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Linen-weave texture: made a mistake but now corrected

Filed under: Blog,Paint Technique,Tips — Tags: , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 9:37 am

Silly mistakes will happen. Most recently here: posting something by mistake, then deleting it to try to correct the error, then deciding to re-post.

This recent post was brought to my attention today by a friendly reader who wrote me an email that the page was no longer available.

What’s good about that? Now I can make it better.

What happened?
I’d posted an image of a decorative finish, a project in which I’d painted a linen-weave strie design in two colors, two layers. The problem was that I’d not included any info on the picture!

This can be a lovely way to create a hand-painted wall covering, using colors to create depth and interest.

How you do it
First layer, apply glaze evenly, blend, then drag vertically with a wallpaper brush. When it’s dry, do the second layer: the same process, different color, drag horizontally.

Tape off vertical sections and work in alternating areas. You will actually save some time because you can use a faster-drying glaze. By the time you work your way around the room you may be able to go back and do the 2nd layer. Granted, this may not work for all sizes and shapes of rooms but it is one way to do this process.

What’s your experience?
Have you made tech-errors that were embarrassing? On the other subject, have you tried DIY-decorative finishes that did not work out?


Make it easy? Texture and finish variations create interest.

Connect and coordinate a simple color palette with collaboration, colors, and textures.
Sometimes it’s easier than others, and sometimes it just Looks easy! Carefully considered wall finishes and coordinated custom rugs can help. Collaboration gets it done.

In this Boston high-rise condo, to create a backdrop for stronger colors we used a neutral-based color palette in custom finish of textured walls, with custom Tibetan rugs.

rugs from Silk Road WeavesHand knotted rug: 100% wool. All custom Tibetan rugs shown are from Silk Road Weaves.

I’ve worked in tandem with Boston-area designer Cynthia Brumm, of SpaceDesign, on a number of projects. Here, Cynthia was the lead and she asked me to create wall finishes and rug designs. In addition to designing custom pieces for this client, Cynthia selected beautifully vibrant furnishings to complement the owner’s existing pieces.

Dinign room rug from Silk Road Weaves

Existing dining room furniture is beautifully complemented by GEO-Borders in wool and silk, from Silk Road Weaves

Cynthia also designed this dramatic console cabinet in a beautiful dark wood finish.

TV cabinet

Cabinet design by Cynthia Brumm. Artisan wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs Color and Design

Custom wall finishes in an architectural, low-profile texture provide a beautiful backdrop for the custom rugs from Silk Road Weaves.

Runner version of Geo from Silk Road Weaves

The adaptable nature of GEO from Silk Road Weaves becomes a runner in 100% wool, and complements the living room and dining room rugs, also from the GEO group.

The wall finishes are the same throughout the main open areas: Entry, Hallway, Living room, Dining room.
Kitchen and powder room are different.

custom wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs

Powder room features walls having a soft bronze layered glaze. Wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs.

The overall effect is comfortable, yet stunning, with a dramatic view overlooking the city.

view of boston

Yes, there is a view of Boston!

All images by Barbara Jacobs.

Mural, Mural on the wall…

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 2:22 pm

What is the most personal and long-lasting painting expression of all?

Foyer mural

Walk right in...and through the gate! I extended this foyer mural up the stairs to the 2nd floor.

What is a mural? Many things!
A surface, oil, pigment, acrylic, canvas, and…dreams, hopes, visions, heart, entertainment, education, personal expression, art, graphics, color, excitement, happiness, and…travels, transportation, outer space, meditation, contemplation, grand color, detail, and…large view, large scale, small niche…and
Communication, Interpretation, Expression…

It’s an act of faith.
I’m happy to present a collection of murals by 4 artists, all with different styles from each other, and each with his or her own way of working. In fact, each artist has a range of artistic styles to draw upon.

But I believe they share a common goal: to understand the needs and dreams of their patrons, the people commissioning their work. Whether the project is large or very small, creating a mural is all about YOU: your personal interests, dreams, fantasies. And you trust your artist to express all this, and more. I’ve found that client participation is part of the pleasure and the reward in creating something so personal.

As artists, we’ll change the way you look at things
Your space, and literally your point of view.
Let’s start in Paris, with this view  in a girl’s  bedroom…

Paris mural by Arteriors

Mural of Paris, by co-owners Stephanie & Amiel Mesner of Arteriors

Commercial spaces benefit!
Waiting for the doctor? Another way to travel, in medical office mural by Jesse Demolli
Mural by Jesse Demolli

Sometimes it’s just for fun

Debra Disman created this Garden Mural, (residential exterior) in her studio  on three boards, in high quality acrylic mural paint, and  varnished in acrylic. Then, she mounted it on her client’s patio fence. Marina District, SF, CA
As with most murals, this enlivens an otherwise boring surface.
The client requested very specific imagery, such as Chinese Garden Stools, Tiger, Pandas, Orchids, etc.

Exterior mural by Debra Disman of ArtiFactory

Debra Disman of Artifactory brightens a blank wall, outdoors!

Creating drama and focus

This fantastic fireplace feature from Arteriors!

