Posts belonging to Category Art, General


Are you familiar with the term trompe l’oeil, French for ‘fool the eye’?

At some point, you’ve probably seen a painting, or wall finish, which looks so realistic you’d swear it was the real thing.

Except that it isn’t.

Paintings can be especially deceiving. You might find yourself looking at a still-life arrangement of books, or writing implements that are so convincingly 3-dimensional you feel you could reach into the painting and pick them up.

It literally fools the eye.

When it comes to countertop finishes, the eye can also be fooled, especially in the presence of a highly qualified artisan who specializes in faux.

I met such an artisan recently, and was intrigued by the possibilities. I browsed through all the samples, realizing there wasn’t an ounce of actual stone in the entire lot, even though everything appeared to be granite or marble.

That’s right. Everything I saw was a painted finish, yet it looked and even felt like the real thing.

Now, you might be wondering, why would you choose to go faux?

Is it less expensive than natural stone? Not necessarily. You wouldn’t choose a faux finish in the hopes of reducing costs, because anytime you hire an artist who excels at his craft, you are paying for his expertise and creativity.

That is the lure. As it says on their business card:  “…distinctive finishes for the discriminating client”.

That said, the cost of a faux finish might be comparable to natural stone, depending on your selection. Plus, there may be savings in other areas.

As with anything in the world of interior design, custom work means custom pricing.

The benefit to you? You get exactly what you want.

Listed below are 5 reasons for ‘Going Faux’, instead of choosing something more traditional.


You’ll Save on Demolition

When it comes to countertops, a faux finish can typically be applied directly over the existing surface. How great is that?



Ikat is all the rage these days. 

It seems that every furniture catalogue I pick up, boasts ikat fabric in one form or another – either on the upholstery, throw pillows, or other decorative accessories for the home.

What is this fascination with ikat?

Well, I’m not sure I know the answer.

However, as a museum docent, I can share with you that the Seattle Asian Art Museum is now hosting an exhibit titled “Colors of the Oasis” that features – you guessed it – a collection  of ikat robes from Central Asia.

The title is apt, because this commonly worn outerwear is colorful beyond belief.

The patterns are intricate, and the process of creating them even more so.

Ikat textiles are characterized by their distinct, abstract patterns – with a tell-tale flame-like, or blazing, edge.

The technique  – known as a warp-faced weave – is part tie-dye, part resist-dying and extremely complex.

It boggles the mind to even try and understand how these stunningly beautiful fabrics are made.

At least, that’s what it does to my mind.

Yet in Central Asia, where this particular style of dress has long been the norm, the tying, dying, and weaving of this fabric was also the norm during the 19th century and up until recent times.

The term ikat (pronounced e-kat) is derived from a Malay word that means “to tie” or “to bind”.



A Designer Show House is often part fantasy and part reality.  Designers typically pull out all the stops for the homeowner – a person who exists  only in our imaginations. 

That’s precisely why taking part in a Designer Show House is a wonderfully creative endeavor for an interior designer.

It is also a marvelous way for the public to gather fresh ideas for their own homes.

Some years ago, I participated in a local American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Show House, featuring the historic Moore Mansion on Seattle’s Capital Hill.

This project was a classic example of how an interior design concept might evolve, and how designers come up with their inspiration.

For this reason, I thought it might be a good time to re-visit the Moore Mansion.

The home, built in 1901by James Moore, was located, in a tree-lined street close to Volunteer Park, home of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM).

As it happened, I was assigned the Master Bedroom of this stately old house. It was a large, attractive room with generous proportions. However, it was dominated by a bold geometrically patterned carpet in shades of chocolate brown and white.

It was the kind of pattern that makes your vision go blurry after a minute or two of looking at it.

However, the owner of the house had made it clear that replacing the carpet with something a bit more subtle was not an option.

What do designers do in such a situation?



I’ve always been fascinated by the process of glass blowing.

"BlueBackwash" by Canlis Glass

Ever since I was a child, when my family first visited the famed Cornish Museum of Glass, I’ve been captivated by the experience.

