Monday, September 26, 2011

Out and About - Omaha

I was in Omaha last weekend to attend the Lauritzen Garden Antique Show.  I had spoken to a few dealers before I left and all agreed that one of the draws of the show was the remarkable hospitality provided by their hostesses.  I was the very grateful recipient of this hospitality, which extended to a wonderful dinner in a private home Friday night.

While we were having a tour of the house I stopped dead in the upstairs hall.  Hanging there, nonchalant and elegant, vibrant and graphic, was Sonia Delauney.  We'd met, Ms. Delauney and I, at the Cooper-Hewitt last spring and were surprised to bump into one another again in Omaha.

Charlotte Moss was the speaker at that day's luncheon and she began her talk by noting that all of our experiences are tucked away somewhere and they surface as inspiration and reference points as we move through the world.  I'd expected good things in Omaha, but I had not expected to be able to press my nose to the glass of a Sonia Delauney painting.  There is wonder everywhere we go.

Image via the Cooper-Hewitt.  This was not the painting in the hall, though it was similar.  I did not, literally, press my nose to the glass.  I swear.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


In one of the preschool grades of our children's school there was a block on the curriculum entitled "TNT."  Try New Things.  I thought it was delightful.  Then again, when one is four there are so many new things coming toward you that I imagine the idea behind this is as much acquiring coping skills as broadening one's horizons.

In the last few weeks we have started a number of new things.  My oldest's transition into high school has been remarkably smooth.  And busy.  I have started a couple of new projects at home and away.  And Mr. Blandings and I have started taking horseback riding lessons.  "Why?" seems to be the common response to this news and, as it was my idea, I feel the need to justify it somehow, but really it just sounded fun.

It is fun, but it is harder than I thought it would be.  I was aware that I usually don't want to try something at which I don't think I will be successful.  This doesn't reflect well on me, I know, but there it is.  I was, let's say, impatient at the first lesson.  I wasn't getting it and Bill was and I found it annoying.  (Both my not getting it and his getting it.)  In addition, during the lesson I realized I don't like it when people tell me what to do.  Even this perfectly lovely and capable woman whom I was paying to instruct me.   Who was helping me.  Obviously, there were lessons that needed learning beyond keeping my feet flat and my knees in.  TNT.

Thanks for your patience while I have patched things together over the last couple of weeks.  I am headed to Omaha today to try another new thing.  If you are anywhere near the area do come up, over or down to the Lauritzen Garden Antique Show.  Lauritzen is one of the best antique shows in the country.  Both Charlotte Moss and Suzanne Rheinstein will be there speaking and shopping.  I will be wandering around as well.  My second riding lesson was yesterday so if you see someone who looks like me with a little hitch in her get-along, please say "hello."  More information on the show and its events here.

Image, the work of Roberto Peregalli and Laura Sartori Rimini, featrured in Vogue, October 2011; photography by Andrea Passuell for Rizzoli.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Current Obsession

Elle Decor has graciously included my current obsession in their Weekly Finds column (a great source for on-line discoveries.)  You can see where I'm clicking here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Christmas Comes Early and Often

Once upon a time I got over my aversion to red and green together.  Meaning not hunter green and burgundy, of the 80s/90s greatest hits,  but the primary red and grassy green of this Albert Hadley Kips Bay Show House room.

And, like many flirtations that bloom into full-fledged infatuations, there was Spring and Jil Sander.  You can always woo me, seduce me, sway me with a full skirt and white top, but the smack of those red lips was irresistible.

Don't play to type and do overlook the text, but concentrate instead on that gleamy green and the dash of red at top and toe.

Walls cannot be the be all end all and we must start to flesh things out - to heat things up.

Miss Scarlet in the Dining Room with the Folly Green walls.  I do think it would make me Beeline Home.

