In the spirit of celebrating everything that is Art, I would love to introduce you to Ann Onusko of All things paint an plaster. Ann is one of those lovely ladies whose touch transforms mundane things into beautiful art - be it an unloved piece of furniture or a patch of dirt. I stumbled upon her blog a few weeks back and just fell in love with the fact that all of her posts clearly reflect who she is and what she loves. The blog is written from a gardener/faux finisher point of view. You will see images that seem to be unrelated and at the same time define an idea behind her creation (see here and here). It is a fantastic opportunity for people like myself who are in awe of what goes on in an Artist’s mind. For the interior designers in the bunch, as well as architecture buffs, I guarantee you all will enjoy spending hours perusing her posts looking at a wall, a piece of furniture, a pediment thru the eyes of an artist.
I am the second oldest of sixteen children and was raised in a very loving, active environment. As one of many children, I had to learn very young to speak up and be direct if you wanted to be heard at all! Consequently, I am a rather straightforward person, although I admire those who can wax poetic, as the saying goes.
After graduating with a BSRN degree from St. Louis University, I worked as a home care RN on and off for ten years while I was beginning to raise my three children. I fell in love with gardening during the times I was home with my children and spent their nap time hours outside tending the flowers and vegetables. Eventually I began drying the flowers and creating arrangements and wreaths. I went to work in a flower shop and moved on to working for a special events decorator who opened up a whole new world for me. As the need for creating props increased, I began to study faux finishes and decorative painting all over the country. I couldn’t get enough! I now plaster and paint with my own company, Great Lakes Decorative Arts Studio and do freelance container gardening and other special projects.
My blog is All things paint and plaster….
The Shiny Pebble: How do you define your style?
In my home, eclectic and European. In my dress, more traditional, although it is hard to say as I am usually dressed down for painting and gardening. In my beliefs, rather liberal.
TSP: What inspires you?
Excellent design, others with a passion for what they do and love, creativity, colors, textures and scents.
TSP: What designer or life experience has influenced your design aesthetics?
In the painting world, Raphael and Michaelangelo. In the modern times, I love Mark Rothko and Marcia Meyers. There are so many “unknown” painters in our contemporary world who I have met through online forums and conventions, and I have the utmost respect for them.
In the design world, I very much admire John Saladino and Axel Vervoordt.
As far as gardening and flowers go, I was inspired by two books: Earth on Her Hands and The American Woman’s Garden. Both demonstrated to me that a woman can do anything she sets her mind to do.
TSP: Where is your go to source?
Books: from one of the best libraries in the country, the Cleveland Public Library in downtown Cleveland. It has a huge Arts and Garden section and it is very rare not find what I am looking for there. Of course, magazines and the internet also.
These sources allow me to find the professional painting products and flower and herb vendors with the most unusual offerings. I prefer to do what others are not doing!
My decorative painting projects range from lots of furniture finishes and cabinet re-dos to custom commercial applications, such as two large Art Deco screens, office and studio backdrops and finishes and two Italian domes with eight columns (see it here). While I enjoy most types of finishes, I prefer the more modern, contemporary finish. Gilding is also a favorite.
When working with a client, the key is to discover exactly what they are looking for. Often, they are not able to actually define that, but through visuals, such as photos, samples, botanicals, etc., we determine together which direction I should take. I will then create samples until we nail down the finish. It is very much a road to travel together. And, of course, changes often need to be made as I am working on site.
This first photo is a replication of a 1924 Art Deco screen by Edgar Brandt:
Here are a few before and after photos of various projects:
This gold painted and peeling mirror was re-finished to coordinate with the client’s more contemporary décor:
This hutch went from a 1960’s paint finish to a French gray:
This fireplace was in need of major repair, so the client decided to lighten the look and remove the gray overtones:
The cement floor in this studio was awful, as you can see. I repaired and refinished it with water-based products that will stand up to the abuse that it will receive. It lightened the whole area:
This office had been painted a lime green that needed updating. It is now a shimmery, off white metallic that can be scrubbed and is accented with an eggplant gray:
Last, but not least, this is my French Indochine finish. It was inspired by a client’s Pierre Frey pillow that she wanted to use in her powder room. I have done it two ways: the middle photo shows a topaz Venetian plaster background with a shimmery orchid metallic used to fill in the Chinoiserie design. The far right photo shows a different shimmery amethyst background with a topaz Venetian plaster filling in the design:
Thank you, Catherine, for this opportunity to explain a little of what a decorative painter does!
I absolutely adore her French Indochine work and would love to have a whole room covered in this finish! And now, because I am so jealous of her green thumb, I will leave you with a few fabulous garden pictures from Ann’s bountiful Eden…