« March 2011 | Main | May 2011 »

6 posts from April 2011

April 06, 2011

A Very American Mural

Lucianna Samu

It's easy to get ahead of yourself on a big painting project.  Practically, our haste to hurry up and get some color on a wall can get the best of us.  A more disciplined and methodical approach comes with experience.  In time we all learn our lessons, discovering it makes little sense to lean a ladder against a freshly painted wall to reach an unpainted ceiling.  So we start with the prep and at the top (the ceiling) and follow the tried and true approach.  All the while, the colors are calling.  I am as guilty of wanting the immediate color gratification as anyone.

Here at the farm, the painters are caulking and spackling, sanding, dusting and cleaning, and covering stuff up.  Andy is busy with the ceilings.  The crew is clearly experienced, and I’m finding it hard to stay on task . . .  So I've called upon the expertise of my friend and talented artist, Esmond Lyons, to help me make some colorful mural magic in a far off corner of the house.


I borrowed my idea for a hidden corner of color pizazz from the queen of color herself--Mother Nature.  Here at The Peabody Farm, there exists a wild flower meadow, hidden by the slope of the land, close to the river.  The meadow isn't obvious unless you take a good long walk.  But the cacophony of color that welcomes all who come upon it takes your breath away.  With some planning, every house can have a destination that feels like a hidden meadow.  Part surprise, part reward, embellishing the places in a house you pass through regularly will definitely improve your mood.  More importantly, these are the places in any home where bold or kooky or unexpectedly colorful departures always look fabulous.


With this concept in mind, Esmond has begun to lavish my far away hall with an original mural design.  Best of all, since my whistling painters are working downstairs, I've found the perfect solution to get some color happening without disrupting the process.


It's almost a curiosity to me that no one ever saw fit to grace the house with a trim detail, a fine coat of paint, or a fancy balustrade in over 200 years.  At the same time, nowhere in the house, am I reminded of it's age and history, more than at the staircase.  The plainness of the railing is almost confounding in it's sturdiness, and I'm constantly reminded of how many hands relied on this simple piece of wood.  So much a study in utilitarian carpentry, I've come to appreciate its simplicity and consider it a telling account of how more modern design sensibilities sometimes make a muddle of the obvious: let's just get up there--safely!


I mention the stair because I feel it contributes to the excitement of what Esmond and I are creating.  It's not at all what you'd expect to find in an out of the way back hall.

Both surprise and reward, it is an Esmond Lyons original and my color moment.


Esmond and I agreed the paint colors for the mural should be true to the palette I will soon be using for the rest of the house.  Neither of us anticipated that all the colors would translate so effortlessly into the design.  The mural is shaping up to be a fairly honest interpretation of Thomas Cole with a
teeny Zuber spin plus a dash of my favorite itinerant muralist, Rufus Porter.  If you've been wondering when I will reveal the completed color palette for my whole house transformation to you, even I'm a little surprised to discover that . . . here it is!



It's rewarding to see the palette in its entirety rendered so beautifully.  It's a wonder I haven't distracted Esmond from his work entirely, with my non-stop questions about his process.  I'll share all the behind the scenes tips Esmond has taught me these past few days because Esmond believes "mural making" can be for everyone.  Since I can't even draw a stick figure, I'm keen to learn how following just a few simple concepts can unleash the artist in all of us!

Stay colorful,


Esmond Lyons

Thomas Cole

Rufus Porter