Modern Mastery: Levi Ponce

During a recent philanthropic effort, we came across the grand artistic murals and work of artist Levi Ponce. Recently, MSN named him as one of the “Top 10 Latinos to Watch” in the United States. He masterfully uses the JWR Artist’s Acrylics and Theme Paint lines from our Modern Masters products collection and we are so excited to showcase his artistry for you as well as his efforts to beautify and inspire communities.

Modern Mastery Series: Artist Levi Ponce | Modern Masters Cafe BlogBorn in Los Angeles to a sign painter and seamstress, Levi has been studying arts and crafts since childhood. Initial influences include his father, urban artists, and Renaissance painters. He began painting with his father, Hector Ponce, in the 1990’s and since then has worked in a variety of creative fields including visual effects, film miniatures, and restoration. As a visual artist, he has exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Merida and the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum.

After graduating from California State University, Northridge, Levi began painting and organizing the creation of murals along Van Nuys Blvd in his childhood neighborhood of Pacoima. His murals are community projects that bring together artists, business owners, and local youth. Together they transform defaced city walls into works of art for both locals and visitors to enjoy. His efforts, along with that of other artists, have led to the re-discovery of the area now known as Mural Mile. Levi continues to paint community murals while running a full-time crew of artists that handle commercial work across the country.

Einstein Mural by Levi Ponce | Modern Masters Cafe Blog Einstein mural entitled “Logic and Creativity” at the Magnolia Science Academy.

Large Mural by Levi Ponce | Modern Masters Cafe Blog | JWR Artist's AcrylicsTribute mural for the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo.

What is your most memorable, challenging or rewarding project?

My most memorable and challenging project was the North Hollywood mural. It was commissioned by the NoHo Neighborhood Council and Councilman Paul Krekorian of CD2. The community had a lot of energy and we had hundreds of volunteers for three weekends in a row. I organized the order, delivery and distribution of supplies and once on site, good times! After the volunteers, I finished the mural with the help of my crew and we were able to finish it in 12 workdays.

North Hollywood Mural by Levi PonceNorth Hollywood Mural. It’s not flat – it’s a retaining wall at 30 degrees off grade.

What are some of your favorite Modern Masters finishes?

When working in the studio for the film industry we often need metallic finishes. Nothing beats the Modern Masters Metallic Paint Collection. After buffing, the finish is the best you can get with paint. Fast and relatively cheap, it’s the way to go!

Exterior Mural of Dutch painter Rembrandt at Continental Art Supplies | Modern Mastery Series: Levi Ponce | Modern Masters Cafe BlogMosaic Mural of Dutch painter Rembrandt at Continental Art Supplies.

Large Mural in Venice, California by Levi Ponce | Art Meets Pantheism | Modern Masters Cafe BlogPantheism Meets Art mural in Venice, California.

What is the first work of art you remember creating?

The first work of art I remember creating was in pre-school. The teacher said that my drawings were far more detailed than the rest of the class. My stick figures had poses and hair! It’s been fun ever since.

Modern Mastery Series: Artist Levi Ponce | Levi working as a child with his artist father | Modern Masters Cafe BlogLevi working with his artist father as a young boy.

Many of Levi’s murals have become city landmarks and have been featured on the front pages of the Los Angeles Times, LA Daily News, Fox 11’s Good Day LA, CNN Latino, BBC Mundo, Univision, Telemundo, the Huffington Post, and various other publications.

Mural Tribute to Hendrix | Artist: Levi Ponce | Modern Mastery Series on the Modern Masters Cafe BlogPart of a series of murals highlighting various art forms. The Jimi Hendrix mural is a tribute to music and is 120′ long and 24′ high.

Girl with a Hoop Earring by artist Levi Ponce using JWR Artist's Acrylics | California | Modern Mastery Series on the Modern Masters Cafe BlogLevi with an homage to Vermeer entitled “Girl with the Hoop Earring”.

Philanthropic Mural with Modern Masters Theme Paints by artist Levi Ponce | Cafe BlogExterior mural by Levi in the Foothill area of California. Several organizations and leaders came together to overhaul the landscaping at the LAPD’s Foothill Police Station. Modern Masters donated the Theme Paint for this great community cause.

Walking tours of the Mural Mile (with over 30 art works) are offered through the Museum of the San Fernando Valley and The Public Art Initiative. As he creates his murals, Levi is well-known for getting the community involved, encouraging creativity and helping fellow artists. “I allow everyone to participate — children walking by, delinquent kids, adults, the homeless,” Ponce says. “Everybody comes together to make this happen and I think that’s my biggest accomplishment, being able to rally the troops.” As for the products for these murals, Levi shares, “I use Modern Masters. No tints. No glazing. Just layering of acrylic paints.” Amazing! Click on over to the Levi Ponce website and Facebook page to see more of his works — and if you’ve enjoyed his artistry and philosophy, be sure to share and pin his story!

Glam Garden Accents Using Metallic Paint

Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog

We are blessed and cursed with a long, narrow back yard featuring towering poplar trees and a huge party deck that my hubby built years ago. Left untended, the yard can resemble a jungle, with ivy crawling up the trees and ferns taking over everywhere. With so much shade and green, green, green, I do try to break it up with a few treasured garden accents here and there.

