Something New for a Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

This just may be the year to try something new.

For instance, if cleaning clutter and starting with fresh palette in your home is an objective, then find ways to use old things, like using old catalogs to make decorative Christmas trees that you can give as gifts for next year. Check off list early — Christmas gifts for next year are already done and catalogs gone. Cheers!

Christmas catalog tree on Art Is EverywhereYou can also recycle using Freecycle, where one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Post what you don’t want, leave it outside your house and chances are, someone will answer the call and pick up as theirs to claim.

Combat Art

Thinking this fitting of Veteran’s Day, I found two recent mentions to describe the art of war as combat art.

This mural was painted by “The detainees [near the province of Umm Qasr in Iraq] painted all of the murals in the compounds and a significant majority of the murals outside,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth King, commander of the 306th Military Police Battalion.

Sgt. Rob Bingham, “D” Company, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, sits in front of his favorite piece at the Theatre Interment Facility at Camp Bucca [before the facility is dismantled].

detainee mural on from homepage of United States Army, on Art Is Everywhere

Detainee mural on from homepage of United States Army

Another inspiration was this article about Sgt. Kristopher Battles (no pun in his name intended but very coincidental), a Marine combat artist in the New York Times.

18maines-span-articleLarge via NY Times, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Marine Sgt. Battles Sketches during training. Photo by Jim Wilson, NY Times

The objective of his mission is this, “We’re not here to do poster art or recruiting posters,” Sergeant Battles, 42, said. “What we are sent to do is to go to the experience, see what is really there and document it — as artists.”

This is an interesting story to show that the grim nature and essence of the feeling of war is best captured in sketches. Note too that there is multi-media going on here. As Sgt. Battles sketches the scene above, he’s being photographed by another artistic eye to capture the moment. Sketches tend to embody movement and immediacy, whereas photos stop the motion and capture that particular moment in time without often a before and after context. Sketches can show multiple scenes on one page that flow from one another and sense of place, time and light can all be artistically interpreted and enhanced. In photography, this can only be done after the fact in Photoshop perhaps. It’s just interesting to me to see the same scenario captured differently just by virtue of different artistic media as well as individual artistic portrayals.

IronSgt1 by Kristopher Battles via his Sketchpad Warrior blog, seen on Art Is Everywhere

Iron Sgt1 by Kristopher Battles via his Sketchpad Warrior blog

Iron+Sgt+Storyboard by Kristopher Battles via his Sketchpad Warrior blog, on ArtIsEverywhere

Iron+Sgt+Storyboard by Kristopher Battles via his Sketchpad Warrior blog

The article describes “The program is not the only one of its kind in the United States military, but many regard it as the one most deeply committed to its artistic mission. Like those in the other services, it began after the attack on Pearl Harbor and scaled back after Vietnam. Somewhat unusually, however, it has kept at least one artist in the reserves ready to deploy. And while most of the services have reactivated their art programs since the start of the Bush administration’s “global war on terror,” the Marine Corps’s has been the only one to cover most of the major conflicts.”

I remember when the stepfather of the wife of our good friend passed away, my husband, Peter, was asked to peruse many of his books. Peter Braestrup was a well known journalist who was a military correspondent during the Vietnam War and upon returning he founded The Wilson Quarterly. My Peter found this provocative sketchbook of war scenes done during the Vietnam War and often at the scenes of battles and imprisonment. The sketches were hauntingly real. I referred to this book when I did military sketches for The Military Order of the World Wars Officer Review Magazine back in 1999. I’m glad to see the magazine and the organization is still going strong; although my editor is no longer in charge. I enjoyed that gig because of the research and learning involved. I spent hours going through old 1960’s Time Magazines for photo references. It was my job to put illustrations to submitted stories by military war veterans. Not an easy task but I enjoy a challenge, sometimes.

All this makes me think of the incredible sacrifices that our military makes and not only them but their wives and their children and families. Veterans Day is worth keeping them in your thoughts and prayers with gratitude, good wishes and godspeed.

As we’re going to Sewanee today to see our son and experience another class’ reunion for Homecoming, I can’t help but think of The Smith’s to bridge the gap of wartime thoughts and good 80’s music to Kick Start the Weekend, definitely starting early for us. Since I cannot embed this video for How Soon is Now, one of my favorites by the Smiths, click the link. Interestingly, as I was searching for this, I ran across Radiohead’s cover of The Smith’s The Headmaster Ritual.

