Thursday, May 28, 2009

Architectural Remnants

While in Paris, one of my very favorite places we saw was San Chappelle. I took hundreds of pictures there. The stained glass was beautiful beyond description. I even took pictures of the ornate tile work on the floor. But I bet few people stop, stare, and take pictures of what I saw outside. There are piles of architectural rubble stacked next to the building. San Chappelle is an incredibly ornate chapel. It appears that over the years pieces have fallen from the structure. There is an iron fence keeping visitors away from the exterior, but I took pictures of the remnants.

I plan to file these pictures away for use as inspiration when I need architectural ideas.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Almost all of the elements of my home studio are complete. It has been a long process, but when you consider that we have done nearly all of the work ourselves, it has moved along at a pretty good pace. We have some minor wall repairs to finish, and putting up the baseboards. Once those tasks are done, I can start moving the furniture back in, and organizing the closet and shelves. I have two guest rooms packed with furniture and materials/supplies that I have collected over many, many years. I have bits and scraps and pieces that date back to my childhood - things I saved because someday I would "do something" with them. But they have always been too buried in other things to find what I am looking for, and I've never had a dedicated area to use as a workspace. I am hoping to be able to post pictures of my finished studio soon, but I thought I would give a sneak peek into the elements I am using in the space. I painted the room Saybrook Sage by Benjamin Moore. We had used the color in the dining room in our first house. In that light, it was a little mintier than I had planned, but it looked good. In the studio, it is the green-grey I wanted. In the closet, I went a little crazy and painted using Benjamin Moore's Blue Lapis. The trim and doors will be painted Cloud White, also by Benjamin Moore. I plan to use this throughout the house, as we continue to update everything. As I have written about before, we have put down slate tile on the floor. Slate is a favorite material of mine, as you can see in my Etsy shop. The sealed tiles will be easily cleaned over years of clay spatter, paint spills, glue glops, etc. And they bring an earthy element that will inspire and ground me.
The main piece of furniture in the room will be this project table. I lusted after this table for a long time, and received it as a gift. It comes in three colors, but I wanted the black version shown below. What drew me to this piece is its functionality. It is counter-height, which is perfect for working while standing or sitting on a stool. As a table there are two sides to work from, rather than a one-sided desk, which means I can have two projects going on, work with someone else, or spread out. I also love the storage shelves on either side. I plan to load them up with aesthetic tools and supplies. The shelves on this table also served as the inspiration for the shelves we built in the room. We built floor-to-ceiling shelves that cover most of the back wall, and they will also be used as part display/part storage. Each shelf is square, creating a grid similar to the grid of shelves on the project table. The square pattern is also subtly echoed in the tile flooring.
I have ordered two of these pendant lights for the room. We will have an electrician come in and install them both above the project table, in the middle of the room. Right now the room is fairly dark, but these will give me 200 watts of lighting that can be raised or lowered depending upon where I need the light. This picture shows both the metal and the ceramic shades; I chose the white ceramic, and in the larger size. I like both finishes, but as I am hoping to use primarily black and white (other than the wall color and the earth tone flooring), I thought the white would fit in better with that theme. Rather than using a lot of colors in the decor, I would rather have my creations and the supplies I use provide the points of interest in the room.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Parisian Watercolors

While in Paris, I bought several watercolors to remember my trip. When I got home, I brought them to a framing shop to have them framed nicely. I picked them up today. The largest is an antique watercolor/sketch of blue asters. I bought it at an antique market, and the seller told me that it was painted in the 1930s or 40s. The price was pretty steep, but I stuck around looking ambivalent long enough that she lowered the price, and then I offered an even lower number, which she reluctantly agreed to. This is fairly atypical of me (see below). I think the matting really goes well with the colors. The frame itself is more ornate than I usually prefer, but I thought it went well with an antique work.

I bought the medium watercolor from an artist set up on the street near Notre Dame. The piece is a great depiction of Notre Dame. I asked him how much he wanted for the painting, and he gave me a "sale" price, given that they had to close up and leave in about 5 minutes. I agreed to the price, and rifled through my purse to find the right number of euros. I gave it to him, and he gave me too much change back. I said no, that's not the right amount. He was pretty sure he had given an even better price. I managed to talk him back up to the amount we agreed to. I mentioned that I didn't want to cheat him - he said he really didn't mind, but that he hoped that I would like the painting. I told him I would cherish it, and hang it in my home. He was very, very appreciative of that. I think he would approve of the framing job, the way the black frame and matte highlight the inked sketch, and the way the beige matte is in the same colorway as the main color in the painting.

Finally, I bought two very small watercolors from another street artist in a little artist market near Sacre Couer. I envisioned framing them together, since they were so small, and because I thought they shared some colors. The framing shop had just the right blue matte to bring the two together. I also thought the carving on the frame brought out the texture of the painting. The top image is Champs-Elysees, which was very near one of our hotels, and the bottom image is Notre Dame, an area we spent a lot of time in.

