Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, OUT & ABOUT

Weekly Photo Challenge Green Autumn Color and Texture Tarn South West France

How Green – How Green this walk has been! Such a lot of green moss on the trees – I have no idea why – OK, the time of year is November, in the depths of Autumn here in South West France, but not particularly wet. In fact when we went on this local walk, we had bright blue skies and a temperature of 19 degrees.

OK, I know the photo challenge is green, but I couldn’t resist adding a little red – just as important during this autumn time – and so complimentary to the color green!

Posted in Blog, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, Let's Be Creative!, MACKENZIE FRAMES, Wall Displays

Work In Progress – Hand Painted Frames For A Collection Of Mirrors

The summer season of craft shows is upon us, and although I don’t do many of them these days, whenever the ladies of Varen phone me  to participate in their annual summer craft show – I usually say yes.

hand painted mirror frames

Varen (zip code – 82330) is a very pleasant village near St. Antonin Noble Val, in the Tarn-et-Garonne about 15 minutes drive from where I live here in the Midi-Pyrenees region of South West France. The good ladies of Varen, take it upon themselves to manage ‘La Shoppe’ every summer in the hope of luring tourists and locals alike into their little stone clad den below the ‘mairie’ (the mayor’s office) which is full of hand made delights from local artisans.

hand painted mirror frames 1

The theme this year is ‘Reverie’ – a very subjective word  that summons different things to different people. Well, to my mind, in the realm of interior decor, this means ‘The House of my Dreams’ and as Marie-Claude (chief lady in charge) specifically asked me to provide some of my Hand Painted Framed Mirrors, this is what I had in mind.

Hand Painted Mirror Frames 03

I hope there are a few people passing through Varen this summer who have the same taste in colors and framed mirrors as I have!

Hand painted Mirror Frames 05

So I thought you would like to see the ‘Work In Progress’ of the hand painted frames at the moment. As you see, my color theme is very neutral – white, taupe and beige. A variety of sizes and styles from my ‘odd box’ of moldings that we seem to collect over the years in our Framing Workshop. Any one who has been following my blog here only has to to go to the DIY Tutorials to see that I love ‘Up-cycling’ old frames to make them into objects of desire once again!

Small White Mirror Frames 06

Well, Martin has just cut the individual pieces of mirror for each frame. He still needs to cut the backing boards and then I can finish the transformation of these frames into the mirrors of your dreams.

When they are ready, I’ll give you an update. And if you are on holiday here in our corner of South West France this summer, perhaps you can come and visit Varen and have a little peak into ‘La Shoppe’!

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, Inspirations, Let's Be Creative!

The Color White Series – Snow White

The Color White Snow White

The Color White Series

What comes to mind when you think of the color white – Crisp Clean Fresh Snow or Yummy Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream perhaps?

No? How about these wonderful names to describe the color SNOW WHITE:

The breast of the Black Headed Gull.

Snow Drop.

Calc Sinter.

Carara Marble.

This is the description given to the ‘Snow White’ color in Werner’s ‘NOMENCLATURE OF COLOURS’ published 1821 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Such a fascinating book from the 19th century that was brought to life again by the Canadian artist and photographer ARNAUD MAGGS whose work was introduced to me by some friends who live near us here in France . I believe that Arnaud Maggs spends quite some time in this area of South West France – hey they know him!

You can find out more about Arnaud maggs and his work here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/arnaud-maggs-wins-scotiabank-photography-award/article4105732/

I have to admit, Werner’s work is a little bit whimsical by today’s standards of scientific thought and process, but It is a very good example ( and great excuse) to show you that there are a multitude of white shades. So let’s start having a look at a few of them with the help of Mr. Werner and a few very talented photographers that I have found on the world wide web!

I just couldn’t resist this beautiful photograph of a Black Headed Gull. Not sure I could keep my nerve if I saw this coming towards me – but well done Chistopher Hoyle for doing just that when out on a photographic walk in the Lake District, England. Have a look at his Flickr photo stream for more of his fabulous photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/christopherhoyle/with/4604053682/#photo_4604053682

Many thanks for the other inspirational photos I have used in the photo montage above to demonstrate the multiple shades of white.

