugh as I would read and re-read the comments made by my friends and family. And if you said something really spectacular, you might find it worthy to "go on the quote board." It was like reliving all the good times everyday.

Great interior design isn't always about having fancy decor, but about the ways you make your home special for you and for those who visit. What ways do you have to welcome and remember the people who knock on your door?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Listening Ear

Inspiration for art or design doesn't have to come to you through visual elements only. Have you ever been inspired by something you heard, but didn't know how to translate that into something visual? For me, it all comes to me in my dreams. When I was in high school, I heard about a study that said listening to Mozart would increase your I.Q. So, I bought a set of "Mozart's Greatest Hits" and began listening to them faithfully every night while drifting off to sleep. The music came alive to me in my mind's eye and I would visualize each note; its color, texture, rhythm.

Later, in college, there was a period of time where I listened to the Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg, almost every night. To one particular song, The Death of Aase (from the Peer Gynt Suite) I was transported to a mystical and dark world, and I saw very clearly what the music looked like. When it came time to actually pick up a brush, I knew exactly what to paint. I'd seen it many times. Above is that very painting, aptly entitled, The Death of Aase.

Having taught art and interior design at the Art Institute of Salt Lake City and Weber State University, I turned this idea into a school project, with wonderful results. Unable to use anything visual for inspiration, the students' imaginations really made an impression. And that is what it is all about anyway; imagination. What music looks like is up to you. Next time you are stuck and feel like your creativity has gone the way of the dodo, turn on your favorite tunes and let your mind begin dreaming!

What do you see when you listen to The Death of Aase?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Dining Room Dilema

I love dining rooms. I love my dining room. The problem is, we don't have enough space to use an entire 25% of our house for a table we hardly ever use. So, I am transforming my dining room into a family room, and will not be looking back. Hopefully. Since our kitchen has ample space for a table that seats six, I'm getting rid of our formal table and chairs in the dining room to open up the space for my family to relax.
The first thing I wanted to do is buy an area rug since we have hard wood floors, and I want Baby to have a soft place to fall. The trouble with this process, is figuring out which size and shape will work with the furniture configuration (which isn't set in stone, either). A handy little trick I like to use to help me and my clients visualize is to lay down strips of masking tape in the size I am considering like this:
I originally thought that I wanted a 5'x8' rug for my space until I found the great rug featured above which happens to be a 6 foot square. I taped up the floor in a 6x6, and I love it. I also toyed with the idea of a more contemporary rug, but in the end I decided to stick with a traditional Indian pattern, figuring it will have a longer shelf life. The colors are also in harmony with the original artwork I have in the space. (Please note: as a general rule, I do not think artwork has to match your decor, and is often cheesy when it does). In this case, however, I think it works.

I'm taking a chance buying a rug online, since I am such a tactile designer and a stickler for correct color, but I'll let you know my experience with it. Check back for more updates and ideas with my dining-room-turned-family-room. After the rug arrives, I'm going to be reupholstering the wing back chair, making pillows, and who knows what else will strike my fancy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Have A Seat

Why not? A shelf doesn't have to be a boring piece of wood. I found these chairs at a thrift store, painted and re-upholstered them, and hung them on the wall. This high-end shoe boutique I designed needed a unique way to display their wares, and I thought this was as good a way as any.
The chairs are mounted on the wall (find a stud to ensure they are safe) using L-shaped metal brackets. And if you plan on hanging up a chair of your own, enlist some help. I tried to do this myself and it was not easy. Wouldn't this idea make for a great night stand?

Bedtime Stories

Do you love reading in bed as much as I do? My former headboards were not friendly to this habit, to say the least. One such headboard hit me directly in the back of the neck while sitting up.
To remedy this, I searched for a tres chic upholstered headboard and oh, I found plenty of VERY cool, and VERY expensive ones. Lucky for me (and my wallet) I just so happen to have skills in upholstering. Self-taught. After sketching out a few ideas and taking a few measurements, this is what I've created. And turns out, it's quite simple, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I figure I spent under $125. Watch for an upcoming "instructions" post to follow so you can make one of your very own!


Design blogs are a dime a dozen these days, but one more won't hurt, right? Having realized my personal blog was just too, well, personal, I have decided to create this blog that will feature new art projects, interior design projects, and any-other-type-of-project that I find interesting to share. I welcome you and welcome your feedback as I embark on this exciting project! Oh, and if you are wondering about the blog name, it is a paint color. My husband wondered if it was some sort of Star Trek theme and couldn't figure out how it had anything to do with art. So whether you are a trekkie, or someone looking for a good new idea now and then, pull up a chair and enjoy!