I remember very little else about that trip. We lived in Toronto at the time, and I’m not at all sure how we ended up in New York State.

To my young mind, the glass museum was clearly the highlight of our trip.

Glass blowing is an ancient art, indeed, dating back to the 1st century BC. Its discovery, during the time of the Roman Empire, is believed to be purely accidental as so many discoveries are.

As the story goes, some sailors, while cooking a meal over a hot fire, were surprised to see that sand – buried beneath the hot coals – had melted into a liquid stream.

A stream that, when cooled and hardened, turned into the substance we know today as glass.

Of course, this is just a story, and no-one really knows for certain how glass first came into existence.

Nonetheless, glass making has been coveted throughout history. In more recent times it has become a popular medium for expression, akin to paintings and sculpture.

And like paintings, sculpture and other works of art, glass art typically has a story to tell.



“I don’t think there is anything that communicates better than art. It is quicker than language and clearer than philosophy”. Frederick R. Weisman, Founder of the Frederick R Weisman Art Foundation


What do art, travel and this picture of a gardener have in common?

That’s easy.

The gardener – who isn’t real, by the way – was spotted in a private art collection, during a recent trip to Los Angeles.

The trip, taken with a group of Seattle Art Museum Docents,  was very similar in scope to last years’ exploration of Chicago.

As you can imagine, our whirlwind tour of the city focused on art. We were not disappointed.

I was particularly intrigued by the monumental collection of modern art amassed by the Philanthropist and art collector Frederick R. Weisman.

This impressive collection, housed in a privately owned Mediterranean-style villa, located in Beverly Hills, is not for the faint of heart.

Now, I am not a huge fan of modern art.

Yet, when I stepped inside the front entrance I immediately knew I was in for a treat.

Perhaps it was the ultra-realistic, life-size figure of a woman, dressed as an American tourist standing off to the side, obviously there to amuse and greet us.

I couldn’t get over the feeling that we were being watched, or that I might step on her toes.

She was not the sole human-scale sculpture in the house, I might add. My favorite one, apart from the gardener, was of an elderly gentleman asleep in his chair, book in hand.

Which once prompted some workers to call 911 because they couldn’t wake him up!



Have you heard about the Sound Suits that have invaded Seattle?  

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, or Twitter, you’ve likely seen some of my posts or tweets, referencing the artist Nick Cave and his amazing Sound Suits, currently on view at the Seattle Art Museum in an exhibit titled:

“Meet Me At The Center of the Earth”.

As a museum Docent, I’m lucky enough to be touring this show. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of leading 2nd & 6th Graders through the exhibit, inviting them to let their imaginations soar as we explored this strange new world.

So – what exactly IS a Sound Suit?

According to the artist, Nick Cave, the first Sound Suit was born when he was sitting on a park bench, and noticed a twig lying on the ground. That single twig was the spark for his future creations.

With a background in fashion and design, and the Rodney King incident fresh in his mind, he had the idea to create a protective garment.

So, the single twig became a mountain of twigs that were painstakingly cut to size, pierced at one end, and sewn onto cloth. The result was a pair of pants and a shirt, made to fit the artist.

It was then he realized he’d basically created a suit.

He slipped it on – carefully, I presume, since it was made of twigs – and when he started to move, he noticed the twigs made a sound.

It was a happy accident, yet the Sound Suit had been born.



An artist friend of mine, Julie Doane Roberts, creates what she calls OoMs. Otherwise referred to as Objects of Meaning.

We all have them, these OoMs.                                               

In fact, our OoMs are one of many reasons that we tend to collect so much stuff. Unless you are immune to this condition, you will know what I’m talking about.

Yet there is a big difference between the stuff we’ve collected over time that we really don’t need, and the many treasures we simply couldn’t live without.

Sentimental value, after all, is something we can’t put a price on.

Some time ago, I wrote an article about being the Artist of Your Life. I took a tongue-in-cheek approach to curating your various collections, in much the same way that a museum curator oversees the collections he or she is in charge of.

