Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Provencal dinnerware

A wonderfully talented artist and fellow blogger, Lynne Rutter of San Francisco, recently illustrated a charming set of Provencal designs for Williams-Sonoma's latest dinnerware collection.

The melamine dinnerware is called Marseilles.
Perfect for summer or to add a refined dash of color to the kitchen.

Here are the 11" dinner plates,
 the cereal bowl,
 the serving bowl,
 and the piece de resistance, the Sunflower salad plate.
 All photos courtesy of

 Stop by Lynne's blog, The Ornamentalist, or check out her beautiful work at her "Gallery of Fabulousness" website, Lynne

Lynne creates fabulous fine art murals and is an expert on hand painted architectural ornament. She offers classes in her San Francisco atelier and will be teaching Painterly Cloud Ceilings at the upcoming IDAL (International Decorative Artisans League) convention in Portland, Oregon.
Congratulations, Lynne!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The art of faux bois et marbres

A few years ago, I visited Brussels (a side trip while  visiting family in the Netherlands) and made sure to stop by the Van Der Kelen Institute (Institut Superieur de Peinture Van Der Kelen Logelain), which stands very close to the city centre. The first school in Brussels devoted to the teaching of decorative painting was founded in 1882 by Pierre Logelain. In 1892, Alfred Van Der Kelen opened the second school; Van Der Kelen moved his school to its current location in 1902 into the building that is the former home of the wrought iron craftsman, Prosper Schrijvers.The two schools merged in 1951.

What gorgeous details! The doors, the lamp, the windows, the signs!

The Institute is quite impressive inside, as well. As you would expect, there are many examples of faux bois and marble on the walls. The course of study is an intense six months, with class sessions six days a week. Most students rent a room nearby. 

I was particularly interested in the classroom, as seen below. Classes are offered in French; fortunately English, German and Spanish are also available. To be so immersed in learning the art and craft of this kind of painting must be both exciting and intimidating! It is not an easy subject to master. 

The course of study, besides wood and marble,  extends to decorative panels, patinas, lettering,  gilding and trompe l'oeil. Here is Denise Van Der Kelen, the Institute's director and daughter-in-law of one of the school's founders, Alfred Van Der Kelen.
Denise stresses that the courses taught at the school are not meant to just simply copy the wood or marble, but the work is meant to be the student's own interpretation of what they see before them.

An example of faux bois (wood):

The school's preferred media is oil, but this knowledge can then get transferred to the acrylic medias that are most frequently used in the U.S.

Some of The Institute's graduates include Pierre Finkelstein, Jean Sable and Marie Vanesse.

Denise Van Der Kelen published their long awaited book, Decorative Painting the Van Der Kelen Way, last year. It is a beautiful book, full of colorful photos, that is bound to become a classic in the painting field.


While there are many excellent schools in the U.S. devoted to the teaching of decorative painting, the Van Der Kelen Institute remains one of the premier schools in the world.

    Images 4-9 courtesy of Elle Decoration, May 2010  Photos by Nicolas Tosi

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mariano Fortuny Followup

One of my most read posts during the last few months has been Mariano Fortuny- Did you know he also painted? As you could tell, I adore his lush velvets, magical pleated silks and his style of painting. I look forward to visiting Venice this fall and the Palazzo Fortuny.

Last week I was contacted by a wonderful gentleman from Italy named Sig. Giorgio Busetto. He corrected the post by informing me that Fortuny's father actually painted the flowers in a vase photo:

"The painting with pot of flowers has been painted by
MARIANO FORTUNY Y MARSAL, father of Mariano Fortuny Y Madrazo (1871 - 1949).
The signature ,without doubt, belong to Fortuny Y Marsal (1835 - 1874)." 

I stand corrected. 

Giorgio also kindly offered to share with me three more photos that are in his family. It turns out that his mother-in-law, Clara, who died last year at age 95, began to work in the Fortuny Atelier around 1930. She prepared the various velvets, silks and other materials for coloring by Mr. Fortuny until his death in 1949.

Later, Mrs. Henriette Fortuny, the widow of Mariano, called Clara back to become her housekeeper until she passed away in 1965. Henriette Fortuny gave her these paintings, dedicating them on the back with the inscription "... alla cara Clara..."; cara means beloved.

Without further ado, here are the cherished Fortuny paintings in the care of Sig. Giorgio Busetto.

