An Artist’s Perspective …………
Chinoiserie, Chinese Artistic Influence

I find it interesting and amazing how a form of decoration and art can withstand an immense test of time and be as prevalent today as it was centuries ago. This could be said of few decorative styles. Classicism, of course, first comes to mind. But that is a much broader and generalized style, viewed through many different forms of decoration.

Chinoiserie, a French term meaning “Chinese-esque”, on the other hand has always been its own decorative style incomparable to any other.

Chinoiserie was seen through European eyes as early as the 17th century, appearing in various shapes and forms, through ceramics, silks and painted canvases, adoring French chateaus and English estates and later in Italy.

It is unique in the way that it is a generally European style inspired by the exotic artful imageries of ancient China. From hand-painted long legged birds and fiery dragons to crooked trees with large luminous flowers and pointed mountains overlooking beautiful stylized waterways all delicately, but strikingly painted, carved, molded in pottery or embroidered on silk, providing rich decorative fantasies still very much appreciated today.

It is an unmistakable style that emotes beauty, art, color and incredible craftsmanship that lends a sense of history beyond comparison.

Chinoiserie has even survived the return to Classicism in the latter part of the 18th century and is still being painstakingly replicated and copied by the modern day artist. We will be seeing the beautiful Chinoiserie style for many years to come.

An Artist’s Perspective…………..
Watching Paint Dry

The connotation behind the phrase is usually negative, synonymous with being bored. Let’s face it, there’s nothing exciting about sitting there watching a color change as it dries…and the chances of the naked eye even picking up the gradual transformation is slim to none. Having said this, in the world of interior decoration, the subtle nuances that any color goes through reaching final stages of “dryness”, takes on a much grander importance than you think.

People can spend hours looking at color on their wall, watching how light affects it, from morning to night, achieving what they hope is the perfect outcome. Why is this pre-occupation with color important to some of us?

Color evokes certain subconscious physiological feelings that have the power to emote good or bad sensations, or emotions. This may sound crazy, but how would you feel sitting for dinner surrounded by deep apple green or canary yellow? These colors may sound too dramatic for a dining room, but have you ever had dinner in a candle-lit room with thick heavy stimulating walls of crimson red? Feel the warmth!

Regardless of what colors you decide to surround yourself with, next time you have the decorative painter over, make sure they have their bottles of color tints and get ready to take a few hours to sit around and “watch the paint dry”!

An Artist’s Perspective…………..
The Illusion of Reality can be so beautiful

If you’ve ever visited the mansions of Newport, or even better, the villas of Tuscany or the Vatican in Rome, those with a keen eye for detail cannot help but notice the continued use and effects of Trompe l’oeil paintings throughout. This technique involves extremely realistic imagery in order to create an optical illusion. Although the phrase has its origin in the Baroque period, its usage dates back much further.

The Galleria dell'Accademia, which houses Michelangelo’s “David”, is one of the most deceiving examples. Before even getting to view the art, you come across one of the most incredible Trompe l’oeil ceilings I’ve ever seen. It’s a dome-like shape probably 20-30 feet high that, at first glance, looks like beautiful stone colored coffers and medallions intercepted by pale blue squares that mimic old plaster. It is actually a 3-dimensional work of art that tricks your mind into thinking its real. It may take 2 or 3 passes from various angles to realize the entire ceiling is flat?

There are Trompe l’oeil painted architectural moldings throughout the Vatican that you are inclined to touch to make sure they’re not real, but are once again flat, right down to the bumble bees crawling across the chair rail. This use of highlights and accents coming from the artist’s brushes are the most incredible examples of Trompe l’oiel in the world.

When visiting the mansions of Newport, keep a sharp eye out for reality vs. trickery. This will prove to be a good introduction to the art of Trompe l’oeil, before touching down in Rome for a thorough education.

An Artists Perspective…
In Culture, Religion and even Politics, Murals tell a story

Its origin can be found in the universal desire that led prehistoric man to create cave paintings. The need to decorate our surroundings, expressing our ideas and beliefs is innate.

Inspired by beauty and centuries old European villas and landscapes, skilled artisans used their talents and knowledge to create exotic, real life murals. Though there are many different styles and techniques, the best known is fresco or the abstract style of trompe-l'œil, a French term "to trick the eye”, because they appear so real.

Inspired by war and politics, murals were used as a communication tool, serving as a public service announcement of a special interest, notably for topics such as sexual orientation, religion and intolerance. When visiting ancient cities, you will see murals carved on ruins telling the story of triumph or defeat, often depicting Gods and warriors side by side or in battle against each other.

Traditionally, murals are one-of-a-kind, hand-painted by master artisans taking weeks to recreate the scene to perfection. Today, the beauty of a mural has become more widely available on wallpaper, still giving the effect of a hand-painted scene.

It is interesting to me how today’s technology can take an ancient skill and replicate it so easily, yet still portray the same beauty. What story are we telling now?

An Artist’s Perspective…
How Things Change and Remain the Same

Michelangelo Buonarroti, contrary to modern beliefs or perhaps legend, never laid on his back when painting the Sistine Chapel, nor did he work alone. He and his many assistants constructed elaborate scaffolding specifically for the purpose of creating the 12,000 square foot masterpiece.

In fact, in the year 1508 when Michelangelo (at the age of 33) was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Chapel in Rome, he immediately left the city, not interested in the commission nor caring about what would become the wrath of a very politically powerful Pope.

Eventually he was “persuaded” to return, putting aside his reluctant feelings and his own admission of inadequate painting skills. Potentially fearful for his life, he began the lengthy project.

For four years Michelangelo fought against financial issues, the Pope’s constant impatience, the lack of good help and improper working conditions, before completing one of the most stunning works of art of all time.

I dare say, in today’s modern world of mural painting, if any artist was so threatened by a client, that he or she actually feared for their life. But, 500 years later, they are experiencing many similarities when commissioned to create a painting from start to finish. They are constantly battling far-reaching deadlines, impossible budgets and endless amounts of laymen’s opinions regarding color, shape and form.

We feel for you Michelangelo!