Thursday, August 3, 2017

Inspiration Part IV: FRANCE

Where does one even begin with France?! The architecture, the art, the fashion, food..... It seems that for centuries France has just gotten it right. They are known for their unbelievable wines and cuisine, beautiful interiors and gorgeous fashion houses. Even centuries ago, there were the rich tapestries that lined the walls of chateaux and manor houses; sumptuous silks and textiles that were being produced in Lyon, and soaring gothic cathedrals that spired above the cities and towns. They just know how to do things well and how to enjoy life- wonderful qualities that Europeans as a whole seem to master.

What's wonderful about French art and design is that is so easy to integrate into one's own home- whether it be through furniture, decor, food or the garden. There are endless sources for vintage and new French pieces. My introduction to livable French design was through the books of Charles Faudree, a fabulous interior designer known all over the world who was based in Tulsa, OK.

Faudree was a master at incorporating high and low pieces, comfortable and formal, clutter without being messy; all assembled with beautiful French precision and symmetry that created a look that was personal and livable and not at all staged or contrived. 

His books are available on Amazon and each one has it's own flavor, and each one as gorgeous as the others:

This was his first book and my all time favorite! (Amazon Stock Photo)
Another Favorite, "Details" I believe this may have been his fourth or fifth book
(Amazon Stock Photo)
This was the last book of Charles Faudree interiors that was written by Jenifer Jordan, after Charles Faudree passed away. Jordan is photographer that worked with Faudree on his previous books. (Amazon Stock Photo)

French art and interior design has had a profound effect on me personally as well as on my art. It was through the Charles Faudree designs that I fell in love with Trumeau Mirrors which are featured heavily in his books. This was my initial inspiration to create my own line of trumeaus (Click here) in conjunction with my paintings and eventually name my website and blog "Old World Reflections."
It was such a fun process designing the frames and working with a great carpenter and then seeing my vision of an updated 18th century inspired trumeau come to life! Of course nothing can touch the old ones- not only are they crazy expensive, but replicating the ornate carvings, the patinas and the large scale of those is not something that is easily accomplished : )

My "Chateau Trumeau" by candlelight

My Pagoda Trumeau with a grouping of small mirrors

A wonderful place I have found that explains French furniture styles throughout history, with pictures, is on Timothy Corrigan's site here:
Timothy Corrigan is an incredible American designer who is celebrated across the globe for his classical yet comfortable French designs. His book: "An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Lucé" follows his purchase and restoration of a lovely French chateau in the heart of the Loire Valley. His taste is so exquisite and his interiors are comfortable, elegant and not at all stiff or museum like. 

I have been to France only once but can't wait to go back and take in more of its beauty. The architecture is some of the prettiest in Europe- It ranges from elegant and imposing to humble and quaint. All of it is lovely.
Here are a few snaps form my 2007 trip to Paris and the Loire Valley. You can see the range of architectural styles:
Ultimate Paris Gothic beauty: Notre Dame Cathedral
Look at those spires and flying buttresses- so gorgeous!

From the incredible

Austere but beautiful- near the Latin Quarter in Paris

In the heart of Chateau Country! Slate roof and stone walls-
Chateau Chenonceau, Loire Valley
Notice the planters- Reproductions of these are being sold all over. Just look up Versailles planter and you will find a wide range of prices and styles.

Nothing says French Country kitchen more than copper pots with a beautiful patina. Above is the kitchen of the beautiful Chateau Chenonceau. The copper here is so gorgeous and shows the love and wear of centuries of use.
 If you have copper in your kitchen USE IT! Let it get dark - let it show wear. Otherwise give it to someone who loves to cook. Copper should always be used and loved, that's what it was made for. It always makes me sad to see a gleaming new kitchen with gleaming copper that is on display and just for show and has never come in contact with a stovetop.

The look of copper is such a classic look that can easily be attained on a budget. Anymore, when the stars are aligned, one can even find copper pieces at TJ Maxx or Tuesday Morning. A few pieces of copper, a dark wood vintage table, a terracotta pot of lavender or rosemary, maybe even a set of antlers- Voila! You have a French kitchen!