I also think of U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Atelier Oi’s Art Forms

After all of my interior design oriented posts last week, I thought I’d feature this picture on the cover of Interior Design Magazine. They describe it as “art forms,” which I agree but it also looks to me like a three-dimensional, hanging-from-the-ceiling mural that is fully integrated and actually “makes” the entire fantasy space. I find this enchanting. There’s more to the story here. This looks like such a happy place that I’m fully expecting fairies to go filtering across. I love the play with proportion.

InteriorDesignMag-cover as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Here are more designs by the Switzerland firm Atelier Oi and their new headquarters in La Neuveville.

v301070_958_480_319-23_Stylepark, as seen on Art is Everywhere

Moitel, Atelier Oi's headquarters. Photos courtesy Stylepark

Atelier Oi team_Stylepark, as seen on Art is Everywhere

Atelier Oi team via Stylepark

Dress your body building in Cormondrèche; on Art Is Everywhere

Dress your body building in Cormondrèche; photo by Yves André via Stylepark

Look how different this building can look depending on the lighting and the angle.

Dress your body building at night via Stylepark, as seen on ArtIsEverywhere

Dress your body building at night via Stylepark

More fabulous lighting fixtures.

Les Danseuses on Stylepark, as seen on ArtIsEverywhere

Les Danseuses on Stylepark

And when winter is upon us, just think of this shade umbrella.

atelier-oi-pavallion_via, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Atelier Oi Pavallion via

Before I get blown away by more of their designs, let’s get back to murals. There is a hanging mural contest going on by Condé Systems.  Click here for the details with chances to win an iPad and $200 – $100 in Condé Systems account credit.

Rainbow Wood

When I saw this picture of striped, rainbow-colored, wooden bowls in my April issue of House Beautiful magazine, I was immediately reminded that I have a similarly designed coffee spoon that I use everyday, thanks to Aunt Sue. I never really thought of it artistically but its design is just that and a woodcraft artisan must have made it. Again, art and design, in this case functional art, combined. That’s my philosophy and I’m sticking with it. How lovely these rainbow-wood designs are. Now I’d like to get the bowls. They are found at ($6 for a 3″ bowl). It’s rather interesting to discover that there is a Williamsburg connection to this store. My older son, Piers, goes to UVA, a rival school to William & Mary in Williamsburg. Recalling the family trip we took there, I’ve always thought this town was charming; however, Piers just couldn’t get the Colonial reenactors out of his mind when applying there. For all you foodies out there, I just clicked on this link to learn they have a Julia Child scented candle. I can help but find this funny. Hmmm, might be better to say, Julia Child inspired candle, don’t you think? OK that reminds me, I need to see the movie, Julia & Julia. Even my husband has seen it before me. Well, I might add he was on a flight to Copenhagen, so what else was there to do?

Rainbow Wooden Bowls_ House Beautiful_ArtIsEverywhere blog.jpg

rainbow-spoon_artiseverywhere_blog1. photo by C. Ashley Spencer

rainbow-spoon_artiseverywhere_blog2. photo by c. ashley spencer

Citronelle & Food Art

Did I mention that my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary once at Citronelle? Yes, but I never posted this when we had our special Leap Year celebration, which happens every four years in addition to our regular anniversary. We were married the French way — civil service (on Leap Year) with a Church Blessing* later (in April). As it just so happens, Citronelle, with all its glorious food-art was featured in my March issue of Veranda magazine. Here are Michael Richard’s exquisite culinary compositions below. That meal and City Zen, recently, both rank high on our list of memorable, albeit expensive, occasions. If I had only known that Jackson Pollock soup was on the menu at Citronelle, that would have been even more perfect.