How about you? Are there a few items in your yard or garage that could use some revitalization, using your favorite color scheme?

I did a happy dance recently when I discovered a big box of Modern Masters paint goodness on my doorstep! They sent several Metallic Paint Collection colors that I selected, some glazes to play with, and a top coat for outdoor protection that keeps metallic paint glowing.

Check out this color palette of the Metallic Paints. I love that you can purchase small containers, and one bottle goes a really long way.

Modern Masters Metallic Paint Colors |Modern Masters Cafe Blog

I rooted around in our yard to find a couple of items that needed a re-do. Though small, this little metal artichoke snugs in nicely among plants in large pots. She’s cute, but the finish is so expected, right?

The before. Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog

I also remembered our very heavy cast iron piece that we mounted on the brick wall on the deck. How sad is this? We have tried to grow pretty plants in this great planter for years and years. This is what it always ends up like. So. Now I am calling the plants quits and converting it to a birdbath. We always have little babies born in spring nests just to the left, in our pergola covered in akebia vines.

I DO know how to fill it with water, LOL.

The before. Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog

Time to get creative! I gave both pieces a good hose-down and scrub outside, then primed them with a water-based primer recommended for use with Modern Masters products.

First, let’s revive the artichoke.




Painting primer. Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog

The Metallic Paint colors are considered Semi-Opaque or Opaque, so over the white primer you may need more than one coat. The Green Gold was sheer enough that I used two coats to get it to the soft color I was going for.


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog

Since this is an outdoor item, I didn’t get crazy about perfection. After painting the Sapphire, paint Teal on the leaves just above it. Let dry.


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog

Mix the Green Gold Metallic with just a bit of water to create a loose wash. I really just used one thick, runny layer to dirty up the bright colors. I like some drips on pieces like this. Let dry.


Modern Masters metallic and indoor/outdoor protection. | Modern Masters Cafe Blog

Now let’s do the birdbath.



Priming. Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog
This piece was painted with water-based paint, so one coat of latex primer is perfect. Let dry.


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog
Painting metallics on top of this white primer does show brush marks, so I just avoided ugly ones as much as possible.


Modern Masters Metallic paints and Glazing Cream glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog
In a container, add about 2 tablespoons of Furniture & Cabinet Glazing Cream with just about a teaspoon of Natural Brown Glazing Cream Color. Mix well. Brush on some glaze and work in sections.



Modern Masters Metallic paints and Glazing Cream glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog
Turn your hand in all different directions to soften the glaze. Wipe a clean spot of the rag across the raised decoration to expose the color underneath to highlight it. Adding the glaze will tone down the metallic paint and add patina. It will take longer because of the glaze mix but let dry completely.


Brush on a coat of Satin MasterClear® Topcoat for protection. (Since this is going to be a bird bath, I only painted and sealed areas just to the water line.)


Now it’s time to take these beauties outside. I moved the artichoke around to find my favorite spots.


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog


I decided I liked to “discover” it in this giant hosta, since the pretty metallic colors jump right out.


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog


The birdbath is nestled right up against this massive tree, near our little babbling pond. It’s perfectly positioned to awaiting all of the cardinals, owls, and squirrels that pass through. Wonder how long it will be before the raccoons will knock it over. Note to self: now thinking anchoring versus propping is a good thing.

Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog


Or, our entry courtyard is calling too. Do you prefer it atop this old, rusty chair?


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog


The electric metallic green and blues of the artichoke love it here too. The colors seem to jump right out of the shadows. So many possibilities!


Modern Masters Metallic paints glam up metal garden accents | Modern Masters Cafe Blog


Modern Masters Cafe Blog Guest Writer and Artist is Debbie Hayes, Blogger at My Patch of Blue Sky & Author of the Color Inspiration Notebook.

Colorful Garden Ideas with Paints and Patinas

Spring is here, Summer is around the corner and garden ideas are blooming! Color enlivens gardens and exteriors — and it’s not just the landscaping! Many of our products can be used to paint, patinate and protect garden decor to brighten your exterior and we’ve brought together some of our fave ideas to inspire you.

Modern Masters Texture Effects and Metal Effects help transform a bowling ball into garden decor | Garden Ideas on the Cafe BlogPatinas work perfectly in a garden and many everyday objects can be created to help color your garden. Can you believe this started as a bowling ball? Decorative Artist Allyce Lees textured the embossed swirl design with our Texture Effects and used the Iron Reactive Paint and the Rust Activator from our Metal Effects line to patinate it.

Metal Effects on Iron Garden Seating | Adding Patina to Your Garden | Cafe BlogTara from the Suburble blog patinated an iron garden bench with our Metal Effects line, too! She used the Copper Reactive Metallic Paint and the Blue Patina Aging Solution for this stunning transformation.

Garden Pots textured with Modern Masters Texture Effects | Project by Finding Silver Pennies Texture Effects was used to add character to traditional terracotta pots. Danielle from Finding Silver Pennies textured and painted the small garden planters and filled them with artificial plants for an evergreen look.

