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Friday, July 30, 2010

Plein Air Painting: Taking Your Paints Outside

Last week I was gifted with a ‘plein air’ watercolor workshop given by Lynn Onley. Plein air painting is a familiar concept today, but in the late 1800s when the Impressionists ventured out of their studios into nature to investigate and capture the effects of sunlight and different times of days on a subject, it was quite revolutionary. We met at Porteau Cove, which is situated overlooking Howe Sound, 38 km north of Vancouver on the Sea-to-Sky Highway on the way to Whistler. Interestingly, I learnt that an old ship has been sunk in the bay, so as well as attracting outdoor enthusiasts, scuba divers and marine biologists come here to explore  the depths of the ocean. A pebble beach slopes gently into Howe Sound in Porteau Cove. On summer days when the tide is low and the sun high, the warm rocks heat the incoming waters, making swimming here a pleasure. Lynn Onley who gave the workshop, is the daughter of Toni Onley, one of Canada’s most celebrated artists. His landscapes have always provided a special significance for Canadians in reviving an appreciation for our surroundings. Lynn Onley following in her father’s footsteps is an accomplished artist herself. I felt very privileged, and excited to have the opportunity to learn the art of watercolor from Lynn Onley as passed down to her from her celebrated father Toni Onley.

 Lynn Onley Porteau Cove 2010  
The view of the scene I painted with instruction from Lynn Onley
Lynn Onley Porteau Cove 2010
Lynn Onley painting Plein Air in Porteau Cove using her father, Toni Onley’s paint box

Lynn Onley painting Plein Air in Porteau Cove using her father, Toni Onley’s paint box and his wood and canvas folding chair.  The first step is to lay in the color washes for the sky, and while still wet take tissue and blot to make the clouds.  The next step is to paint in the mountains, using the ‘soup’ as Lynn calls it, which is the remaining mixture from the sky as the base to add the next colors to.  Lynn showed us how to mix Alizarin Crimson with Sepia, to tone it down, to paint in the slab-like chunks of red granite showing in the mountains.

 Lynn Onley Porteau Cove 2010 
Lynn Onley demonstrates watercolors techniques

Then Lynn added in the ocean, and next the shore, and then trees.  At this point you can continue to add more detail, or take the painting home to finish.  I had to leave at this point with my water color still needing more work.  I took it with me on my trip to Desolation sound and added in more detail, working from memory and being further inspired by the colors and light in the more northern atmosphere of Desolation Sound – Desolation Sound is at the 52nd Parallel, while Porteau Cove is at the 49th Parallel.  Thanks Lynn for the inspiring day!!

Porteau Cove 2010 Patricia Gray 
My finished watercolor of Porteau Cove after a morning of instruction from Lynn Onley.
11” x 15” on 140 lb watercolor paper , Windsor Newton paints

A pebble beach slopes gently into Howe Sound. It was low tide so the green moss on the rocks usually below the water line was showing.  We started painting at 10:00 AM, and the sky, cloud formations, and shadows on the water were constantly changing as the sun and tide line changed.

Porteau Cove 2010
The dock at Porteau Cove.

Porteau Cove 2010
The granite mountains above Porteau Cove on the highway to Whistler.

 Porteau Cove 2010Porteau Cove 2010

These pictures are of the beautiful tree I sat under while painting at Porteau Cove.  I took these pictures as inspiration – possibly for my next water color.

Van Gogh, in a letter to his brother, claims to
“devour nature ceaselessly,”
and finds himself  
“in surroundings which entirely engross me,
which so order, fix, regulate, renew and enlarge my thoughts
that I am quite wrapped up in them.” 

Toni Onley Toni Onley

Toni Onley 1928 – 2004, one of Canada’s most celebrated artists, painting Plein Air.

Porteau Cove 2010
Map of Porteau Cove

Patricia Gray Inc is an award winning Interior Design firm  in Vancouver, Canada who blogs about Lifestyle and WHAT'S HOT  in the world of Interior Design.
2010 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™

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they're cool. (of course).

k. dub is at it again. and i'm not talking about kendra wilkinson. it's the (wo)man, the myth, the legend. kwid. we all know she teamed up with sferra to produce ridiculously cool linens and bedding for those who appreciate style. well, here is a little preview of her fall collection. her inspiration appears to be none other than laguna beach; how genius. these great neutrals will go well with any decor. can you tell i'm talking myself into a purchase? jolene.