Michael Richard Culinary Arts1_Veranda_ArtIsEveywhere_blog.jpg

Michael Richard Culinary Arts2_Veranda_ArtIsEveywhere_blog.jpg

Michael Richard Culinary Arts3_Veranda_ArtIsEveywhere_blog.jpg

Michael Richard Culinary Arts4_Veranda_ArtIsEveywhere_blog.jpg

Michael Richard Culinary Arts5_Veranda_ArtIsEveywhere_blog.jpg

Michael Richard Culinary Arts6_Veranda_ArtIsEveywhere_blog.jpg

As I’m writing this post, I ran across another blog called Eat Me Daily. (No, not what you may be thinking.) It’s a blog on food and culture with a bit of tongue and cheek twist. I so enjoyed it and these Old King Cole Murals by Guido d’Aquili below, that I’ve added it to my Blogroll. Love the humor, wit and data. For instance, if you’re looking for a bacon-caramel filled, chocolate Easter egg, they will tell you where to find it.

Here are all of their posts on Food Art, if you want to quench your desire for more.

Old King Cole Mural by Guido d\'Aquili via Eat Me Daily

* Finally, I just finished the book Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert for my book group. I’m just bringing this up because marriage is important to me and I’ve just mentioned my wedding anniversary. I’d recommend the book because of her thought provoking approach and the research she did in order to understand why people wed and the importance of marriage. Also, I think her style of writing is wonderful, just as she is a dynamic speaker (previous post). Although, I’ll be the first to say, I don’t like her “me”ism and proselytizing political rants. Therein, I give it a “C” for it’s self-directed nature and conveniently omitted factual information regarding marriage (there is no bibliography by the way). However, I appreciate the fact that she wanted to learn more about marriage because she was “forced” into it for the sake of maintaining her relationship with Felipe, her Brazilian love interest whom she met at the end of Eat, Pray, Love (be on the look out for the movie with Julia Roberts). And, I liked Committed better than her previous best seller. I’ll give it an “A” for her quest for discovery, as this is what the artist inherently does — delve into their subject — and I appreciate her effort, most of her delivery and the fact that her book was insightful on an informational level.

Interior Combination

I was so excited to see this photo below in Traditional Home’s March issue. I had written about David Trubridge’s Geometric Spheres before and I was happy to see them being used as lighting fixtures in Barry Dixon’s latest Greenspace, interior design project. It was a design show house that took place in McLean, VA that I didn’t get a chance to see, so I’m really glad to read about it here. I’m always struck by ways art can combine with design, for I think the two are integrable. This is a good example. Look how David Trubridge’s light fixture stands out in Dixon’s décor as a central, almost sculptural art piece.

traditional-home_greenspace. Interior Design by Barry Dixon

traditional-home_greenspace. Interior Design by Barry Dixon

traditional-home_greenspace. Interior Design by Barry Dixon

I’ve written about Barry Dixon’s designs before and on Slipcovers for Your Walls, as he’s been one of my favorite interior designers, along with a few others that I follow.

Since today is my birthday, I thought I’d post one more nice looking art and design example that we might see everyday but overlook in magazine ads. This is one nice shirt! 🙂

Artistic Tile Shirt. Art Is Everywhere blog

I’m going to eat my birthday cake with a Spoon (by Cibo Matto) to Kick-Start your weekend.

This snowman that my husband built, maybe the last of the season, looks like she’s dancing!

Peter\'s Snowman. Photo by Peter Spencer

Historic Decor for the Season

I was impressed with what the designers created for the diplomacy rooms at the historic Blair House. Six life style, “shelter” magazines were called on for their help to design holiday themes for these estate rooms and then execute the decoration in a very short time span. Despite this being very tough times for the Design Industry, they pulled out all the stops. Martha Stewart, among others was there, snapping her own pictures, probably for her blog. A reception was then hosted by the State Department for government employees serving in dangerous locations oversees. Here are some pictures of the lovely outcomes. Link to read more in the article, Esprit Decor by Jura Konicus.

Martha Stewart. Photo by Susan Biddle for Washington Post

Mother Earth Design in Jackson Room. Photo by Susan Biddle, WP

Barry Dixon for Trad. Home. Lee Dining Rm. Photo by Susan Biddle, WP

I just recently wrote about a design lecture that I attended in which Barry Dixon was one of the speakers, on Slipcovers for your Walls (casart blog for casart coverings). I really like this sophisticated yet sedate table setting that was used. The gift box is a perfect complement.

