Monday, March 31, 2014

7 fun, fresh Chinoiserie fabrics

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If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will have seen my fabric designs before. 
My Escher pagoda and "Tea caddy" were a fun way to take actual antiques that I own and turn them into modern, and fresh looks. I have used several around my house and lately I am inspired to dream up a few new ones based on my great-grandmother's antiques.

Escher pagoda in Radish
 It seems that I am not the only one up to the same thing. The much blogged about Dana Gibson for Stroheim delightfully captures the tradition in Chinoiserie motifs in a cheerful, stylish manner. If you have not browsed her site you really are missing out.

 Co-founder of O'verlays, Danika Herrick has a few incredible Chinoiserie fabrics also.
Her "Trellis" design is a friendly bamboo fretwork array that I have been hunting a spot for in my house. "Cloud Pagoda" by Danika Herrick comes in quite a few colorways but my favorite is the orange/pink.

Trellis on coral

Are you totally crushing on this updated Chinoiserie look too?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Where is this going?

Today I answer the question, "Where is this painting going?"
I am very excited to say that it will be a part of the room design for co-chair, George Oliphant, at the Design on a Dime Housing Works benefit.
 All profits from Design on a Dime help Housing Works “Get A Room” for homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Founded in 1990, Housing Works provides lifesaving services to homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Since 2005, Design on a Dime has raised more than $7 million in support of Housing Works.

The co-chairs are:
The list of designers that are creating rooms is thrilling. I saw Barclay Butera and Miles Redd on the list.
The event takes place April 24, 25, and 26 in NYC.
I should have photos of the room and the event at the end of April.
Read more HERE

Monday, March 24, 2014

2 ways to inject personality into your space with art

Designers have long sung the praises of original art in interiors and the unique manner in which it elevates a space. I sometimes hear from people, "I just live in a regular house, with regular furniture. I can't afford to buy everything new so that it looks like a design blog or shelter magazine."
Take my example here. This is predominantly furniture from Pottery barn that has been available for several years. The wall color, pillows and curtains are earth tones that many people choose as a "safe" choice.
It is easy on the eye but rather sterile and impersonal.
Adding colorful original art will breath life into a room and it certainly does not have to match the curtains. In my example below, colorful pillows are the bridge to the already neutral decor and can be found at many price points.

I greatly prefer the room with original art and colorful pillows over the safe choice that many people go with. The difference in budget would be approximately $1000-$3000 for art from an emerging artist vs. $10,000-$30,000 to redecorate with with the latest mid-range pieces.

Lest you think I am only in favor of colorful, feminine abstracts, I have an example with a landscape in more muted colors that offers a different feel without looking like big box store decor.

Friday, March 21, 2014

New work

"Champagne street cred" 30 x 40 oil on canvas by Kerry Steele

The painting above is something a little different in terms of color for me. It is a commission for a very exciting installation that I will share soon. I started with white and a tiny touch of lavender and then added the "blacks" which are sepia, Payne's gray and Mars black applied mostly with a credit card type hotel key.
They wanted a bit of gold and I decided on an oil stick for that. Oil sticks are like big buttery crayons and really fun to work with.

"Canon in D" 16 x 40 mixed media on canvas

This floral painting was inspired by all of the wedding pins I have been seeing on Pinterest. I am loving these elongated canvases for floral paintings. This is my first 16 x 40 inch canvas and I may be doing more since I liked it so much. I began with acrylic spray paint and finished with oil colors and Conte stick.

small figural series  #7

I am continuing to do more small figures on linen and I now have a commissioned nude that you will be seeing sometime soon.

Stay tuned, I have lots of work in progress!
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Room of the Week

Moor Street studio

Swiss cheese ceiling aside, I would love to meet in a board room with  vibrant art that refuses to be ignored.
Its a far cry from the typical framed print hanging like a lonely postage stamp.
It really makes me wonder what is on the other wall.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I woke up yesterday to 5 fresh inches of snow and a sore throat and stuffy nose. I think that means that I am officially sick of Winter.
Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I ordered the movie "Frozen" and should have it today. For those of you with young daughters, I don't need to tell you about this,. You have heard "Let it go. Let it goooooh." for weeks. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie but I am most likely going to have a Princess Elsa breakdown in the near future where I will be heard shrieking, "No!! I don't want to build a #%$$* snowman!!!"
I decided to do a "Frozen" inspired bedroom on Polyvore to warm up to the idea (pun intended).
My four year-old chose the chandelier herself.

So " For the first time in forever" I have designed a themed bedroom. Sort of.
If you want to know what on Earth I am talking about look HERE.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

5 artists to follow on Instagram

Christina Baker

I'd be nuts not to start with my artist bestie, Christina Baker.  Christina lives in Nashville and is represented by Gregg Irby Fine Art. Follow her here.

Wendy McWilliams

Wendy McWilliams is another Nashville based artist that I follow. She has done some edgy and dark abstracts and is posting very feminine, pastel colored works lately and the sheer volume she is putting out is amazing and I want them all. Follow her here.