My favorite copper pot in the world. My own kitchen is a little small so I've taken to hanging my pots on the walls to have my cookware easily accessible and ready to use any moment. I try to polish my copper at least twice year. It gets pretty dark between polishings, but copper is so beautiful, I think it looks great at any patina level. 

When thinking of French Inspired art- think muted colors and gilt frames with beautiful carving.
Tapestries, which can be found almost anywhere now, are a sure way to achieve a French look- just beware of bright colors as they scream "New Reproduction Tapestry."
Look for soft greens and beiges, even better is to find a true vintage or antique piece from an antique shop: Here are a few examples in my search for Verdure Tapestry from Ebay:
 (Verdure refers to verdant/green subject matter found in classic French and Belgian tapestries)

Beautiful antique but with a price to match of $8,000!!

Really Pretty Reproduction with soft colors at a fraction of the cost-$200

Great Vintage French look at $80

Over the years I have had my best luck at Antique malls and have found lovely faded tapestry pieces for as little as $15!

One of my all time favorite chairs from my mother who adored tapestries as much as I do.
A pretty needlepoint piece can look beautiful along side tapestry.

Always love mixing colors and patterns!

In my painting below from my French show in 2013 I wanted to integrate a tapestry in the composition. I truly adore tapestries, whether they are pillows. hanging on the wall or on the back of a sofa- they are just magical.

This was from my French show at Gallery XII in 2013. 
One of my very first Trumeau mirrors- I love mixing the classical lines of the mirror 
with the rustic qualities of the antlers

Another view of works from the show

To write about all the inspirations from France I could go on and on forever but this was just a little touch on some of my favorite elements of French design and easy ways to integrate them into your own house, along with some of my favorite books. 

I will finish off with two last tidbits. The first is a link to the books from an author whose books I feel are the absolute pinnacle in encompassing gorgeous French interiors- 
Christine de Nicolay-Mazery.

 The second is my very basic and simple recipe for French roasted chicken. Serve this with roasted potatoes sprinkled with tarragon and some dijon musatrd on the side for dipping and a lovely Languedoc wine and you have brought a little bit of France into your heart and soul.

Thank you for following along!
Next time.....Chinoiserie!!!


The author I mentioned above is named
Christine de Nicolay-Mazery
Amazon Stock Photo
Here is the link to her author's page on Amazon:
Her books on French Interiors are truly feasts for the eyes, and supply an unending wealth of inspiration and opulence.

Now for Kitchen happiness:

For this little chicken I added orange slices for a little extra spark

Lovely French Inspired Roasted Chicken

3 lb. whole chicken- washed and patted dry
I small red onion (peeled and quartered)
3 T. butter (softened)
1 T. + 2 teas. salt
2 teas. garlic powder
½ teas. ground thyme
½ teas. ground sage

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (425 if your oven run warm)
After you have thoroughly washed and dried your chicken you will want to season the cavity. Sprinkle 1 T. of salt (it seems like a lot but it helps season from the inside out) and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder in the cavity. Next place your onion inside. Tie the drumsticks together with Butcher’s twine so they stay close and secure to the chicken.

Next mix the remaining garlic powder, thyme, sage and 1/2 teas. salt to the butter. Using your hands, rub the entire chicken with the herbed butter mixture (don’t forget the underside!) Next sprinkle the remaining salt over the entire chicken, (this will flavor the skin and make it crisp).
Place the chicken in a small roasting pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and place in the oven uncovered.

Cook the chicken for approximately 1 hour and ten minutes (until the thickest part of the meat reaches 180 degrees.) If your oven runs hot, check it after an hour.
After the chicken is done, place it on a cutting board, cover with foil and let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before carving. This is key to a moist chicken.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Inspiration Part III: Flowers


The only way I can quickly express my love for flowers is to simply say that they make me happy. Flower shops, the floral department in the grocery store, nurseries, gardens, etc.... even the faux floral department at a craft store- they are my happy places. 

