Friday, 20 December 2013

Wishing Tree for 2014

To all our customers, colleagues, and friends. Thank you for all your business, support and encouragement this year. We wish everyone of you a restful, loving and happy time this Christmas, and very much look forward to an exciting prosperous 2014 and sharing it with you.

With love and a little 'nudge' to make at least one magic wish for your new year!



Please note: the Studio will be closed for the festivities, and we will be back from the 3rd of January..... Happy Holidays!

Monday, 9 December 2013

A recent commission: an example of fusing art and design ...

I'm often asked about my way of working and so I thought I share the process around a private commission for a roller blind 'mural' (2.20m x 4.5m) I've just finished and feel very happy about with you here. 

Below is the final artwork that has gone off to the printers. As you will see, the creative process was a long and happy journey in close collaboration with my clients, an art and design loving family of five (two young boys and a teenage boy).

Their East London ground floor living room is open plan and faces a walled patio yard. The side of the room that faces the yard has floor to ceiling windows and includes a patio door. 

When we started talking about the commission the couple loved the idea of me creating a narrative across a 'wall' of roller blinds that would in effect be a functional artwork. They gave me a loose brief to be creative and playful around the idea of reversing the perspective of outside and inside so that the blinds would create the illusion of the viewer being outdoors. 

The backyard is at the moment a construction site, as the family is in the midst of building a wonderful (and quite elaborate) 'tree house' on one of the walls. It's very much an urban space and I took it as my starting point when I put together a series of images from my portfolio that were intended for the clients to give me some feedback on what they liked. 

In dividing the blinds I was guided by the thought that I wanted  to create a series of images that linked with each other, but also stood alone - should the family move, they could potentially take them with them and use them independently. We discussed a few options and finally settled on four blinds that match the structure of the facade - window sections and patio door. Three of the blinds are equally wide, the fourth, the patio door element, is a little narrower.

Above is my first sketch, which includes my large signature Femme flower, but we decided that was too overpowering in the context of the living room, despite the double exposure of the landscape behind.

Then I brought in a bicycle (with my love of bikes and theirs as a family) but that was too real and not what they wanted, as their bikes are actually sitting in the yard. The idea of a door in front of the patio door worked for all of us. But while my clients loved the look of the door, to me it felt too closed (a full stop); it needed a different personality that resonated with them as a family. 

Things started to come together with the image of the open door (below) that I had taken on one of my travels. The chicken that is hovering around the entrance and the ladder leading up into a tree as a playful reference to the family's affinity to tree houses resonated with the family's sense of humour. I liked the French window to the left of the door and my clients liked the idea of mixing some kind of wall with greenery - but they felt uncomfortable with the French window, which, they said, looked too stern for them. 

The cut out pot plant between door and ladder above was a suggestion, as I experimented with pot plants to connect the images, but this one lost its energy once it was meticulously cut out from its background. So I decided instead to include this wonderful money tree in all its splendour (below)... everyone needs one of these in their space right? But it wouldn't sit well right next to the door. I felt I needed to place it in the grass so that it became part of the image not just a photo-shopped add on!

Whilst I was visiting the client one summer day, as I was still looking for images that would take the emerging story to the left, I kept having my eye diverted a beautiful yellow wagtail that had made a nest in the backyard. I instantly knew we had to feature her as the family bird hidden in the shrubbery. On that day I didn't bring my camera so I asked my clients to catch the yellow wagtail for me and when they sent me the images I browsed my portfolio for sunny garden walls that fit the purpose and became the two left blinds. Below is a close up of the section where I have made her perch on some leaves keeping an eye out for the chicken near the doorway :-)

This kind of digital 'stitching' together of images can give great results if it is well done, but as my little story about the chicken in the doorway illustrates, it is actually a lot of work. So, take a look at the chicken below ...

 ... it's actually a rooster ... looking strong and healthy, wouldn't you say? 

But since I originally photographed him standing in a meadow, his feet were hidden, and so I went on a mission to get the right feet for him ... which was no easy task, as they had to look right and sit well on the floor too ... (we experimented with other chicken images but discarded all of them - no other chicken had quite the right 'expression') ... and of course, it needed a new shadow too that matched the lighting of the background and its size. Then, once the feet and the shadow were in place, I still felt something was not quite right: the belly was tinged slightly green as a reflection of the grass!

Finally, all that was to be done was to clean up the edges of the four images and to adjust the colours so the blinds would sit nicely together and each have a finished look to them. 

The artwork has now been printed and looks fabulous ...

... but it may take a while before the images are made into blinds and get up on the windows, as the couple doesn't want them to get damaged from the ins and outs of the construction work in their backyard. So I will post some images later, once the blinds are installed and the tree house is built ;-) 

In summary, the project was a lot of work but I have very much enjoyed it and thumbs up to my clients for their openness and enthusiasm!

Best wishes and have a lovely week!