Modern Mastery: Ali Kay

Ali Kay of Positive Space We’re excited to introduce another wonderful artist, Ali Kay of Positive Space, in this week’s Artist Spotlight. Ali has been an artist her entire life – as a child, she was always drawing and doing craft projects with her Mom. She took every art class she could in grade school and went on to study fine art in college. She officially started her decorative painting company in 2003 while she was in art school in Milwaukee. Working there for the next seven years, she relocated to Houston, TX in 2010, and she found an incredible demand for high-end custom wall finishes and murals. She’s worked with many talented interior designers on a variety of decorative painting projects and since she comes from a fine art background, she focused her work mainly on murals. During her time in Houston, she began to bring decorative finishing into her portfolio. “I really enjoy doing both!” she says. She’s most proud of the fact that from 2011 to 2013, six of the murals she created in Houston were honored with design awards from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Earlier this year, Ali and her husband moved to Chattanooga, TN. Her business has not skipped a beat and she’s even begun teaching several courses at studios around the country. We’ve had the chance to catch up with Ali and see how Modern Masters has inspired her creativity. Let’s take a closer look at some of her beautiful work!

Various flowers accented with Modern Masters Metal Effects products | By Ali Kay of Positive Space

Bright, fun and elegant canvas highlighted and accented with Modern Masters Metal Effects Iron Reactive Paints.


A beautiful white flower painting accented with Modern Masters Metal Effects rust finish | By Ali Kay of Positive

This captivating painting of FLORA incorporates the use of our Iron Reactive Metallic Paint for the rust accents!


What is your most memorable, challenging or rewarding project?

My most challenging and rewarding project is a dome/rotunda mural I painted in the home of interior designer Tania Shaheen. The top of the dome reached 35 feet high. It required custom scaffolding to fit inside the rotunda. Because the rotunda was 13 feet from top to bottom, I had to work on several levels. The square working platforms did not exactly fit well into the round space, so the result was a lot of reaching and leaning. I found myself in some pretty awkward  positions!

The concept for this project was trompe l’oeil architecture. It was incredibly detailed and my calculations had to be perfect. I couldn’t see the full mural until the scaffolding came down, so I had to try to visualize what it would look like from 35 feet down while working only 6 feet away. After working on the project for just under a month, the day finally came for the scaffolding to come down. It was so rewarding to finally see the finished product! Ms. Shaheen, who helped to design the mural, entered this space in the 2013 ASID Awards and was honored for Best Architectural Feature.

A gorgeous red flower painting accented with Modern Masters Metal Effects Copper Patina | By Ali Kay of Positive Space

beautiful flower was nicely accented with our Copper Reactive Paints and Activators. Notice the ALLURING decorative scroll work?


Decorative ornamental dome sealed with Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish | By Ali Kay of Positive Space

The soft, neutral tones of this space IS given an elegant touch with a HANDPAINTED dome sealed with our Dead Flat Varnish for a lovely and durable matte finished result.


What is your go-to Modern Masters product and/or color?

My go-to product is definitely the Metal Effects Iron Paint and Rust Activator. I first discovered it while taking a class with Melanie Royals of Royal Design Studio a few years ago. We created a stenciled finish with the rust finish and I was fascinated. I went back to the studio and immediately started experimenting with it. Now I put it everywhere! Doors, light fixtures, mirrors, everywhere! I developed a technique to incorporate it into my fine art pieces and this has really changed my entire body of work. I love the fact that it is unpredictable. When I get to the stage of activating the rust in my canvas paintings, I get so excited to come back and see what happened, I can hardly sleep! I recently taught my rusting technique at the IDAL Convention and it was a great success. I think I inspired a lot of people to start using the system. Recently, I’ve started experimenting with the tarnishing copper paint, and I’m having a lot of fun integrating that into my fine art as well.

Modern Masters Metal Effects rust finish beautifully stenciled | By Ali Kay of Positive Space

This powder bath received a unique stenciled finish created with our Iron Reactive Paints and Activators!


What is your dream finishing project?

I have some big ideas swirling around in my head. I want to do a mural in a huge space that would include collage. I like the idea of painting over fabric, book pages, old drawings, textures and the like. I’m sure there would be some rusting in there somewhere too. It’s something that would take a lot of time, but that is usually what gets me excited about a project. As for the subject matter of this dream mural, it wouldn’t matter too much, but I would want it to include people. I love painting figures and it’s something I don’t get as many opportunities to do as I would like to.

Modern Masters Canvas Workshop with Ali Kay of Positive Space

Ali Kay teaching her techniques in a canvas class!


We want to thank Ali for sharing her beautiful artistry with us! You can see more of her incredible work in her Online Portfolio and Positive Space Facebook Fan Page. In March, Ali will be teaching at Prismatic Painting in Cincinnati, OH and in April she’ll be teaching at the Faux Retreat in Spooner, WI. As always, it has been a pleasure to see a the artistry created with our product lines. Be sure to catch more Modern Masters inspiration on our Facebook Fan Page, Pinterest boards and Twitter stream!