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Copy Cat?

This first image is one I pulled years ago of an old French window turned mirror hanging above a sofa as a diptych art piece. (Sorry that I don't know the designer, photographer or magazine! Anyone?) If you know me at all, then you know I am obsessed with circles! So I was going to have my carpenter recreate this concept in a client's home. Then I came across a similar mirror from Arteriors Home, a to-the-trade resource. I am not certain that they were inspired from this but I imagine so because their product came out about a year or so after this magazine feature. Interesting!

If you are interested in this piece, email me for pricing at

Happy Friday!
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Photographer - Ditte Isager

Much admired Danish New York-based photographer Ditte Isager now has a blog. She has been posting her beautiful commercial photographic work, which includes interiors, lifestyle, personalities and travel.
I like the soft tones of the elegant interiors that Ditte has taken above - soft grey along with black/off white and shots of soft pink and turquoise. Lovely.
Photograghs via Ditte Isager.
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Emily's Fav!

Emily sent me over to check out her favorite designer's portfolio - you must take a look at the work of Tom Scheerer! It was chock-full of beautiful and inspiring images, and I also happen to love how it was organized - city, country, beach, commercial.

While there are many many portfolios out there that I love to browse and most contain stunning images, I seldom find one that is full of designs with out of the ordinary and unique ideas.

Not completely unheard of, but I don't see floating beds often. I'm really liking all the varying texture and furnishing styles in the first image with the twin bed, and the second room seems like an extremely relaxing and airy place to sleep...something about sleeping in the middle of a room seems freeing to me!

How about all those circular rugs? Quite unexpected, and I like!

{All images via Tom Scheerer Inc}

Don't you love Scheerer's inventive designs? It's refreshing to see spaces that are playful and creative, yet elegant and timeless. Definitely a FUN portfolio to peruse!


Okay, this is Emily now.. I just had to weigh in on this posting dedicated to Mr. Scheerer since I adore his work. (thank you Saara for writing this post!)

Dear Tom,

I love the way you so seamlessly maneuver between so many different design styles; urban to country to your set-point-style, island...

I love how you have so much fun playing with design elements to truly create something captivating to look at.

I love that when I discovered your website, I realized that I probably had 20+ of your rooms already stored away in my design binders.

I love your clean style that somehow always feels completely liveable.

And lastly, I love your color combinations and how you almost always incorporate something playfully unexpected in every room.

Thank you for the design porn as Joe and Kim over at Desire to Inspire like to say:)

Love, Emily
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studo bon.

studio bon is a textile company created by artistic painter, bonnee. who is named after her grandmother. and get this, her grandmother was also an artist. how lovely is that? she creates hand-printed, custom fabrics that are just perfect for any designer who likes to design with beautiful, unique patterns and bright colors. here are a couple of sample fabrics i am loving from her collections. keep in mind, she also does custom work. jolene.

birds on a wire. loving the lime green color. delicious.

this wavy fabric pattern is called richter. you know, after the richter scale. the scale that qualifies the amount of seismic activity in an earthquake. barf. i hate earthquakes. though, i don't hate this fabric because of them. let's not get too silly.

the pink color above and yellow below go great together. (mental note).

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Admiring...Hotel Azucar, Veracruz

Okay - it is the middle of winter and life has been pretty busy so it's just natural to dream about a relaxing hot holiday somewhere away from here, isn't it? Here's the gorgeous Hotel Azucar in Veracruz, Mexico. Just plonk me here and I'd be a happy chappie.
Photographs via Hotel Azucar.
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more honey sweetness.

on this post, i blogged about the wonderful designs of honey interiors. it is one of my favorite blogs and favorite found websites. well, guess what. she has a shop. close to us. it is called house of honey. how freaking adorable is that?! here are a couple snapshots of her goods. jolene.

exterior...loving the swooping gold chains in the front window. how clever and very unexpected.

colorful jewelry is the easiest way to accessorize. we typically have something in our drawers we can keep out to add that final touch to any coffee table. or mannequin.

my favorite color? blue. how did she know.

um...these are gold plates. nuff said. and why haven't we been here yet?

these side chairs remind me of amanda. maybe she has pulled them for a past project?

a shot of the interior. must. go. inside. soon.
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