April 3, 2012

Renovations… Part II

Yesterday I started talking about the renovations I have done to my new apartment.  It is slowly coming up to 5 months since obtaining the key to this place.  During that time, I have done a lot of work on my own (well, with a little help from a couple of friends), but basically, all the work has been done by myself, during my ‘free’ time.

As you may or may not be aware, I don’t really have a lot of free time.  I teach classes, travel between the locations, plan my lessons for these classes, and sleep.  Any other time is free time.  I do spend about 2 or 3 hours a day on Facebook though.

Back to yesterday’s entry.  I had discussed the main paint work that had been completed prior to my moving in here.  Now that all my ‘stuff’ is in the apartment, it’s a bit of a juggling act to continue and finish the work.

I wanted the dining room to be unique, as with the rest of the apartment.  I thought about many ideas of what to do with the walls.  At the time, they were white, with a band of burgundy and the top and bottom a forest green.  The white was just too stark to leave alone.  I needed something to look interesting.

I remembered when I was in elementary school, we did an art project that I figured I could try.  Water colour paintings.  On a piece of paper, we covered the paper with water.  Then dabbed water colours on the paper, and the paint would spread around the paper.  So, why not.  The worst that would happen was that the paintings would look like crap, and I would have wasted a bit of time.

The first few pages of paintings were done in exactly the way described above.  Then I had a brainfart (my father’s saying).  Why not create the ‘painting’ on the table, and place the paper on top of the creation, thus transferring the design to the paper, rather than creating the design on the paper.

It worked.  For the most part, it was actually a lot nicer.  A friend of mine from Japan, living in Kaohsiung, paid me a visit.  I don’t really know whether Takashi enjoyed a day of arts and crafts, but he helped with the creations.  The supplies we used were:  water, paper, water colours, and paintbrushes.  Simple enough.  By the time we finished and went for dinner, we had created over 30 paintings between us.

The inspiration for this idea came from an image on the internet.

Water colour inspiration

This artwork was created with glass and metal.  As this would be WAY to heavy to hang on the wall, and the fact that I just don’t have access to these kinds of materials, I had to improvise.  I wanted to use the supplies I already had, or could obtain easily (and cheaply), and make it LOOK incredible.

Once all the paintings were dried completely, I laminated all the pages.  Then, with Gary’s help via Skype, decided on which paintings would be used.

I purchased some balsa wood strips, painted them black, and used them as ‘frames’ around the pictures.  The pictures were, in some cases, cut into various sizes and shapes.  This was to give the final design a more varied look.  Creating these pictures was fun and messy.  Took me back to my childhood.

The first idea was to use all the pictures available.  However, it began to look ‘cluttered’.  So, I decided to condense the design, and make it look more artistic and appealing.  This is the final look:

The next thing I wanted to do with this room (dining room) was to change the lighting.  The existing light was a bare fluorescent tube fixture.  Looked more like something you’d see in a staircase.  It had to go.  The light was bright enough for the room, just not appealing.  Since the rest of the room was being redesigned, it meant that the light also had to be changed.

I took out the old fixture, and created a new lighting system.  The ‘shade’ for the new fixture is made of balsa wood framing and crepe paper.  I also added in a second fixture to give a double lighting system over the table.  It is an original piece of work created by me.  It did take a while to figure out how to cut the pieces of balsa wood to make the frame look unique, but eventually I got the look I wanted.  Here it is:

Rather than leave the underside open or very plain, I decided to weave pieces of crepe paper into the pattern you see.  This view is what you would see, if you were sitting at the table.

The final bit of decorating, which really isn’t quite finished yet, was to spruce up the opposite wall in the dining room.  It is the smaller of the two walls, but since it had no artwork, seemed very blah.  Several ideas were tossed around, such as placing larger pieces of water colour print, similar to the first wall.  However, as much as it was fun to create these pieces again, it just didn’t seem to be what I wanted.

In conversations with Gary, we started looking over various images off the internet of famous artists works.  Gary likes Picasso and Dali.  As I do admire these artists as well, the pieces we were looking at, seemed a bit beyond my capability of being to reproduce.  Then, we stumbled upon Henri Matisse.

In his earlier works, Matisse was much like other artists, painting people.  These works tended to be detailed, a lot of colour, and for me, not able to be reproduced.  In his later years, he did create a series of blue works.  These pieces were very, very basic.  They are nonetheless, very iconic.  As soon as I saw the first piece, I decided that’s what I wanted to reproduce.

The first step was to download the picture, and blow it up to a size large enough for the spaces they would occupy.  Print off the picture, and cut out the ‘blue’ pieces, thus creating a stencil.  Tape the stencil to the wall, and sponge the paint on the stencil.  Remove the stencil, touch up, and, voila!  The only thing left, is to create a frame around each picture.


Part III will follow later.


That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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