Front Door Paint on Exterior Back Door | Project by Dwell by Cheryl Transform your Garden Shutters | Front Door Paint in color Mysterious | Paint & Patina Garden IdeasFront Door Paint can help do wonders for your garden! Blogger Dwell by Cheryl used the Cheerful color to paint the exterior back door leading to her garden while decorative painter Debbie Hayes of My Patch of Blue Sky used the color Mysterious to paint and enhance the window shutters by her landscaping.

Stencil Your Garden Steps | Modern Masters Stencil Collection Country Living magazine featured our Modern Masters Designer Stencil Collection when they painted and transformed plain concrete patio stone. What a great idea!

Modern Masters Metallic Paint on Garden Sculpture Statue | Project by Just Paint ItAn outdoor garden fountain came in a solid black though it was called ‘bronze’. Blogger Colleen Jorgensen from Just Paint It dry brushed the statue with Antique Bronze from our Metallic Paint Collection for a much improved finish! If your metallic paint project needs protection, we recommend our MasterClear® Protective Clear Topcoat which is made specifically to protect and maintain the metallic sheen.

Metal Effects on Garden Planter Pots | Project by Pet Scribbles | Paint & Patina Garden Ideas on the Modern Masters Cafe BlogOur friend and blogger Laura from Pet Scribbles used Metal Effects to update her old wooden planters in the middle of winter. They are still holding up beautifully!

We hope you enjoyed these garden paint ideas on boosting your backyard and landscapes with metallics, patinas and more! Keep an eye on our Garden & Exteriors Pinterest board as we’re constantly adding outdoor projects that may inspire you further. We’ll also have more gardening DIYs coming up in a few weeks so stay tuned!

Creating Unique Art with Modern Masters

An empty wall just cries for attention, don’t you think? While many of our creative customers beautifully finish the wall surface itself with many of our products, some also create custom art that complements a space perfectly. Browse our gallery wall of ideas in this post for creating great art for your home or finding an artist that can paint the perfect focal point for you.

Artist Ali Kay with a Flower Patina Canvas | Modern Masters Canvas ProjectsFlower Canvas Art with Metal Effects Rust Finish | Artist Ali KayArtist Ali Kay is an extraordinary decorative painter who also happens to be a prolific canvas artist. For one of her art series, she uses Metal Effects patinas along with artist acrylics to add depth and interest to her canvas works.

Rust Finish by Metal Effects | Canvas Waterfall Patina Art by artist Leslie RedshawHarley Davidson Canvas Art | Father's Day Ideas | Modern Masters Art Projects InspirationMany artists also prefer using Metal Effects as the focal product when creating their hanging art pieces. Canadian decorative artist Leslie Redshaw of Unfauxgettable Interiors used the Rust Patina finish in a waterfall effect for a client while decorative painter Paige Sisk of Beyond Finished used Harley-Davidson as an themed ornamental inspiration for the art she created for her husband. Both are wonderful!

Colorful Canvas Art by artist Sticky Shaw with Modern Masters Metallic Paints | Canvas Art Projects on the Cafe BlogArtist Robert ‘Sticky’ Shaw uses lots of color and our Metallic Paints to create his fantastical, eye-catching and nature-inspired works of art. Follow him on Instagram to keep up with his works.

Hanging Art created entirely with Venetian Plaster | Artist Jane Head | Modern Masters Cafe BlogItalian-Inspired Canvas Art with Modern Masters Venetian Plaster | Artist: Daniel QuigleyOur Venetian Plaster is another medium that many artists use to create their incredible works of art. Artist Jane Head uses it along with gilding materials for her paintings inspired by a local nature reserve while artist Daniel Quigley creates portraits that take quite a bit of time and finesse. Both are ‘painted’ entirely in plaster with not one drop of paint. Incredible!

Herringbone DIY Canvas Art by Kristi's Paintbrush | Modern Masters Olympic Gold Metallic Paint Stenciled Wood Art with Rich Gold Metallic Paint by Modern Masters and DecoArt Chalky Finish Paints | Cafe BlogDIY pros also love to create their own art! Using Olympic Gold Metallic Paint, Kristi from Kristi’s Paintbrush painted a herringbone art canvas while Steph from The Silly Pearl used Rich Gold Metallic Paint on a stenciled metallic wood art piece. Both are very cool, fun and easy to make. You can also customize these ideas using your preferred color scheme.

Artist Igor Turovskiy with Metal Effects CanvasMetal Effects Canvas Art by Igor Turovskiy | Canvas Art InspirationArtist Igor Turovskiy creates masterpieces with our Metal Effects patina products and he also teaches the art in his studio, Igor Fine Art. Exquisite work.

Aren’t these artist works fantastic? If you’d like a few tips on incorporating artwork that you’ve created yourself or purchased from an artist, the Houzz article 10 Design Strategies for Art Lovers will get you started. For further inspiration, we share many more beautiful art projects with our products in our Modern Masters Canvas Art Pinterest Board and continually pin ideas to the board as well. Send us an e-mail if you’d like to share your canvas works with Modern Masters products with us – we love to see them!