Ther Carara Marble Statue can be seen here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/52219527@N00/3588841240/

The Mineral – Calc Sinter:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nakayoshi/5778173102/

The lovely photo of the delicate Snow Drop:
http://www.coldclimategardening.com/2008/03/16/snowdrops-when-does-a-bud-become-a-bloom/

Werner Shades of White

Goodness me – Werner has listed 8 names for the COLOR WHITE! This is going to be fun finding the relevant photos – for instance – Number 7 is ‘SKIMMED MILK WHITE’ – I have to find the White of the Human Eyeballs.

So if anyone out there has taken or found any photos that you think will fit Werner’s descriptions of the color white – DO GET IN TOUCH and we can carry on with our interpretation of his collection!

Posted in Color Shape Space, Let's Be Creative!

Pages From My Sketch Book

Thought you might like to see a few pages of my color doodles which I use to work out new color ways for my frames, but they could be used for all sorts of projects, from a new painting to restoring an old piece of furniture that you have found in the local ‘brocante’ (garage sale, car boot etc.)swatchbook09


Posted in Color Shape Space, Let's Be Creative!

The Colors I Used For My Red Frames

For true feelings of depth and quality in any form of art from painting a masterpiece to a picture frame, it is essential to create layers of color. You may not see them all in the finished work – BUT – they are there and it does make the difference to the feel and quality of the piece.

Posted in Color Shape Space

Seeing Red!

Source: etsy.com via Denise on Pinterest

I seem to have been soaked in red in the workshop over the last few days, as I’m in the process of creating a new range of colored frames for Etsy and Artfire. I’ll be giving you sneak previews here over the next few days, but in the meantime, I thought we could get in the RED MOOD by having a look at a few of my favorite picks that I have collected on my  
                                                  
PINTEREST RED GALLERY BOARD.

Source: etsy.com via Denise on Pinterest

TOFFEE APPLES! Oh Yum, Apart from the glorious color RED, they look so sticky and shiny, but above all, they remind me of being about 10 years old. It was always such a treat to have a toffee apple at the seaside or the local Fair.

Source: etsy.com via Denise on Pinterest

I’m a bit of a sucker for the combination of RED and PINK, so when I saw this watercolor on Etsy, I just had to add it to my collection.

If you would like more details of the goodies illustrated, just click on the ‘source link’ below each picture.

To see all my Pinterest boards, click on ‘Denise link’ below each image, or click hereand follow me!

Posted in Let's Be Creative!

DIY Shabby Chic White Frame For Wall Display Part 3



Adding a Little Extra How did you get on with renovating your frame? Love to know, do leave a comment if you have time! Anyway, at the end of PART TWO I mentioned that I wanted to do a little more work on the other frame I was ‘shabby chicing’, so here we go if you want to follow along.

Next coat of paint – White I think – I’ve used a basic Liquitex artists acrylic that I first sponged lightly on the frame, and then applied a little more with a small (1/4 inch) flat brush to give a stippling effect which adds more texture on the flatter sections of the frame. This soon dries and is ready to have it’s ‘splatter’ spots.  Mix a little of the first color that we used in Part Two, and with a dry hard brush, start splattering the paint onto the frame with your finger (practice a bit first on some paper). All you need to do now is add a little bees wax and buff to a soft sheen, or apply an acrylic mat varnish to give your finish some protection.  And there you have it – another shabby chic frame to add to your collection of empty frames to display on the wall!

Hope you have fun with your DIY Projects. If you REALLY haven’t the time to DIY, but would still like to collect some Shabby Chic Frames, then I am selling these pieces in my new ARTFIRE STORE, so go have a look!


Posted in Let's Be Creative!

DIY Shabby Chic White Frame For Wall Display Part 2

Are You Ready For Part 2 of our tutorial? Part 1 is here if you missed it


First of all, give your frame a good dust down and lightly sand the surface. Now is a good time to get the vacume cleaner out and give the frame and your work surface a big clean-up so that when you start painting, everything is dust free.



Undercoat – Start with an undercoat – I am using a white one for wood. When it is dry, apply the first color coat :

First Color

I prefer an Acrylic (water based) Mat Emulsion that is used for decorating, it is easy to find a huge range of colors in your local DIY Store. The two colors I am using, are left over from decorating my bathroom last month, I had them mixed at the store after choosing from the extensive number of shade cards there. Just be sure that you buy a MAT emulsion – NOT satin or gloss. Using water based paints also has the added advantage of being quick drying and less smelly!

