Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Inspiration Board

I received a few requests to compile together on one board images representing the artists highlighted so far in the palette series. Unfortunately this version shows up a bit microscopic, but you can click the picture to enlarge. (You'll catch two duplicates that slipped in as I put the puzzle together.) The mix is random and the artists' portraits aren't necessarily placed next to their work. Included are:

Zuzka Vaclavik
Patricia van Essche
Karen Revis
Virginia Johnson
Amanda Talley
Heather Leigh Young
Hayley Gaberlavage
Elise Toups
Anne Harwell
Victoria Molinelli
Dana Gibson

(For detailed credits, click here. By the way, I didn't crop Karen's face; her portrait was photographed that way.)

Here's a link to the video of the day. Andy Spade on Designing Minds. I just revisited it earlier this afternoon.

Recycling Textiles

Matisse was a passionate textile collector and Windsor Smith seems to nab interesting pieces when she can, too. I don't want to spoil the fun for all the House Beautiful subscribers who haven't yet received the September issue, so I won't post any more pictures from the story on Windsor's house, but one thing to look out for is her use of amazing vintage Indian and Moroccan fabrics as upholstery (specifically she used a bedspread to cover a classic Chippendale-style sofa). Presumably, no one else has a sofa that looks just like hers.

Whether online or at brick-and-mortar antique shops, it's always a challenge to hunt for older textiles that are still in good enough condition to be used as upholstery. Although they are located across the ocean in England, I enjoy browsing Anglo-Oriental Antiques and Joss Graham, just to get ideas. Marla Mallett is a local source. (A word of caution: many collectors would consider the rarest antique offerings to be too precious for upholstery.) Below, one of dealer Mallett's Swat Valley cushion covers from Pakistan, done with silk embroidery on cotton.

Shown at the top of this post, more early-20th-century tribal textiles from Pakistan used as pillows at Anglo-Oriental Antiques.

I found this tie-dyed fabric, described as vintage Japanese, on Etsy.

Schuyler Samperton used sari panels as curtains. Photo by Paul Costello, domino, April 2007.

Anthropologie's Marrakech curtain is similar to the bedspread Windsor used to cover her sofa.

Related reading: Matisse, His Art and His Textiles. See also the Met's exhibition page.

Click here for past Marrakech-related posts. (Keep scrolling down for Windsor's earlier living room.) Shown above is a still from the Andy Spade and Anthony Sperduti short film for J Crew, The Exchange.


Artists' Palettes: Dana Gibson

Virginian Dana Gibson says that if she had the extra space -- preferably high ceilings in an old building -- she would put a sofa in her studio, drape it with a dhurrie (heavy flat-woven cotton or wool cloth) and set up a still life as Matisse did when he painted.

A ceramist and designer known for her decorative tole wastebaskets, pillows, textile-inspired picture frames and other accessories, Dana is currently in a studio space that she describes as rather clinical -- white sheetrock walls, linoleum floor -- but she insists on splashes of color and warmer accents to make it familiar and homey.

She says, "One thing I know is there has to be something attractive to look at when I’m working, whether it’s a painted cabinet or a pretty tin of paint brushes." (Shown above are cups recycled as containers for majolica paints.)

Her natural instinct to make a studio cozy is not surprising; decorating legend Nancy Lancaster was a great aunt of Dana’s. (Below, Derry Moore's photo of Lancaster's iconic yellow room as seen in Elle Decor.)

And illustrator Charles Dana Gibson was Dana's great grandfather.

First two images are via Matisse, His Art and His Textiles. All others are shown with permission from the artist, as is the case for each palette blog post. BTW: Mrs. Blandings writes about Dana Gibson here.

To read all of the artists' palettes posts, click here and scroll down.

Art Appreciation

[The September 2009 issue of House Beautiful features several homes with terrific displays of art. In Windsor Smith's "Pink Room" she really mixes it up, adding more eclectic groupings than we've seen her do in the past. It's a must see. Shown here, one sneak peek detail from Victoria Pearson's gorgeous photographs.]

One of my professors used to enjoy asking abstract questions, like, "If someone paints a picture and no one else ever sees it, is it art?"

I don't think everyone will ever agree on the answer, but personally I'm always fascinated by kids' and teens' responses. In May, the Gumtree Museum of Art in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi presented a scholarship competition for teen students based upon a portfolio presentation and a two page written essay. The Senior Scholarship winners were Abby Nichols and Kirstie Manning. I really like what both had to say about the meaning of art, so I'm sharing a short excerpt (via Gumtree's site) below. Click here for more on all the winners.

Pop Art Self-Portrait Series by Abby Nichols

Sometimes people ask me why I love art. Well, I say, art is everything and anything I need it to be. It can be an escape from reality. It can make sense of reality. Art can be calming when I’m upset, and a way to release my frustration. It can help me think clearly or keep me from thinking at all. Sometimes I paint for a purpose, and other times I paint just to paint.

-- Abby Nichols

[Above, Ruthie Sommers' outdoor studio photographed by Melanie Acevedo for the premiere issue of domino.]


Artists' Palettes: Elise Toups

Can you tell what medium you are looking at above? All of the artists who've participated in the palette series have sent me such inspired images and Baton Rouge painter Elise Toups is no exception. Elise says she typically scrapes oil paint off of her glass palette and saves it in a metal tin. Here she captures it for us.

Sometimes she works with shades of gray...

but often she uses bold color.

As mentioned the other day, Elise is represented by gallerist Ann Connelly. The artist earned her B.S. in Psychology with a Minor in Painting from Louisiana State University, and in 2005 she won first place at Art Melt.

Green Day

[Photography above by Liz Banfield]

As a follow up to the July 20th post, I asked Nicki Clendening of Scout Designs about the vibrant green leather on the refined chairs she used for wedding designer Tara Guérard's new satellite office in Manhattan. Turns out Nicki hit the jackpot when she found the chairs, upholstered just as they are seen here, in a Charleston antique mall. They were marked Baker and happen to be the very first thing she bought for the office. Nicki says, "I have a new obsession with green now because of it!"

So, Haskell Harris has suggested christening the leather, "Magnolia Leaf Green," and I just love how those words convey something glossy and lush. John Robshaw also chose a great description for his fall 2009 block-print pillow cover: "Veridian." Priced at $50, this cover is expected to be available in October.

This image was shot by Janet Blyberg in the greenhouse at Hillwood Museum and it is now in my favorites file.

Ligaments by Leila Singleton.

A detail of artist Victoria Molinelli's "Hanging Robe" watercolor.

1960s Vera silk scarf available at The Lucky Fish. $42. Kelly offers some background on artist Vera Neumann here.


Artists' Palettes: Vicky Molinelli

If you're new to this blog and unacquainted with artist Victoria Molinelli, here's her story in a nutshell. Vicky attended the the Rhode Island School of Design, majoring in furniture design, but had to interrupt her studies and return to her native Argentina. She completed her education there with a BFA in Painting and Education, and ultimately landed in Los Angeles working for Ruthie Sommers. Today, limited edition prints of Vicky's watercolor interior renderings are available at Coleen & Co.

Most recently Vicky has taken up painting outside. In addition to her palette, she shares here samples off her larger, more abstract work.

Apart from being a talented painter, Vicky is something of a design huntress with a great eye for decorative objects. Check out her finds at Vicky's Yard Sale.

(I was curious about her inspiration board, so I tried to zoom in.)

For a related past post, click here.


Some Southern Style (with a touch of India)

Photographer Mark Starnes is a soft-spoken native Southerner with a passion for documenting his region. He shot the Charleston shop window, above left, and I've been thinking it would look great hanging in a man's apartment. Some sort of room with a Billy Reid vibe -- tattered Persian rug, a handsome secretary or Georgian chest, seersucker upholstery.

The suits Mark photographed appear to be seersucker and there's even a striped umbrella in the corner. (Click the larger image below to see if you notice it, too.)

Even though we all think of seersucker as the quintessential Southern or East Coast fabric, I always feel compelled to slip in the little reminder that it originated overseas, just like Madras plaid. "Seersucker" comes from Hindi and Persian words meaning "milk and sugar," as in the alternating rough and smooth stripes woven into the fabric.

Here's a link to an essay on Madras plaids published by Land's End.

The photo of the chest is via Mrs. Howard. Phoebe Howard has a stellar collection of chests. For more on Mark Starnes' photography visit Providence Antiques in Atlanta or contact him directly. Mark holds the copyright for his Charleston shop image, shown here with his permission.

Lahariya II

If you're enamoured by tie-dyed Indian textiles, be sure to pick up a copy of Hali, summer 2009. Jayne Graham writes about centuries-old lahariya turbans of Rajasthan. (Lahariya literally means "wavy," and the term is often used to describe a tie-dyed design in chevron stripes or zig-zags.) Graham explains that the chevron is an ancient geometric motif symbolizing water. It frequently appears in Indian architecture, ornament, and block-printed textiles. To produce the distinctive rainbow stripes of lahariya turbans, she says cloth was traditionally folded and rolled "on the diagonal into long ropes which were resist-bound and dyed successively in different colors."

It's an interesting, beautifully illustrated article.

Shown at the top left:
Maharaja Gaj Singh I of Jodhpur (r.1619-38)
Portrait ca. 1725-40
Mehrangarh Museum Trust

Shown on the right:
Late 19th-early 20th century lahariya turban
Photo by Peter Barker


Artists' Palettes: Virginia Johnson

When I began this series on palettes, I said something about focusing on artists with a connection to my region. For today that concept is going out of the window because Toronto native Virginia Johnson is a talent I must include. Virginia studied at Parsons School of Design and has received international acclaim for her textile designs and illustrations. (You may remember her painterly illustrations from the Kate Spade books, Manners, Style and Occasions.)

Shown above are two illustrations Virginia did a while ago for a Vogue Japan story on Jacques Cartier’s trip to India. For us she has juxtaposed them with a little color play on paper. (Be sure to click the images to appreciate the details.)

Here she plays with fabric dyes on paper to work out a color story.

And above she offers a peek at the colors for her upcoming spring 2010 collection. Click here to explore Virginia's designs including pillows, shawls, scarves, and tunics.

All images are posted with permission from the artist and she holds the copyright for the art and photographs.