I always look forward to that air of excitement in March when the world is beige and gray and I begin dreaming of the garden. Going to the nurseries, cleaning out the gardens, making room for the perennials that I hope and pray will make an appearance again, and making room for the splashy annuals that liven up the yard with their punchy colors.

Even though I know the terribly hot summer months of July and August are going to all but destroy my hard work accomplished in April and May, it's still worth it. There is something so therapeutic about tilling the soil and watching beautiful things grow.

One of my rose bushes in May 2016. This is always their best month when they burst into bloom.

I am not an expert gardener in any sense, in fact my garden is a tumble (my mother's wonderful word for a packed English cottage style garden). Mine is more of a mess, but I like "tumble" so we'll go with that. I try and try every year; I have some successes and many failures, but that's part of the fun. Three years ago I began planting David Austin English roses which are known for their many petals and heavenly fragrance. Much to my surprise, I seemed to have some luck and they grew and bloomed their hearts out for three years until last winter's wicked ice storm from out of nowhere whipped in and destroyed them....all. Try, try again. 

My Tumble in September

Luckily with our trusty little cameras handily built in to our phones we can snap away and still enjoy the prettiness, long after the flowers are gone.

My favorite way to enjoy flowers (especially roses) is to go out and snip them and bring them into the house for a punch of color. It is amazing how much they add!

Little bouquet of English roses and pin cushion flowers

THIS is a David Austin 'Carding Mill' Rose.....THIS is why I love David Austin roses....

This was one of my favorite bouquets ever. This was the last of the cuttings from my autumn garden before the first hard freeze the following day.

Once the rose season has peaked and gone, there is a bit of a lull and I start heading to the grocery store for their selection of very affordable bunches of a dozen roses. I can't tell you how they liven up the house- especially in the cold winter months when Christmas decorations are down and everything is gloomy. Simple and elegant, snipped at the end and tossed into a vase- they are such a happy spot of the day:

From the Grocery Store!

These roses are form the grocery store!! $8.00!! I threw in some artificial palm fronds for a little tropical zest.   A Week of Happy! $8!

When fresh flowers are not an option, it is amazing how wonderful artificial flowers have become!
Faux flowers from craft stores and even florist shops are getting better and better. Such a fun way to make a huge statement bouquet without worry about anything not lasting. This ivory and green bouquet I've had in my living room for two years now. 

For my last solo exhibit at the Gallery XII I decided to dedicate the entire body of work to flowers and title the show, "A Year of Flora." I have to say this was one of the most fun and rewarding shows I had worked on and I was so excited to finally have my painted garden on the wall and fully in bloom!

This exhibit led me to one of my all time favorite commissions of a bouquet of tulips:

Parrot Tulips in Progress in my studio, 2017

What I was struck by, during the exhibit and after, was the number of people who I spoke to who absolutely love and adore flowers. It was so sweet to think these beautiful things resonating with so many and that joy that I feel from flowers is felt by many kindred spirits. I love that. Something that is so simple and has no connection to modernity and technology bringing fulfillment to everyone. 💗

If you need a bright spot added to your day, I strongly encourage you to go to the florist or grocery store and treat yourself to a bouquet of something pretty. I can't tell you how nice it is to have something in a room of the house our out in the garden that no matter what your mood is, it makes you smile.  Put a little vase of flowers on your dining room table and have a sweet little summer supper complete with a candle. Flowers do the trick every time.

Thank you for Following along! Until Next Time!

