Archive for the ‘portfolio’ Category

Trompe L’oeil ornament

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I started posting last week because I actually had some new images of painting, but I got caught up in posting my personal travel pictures instead and almost forgot to throw in the work stuff.



This is a kitchen hood I painted for Studio One on Reisterstown Road. It is painted in the style of Habersham, (of which I am not much of an admirer, as I find the work lumpy and uncertain, as if they are trying to hide an imperfect understanding of classical form), but that’s what the client wanted, so who am I to snark except in the privacy of my own blog?

A little project for a spring day

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

I had the slightly unusual opportunity to marbleize some exterior columns at a Pikesville synagogue today. The client wanted a subtle enhancement of the new front entry for the building, which has been evolving over the past couple of years from a house into a community center and place for worship. Two winters ago Willy Richardson and I marbleized a set of interior columns in the community meeting room, then detailed the iron handrail with some metallic accents. Recently they added a new front facade, but it was all too monochrome and needed a bit of flair.

This morning was a beautiful warm spring day, perfect to spend outside.

I decided a simple limestone finish would complement the building without calling too much attention to itself, so began with a wash of grey-green-blue in parabolic curves to follow the round structure of the columns.

This was followed by a sponged wash of ivory to add texture, close the contrast range, and to neutralize the chroma of the first wash.

One of the advantages of the limestone choice is that it does not need a sheen, which lends itself well to the exterior usage. The construction is a little bit crude, and the finish will last better if it is allowed to breathe. A sealer coat is an invitation to delamination in the long run, if moisture gets under the film. It is also appropriate for use in front of that EIFS trowelled stone block background.


 Finally I recut the capital and base in a puce tone reminiscent of the anodized bronze vestibule. There will be bronze signage applied in the arch at some point, which will give it a nice rhythm of darks for the eye to follow. 

Subtle, stone-like and unprepossessing. Just like me.

Tomorrow I will touchup and enhance the marble just a bit, and recut the trim in a second coat, and be finished. Yay!

A trompe l’oeil medallion

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

We have spent the last week painting a condo in a highrise building in the Inner Harbor, and I have been so annoyed with how dismal, grey and cold the weather has been the whole time. I have been looking forward to spending lunch breaks on the waterfront and visiting my friend Glenn’s boat, The Mistress, where he lives in the marina outside the condo, but it has been blustery and yucky the whole time. I hate March. 


The project has been about half straight and half decorative painting, with us responsible for the undercoats to our blended sponge finish, and repainting the trim and ceiling to complete the paint package. All the walls are in a subtle beige sponge, which doesn’t photograph well, but maybe when the space is furnished I will try again. In the meantime, I have been working the last couple of days on this medallion in the vestibule. 

The sprinkler head is in an unfortunate place, and off center to boot, but nevertheless I am happy with the result.

I should have photographed the process, but did not take my camera to work yesterday. I started with a white octagon and pencilled in the circle to inpaint the beige background, then stencilled the medallion in quarters using a similar midtone beige. Shadows were painted in a darker brown latex, then the whole thing was glazed in a thin wash of raw umber artist’s oil paint in mineral spirits. Highlights were wiped back with a rag, then sharpened with titanium white oil and the shadows deepened with more raw umber oil. The frame is a blend of white and umber, glazed yesterday, then sharpened today with additional crisp striping. 







The best vantage point is from laying on the floor, but I am not sure how the clients will get their guests to properly enjoy it. maybe a great big divan sprawled in front of the door….

When I go back tomorrow to install the switchplates I might polish back those darkest shadows on the left side of the medallion. Since they are in oil they ought to still move a bit. Looking at photos allows one to be a bit more objective. Or, maybe the flash pushes the contrast a bit. I’ll see.

A Distressed Floor

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Its a snowy blustery day today and the whole east coast stayed home, I think. I should make myself useful and post some pictures. 

This staircase leads to an odd little guest room above a garage.

The finish is crackled and scraped, then toned, drybrushed and overglazed to get a soft and consistent antiquing. It took altogether too much struggle to get what we wanted, but in the end everybody was happy with the result. Thanks to Jen Towne for her perseverance in pushing this through.

The trim is also crackled and in the powder room a faux encaustic pattern adds to the effect of the tiled walls.

Faux Encaustic Finish

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Just wanted to show you this picture.

It’s one of the cooler finishes we’ve done recently, again for Susan Major at The Hestia Group. We call it a faux encaustic because it reminds us of encaustic wax painting, which is a process of applying translucent layers of hot wax to a surface and then scraping and otherwise manipulating the result. The scraping part is similar, although the material is conventional latex paint, diluted then daubed on with a brush and moved around with a rubber window squeegee. Try it at home!

Cement based finishes

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Yesterday I had the opportunity to revisit a project that we completed last summer in northern Baltimore County where we applied a marmorino-style finish using a burnished two coat cement system with integral pigment. It was a beautiful use of honed texture set into a custom timber frame structure designed by Susan Major of The Hestia Group. 

The space is really good looking, and I am sorry my photos don’t quite capture the subtle richness of the marmorino texture. It has a soft organic quality that is truly unique, and counterpoints the natural wood tones and the clean furnishings very nicely.

artist Becky Seigmund applying the first skim coat.

The cement is tinted with dry pigments, mixed in batches, and trowelled on in two layers. The first layer creates a coarse sand-coat finish, and the second layer is applied over that, with the material trowelled deep into the grit of the first coat. The pressure of the trowel forces the softer paste to rise to the surface, where it can be burnished as it dries. This creates a soft sheen to the material, which we enhance with protective a coat of wax and a final polish with a soft rag.

You can see the texture a little more clearly in this photo of the master bathroom

It’s Not All Bunnies

Monday, February 16th, 2009

When I figure out how to add things to the web site proper, I am definitely going to install these photos. I am thrilled to have some high-styled contemporary work in our portfolio.

Photography: C. Geoff Hodgdon for Studio Santalla
Photography: C. Geoff Hodgdon for Studio Santalla


We painted this project for Studio Santalla for the 2006 Washington, DC Design Center Showhouse that they keep in the basement (sounds nefarious, but it isn’t, really.) I had a recent meeting with them regarding a new project, and they gave me these images to use. Ernesto Santalla has a very streamlined and contemporary aesthetic, and you can see that he approaches interior design from the point of view of his original training as an architect. He is also very interested in the holistic application of design to human living in a broader way, and integrates art, photography, and graphic design into his work.

Photography: C. Geoff Hodgdon for Studio Santalla
Photography: C. Geoff Hodgdon for Studio Santalla


We had a very interesting conversation regarding green finishes, for instance, did you know that the LEED program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) does not currently concern itself with “cradle to grave” issues involving the relative environmental impact of materials or process choices? I was a bit disappointed to learn this, but we have to start somewhere. (I digress, and we will talk about this another time.) The real point is that Ernesto and I share similar concerns about the environmental impact of our industry and we hope to work together on future projects that address these issues. 

This particular project comes out somewhere in the middle, environmentally. The cool floating slab that arcs across the room is finished in a venetian plaster, which is composed entirely of natural materials – basically chalk, marble dust and water, and has about the best coolness:toxicity ratios available. It is set against a background of stippled oil glazing to create a subtle limestone quality (also cool, but solvent-stinky.) 

Photography: C. Geoff Hodgdon for Studio Santalla
Photography: C. Geoff Hodgdon for Studio Santalla