The Central Kentucky decorative painting and design studio, Belle Arti, has been successful for over 20 years and owners Vince and Casey Murray frequently use Modern Masters products in their beautiful projects. In fact, our jaws dropped when we first saw their extraordinary artistry and we reached out to them for a blog feature. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to share their work and a few words of wisdom as a part of the latest feature in our Modern Mastery series.
“Our company name, Belle Arti, is Italian for ‘fine art’ and we are a design and finishes studio located in central Kentucky. As a husband and wife team, we have been working together for over twenty years, both bringing unique skills to the table,” Vince says. Casey and Vince have also, by extension, incorporated a home’s overall design into their studio offerings. “We’ve had clients that want us to put together the wall finishes, any mural or trompe l’oeil work, glazing of any casework and cabinetry, as well as fabrics, etc., and we are happy to oblige them by being their go-to designers and artists for the whole process,” Vince explains. “We both come from design backgrounds. I literally designed, drew the blueprints, and decorated homes for my father who was a building contractor from the time I was sixteen years old, while studying drafting and specialized art in high school. When I decided to pursue my art and design full time, I attended the Miller Wagner School in Chicago to receive the needed training and credentials. My wife also grew up around design, working with her mother who is a licensed interior designer, doing everything from painting, wallpapering, and sewing, to installation of window treatments. So when we married, it seemed only natural for us to pursue art and design as our profession.” It’s an upbringing and partnership that has led to incredible work and success for their studio. Their passion for their art shines through clearly! Now about their work…
Coffered ceiling the Belle Arti Studio created and installed. The ceiling is a dark glazed finish accentes with several colors from the Metallic Paint Collection: Antique Bronze, Statuary Bronze, Olympic Gold, and Pale Gold.
What is your top finishing tip?
We both agreed that it is this: Do not be afraid to experiment! When you see a finish, or a pattern, or a color that either you or your client likes, dissect it in your mind and figure out how to replicate it. Use unconventional methods and applications, and most of the time you will end up surprising yourself. We did this once on a project where a designer for a restaurant wanted molding to be painted to exactly match the counters and tabletops that were a solid surface. It took several tries, but we eventually got it perfect, and the client was delighted.
Metallic gold accents in a glam bathroom. The moldings, rosettes and ceiling are layered with Olympic Gold, Pale Gold and Iridescent Gold Metallic Paints.
Before (top) and After (bottom)
This dining room features a French Rococo style pastoral scene mural. It adds an incredible amount of interest, as you can see by the before pic. There is a strié effect on the wainscoting and the crown molding using Oyster Metallic Paint. “We love the fact that the metallics show the brush strokes, and often we use that to our advantage, as with this effect,” THEY BOTH share. The pearly metallic blends perfectly with the silk draperies and elevates the space. As to the mural? “We protect our murals with Dead Flat Varnish.”
What is the most inspiring place or space you’ve visited?
We narrowed it down to two, but for different reasons. We really LOVE the Galerie d’Apollon in the Louvre because of all of the gilding and ornamentation combined with the stunning mural work. The cartouches and pediments over the doorways give inspiration that just goes on and on. The second place was a little shop in Florence, Italy on a small back street close to the Pitti palace. It was a studio that does exactly what we do right here in Kentucky! The shop was filled with gorgeous pieces of painted furniture and screens, as well as sample boards of wall finishes and frescoes. We both at that point realized what an awesome and time-honored profession we are engaged in, that definitely has a rich history attached to it.
A gorgeous bar area painted for a client. All of the moldings and appliqués are painted with Olympic Gold, Pale Gold, and Iridescent Gold Metallic Paints.
Before (top) and After (bottom)
The pics showcase the Before & After of a Theater Room entry. “Our studio fabricated and installed everything, including the lighted sign. All of the moldings as well as the ceiling are layered with Tequila Gold and Pale Gold Metallic Paints. The harlequin panels are glazed in Pale Gold as well. The theater sign is painted with Statuary Bronze Metallic Paint as well as having accents of the two golds.”
What is your go-to Modern Masters product and/or color?
We still are both totally enamored with your Metallic Paint Collection. We have, of course, come up with recipes to achieve looks we like. For example, to achieve to look of aged gold leaf that has worn over time, we start with a base of dark brown, then add a coat of Statuary Bronze Metallic Paint, then a layer of Tequila Gold Metallic Paint. On top of this, we do a sheer layer of Tequila Gold and Iridescent Gold with a 1:1 ratio. We finally gently dry-brush any raised details with a warm black. It truly does give the effect of a time-worn patina.
The crocodile door panels are painted with Champagne Metallic Paint and the overall antiquing glaze is done with Tintable Glaze.
Such exceptional work, don’t you think? Vince and Casey have used Modern Masters products for years and have never been disappointed. “We love the metallics, and the clear coats for interior and exterior applications. Their durability is unsurpassed,” they say. “We both truly enjoy what we do, but we realize that it is fantastic products like the ones from Modern Masters that enable us to achieve those looks and finishes, which amaze our clients, and keeps them coming back for more.” We’d like to thank both Casey and Vince for their beautiful artisty with our products and the time they took to share their projects with us! Please make sure you head to their Belle Arti website for more and follow them on both the Belle Arti Houzz page and @belle_arti_studio on Instagram to keep on top of their decorative painting adventures. Until next time – stay inspired!