Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Furniture Transformation: Color Choice.

If furniture could talk my desk and dresser set could weave tales any old war veteran would be proud of.

After I graduated from college in 1999 my living situation was unstable at best.  During those uneasy years I acquired a matching desk and dresser from a friend who knew he would never get around to refinishing them.  I am carrying on in his legacy.  If they needed work all those years ago they certainly still need it over ten years and three moves later.

They are well-worn and ugly.  Fortunately they are built solid or I would have replaced them long ago.  For years I've been wanting to do something with them and continuously weigh my options.  The idea of new furniture is appealing but, by and large, most newer furniture is poorly constructed, very expensive or, in some cases, both.  I've previously written about an ergonomic desk but it's difficult to justify the cost when what I have is adequate.  And the discomfort in my hands and wrists is simply a reminder to take more breaks.

I am hesitant to share photos because they are that ugly.  They have some original faux-aging elements  which look even worse with the added actual aging.  The original hardware was horrid and made loud clanking sounds at the slightest touch.  They were removed and lost long ago.  With no money I made due with what I had, old black hosiery and an ugly gold-tone chain belt.  Please, no judgement.

My Mom would paint them in a heartbeat.  She is the handy-woman in the family and will paint anything.  I have strong reservations about painting over wood because the thought of removing it after changing my mind is haunting. The cordovan-esque finish is in poor shape but the color is nice which is why I've left it alone for so long.  However pleasing the current color is it does not make up for the horrible design and as much I hate painting over wood, a real color is the best way to distract from it.

This leads to the next stumbling block, the color.  If you know one thing about me it's that I love color and settling on one is challenging.  Earlier in the year I was focused on selecting a color and spent some time reflecting on our current home furnishings in order to maintain a cohesive palette without feeling too contrived.  We have a casual mix of warm and cool tones in woods and textiles with vintage pieces and sleek electronics.  It's a look that reflects both of us without leaning too much toward one gender and we are very comfortable with it.  

Taking this all into consideration I decided to seek a color in the blue/green range that would work with warm and cool tones.  Effectively, a neutral color that was actually a color.  I went to a home improvement store and selected quite a few paint chips ranging from blue to green in various tones and tints.  At home, I spread them on the dining table that sits between the living room and kitchen, this way I could see them regularly throughout the day and night in different lights, at different times and in my various moods.  As I would sit to eat I would also look over them and after a few weeks realized my eyes regularly rested on one color in particular, Bayside.

I purchased the tester-size tub and painted the frame of a mirror that I could move around the house to view in different light and decide if I truly wanted to commit to this color on a larger scale.  Currently the mirror resides over my computer desk and I do still like the color.

The photo is a pretty extreme crop taken at a high ISO so even with noise reduction the quality is poor.  If your viewing screen has somewhat decent color calibration you should get a good idea of the color from the photo and the link I placed above.  The wall to the left is a standard baby blue if you need a basis for comparison.

The reservations I still have on painting are paint durability and possible color choice remorse. I do take care with my belongings but I also actually use them and this obviously results in wear and tear.  How easily will chipped areas take touch up?  We likely have numerous moves ahead of us and no furniture makes it through unscathed.  What happens if I don't like the color on a larger scale or if the color <gasp> enhances the ugly design?  On top of all this, I am currently using both pieces and have nothing to take their place while I'm working on them.

I have never refinished furniture in this form before and welcome any advice, opinion and experience.  This is only the beginning of what I see as a long process.  My next important point of consideration for this furniture transformation is hardware, but that is for a new post.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Love "Riverside".

A few months ago I joined the Killeen Civic Art Guild to seek out inspiration and meet other like-minded people.  They presented an informal artists' challenge, "I Love This Song... to create a piece of art that illustrates a favorite piece of music."  

Working from a given theme is something I have little experience with, hence this really is a challenge. Of the two songs I immediately wanted to work from I have completed only one piece.  The other is still a viable concept but I need more time to execute it.

This past winter I stumbled upon Agnes Obel, an incredibly talented singer/songwriter/pianist.  Her entire album "Philharmonics"  is stunning but one song in particular has touched me, "Riverside".

My collage interpretation is fairly literal and though it is a simple design finding the right pieces was difficult.  I think it carries the tone of the song as I hear it.  Actual size is approximately 8 1/2" x 8 1/2".

When I eventually complete the other song's concept I will share it.  Open-ended time limit however.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Black, White and Grain.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts is a book my Dad picked out for me while I was in college studying fashion merchandising and experimenting avidly in photography.  "Appearances: Fashion Photography Since 1945" is an incredible book documenting exactly what it titles and it is beautiful.  I periodically flip through it and wistfully dream of recreating the excitement and glamour of cutting edge fashion and the (often gritty) urban locations.

Needless to say, I love black and white fashion photography and it's grainy magazine photos have inspired many collages of mine.

This was finished recently and is relatively simple in design but strong with the contrast between bold color and the grainy, monochromatic model in an angular pose.  I've been wanting to use her for some time but didn't have quite the right background to equal her in strength compositionally.

The following collage is an older one which draws from black and white photography as well, though exudes a much different tone.  It could be titled, "Spaghetti Romance", taken from the label on the small VHS tape in the lower corner.  Taking into account the revolver (cap gun?) images and the man peering from behind the doorway the  title could be rather appropriate.

Finally, one more for this series that I made during a short time when I was using rubber cement as an adhesive, which in hindsight was a poor choice;  I was not aware of it's poor aging characteristics and at the same time did not consider my work as "real art" and wasn't concerned about how it held up over time.  But I do love the color tones and the intimacy of the photograph.

There is certainly more inspiration to be found with black and white fashion photography and you can be certain I will share it here in whatever form it takes.

(A networked printer/copier/scanner is a beautiful and convenient tool.
Once it is properly set up and installed.)

Monday, July 2, 2012


"Office" implies work, where a clock is generally necessary.  "Studio" suggests a creative space where time may be measured by stages of a project as opposed to numbers on the wall.  So my dilemma is to clock or not to clock in my office-studio.  (I'm still having a terminology debate; When I refer to it as "my room" I shiver with flashbacks from adolescence and college roommates.)

Circumstances and choices currently allow me the luxury of free time.  Bearing equal weight are the difficulties and sacrifices that come with it.  Depending on my mood I waver between complaining and appreciating the affects of working part-time and living a less than socially active lifestyle.

On a peaceful, cloudy Sunday like today we are drinking coffee and each relaxing in our own way.  I slept in until 7:30 this morning and proceeded to prepare Barbacoa in the slow-cooker.  Since then I've been relishing the smell of cilantro, lime, onion, chipotle and beef while sipping through a pot of coffee at my computer, gazing out the window as much as looking at the screen.  He slept in later (missing the fresh coffee) and is internally processing his projects-in-progress with the company of Top Gear.  Watching the clock is not a priority except in anticipation of dinner and in planning the pico de gallo preparation.

Back to the time discussion though.  Why write about it today?  (Other than the obvious fact that I have it.)  My brother shared Tim Kreider's New York Times piece this morning about time and one thought I pulled from it is this, 

"The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done."

This idea should be posted in every work space as a reminder to periodically slow down and step back.  My office-studio is the "space and quiet" that I have wanted for so long.  I feel as if I am "standing back from life" whether I choose to shut the door in complete silence or leave it open, allowing the white noise of the computer to dissolve into the television from the living room.

As for the clock question, I have temporarily placed a small analog clock near my doorway because I have been "tricked" when looking into the hall only to see the reflection of the kitchen clock in the mirror.  It is not twenty minutes after four, as the first glance assumes, but rather twenty minutes to eight.  Oops.