Place Setting in Lee Dining Room. Photo by Susan Biddle, WP

Inspecting Martha Stewart Gingerbread House. Photo Susan Biddle, WP

Martha Stewart Living design. Photo by Susan Biddle, Washington Post

Martha Stewart Living design. Photo by Susan Biddle, Washington Post

The bird ornaments were inspired and designed from printed photo scans of the elements in the wallpaper. Since I’m into the wallpaper business I thought this was a great idea.

Traditional holiday decor from years gone by, designed by This Old House below.

This Old House design Truman Study. Photo Susan Biddle, Wash. Post

Hilary Rodham Clinton greets State Department kids and their families.

State Department Reception. Photo by Susan Biddle, Washington Post


I am sure there is a lot of art in Lexington, but we were only there briefly and passing through to really discover it and take it in. However, I really like this blue horse painting on the cover of the Lexington, KY Visitor Planning Guide 2009.

blue-horse-lexington-guide. Painting by Edward Troye

And these horse sculptures greeted us as we entered the city.

Lexington horse sculptures. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

On the drive to Danville, we went by our son Jackson’s friend’s house — very cool, edgy and artsy. You’d never know it was a residence from the outside.

jacksons-friends-house0052b. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

As we were driving to Danville we saw some interesting scenes. I just had to capture this image of the two old gentlemen driving in their old Cadillac — kinda iconographic and not for Kentucky. I liked the dichotomy of what it could represent.

driving-in-ky. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

We also saw hex signs painted on barns. I like their graphic nature and their symbolism is interesting.

ky-hexsign. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

The Hand

The hand is versatile instrument not only for gesture, waiving goodbye for instance but also for artistic element.

AT&T Tulip Hands Ad

AT&T Moose Hand Ad

I was surprised to find these in my Bon Apetit magazine, which I acquired after Domino went defunct. Great magazine, by the way. We’ve already made Thai Seafood Chowder and it was excellent.

I’m wondering if these hands were painted by Guido Daniele. I first found his incredible painted hand artwork on Lost at E Minor.

Guido Daniele. Hand painted Eagle.

We had to say goodbye to our marketing folks, which has been a long time coming but a necessary and stressful business decision. Time to wave goodbye, wish everyone well and move forward.

Good news, however, my sister is handling our marketing and has quite a talent for it. Already we’ve been mentioned in My Favorite Things blog and have had write ups in the Times Picayune and their Wish Supplement. We’ve also just been named one of the winners of the Leading Moms in Business Competition through StartUp Nation (see info in the sidebar). Can’t help but be positive about this! (Here’s our media page for more information.)

Here’s a video that seems appropriate to kick start the weekend: Burden in My Hand by Soundgarden.


I didn’t know this technique had a name but it’s called églomisé. It’s the process of removing and/or painting over the silvering from the back of a mirror to produce a print, figurative patterning and or simulating an aging process. I was struck by the coral prints on these mirrors used by interior designer Amanda Nesbit in the Ocean 3 Showhouse, featured in Traditional Home’s March issue. They come from Soicher Marin but I wish I knew more. I really like the colors she used as well. That hint of pink is a nice softening touch that just seems to marry these lime, beige and purple colors perfectly.

eglomise-nesbit-trad-home March 2009

Oh, by the way, I write on my mag clips because I use these to put into binders for business reference. I show these to my clients to help to spark ideas. I call these binders my “idea books” and I bring the appropriate ones with me to every client meeting. They are extremely helpful to all parties in the design process.

business-binders-books-of-ideas by C. Ashley Spencer

Here’s an example of some églomisé that I’ve done and have had on my website. The mirror is aged so is protected with a sealant rather than really shiny.

Aged Mirror by C. Ashley Spencer

Aged Mirror Detail by C. Ashley Spencer

I wanted to get back to painting some new designs last week but I’ve been stuck in a mental rut due to some unforeseen stress. I’ve done a few but need to get back on it pronto. This advice on Breaking Out of a Creative Rut by Ali Edwards was helpful. It helped to confirm some of what I was already doing to get back on track: don’t think about it too much, get away from it, be inspired, read magazines, etc. I was able to produce two more designs for casart coverings in the past couple of days. Just @ 14 to go.

Oh, and here’s our latest video — an interview with Eddie Ross. You’ll have to turn up the volume, however. The tile guy right next door to us decided to start his demo during our interview. Some things you just can’t control.

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