Arteriors fireplace mural

Sophisticated and dramatic, fine art from Arteriors co-owners Stephanie and Amiel Mesner

Whimsical Fantasy

I painted this dreamlike panel with a flying unicorn on a birch plywood panel 4’x4′. I created the painting in this size and material at the request of my client, a storyteller, who used it as a prop in her presentations.
Flying unicorn by Barbara Jacobs

Combining finishes and art work
More down-to-earth, I created this frieze around the client’s foyer. First, the wall finish—a metallic plaster—then, the painted frieze.
Frieze over wall finish

For a non-profit organization

Debra Disman of Artifactory Studio created this Donor Tree Mural on canvas in her studio. She used acrylic mural paint, then varnished with protective acrylic for interior use, in the nonprofit organization “Planning for Elders in the Central City, IE PECC), then hung in the  PECC office.
Donor Tree Mural by Debra Disman

Historic and contemporary

From the earliest cave-paintings to contemporary graffiti, murals have history. Even some contemporary artists still use Renaissance Fresco techniques. This is a really extraordinary process that involves skill, patience, and a sense of timing and color use. The great thing is that there are still people teaching this art form!


In a mural there can be something for everyone, with so many individual different styles of artistry, expression, and interpretation. Murals can have a very wide price range as well. But, the idea is that they will give many years of enjoyment.

A recent conversation
To me, the client involvement is key to the success of the project. It requires good listening, and adaptability. One of my most memorable mural-painting experiences was actually something I was told last Spring in a conversation with the client. They had asked their 17-year old son what color he wanted to have in the bathroom where I’d painted a small mural over 10 years ago. His answer:  Don’t Paint Over It!

Beach scene with seagull

Sandbox and turtle on the left wall; piping plovers on the sand, and the watchful seagull. I stood in the bathtub to take this picture.

In the kitchen…
Don’t be bored while you cook. Look out from your villa window, over a Tuscan landscape…I took the tower motif from a wine bottle the client’s had brought back from their Italian honeymoon.

Tuscan landscape view

Painted on the wall behind the stove, protected with acrylic urethane.

Do try this at home
Do you want to try creating your own mural? For an informal DIY project – use Ben Moore or other type of Chalkboard paint. If you have kids, share some quality time with them. Try the largest size chalk available and have some fun.

Stay tuned for future Mural posts.

Decorative finishes – are they for You? 11 Tips

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 8:53 am

“Way Back” in the mid-80’s it was all about oil. Oil bases, oil glazes. Traditionally and historically, decorative and “faux” painting artistry was executed in oil products because, well, that’s what there was to work with if you wanted the best results.

Fast forward to Now, where “faux painting” is almost a household word and it’s a “DIY paradise” from Home Depot to Anywhere. With oil-based products currently on the wane for the most part, there’s a plethora of water-based materials to choose from.

Wood you be able to guess?

Wood you be able to guess? Source: Thalman Designs

Many fine contemporary finish artisans still elect to use oil, for all the reasons why oil glazes have created beautiful surfaces for hundreds of years. Mainly, it’s the Glow. Somehow, the richness of oil based products creates a luminosity and richness that’s unparalleled.  In the hands of the right artist, well, you just can’t touch the results with any other method.

Painted Ceiling by Iris Lee Marcus, Boston.

Ceiling by Iris Lee Marcus, Boston artist. Source: Iris Lee Marcus

My personal perspective: even though starting with oils, for years I’ve continued to use only water based products.

Blended Glaze-the feeling of colored light and air

One of my favorites: A softly blended glaze-the feeling of colored light and air

In making the change many years ago I developed a way of working that actually enabled me to create as smooth and luminous a surface as my earlier work with oils. So, I became a convert of sorts. It has, of course, helped that we can now get products that are such a high quality that they “work” almost as oils do. In addition, we now have access to many interesting and versatile texture products that make inspiration really flow.

The in-depth detail of blended, luminous layers

My reasons: Easier cleanup, less down-time between layers, and—while I’ve always loved working with oil, and even the smell of oil paint (growing up in an artist’s household might have something to do with that)—I found that clients did not always appreciate the lingering aromas.

This personalized motif adds a new twist on an old look

It’s easy to get carried away in the dramatic possibilities. I’ve always appreciated and marveled at the amazing execution and exacting appearance of fine “Faux Marble” work and other more elaborate techniques. I’ve also enjoyed doing them myself, to the best of my ability. But my personal process has developed more along the lines of wanting to do beautifully layered background color in glazes, tinted plasters and other materials, for a simpler kind of look, even in a dramatically layered metallic look like this one.

Stainless Steel look for this bathroom.

Through the looking's Stainless Steel? Nope, just paint and...

So, after that little orientation to the subject: Are you ready to try Faux Finishes, Decorative Painting, or whatever you want to call using glazes to create your own uniquely dramatic home environments?

Here are ten tips—plus one—to help you decide:
1.   Are you patient?
2.   Can you mix colors? Think in layers.
3.    Try taking a class or find a way to practice your techniques before you launch into a room-sized project
4.    Research products with a long “open time”.  Why?
5.    Do you want translucent layers or more opaque color? Translucent layers will use tints, more opaque colors use paint for coloring.
6.   “Marks” or not? To start with, something with a fine pattern might be easier to achieve. A seamless look is much more difficult.
7.   Find someone to work with you on your project.
8.   Always do a mock-up of your finish, with all layers included in stages (so you will know what to expect in your process).
9.   As with many things, it always looks easier when someone else is doing the work.
10. Remember: It’s only paint! If you don’t like or love the results, paint it out!
11. There’s a reason why experienced professionals get professional results.

For an expanded view on the subject, please check out my own interview on faux finishes written a few years ago by an editor.

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