This is the beautiful Ritratto di Henriette Fortuny, circa 1917. 
It is tempera on wood and measures 40 cm x 55 cm.

The dedication on the back is:
"alla carissima Clara un ricordo  Henriette Fortuny"

This photo is named Perugia, Rue e vielles maisons
It is tempera on wood and measures 17.5 cm x 13 cm.

The dedication on the back reads "Appartiene alla cara Clara da Henriette Fortuny"

Lastly, here is Corrida de Toros. A picador (who jabs the bull with a lance) is in the foreground and a toreador (the person who performs with and kills the bull) is in the background. The painting is also tempera on wood and measures 18 cm x 13 cm.

The dedication on the back is "Alla cara Clara di Henriette Fortuny".

On behalf of all of the Fortuny lovers here in the US, thank you, Sig. Giorgio Busetto, for your generosity in sharing these precious paintings with us!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nature's Ways

You can say one thing about a heat wave followed by rain. The flowers love it! Most of our flowers and bushes are bursting open.

We grow many hydrangeas for cutting and seem to have them everywhere. Most were started using the hydrangea plants purchased around Mother's Day that were cut to the bone (using the blooming stems for floral arrangements); literally, we planted little stubs. With generous watering the first couple of years (hydrangea.... from the word for water in Latin... they love all the water you can give them), they grew just fine. The hydrangeas are now about six years old.

The hydrangea lane in the front of the house:

and along the side of the back:

And even some at the back of the house!

Hyrangea closeups:

This is such a soft lavender:

Enough about the hydrangeas! Here are other flower closeups.

Joe Pye Weed

Oriental lily

Honey rose

 Just Easy rose

These are European ginger babies. If you need a ground cover that is a rich shade of green and will go in both sun and shade, try this! Once you purchase (or, even better, share with a fellow gardener) a few plants, the following year you'll be able to split each plant into several. Soon, you'll be sharing with the neighbors, but the plant is not invasive at all. 

This is a baby lime. Really. Wait 'till you see the next photo.

So, that's what pops off the end of the lime (and lemon and orange, etc.)!

Last, but not least, our back yard is watched over by the robin as his babies are still in their nest high in the trees.

Thank you, Cindy, at My Romantic Home
Jessica, for Favorite Things Friday.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Carved" books

Artist: "One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts."

Meet Australian Nicholas Jones.
His is art like you've never seen it before. 

Nicholas Jones is a book sculptor who creates amazing sculptures out of castoff books. He describes it like this: "These books were conceived, born, loved, stored, discarded, found anew, studied, cut, folded and reborn". 


Finding his medium in second-hand bookstores and his inspirations everywhere, Nicholas creates stunningly precise sculptures. Either by folding, tearing or cutting, he transforms these altered books into delicate works of art. Among his tools are the scalpel and surgeon's needle, the very tools that his father uses as a surgeon.

Jones graduated with a Master in Fine Art with a degree in sculpture. He has been working with books as his chosen medium for 10 years in his company named Bibliopath. His website offers a comprehensive view of his creations and a record of his exhibitions.


 Inside Out magazine

Works in progress...


 Inside Out magazine

 Inside Out magazine

 Here are finished sculptures.

Inside Out magazine

This is quite amazing! This man has patience to spare!

Isn't this beautiful?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dark walls?

They are dramatic, to say the least. They can read mysterious, serious, sophisticated.
The dark wall, either as an accent wall in a room or
enveloping the entire room, becomes an important wall.

In the bathroom:
Photo by Nicolas Tosi in Elle Decoration

Photo by Andreas Von Einsiedel

 In the dining room:

Photo by William Waldron in Elle Decor

These eggplant colors don't read quite as deeply dramatic as the charcoal and black walls.

Albany Paints @  Brewers

This reads quite dressy, wouldn't you say?

Photo by Tony Soluri in AD

In the bedroom, it becomes soothing. Great color- Pratt & Lambert's Wolf.

Photo by Luca Trovato in House Beautiful

The large window and adjoining white walls allow the dark wall to shine.

Photo by Nicolas Tosi in Elle Decoration

As a casual accent wall:


or the room's happily formal walls, which are reflected in the furniture and accessories.

Photo by John Bessler

Would you dare to include a dark wall in your home's decor?