Friday, July 28, 2017

Risky Business

"Do one thing every day that scares you"
Oh, that's some lofty advice. When I worked at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, we sold that on magnets AND bumper stickers. It's the advice of rich women. I'm sorry, can I be bitchy just a bit? Maybe, maybe not, but the truth is, adventuring out into the great unknown, be it backpacking through Europe on a gap year, or branching out from the safe and saleable havens of one's wheelhouse, is a leisure of the securely situated set. I am very much not securely situated.
        Risks are scary as hell when failure is a good slice of your weekly income; you want to advance the ball, a challenge sounds sexy as hell, but at the cost of the electricity bill? That's a 3am Fret, a fine art I inherited from my mother, but rather think I've refined.
         A 3am Fret is essentially a sleep sucking banshee, it dwells in the shadows, patiently counting the hours until a hapless victim gets up to pee at 3am, thereby gaining the level of vivid lonely consciousness it requires to ruin any otherwise pleasant night's rest.
        The poppy cabinet was my most recent 3am Fret. You'd think I'd given it enough fretting during the daytime, worrying over how the hell to fix it's battered feet (I ended up adding new ones entirely!), and how on earth I could make it lovely- low and squat as it was. I've wanted to paint big bold flowers on a case piece for ages, but it's such a personal design, would it sell? And where's the balance between following my heart on these pieces, and making a living. Ya'll can't imagine how much I angst over stupid shit.
        After five hours of sleepless niggling from my 3am Fret, I gave in, got up, and developed a plan. Big flowers- HUUUUUUUUUGE flowers. As with all my hand painted projects, I started by fully finishing the piece. The case is in Benjamin Moore's Chatsworth Cream. The interior solid mahogany drawers are chalk paint, cause what the hell, if we're having fun, let's have ALL the fun. I sanded and stained the mahogany top, and then got to planning.
        I'm not creative, and particularly inventive, so my first step was googling "Big flowers". That let nowhere, as did many other searches. I looked for maybe an hour total, allowing the search to be a sporadic pause between sanding and painting other projects. Finally I found the perfect source material. I won't mislead you, I'm nowhere near an actual artist with actual skill. I need to hard eyeball someone else's masterpiece in order to jot this business onto a cabinet. Riom's c.1890 lithograph, Etudes De Fleurs was entirely perfect. Riom probably has a first name, but despite my googling I couldn't find it.
So here's the inspiration artwork:
After I was done furnituring last night I sat with my notebook and tried to translate the artwork to the actual piece:

The rough sketch completed, I spent a wonderful night second guessing myself, and I finally committed the I started penciling in the design:

Then I set to work with acrylic craft paint, filling in the sketch on the stained top and painted front, holding my breath essentially the entire time.
I love how it turned out. Every time I've walked by it, it's caught my eye. Probably a risk worth taking?


  1. Dawn cadwell7/28/2017

    Stunningly gorgeous. What was the piece originally? Roughly can I ask how much a piece such as this goes for.

  2. I love it! This piece would work anywhere. Stop 2nd guessing yourself & go with the flow of your creative thoughts (easy for me to say, I know). If I lived closer I would buy every piece you had for sale whether I had room for it or not! Keep up the good work, you are amazing!

  3. This is so gorgeous!! You certainly are creative and inventive even though you may not feel like it. I'd love to try something like this on a chest of drawers I own.

  4. Oh my gosh this is beautiful! I love the work that you do and the voice you give your blog! I check your blog everyday to see if you have posted something wonderful. I really appreciate that you note the angst you go through during your creative process. You have inspired me to restore a few pieces and know that I have options if what I planned doesn't work at first try.

  5. This is lovely, and you are right, doing scary stuff is easier when you have less to lose. This, is gorgeous though, and different enough that I bet it sells in a flash.

  6. So talented! Love, love, love this one!

  7. Amazing! It is a beauty. Hope you can get some sleep now. ;)