Monday, September 28, 2009

Zoe Design in Boston Globe Magazine

The Boston Globe Magazine September 20, 2009 features a cover story on a house in Manchester, MA which we worked on earlier this summer.

In the article are photos of the mural that Lena Fransioli, Brooke Sheldon and Natalie Gardner painted in the dining room and glaze that Doug Garrabrants and Kasia Mirowska did in the living room.

What is not pictured is the kitchen floor that we all worked on.

The interior designer was Honey Collins of Lenora Collins Design. What follows is what Brooke wrote about the "process".

Recently, Lena, Natalie and I created a mural in the dining room of a lovely old home in Manchester by the Sea, MA. The room had "nice bones", which means that the lines and proportions were elegant. There was a chair rail so our mural was confined to the upper portion of the wall. The designer had two starting points of reference. One was a picture of an antique primitive panel in very pale tones… a landscape with a figure and a small structure in it. The other reference was a magazine clipping of a mural done in a show house, a landscape in pale greens and blues. The key words used in forming an idea of our project were "bucolic landscape " and " pale sepias, creams and blues." The designer wanted the mural to sit back on the walls and the color scheme to flow from the other rooms in the house.

We brought out our reference material…..books of classical landscape painters (Claude Lorraine, Corot, Constable….) and tear sheets from a variety of magazines (I cannot stress enough the importance of good reference). The designer and client looked through the books and, together, we started to form a cohesive idea as to the feel and color palette of the project.

Our first step was to color wash the walls in a creamy yellow-white to "kill" the stark white walls. Then we took artist's chalk and, deciding our horizon line, began to lay out the landscape. Chalk is great because it's easy to sponge off lines you don't want. Just make sure you are using a color that is not too dark. In this instance, we wanted the feel of an artist's sketch, with bits of drawing showing through.
Once the landscape was about 90% drawn in, we began to wash in thin layers of acrylic in sepia tones to get a sense of the lights and darks and to see how the landscape was sitting. We ended up scrubbing out areas that felt wrong and redrawing them. It's very difficult to get the drawing down pat before you paint but you will save yourself a lot of stress if you can start with a good framework. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time "redrawing" with paint. The layering of color came next… pale blues in the sky and water and deeper grey-browns and grey-greens in the landscape. The overall effect was soft and elegant. We decided to leave out human figures but put some Mediterranean-style buildings in the background.

See more at

Sunday, September 27, 2009


OK I haven't added to the blog in ages, but, I will try to be more consistant.

We are planning a job in Palm Desert for December. We will be doing Marmorino plaster on the walls, glazing walls, painting a mural and many hundreds of square feet of stenciled ceilings.

For the "Casita" or Guest Living Room ceiling I came up with a stencil pattern based on the fabric & wallpaper the designer, Jessup Design Inc, supplied. The lighter color in the graphic represents copper. This will go between rough wood beams.

The Living Room, Great Room and Kitchen share a ceiling, also with rough wood beams. Based on the fabrics in the room we chose a pattern from a 15th century Montefeltro wood inlaid ceiling. The ceiling is now on display in the Met. NYC. I created a stencil and Lena added some oil paint shading & highlighting on top. I then photographed it and created a repeat. We can now have it printed on canvas and hung like wallpaper. This will greatly reduce the time and cost of hand painting over 1000 square feet of ceiling.

I will write more & post photos in December. Christmas in Southern California again, sounds good. Though I spent 28 years of my life in SoCal it has been 14 years since I was there for Dec. 25th. I think we will spend the day on the beach.