Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where I Found My Right Brain

Years ago I had the good fortune to study color and decorative painting with one of the top professionals in the field, Joanne C. Day of the Day Studio-Workshop in San Francisco. I had recently left a career in insurance to start a business with my new husband Roger, who had just completed five years training in a union apprenticeship program and gotten his painting contractor's license. I knew I could contribute my business skills to our new company, but I also wanted to supplement Roger's painting expertise by learning about design and color so that we could offer services to our clients far beyond what they were used to, and set ourselves apart from the competition.

I researched the options for professional training and discovered that one of the best schools in the country, the Day Studio-Workshop, was a short ride away across the Golden Gate Bridge, and I wasted no time enrolling. Thrilled and inspired by what I was learning, I took one class after another, including Stone and Marble, Glazing and Gilding, Historical and Complex Stenciling, Color, etc. I also studied Casein and Color with one of Joanne's colleagues, Gale Laurence. Those classes changed the way I see the world, and changed my life because I went from using mostly my left brain (logical, analytical, objective) to discovering that I also had a right brain (intuitive, thoughtful, subjective), and beginning to develop it. We learned about asymmetrical balance, the "oval eye track", how to be inspired by shapes in the natural world, how to mix paints and work with color, and much, much more.

This part of my history came to mind the other day because I happened to think of some of the phrases Joanne frequently used, especially in the Stone and Marble class, where she taught us how to layer paints and translucent glazes to create incredibly beautiful and realistic-looking faux marbles and semi-precious stones, as well as many other special finishes. As we practiced Joanne would invoke our right brains by saying things like, "Avoid geometry and the alphabet.", "Create continental-shaped drifts."or "Contrast is the enemy.".

I know these expressions don't make sense out of context, but for example, the left side of our brain would take over when we began to learn how to create veining patterns, and they often looked like "x's" and "v's" (the dreaded alphabet). Eventually we were able to relax and use our right brain, letting inspiration from samples of veins in real marble guide our work. The comment about contrast had to do with making our faux marble samples with subtle contrast and depth like the real thing so that they looked as it they'd been created in layers over millions of years, instead like globs of paint sitting on top of a sample board.

At the time I had no idea of the long-term impact the training would have, but today I intuitively use the right side of my brain that I discovered at the Day Studio in just about every aspect of my personal and business life.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Exterior Painting - Color and Details Matter

When you're painting the outside of your house, one of the decisions to make is what to accent and what to hide. It's a decision every bit as important as choosing the right colors to flatter the permanent elements in the house, such as the roof or stonework. Here's a look at one of our projects that will show you what I mean.

On the right you see a house where just about everything had been accented.The list includes all, and I do mean all, the banding boards, the shingles in the peaks of the garage, the garage doors, the downspouts and many small details. Instead of looking unified and harmonious, the house appears to be an assemblage of bits and pieces, not only because of all the accenting, but also because of the high contrast between the dark gray wall color and the white trim.

Here's the house after Roger painted it a medium taupe and accenting was limited to the door and window casings, certain secondary doors and the fascias. He also painted the foundation, the deck posts and the lattice under the front porch in the wall color so they would like more like part of the structure, and less like distracting (or overlooked) details.

In the entryway every banding board originally was accented, as were the mounting boards for the light fixtures and the tiny strips of molding in the corners between the sections of wall, detracting from the beauty of the porch and front door.

When Roger painted the house, he made all these details "disappear" by painting them in the wall color. In addition he refinished the front door, the bead board ceiling and the porch.

Along with the peaks in the gables, the large garage doors were originally painted white. They dominated the area and unfortunately were the first things that greeted visitors. The front door is down a path to the right.

Today the garage doors, peaks, banding boards and downspouts are painted the wall color. An arbor has been added at the beginning of the path to welcome visitors and direct them to the front door. It's the first step in renovating the landscaping in this area, with more planting to come.

As you can see, choosing attractive colors is just the first step. Equally important is making the correct decisions about what to accent and what to hide so that the result flatters the architecture of the house and looks cohesive . When you hire us to paint the exterior of your house, a color consultation and recommendations about how to treat the details are a free part of our service.

Working together, Roger and I made a significant difference in the curb appeal and value of this house, and we can do the same for yours. To schedule an estimate, call me at 828-685-0560.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Paint Costing More? Blame Titanium Dioxide.

If you've done any painting lately, you'll have noticed that the cost of paint keeps increasing. The reasons include supply and demand and higher fuel costs, but another, even more significant reason is the increased cost of raw materials, specifically titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide is the most widely used white powder pigment, added to paints because of its brightness and very high refractive index. It doesn't take much titanium dioxide to create an opaque white coating that 's resistant to discoloration under ultraviolet light in exposed conditions. Many colors start as a white paint to which other colorants are added, so titanium dioxide plays an important role, whether or not you're aware of its presence. Using this high quality material adds to the cost of paint, but it's a worthwhile investment. Budget grade paints are known to use a mixture of titanium dioxide with other inert pigments, but they lack the brilliance and tinting strength of professional grade color, and they don't perform as well.

Dow Chemical is developing a new polymer that's expected to reduce titanium dioxide use in paint by 10-20%, but it isn't here yet. In the meantime, keep in mind that with paint you get what you pay for. Whether you're painting it yourself or hiring a professional, it's wise to use the best paint you can afford to make the work last as long as possible."