For More Floral Happiness:

Just peruse the David Austin Website for the most swoon worthy roses:

ANY Carolyne Roehm Book!
If you are not familiar, Carolyne Roehm is most incredible gardener, florist & designer and she creates the most immaculate, lush gardens you have ever seen, which then become the beautiful bouquets you have ever seen! Her books are just lovely.
Here are a couple of favorites:

(Amazon Stock Photo) 

(Amazon Stock Photo) 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Inspiration Part II: Russian Splendors


As I wrote last time, I mentioned that for this post on inspiration I would write about Russia. Not in the context of today's terrible news cycle, but in terms of it's beauty and history and inspiring art and architecture. I am not Russian nor have I ever been to Russia, but ever since I was a little girl there was something about it that fascinated me. It seemed so exotic and old world, rich with culture and history. It always seemed to me like a wilder Europe with many extremes. There were rulers that varied from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great; and architecture that ranges from Neoclassical palaces to spires topped with exotic onion domes. I always loved the fairytales and folk stories that my mother read to me from the illustrated books that always filled the shelves. Throughout my life it has been an unexpected influence that has permeated my life in many ways.

(Amazon Stock Photo)

As a teenager I traveled with my parents to Dallas for the Catherine the Great exhibition which was absolutely breathtaking. Finally being able to see the gilded opulence of the Imperial carriage, and clothing and the beautiful enamel decorative arts for which Russian artisans are so short... it left a huge impression. Later on the mid-nineties I was able to see the Treasures of the Czars exhibit (twice) 😊 and again was so captivated by the decorative arts and the exquisite craftsmanship of all these treasures that had never before ventured out of their homeland.

My mother and I began collecting Matryoshka nesting dolls and Russian eggs about this time and loved the beautiful intricate patterns  hand painted on the outside. My mother Caroline, had the most gorgeous little breakfast nook which she transformed into a magical place filled with Russian nesting dolls, black lacquered boxes and dollhouses. It was a fairytale room, filled with late nights of her teaching me to draw and make little treasures that would go into her Russian and Bavarian inspired dollhouses.

A corner in my mother's breakfast room with part of her collection of Russian nesting dolls
 A few of my mother's incredible dollhouses

Russian egg display

My love of Russian arts and interiors has always stayed with me. in 2012 I had the opportunity to do a new solo exhibit and knew immediately I wanted to do a Russian inspired body of work. I think my recent purchase of  the book, "The Private World of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Berge" also played a roll in this, as there is a chapter on their gorgeous Russian Dacha (country house) that the two decorated that captures all the beauty and mystique of Russian art and architecture that I adore. As a lover of pattern and design, Russian colors and themes lent themselves perfectly for the borders that I always love to incorporate in my own work. The beautiful thing about Russian arts is their range of styles and how unique they are to the country. They range from simple lines of painted flowers found in wooden folk art to priceless jewels and enamel found in the Imperial treasures designed by Peter Carl Faberge in the 19th century for the aristocracy.

"Russian Snow Scene" from my exhibit, Russian Splendors in 2012

 "Ural Moon" 2012

Here is a link to the book! Private-World-Saint-Laurent-Pierre Berge

More paintings from my exhibit in 2012 

That same year, I had a friend who was going to be traveling to Russia and my friend Carolyn and I decided to host a Russian themed dinner party in her honor, which was so much fun to plan! The menu consisted of blinis with caviar, cucumber salad, stroganoff (we took a little leeway with this) vodka cocktails and fruit tarts.

One of my favorite parts in the planning was making the place cards.
(Our names were in Cryllic and were probably all wrong, but they were such fun to make!)


One of the quickest and easiest ways to find Russian inspiration either for a menu or interior is to peruse the website for the iconic restaurant, the Russian Tea Room in New York City. It is such a magical place and I am so happy its doors are still open!

Today it's easier than ever to incorporate Russian decorative arts in the house. With sources like Ebay, one has lacquer boxes, matryoshka dolls, icons, and Russian enamelware at their fingertips, and you don't have to wait for the next Catherine the Great exhibit to come to town!

If you love these things as much as I do you will have a wonderful time perusing these favorite books and sites that I have listed below. 
Thank you again for stopping in!
Beautiful Book On Faberge (Amazon Stock Photo)
Love this set of books by Lucy Maxym!!
Click here for Part 1
(Amazon Stock Photo)
Here for Part II  
Searches to follow on Ebay:

Russian silver or enamel:

Russian Lacquer:

Russian Lomonosov (Gorgeous blue and white porcelain tea and coffee services):

Russian Icon: