Tag Archives: decorating

Design Principle – Scale & Dominance

Scale and dominance are about the relationship and ratio between parts within the design. Scale can draw attention to the focal point of a design, which should be the dominant feature or motif. We hear the term focal point a lot when people talk about interior decoration. Scale naturally pairs with Shape, but acts on all the Elements.

On a web page the focal point might be the Call the Action with the words “Click Here” being in a large or bolder font. The question to ask is “where do you want your viewer’s or reader’s attention to go?”

Changes in scale can create the sense of depth. Scale works interestingly with color, where the smallest amount can be the most visible focal point. Dominance can be asserted through point of view and framing.

Scale expressing ideas

Scale expressing ideas

Scale acts on Texture to change it enormously. Texture magnified changes to shape. Scale has to do with filling space comfortably and with balance also. Think of furniture in a room. We recently changed our living room furniture because it was so large that it made the space feel crowded.

Scale is a function of distance – the distance of the viewer from the object.

People speak of the scale of a production in theater – that the set concept fits the space and the gravitas of the script. Spectacle is large scale – epic and thrilling; character drama is intimate and engaging.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Sparking Creativity by Playing With Scale

Layer and overlap shapes in different sizes for a design.

Look at fractals, where the amount of complexity stays the same regardless of how much the original is magnified.

Fractal

photo credit: SantaRosa OLD SKOOL via photopin cc

Imagine how a small piece, sculpture or painting might work if it were tripled in size. What about if it were miniaturized?

Words – change the size of individual words for emphasis as you journal or make quotation posters.

Scale in music – not musical scales – but the idea that some parts might be louder, more grand or that in an orchestra different instruments dominate the melody line at different times.

 

 

 

 

Changing Seasons

New Spring Bulbs and Wildflowers

New Spring Bulbs and Wildflowers

Spring has come upon us suddenly here in Southern California. Many places further North still have snow. Meanwhile back in Australia, people are starting to mention cooler weather in their Facebook feeds.

Seasons’ change always gives me a burst of different energy. Going into fall then winter, because for me it’s the holidays, are always full of new creativity. There are things to make and do, my daughter’s birthday in October, and cards to reconnect with people. I was moving this year and didn’t get to send any handmade cards. The holidays felt a little off kilter because of that.

Now that it is Spring, the energy of renewal is everywhere. People are talking of gardening and cooking. I have started itching to write, itching to make some new dolls and itching started get on a couple of projects that have been percolating inside my mind over the winter.

I try to enjoy the moment, but some future planning must be done. Just like planning a garden, the expectation in starting projects now, is that they will come to fruition later in the summer. I have travel plans, convention plans, entertaining plans, and publication deadlines.

I’m excited. I just want to make stuff!

How can you use the change in seasons to inspire creativity?

  • When seasons change, nature is busy. It’s a great time to take those re-energizing walks we like and look out and around.
  • Change your home environment. Some people change all their drapes, pillows and even artwork. Perhaps you will like to change the layout of your furniture to take advantage of the window instead of the fireplace, or move your writing station to a different part of the house.
  • Re-organize your inspirational pin board if you have one. When something visual is left to sit, it can start being ignored. What can you remove from your board that is not relevant? Are there different connections that weren’t obvious in the middle of winter? Maybe some of the ideas there have already been expressed and can be retired.
  • Food, food, food. The warmth of chowders is ready to give way to fruity smoothies and aqua frescas in the northern hemisphere, while the last of the summer fruit salads will soon be replaced by stews and roasts as winter comes. The change of seasons when so many magazines and bloggers start publishing new recipes is a good time to try something new.
  • Resolutions are not just for New Year’s Day. Chances are your resolutions have already suffered. What if you consider your resolutions to be quarterly affairs based around the seasons instead? Personally I think it is easier to start something new when the whole of nature is bursting with energy than in the very dark of winter when it is man-made calendars that define the new beginning.

Holiday grab bag

Christmas Elf with Curly Toes

Christmas Elf with curly toes

Last week I gave you an elf figure – here’s another for you to use in your collages or card making.

If you want some holiday inspiration, there is a ton on Pinterest. Here is my Holiday Decor and Crafts board with links to 174 different projects, printables or ideas. A search of Pinterest will give you endless hours of surfing for creative inspiration.

A year ago I was writing for Natural Life Magazine. My column was Crafting for a Greener World, and I had a few columns related to the holidays. Last year I published this tutorial for a tree topper angel or caroling figure. You can also find a bunch of ideas for eco-friendly gift wrap in another article, and some crafty gift ideas of DIY craft kits.

Here’s my tutorial for one of my favorite holiday projects. This is how I use up all of last year’s received cards, and make evermore ornaments for my holiday tree. Now that we have a house, I see more than one tree in our future, so more ornaments will help.

Over on the ScraPerfect blog you will find many beautiful ideas for holiday cards, scrapbook layouts and crafting. One of my favorite tutorials ever is for my vintage-image transferred Family Tree Ornaments. I won’t be making more this year (thanks to moving) but I absolutely intend to go hog wild next year with my stash of vintage images for ornaments.

Vintage Image Ornament

Vintage Image Ornament

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. We’ll be back in the new year with The Principles of Design, how to find your gateway art form, and more ideas for igniting and expressing your creativity. Much love to you and your family.

Aesthetic Preference – Shabby Chic

Lois Crowley Heritage layout

Lois Crowley Heritage Layout

I’m talking about Shabby Chic this week, because it follows on so sweetly from Romantic Country Cottage.

The term was coined, and trademarked, by textile artist and interior designer Rachel Ashwell. The style in home decor is characterized by a lot of whitewashing and very pale pastels. The accessories, textiles, and furniture are usually old or look old with intentional distressing. The watchword is Texture.

Hallmarks of shabby chic style include using glamorous and luxurious elements like gorgeous chandeliers in casual settings, and layering folk art elements like quilts and lace tablecloths.

There are two ways to achieve the worn and distressed look on furniture or other items. The most effective, in my opinion, is to sand back the paint at the edges, high spots, and places where “wear” would naturally occur. Using a nice wax based colored polish will add patina.

The other way is to add paint in a rough, even sloppy, way so that the underlayers show through. The best way to achieve that is to use crackle paint finishes, which are designed to shrink as they dry and reveal the underlayers as if they were aged in the sun and rain over decades.

Shabby chic designs include laces, textures, and frayed edges. Printed and stenciled texts remind us of old flour sacks or tea chests. Chalkboard – black with white lettering – is another recently popular element. Empty picture frames, sometimes stacked, suggest the idea of incompleteness.

A shabby garden would have more white flowers, and wild flowers, rusty metal elements, old bathtubs filled with shrubs, lavender (again) and peonies. Clothing would include antique and Victorian lace blouses, tulle layers, granny boots and textured tights (roll on winter). I think faded velvet shawls too.

To me fairy tales sometimes feel shabby chic – the cottage in the forest that is run down and filled with old books, the strange old castle with wrought iron fencing.

Here’s how I described it in my shabby chic treasury:

Simple, aged, distressed, neutral colors & pale, weathered, folk. Old lace. Connection, history, folk tales, burlap, farm house, sheers. Timeworn. Miss Haversham. “To Kill a Mockingbird”. “Picnic at Hanging Rock”.

To this I would add pale lilac, mint green, robin’s egg blue, blush. Wabi-sabi all over again.

Quail Eggs in a dish

Quail Eggs in a dish

Ways to Bring the Shabby

It’s popular because it’s easy.

One way to add shabby chic elements to your decor is to paint vintage or old things – tins, hooks, wood boxes, candlesticks, ornate picture frames – with white or pastel paint and sand the edges. The paint color adds a unifying aspect.

Another is to bleach floral prints and incorporate plain muslins, lace, crochet in cream string, doilies, and many layers of sheers as the textile elements – drapes, table cloths, pillows and slipcovers.

Include vintage and aged garden accessories – especially urns, wire frames from topiary work, and baskets.

Add nostalgic and memory elements – like hanging a vintage baby’s christening robe on a twisted wire hanger among a bunch of silk hydrangeas. Use old pewter and tarnished silver cups and jugs. Mercury glass.

Bring architectural elements, carvings and castings, that might normally be on the exteriors inside.

Shabby looks great in company with industrial, mid-century modern, or minimalism, and loves Beach Cottage style too. However, in my opinion, it doesn’t work as well with Traditional – since it either looks like you aren’t done refinishing the rest of the furniture, or that you have a bunch of old stuff that needs refurbishing. In a house full of very Traditional furniture, I would stick to a few pillows, and small items.

There are a lot of scrapbookers using shabby chic style in their layouts. It works especially well with a touch of glam – silver beads, tiny rhinestones, pearls and old buttons.

Family Ancestors mini-album

Family Ancestors mini-album

Because it is all about the white, it is also a very popular wedding theme.

Plus it’s a great way to affectionately showcase beloved heirlooms.

Carved old mirror

Carved old mirror

 

Please visit my Shabby Chic Aestheric Preference Pinterest Board to see more examples. Do you love it? 

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Aesthetic Preferences

Beautiful Roses

Blushing roses

I have come up with the concept of “Aesthetic Preferences” to mean people’s taste and the kind of home decor, literature, clothing, visual arts and performing arts that lifts their spirits, makes them feel comfortable and beautiful, and ignites their creativity. Essentially it is the style they prefer.

I was developing these as a path to understanding the kind of look and aesthetic my prospective scrapbooking clients might want for their layouts.

I started listing them and came up with about 20, but I think there will be more. Some the really visible or prevalent ones popular today include Shabby Chic, Steampunk, and Modernist. Others include Traditional, French Country, Cottage, Prim, Mid-Century Retro, Craftsman, Shaker, Tribal, Beach and Asian.

One place where I have been able to illustrate them has been on Etsy through treasuries. These are a nice way to support other handmade artists, promote my own shop, and gather visual material together. Please visit my Treasuries Page to see them. I started numbering them, so I think I’ll visit them here over time in the same order.

Aesthetic preferences are a continuum, sliding from one to the next in eclectic moments.

Just as nobody likes only one kind of cuisine,  as far as I can tell, nobody likes only one aesthetic style. People will respond positively to more than one, and most likely they will be influenced by how “well realized” the style may be. But people’s preferences change with time, with personal maturity, with lifestyle changes, even with fashion.

As a film and theater designer I often had to work with multiple aesthetic styles to reflect the characters, sets, locations. Scripts and plays would be part of an aesthetic, that informed the design. But why should you concern yourself with defining your own aesthetic preferences?

  • Exploring images always inspired my creative thinking. You too can be inspired just by researching.

  • Discovering your own Aesthetic Preferences can help your creativity by giving definition to your plans. If you want to make something for yourself or your home, you have a starting point.

  • Understanding other people’s aesthetic preferences will help you when you want to make or buy something for them. It can also help you define your target market if you are in business.

  • Possibly examining your aesthetic preference could lead you to finding your creative blocks or fears. Do you find some aesthetic overwhelming, or too hard to realize? Do you fear that you will be judged for your preferences or taste?

  • Examining aesthetic preferences can give you a clear idea of what you don’t like, in the quest for deciding – and expressing – what you do like.

  • As we move forward with different AP’s, think about the fundamentals of each one, to discover the principles and criteria that define the AP – then they can be applied to your other work, other media.

Aesthetic Preference #1 – Romantic Country Cottage.

Here’s the description from the treasury page – I don’t think I can top it:

 Mix cabbage roses, liberty prints & chintz. Tea in cups. Favorite author: immortal Jane Austen, but also some Tolkein, Wodehouse, Shaw. Miss Marple, not Poirot. Old Merchant/Ivory before Helena BC went all Tim Burton. Cold Comfort Farm. Herbs & lavender.

Think of toile printed fabric – there’s that Jane Austen again – and old leather bound journals too, lace collars and irish linen with sprigs embroidered. Little House bonnets and pinafores. Hollie Hobbie takes it linear.

Cottage garden

Cottage Garden at Stop Street

Core Concept: Nostalgia.

At one end Romantic Country Cottage sits next to charming Chinoiserie with painted turquoise tea cups or  blue and white china, at the other it creeps towards Art Nouveau and looks over the hedge at Craftsman. Bleach the chintz (lessen the contrast) and it fades to Shabby Chic.

One of the aspects of this that sets it apart from the much newer aesthetic neighbor, Shabby Chic, is brighter color and greater tonal range – more contrasts. The idea is to choose related prints in close color ways but in different scales to create variation in texture. Simpler two tone textures, like stripes or ticking, create rests for the eye. The colors featured are usually pastels mixed with gelato brights, but with some darker shades of the core colors. There will often be a sense of depth.

I think I’ll start a Pinterest Board devoted to each preference as I mention it. (Please visit and repin)

As far as scrapbooking, there is so much very pretty vintage look floral paper, so many borders, embellishments and pearl button stickers, that it’s actually very easy to achieve. Most people tend to want to take it distressed, and that’s perfectly fine. Make it masculine with earth tones and navy blue, add ticking stripes and more of that brown leather. “A River Runs Through It” to Americana.

Chintz pattern Tea Set

Chintz pattern Tea Set

Is this your favorite style? Do you love overstuffed sofas in chintz with mismatched throwpillows, and walking through an overgrown wildflower garden wearing a big hat and thinking of Marianne Dashwood? Sweet teacakes on a floral platter, and butternut squash soup in a tureen.

And pretty aprons!

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