It was important to me to bring home a few things that I could use to decorate my home. I wanted some unique items that would remind me of the trip, and I think these watercolors fit the bill perfectly. I will probably also print some of the photographs I took, and frame them as well.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Other than dogs, who are much better as pets, my favorite animal is the rhinoceros. My fascination with rhinos started in early high school, when I read an absurdist play called Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco. In it, people turn into rhinoceroses; indeed, everyone except the protagonist becomes a rhinoceros. One of the themes of the work is conformity, which interested me greatly as a teenager. But I also came to love the potential of the animal separate from the theatrical - they are visually interesting, and have a personality I admire. I also collect rhinos; I have found that they are a good animal to collect, because they are much less commonly found than more popular collector's items (cows, elephants, etc.). At last count, I have approximately 50 rhinos in my office. They range from plush to sculptures, carved stone to an antique book illustration. While in France, I saw some lovely rhinoceros sculptures, and posters for performances of other works by Ionesco.
Rhino in front of the D'Orsay museum: Rhino fighting lions in the Tuileries:
How much is that rhino in the window? (Sale price was available upon request. I figured if I had to ask, I couldn't afford it.)
Even a rhino sign.
I've done some browsing on Etsy, and it appears that there are a lot of rhinoceros items. It seems that my fellow artists have also noticed how they lend themselves to artistic renditions. I may have to buy this pillow from ErnstandThistle, I can see it sitting on the guest chair in my office...
beautifulkitty has a lovely watercolor.
hongisto24 has a great etching with a rhino silhouette.
justfolding has rhinoceros origami - I don't have one of these yet!
MudstoneStudios has a great ceramic rhino sculpture. I may try my hand at making a rhino one day.
Check out the color in this watercolor by bikermommat.
I love this drawing of an adult and a baby rhinoceros by CarlaKurtArt. My favorite part is the way the light plays on their skin.
I have a thing for birds on rhinoceroses, depicted here by wildthingsart...
and hilariously here by jamesillustrated...
I definitely don't have anything like this wire sculpture by sugarsusan in my collection.
Did you know that the term for a group of rhinos is a "crash?" What could be more fitting?! I have coveted this card by smackofjellyfish since I joined Etsy over a year ago. When I buy it, I will frame it.
This piece by pixiecampbell reminds me of the rhinos pounding the pavement in Ionesco's play.
I think I need to own this Indian coin by petsalad.
marvelousa's girl phoning the rhinoceros cracks me up.
I love this drawing by kerrylemon. It really shows the armor-like quality of their skin. I like the seriousness and silliness of this rhino with a rose by jennybrug.
Such a stately rhinoceros by eringopaint.
I found these cardboard rhinos by cj8n in the Etsy Gift Guide for coworkers. Both are must-haves.
And finally, a rhino with a cool background befitting the coolest animal on the planet, by arawlins.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Design Style Guide Giveaways

The Design Style Guide is starting a giveaway program. Approximately every 2 weeks, you can enter to win a giveaway from one of the member shops. The first giveaway features Karen Faulkner Art. Visit the Design Style Guide blog for how to enter.
I think I might choose the indigo blossoms above, or the blue orchids below.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finally Throwing at Home

I plugged in my wheel in my studio for the first time. I still have to put baseboards in the room, and do some wall repair, but I figured that shouldn't prevent me from giving it a whirl. The pictures are dark, since I don't have all the lighting set up in the room, but you'll get the idea. Little helper under the wheel...
Other helper, taking a break from sitting inches from me. Throwing pottery is so very interesting!
Even the wheel is fascinating all by itself!

I only threw three things - two closed forms and a mug. I'm contemplating making the closed forms into boxes - the first one could be a gnome...

I am thrilled to finally be able to use my studio!

Paris Finds

While in Paris, I managed to buy some things to remember my trip and decorate my home. These are a few of my acquisitions.
I really loved this ceramic onion jar. Even better, it was only a few euro. I may not actually use it in the kitchen for onions; 1) I already have a fantastic onion and garlic storage system, courtesy of my mom, and 2) wouldn't this be a really cool place to keep pottery sponges? It even has holes to let them dry out in between pottery sessions. I bought the large type G printer's block since I have been meaning to get one that reflects my married name. The other two printers blocks will be great for use in my pottery studio.
This piece can be used as a bud vase or for keeping spices on the table. I loved how it had glass that looked like test tubes, and how the top is secured with a wooden stick.
I bought this frame and these knobs at what appeared to be a French version of Pottery Barn. I am always drawn to anything blue, and I love the colors that the shells reflect. I am sure I will find a good use for the knobs, whether it is on a piece of furniture, or on a creation for my Etsy shop.
I also bought some jewelry, some beads and upholstery trim, and several watercolors. I found one of the watercolors in one of the shops in an antique market - it had been painted in the 1930s or 40s. The others I bought from street artists. I brought them all to a framer, and I'll post pictures when I get them, which should be soon.