Be discerning, I said, as you sort through your possessions.

Once sorted, I advised you to display them prominently, with adequate lighting and an appropriate backdrop.

What I’m suggesting today is another alternative.

As the artist of your Life, why not curate your collection of memorabilia and treasures and re-purpose them into something that is a work of art, in and of itself?

I’m all for re-purposing, as you know. (It’s the 21st century buzz-word!)

Of course, when you take the time to create something even more beautiful out of your many treasures, you will be doing several things at the same time:

Creating Order Out of Chaos

Do you live in a clean, organized space full of positive energy?

We all know how we feel when our lives are out of balance. Exhausted, confused and overwhelmed.

There is a definite link between the clutter and disorganization in your home and these feelings of overwhelm.

Clearing Out Clutter

Have you ever noticed how an organized space, free of clutter, can literally free up your mind?

The theory behind this is that a cluttered home (substitute life, schedule, desk, etc) usually reveals a much deeper problem.

Recent studies have even proven a connection between clutter and excess weight, and even clutter and stress.

How amazing is that?

Freeing Up Space

Many of us have the inevitable spare room, where we discard unused, and unneeded items.

What is the energy emitted from that room? Does it weigh you down or lift you up?

Which would you prefer?

Are you ready to create some OoMs?


When I was a child, perhaps 7 or 8 years old, I was given this lovely silk scarf as a gift.                                        

I realize this might not be the typical gift one gives to a child, but I can tell you that from the moment I set my eyes on it, I was transported to another place.

I’m not sure whether it was the gorgeous turquoise color, or the sparkly gold trim, but I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Fast forward a number of years (I’m not saying how many) and not only do I still own this scarf, but it still resides in its original box.

Every once in awhile I remove the scarf from its box, and unwrap the well-worn tissue just to gaze upon it one more time.

Which got me to thinking.



“TO:  The Supreme Pontiff Julius II            

FROM:  M. Buonarroti, artist
RE:  Interior Decorating
Most Holy Father,
It grieves me that your Holiness is unhappy with the progress on the Sistine Chapel. Admittedly, it’s taken a little time and we’re into a slight cost overrun, but Your Holiness must admit this isn’t something that can be done with a numbered kit. It’s hard on the neck, too. And, while you don’t do the shopping, You must know the price of fresco colors is out of sight!
A couple more years should do it.
Your obedient servant,
P.S. I beg to point out to Your Holiness that there is nothing in the contract about scraping the sash in the Vatican Refectory. As I’ve said before, I don’t do windows.”
From an ancient account in Rome’s Vatican Library. Date has been effaced, but is believed to be circa AD 1510

Yes, you read correctly. This excerpt was written by that Michelangelo, the one of Sistine ceiling fame.

Yet, it could just as easily have been written yesterday.

When I first heard this quote, it was being read aloud before a room full of interior designers.

You can be sure it got a good laugh.

However, I think just about anyone can relate to Michelangelo’s words. For example, if you’ve ever taken on a project that ran into cost overruns, or was not completed on time, this letter will sound painfully familiar. (more…)


When I was in design school, we were given an assignment to design a Children’s Museum.                             

Since this was a class project, we didn’t have an actual client, meaning it was the perfect opportunity to pull out all the stops and let our imaginations run wild.

I decided to have some fun.

Being the daughter of a museum curator does have its advantages. I was able to visualize the museum project from the viewpoint of a child who was taken to museums probably from the time I was old enough to walk.

I admit, I didn’t always go willingly. Cause, let’s face it, a big stodgy old building, as most older museums tend to be, aren’t exactly a child’s idea of a good time. It can be downright boring.

I know this from experience.

Plus, I’m now a bonfide museum docent who tours school children young and old, and I can tell you things haven’t changed.

Entertaining kids in a museum can be a challenge, but it can also be a joy.

For my project, I decided to give the children an exciting, hands-on experience, without the usual “Do Not Touch” approach. In fact, in my museum, touching was not only encouraged, it was the whole point of the experience.