Pamela Munger

I love Pamela Munger's wide range of abstracts, still life and landscape paintings.
Follow her here

Alexis Walter

I have been following New Orleans based artist Alexis Walter for a while an and her earthy, textural work is beguiling. Follow her here

Windy O'Connor
I am a major fan of Windy O'Connor's vibrant abstracts. She is represented by Hidell-Brooks in Charlotte, NC and Atelier in Charleston, SC. Follow her here

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Room of the week

We all know the fabulous Miles Redd and this is a much seen Miles room.
It occurred  to me that the chair hoarders among us (I might be the Queen of chair hoarding) would take comfort in the disparate yet lovely collection in this room.
I think its best to refer to the habit as "chair collecting". Those without a discerning eye call it hoarding.
Are you a "chair collector"?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring flowers

Beauty or no, I believe the yuck of winter is behind us here in central Virginia. Being the brilliant woman that I am, I neglected to look at the thermometer on Saturday until 3 o'clock. It was 65 and sunny folks and I thought it was just another cold day. I get a second chance tomorrow with an expected high in the 70s.
I am so focused on Spring that I find it hard to think of anything else. Here are a few of the things that got me through the colder than normal winter.

I have a huge obsession with abstract art with a floral theme and not just my own. This lovely is by Wendy McWilliams who has been cranking out the Spring looks lately.

Tulips have long been a favorite of mine and remind me of Spring but not nearly the way that the scent of hyacinths do.

Sometimes I fantasize about chintz slipcovers ala English country house all through my own house, doesn't everyone?

I think I will get my chintz fix when I decide on a fabric for my daughter's room.

This fabric, Orangerie from Designer's Guild, often comes to mind for being at once feminine and edgy.

This lovely illustration by Cecil Beaton is the very room that would cure my need for sunny blooms all year Tomorrow I will have a giant grin on my sunlit face.
Are you ready for Spring?

Friday, March 7, 2014

New work

I have been in a figure painting mood lately. This week's snowstorm had me wait an extra two days for some supplies I was anxious to have. The most important was a pad of unstretched, clear-primed linen. They are 11 x 14 and offer me a less expensive chance to paint figure studies and feel more comfortable with them.

"Figure 6" By Kerry Steele
 I was using large linen canvases like this one above for my figures for the most part.
A few weeks ago I was tidying my studio and found a half done abstract and plopped on the easel and proceeded to glaze over it, leaving much of it visible and then incorporated a figure.

"Figure 7" by Kerry Steele

I believe I have shown this here before but my point is that I have a few abstracts in different stages of completion and I am thinking about using their depth and layers as backdrops for figures.

I finished  a larger nude on linen but ran out of daylight to photograph it and there is no sun this morning. Speaking of sun, where the heck is Spring? My kids one day of school this week. Even my 4 year-old told me she is sick of snow. I digress.
I have a large abstract commission to tackle for a really exciting installation that I will share as soon as I can.
In the meantime I will be having fun with these small figure studies and watercolors for The Pink Pagoda.
New watercolors go up on Monday, March 10 and a few figure studies are available in my shop.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Room of the week

Delicious caramel colored leather and pale blue walls with ceilings that appear quite tall are what I like best here. I am of the opinion that over sized black and white galleries of photos are over done but this application gets a pass from me for the convincing vintage look.
What do think?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What was I thinking?

What was your biggest decorating misstep?
You know the purchase or modification to your house that later had you asking, "What was I thinking?"

I have had several but the one that stings the most is my idiot idea to modify a bed. My grandparents had an antique 3/4 size pineapple bed from the Tidewater region of Virginia and my grandfather had plans to modify it to a twin size because there was a gouge on the edge of the headboard. They offered it to me as a "big boy" bed for my then 15 month old son. I was thrilled and (here is the idiot part) asked him to cut down the legs because I worried that my little boy could not climb into a regular height twin.
He was my first child but even a new mom should know that they grow (more quickly than you think) and he would be able to climb in by the time he graduated from high school. He turns 19 next week and I am happy to say that he has mastered scaling the heights of a mattress but I have a ridiculous bed frame in my basement.

What are you still kicking yourself about?

Monday, March 3, 2014

More blue and white coming soon

Today I am linking up to the Blue and white bash over at The Pink Pagoda.
I have been painting away at the blue and white watercolors. I have decided to add a new style, one where the details are less important and the mood comes first. I am so enjoying the colors bleeding into one and other and inching ever so slightly towards my love of abstraction.
Since buying the Waterlogue app, I have been obsessed with seeing less.
It was fun for me to paint a few of my Waterlogued images but I have moved on to "unseeing" my own pieces and layering the colors and and letting the background and the object have less defined boundaries.
It has been suggested that I simply remove my glasses and paint. Funny!

Here are a few that Jennifer of The Pink Pagoda will be offering in March.

There will still be more of the first style that was offered and plenty in this new style.
Speaking of that first style, my four year-old daughter actually asked for a hydrangea watercolor for her bedroom. I bought a tube of Opera Pink over the weekend and thought she would be the perfect guinea pig for the new color.

Which style do you prefer? Or do you have another blue and white idea that you would like to see?