Oh, my, it's late and all this photo sourcing seems daunting.  Hadley, I believe is from the book by Adam Lewis; Sander might be Vogue; Roehm is, certainly, from Litchfield Style by Annie Kelly; photography by Tim Street-Porter; and the really wonderful Scarlet Lamp by Beeline Home was featured in Elle Decor, September 2011.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dining Room How-To

Thank you so much for your nice comments on the dining room walls.  The base color is Farrow & Ball's Folly Green.  It took me about a week from start to finish, but in my world start to finish includes a few fits and starts.

To complete the project you will need:  (clockwise from top left) A plastic cup resembling a party favor, a crumpled paper towel, a clean sock, paint, tracing paper, a palette knife, a white graphite pencil, a piece of chalk, brushes, a Gladware bowl that is missing its top, a used kitchen sponge and inspiration.

I had ordered stencils from Stencil Library and they are lovely.  I gave them a go a few weeks ago and they were not for me.  It sort of turned the project from something creative into a job.  That said, they are very nice and if you are not confident enough in your drawing skills, they are a fine way to go.

Instead, I regressed to an old favorite past time of drawing on the wall.

As the walls are green, I used chalk to outline the design.  It wiped away very easily and did not leave a mark when corrections were needed.

I alternated between holding images from Michael Smith, Mary McDonald and Gracie to create the design.  The Smith room had a paper very similar to this Gracie panel, though it was a little denser than what I wanted for the room.  The McDonald walls had the right feel, but different flowers.

I drew the entire project before I started painting.  (This is unlike me, as painting is the fun part.)  Sketching in the design easily took twice as long as painting.  Prep is always longer and a little less fun.

But then I got to go to the art supply store, which is almost as good as jewelry shopping.  I explained to the lovely woman working at Utrecht that I was trying to avoid having to go over the design twice.  She suggested Golden paint in a dense opacity.  We chose Titanium White and then she suggested Titan Buff to take the edge off; Iridescent Pearl (Fine) (and it was) was added for a little luminosity.

I chose the brushes myself and developed a deep and lasting love for both the large #10 and the smaller #2.  #6 and I took an immediate dislike to one another and will never be friends.  Beyond that, we cannot see what anyone would see in the other, though we stopped short of become enemies.  We will smile and nod, but will be unable to move beyond social pleasantries.

I'd like to give you a formula here, but basically you squeeze a big blob of white, about a third smaller blob of buff and a dollop of iridescence and mix.  When you run out, do basically the same thing again.  I started my stirring with a kitchen spoon, but it was inefficient; palette knives exist for a reason.

Then I thinned it out with a little water and, when I made a mess, I cleaned up with a paper towel.

I did pick up a couple of pieces of green poster board to test color and consistency.  And, yes, I agree, based on the testing it appears that I made a rather large leap of faith.

I could not manage to draw a good butterfly.  Eventually, I created a template from the stencil and traced around these with the graphite pencil (chalk would have been too thick.)  The butterflies were the best part.

Once the paint was dry I rubbed off the chalk with a clean and coincidentally-inside-out sock that was sitting in the laundry basket that I had just brought up from the basement.  I imagine a clean, soft cloth would do.

Somewhere along the way I've heard the last shall be first and the first shall be last and I don't think it was related to puberty, though it worked out that way in my experience.  Also with the mural.  I should have painted the "ground" first and then the trees and bushes, but I didn't quite know how to go about the ground so I skipped to the good stuff.  As it turned out, it was pretty easy.  I used the same paint combination, but thinned it until it was very watery.  I then looked for my sponge brushes for twenty minutes, gave up, and used half of a sponge from under my kitchen sink instead; it worked fine.

Onward and upward.  Or downward as I think a rug may be next.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pleased as Punch

The dining room walls are (mostly) finished.

There is a blank spot here just the to left of the door that you cannot see. (Also, out of range, is the pile of paint and paper and nonsense that is atop my dining room table.)

The butterflies were an unexpected delight, and as you have no before and after you cannot tell, but they really added something.  Movement maybe.  Whimsy.

I will be back on Tuesday to post colors and materials and process.