Put  a few spoonfuls of the first color on your plate, dip your brush in the water and stir the paint around – perhaps do this twice – in other words, we are diluting the paint a LITTLE, but not too much.

Brush the paint onto your prepared frame with light strokes and cover all the surface, pushing the paint into all the little nooks and crannies if your frame is very ornate. Don’t worry if it looks a bit streaky, remember that this is the first coat.

Well, we are waiting for the paint to dry now! What are you going to do for the next couple of hours? Go shopping? Off to a Football Match? Work Out at the Gym (I prefer Yoga myself), or perhaps start preparing lunch or dinner – lots of food ideas in our ‘DELICIOUS’ section!


Second Color


OK – It’s 2 hours later! Let’s apply the second color – put some of your paint on the (clean) plate, diluted as before, by dipping your  (clean) brush in water a couple of times. Now, with your damp sponge (I buy a washing-up sponge and then cut it into 4 pieces), dip it into the diluted paint and very lightly tap the sponge onto your frame, highlighting the relief and the sides. Feel free here – don’t be afraid, let your spontinaeity show through – we are doing the ‘arty’ bit now!

What next? Your efforts probably look a little ‘thin’ and transparent, mine needs more depth, so with a small paint brush, start to paint over some of the highlights to give more emphasis to the relief. Respond to your work, does it need a bit more sponging now? Mine does, so that is what I’m going to do, but every piece of work is different – JUST RELAX & ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE. If you make a mistake don’t worry about it – you can always paint over and start again – but is it a mistake? Perhaps not, perhaps the ‘mistake’ is adding a new dimension to your work, so don’t be in too much of a hurry to paint things out – think about it for a while!

Now, I I’m going to finish there with this frame, it is so ornate I don’t think it needs anything else added paint wise and I love the ‘stone’ look that has evolved. SO – ‘LET THE PAINT DRY’!

Hope you had a nice lunch, did you football team win? Had a good workout? I hope you left that computer alone!




Just to finish off – you need to put some protection on your work of art! There are two ways of doing this, either with a final coat of Transparent Mat Polyurethane Varnish, or a nice Bees Wax Polish gives a lovely soft sheen and feel that is well worth the effort of all the elbow grease that is needed in all the polishing.

On the other frame I am doing at the same time, I’m going to add a little extra before the varnish or polish, but I’ll leave that for Part 3, so see you soon!

Posted in Let's Be Creative!

DIY Shabby Chic White Frame For Wall Display Part 1

I hate waste and I love a ‘Shabby Chic’ look, so I thought, let’s put the two together and make something SPECIAL!

As you might know, Martin and I make picture and photo frames in our little studio here in SW France and over the years we seem to have accumulated a stockpile of redundant moulding, some of which is quite startlingly elaborate. Surely I can do something with this, so I hauled out a few pieces that were lurking in the back of the garage, gave them a good dust down and gathered a few materials together to give a new lease of life to these long forgotten beauties.*

Would you like to follow along and have a go yourself at the same time? Obviously we have an advantage here of lots of old moulding hanging around, but if you take a stroll down to your local car boot/garage sales (called ‘brocante‘ here in France) this weekend, I am sure you will find a selection of old frames that are pleading with you to buy them and give them a makeover.

Are you up for it? OK, this is what you need:

1. Old frame
2. Vacume cleaner with little brush attachment.
3. Fine sandpaper (No.2)
4. Undercoat Paint. You will have to decide which type to use for the surface you are working on. I used one for wood.
5. Acrylic Mat Paint – I used the remains of the two colors I used for the bathroom I’ve just painted which as you will see are an ‘Off White’ and ‘Stone’ (color swatch below).
6. I did use a touch of Acrylic Artists Color (White) at the end for added enhancement, but this is not strickly necessary.
7. Bees Wax or Acrylic Mat Varnish.
8. Brushes + Old Plate + Water Jars + Old Knife + Wooden Blocks to put the frame on whilst working.
9. A packet of dish washing sponges.

*Yes, I know what you are thinking – The old stuff looks beautiful and I agree! We still make frames with this lovely moulding – contact me if you are interested – but be warned – they are our one of our most expensive styles!

See you later for part 2.