Modern Mastery: Nichole Blackburn

Modern Mastery feature on artist Nichole Blackburn of Celadon Studio and Big Sky Countries | Decorative Painting and Mural Projects | Modern Masters Blog

We’ve followed Nichole Blackburn’s artistry throughout the years. She’s a gifted artist who not only works on incredible commissions for her Celadon Studio but also donates her time and efforts to philanthropic efforts throughout the world via her non profit organization, Big Sky Countries. We’re honored to showcase her Modern Masters projects with you.

Artist Nichole Blackburn | Modern Masters Blog Feature on her Celadon Studio Projects

Born in Redondo Beach, California, Nichole Blackburn received her B.A. in Fine Art and Design from San Diego State University and after graduation, she went head first into her art career, and is currently the Owner and Creative Director of Celadon Studio and Fine Art, a Los Angeles-based business whose main focus is large-scale murals and decorative painting.

Always maintaining a creative edge, she continually trains all over the world with the top muralists and decorative painters in the industry. Most recently, Nichole moved abroad to Paris, France (2014-2015) to study with world-renowned decorative painter Jean Sable at his atelier in Versailles. Prior to that, Nichole spent a month on the East Coast studying under William Cochran, one of the country’s leading trompe l’oeil muralists. During this time she joined a select team of six artists who worked on a five-story public mural project called “The Dreaming”. Nichole has brought her unique style and artwork to numerous Los Angeles hot spots, celebrity homes and landmark hotels. Working with some of the best architects, interior designers and ateliers in the industry, Nichole has built a solid reputation and a name you can trust.

Custom Canvas Art with Modern Masters Metallic Paints and Metallic Plaster by artist Nichole Blackburn of Celadon Studio | Modern Mastery Series

Custom Canvas created by Nichole for a gorgeous contemporary residence using the Metallic Paint Collection and Metallic Plaster.

What is the most inspiring space or place you have visited?

I absolutely love to travel. By the time I was in my 20s I had visited over 40 countries and was by no means slowing down. I would say the last country I visit is usually the most inspiring and influential in my art. I had the pleasure of spending the last year studying with Jean Sable at his decorative painting school in Versailles, France, which is located across the street from the Palace of Versailles. Jean Sable is a joy to study under, a true craftsman that honors the traditions and style of French decorative painting. Under Jean’s tutelage, I painted everything from classical marbles and wood grain techniques, to large-scale panoramic murals, as well as trompe l’oeil and chinoiserie. I was the only American in an all-French class, and with that came the challenge of all lessons taught in French, lectures about pigments and products only available in Europe, and executing painting techniques that relied on the skills and working knowledge applied from each demonstration. Studying with Jean Sable has been one of the most inspiring painting experiences I have had, and it continues to influence my painting in a big way.

Newport Clouds Sky Mural on Walls and Ceiling by Nichole Blackburn | Modern Masters Glazes | Modern Mastery Studio Feature

Sky Cloud Mural created with Tintable Glaze.

Crown Mural by California artist Nichole Blackburn using Modern Masters Metallic Paints and Glaze | Modern Mastery Blog Series Feature

A luxe shimmer was added to a princess crown mural with Metallic Paint.

What is your most memorable, challenging, or rewarding project?

My most rewarding work has been with my nonprofit, Big Sky Countries. Big Sky Countries is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 whose main focus is donating large-scale murals to children’s facilities around the world. Murals have been painted in Thailand, Ireland, the Philippines, Bolivia, New Orleans, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Atlanta, New Jersey, and all over the Los Angeles area. These children’s facilities include elementary schools, orphanages, children’s hospitals, teen shelters, libraries and youth centers. All children, faculty members, and well, everyone is encouraged to paint!

Large Underwater Mural with Whales and Ocean Life by Nichole Blackburn for Big Sky Countries Non-Profit Art Endeavors | Modern Masters Blog Feature

I started Big Sky Countries when I was in my 20s, after realizing that making loads of money was surprisingly not the key to happiness. For me, creative freedom paired with traveling, as well as painting with children was far more satisfying. I grew up an art brat in high school, always ditching my other classes to go to the art studio, and I would stay up all night drawing in my sketchbooks. I wasn’t always the best student, but when it came to art I was totally confident and free. In schools where art programs have been taken away, especially for kids that are not academically inclined, I want to show that art can be a huge success, both mentally and as a career choice. Some of the most brilliant children I have painted with were also the most withdrawn, anti-social and considered misfits. Funny enough, I relate and paint the best with these kids.

Philanthropic Under the Blue Sea Large Exterior Wall Mural by Big Sky Countries | Modern Mastery Art Feature on Nichole Blackburn

Under the Sea Mural for Big Sky Countries created with the help of various Modern Masters products.

How has Modern Masters enhanced your business?

I love the Modern Masters products. Modern Masters have a great reputation and it’s not hard to see why. I have used Modern Masters paints for years, particularly the Metallic Paints, as well as the Glazing Cream Colorants in the earth tones/browns. The consistency and quality of the products is wonderful. I love the Modern Masters Metallic Plasters, as well. By layering them in different consistencies I am able to achieve a wide range of effects, giving me the chance to really push my finishes and samples. The Metallic Paints are a go-to for me, especially the gold’s, which come in a variety of colors that fit perfectly with my Clients’ discerning needs.

Gold Rush Penny Mural commemorating California's Diamond Jubilee | Modern Masters Metallic Paints, Glazing Cremes and Colorants | Project by Artist Nichole Blackburn of Celadon Studios | Blog Feature

California Diamond Jubilee Half Dollar created with Glazing Cream and Glazing Cream Colorants in dark brown hues.

Children's Tree Mural in Reading Corner of the Trenton, NJ Library | Artistry by Nichole Blackburn of Celadon Studio | Modern Masters Blog Feature

Children’s Enchanted Forest and Tree Mural in a reading corner nook at the Trenton, NJ Library. Nichole used Glazing Cream and Glazing Cream Colorants to help paint the inspired 200 foot wall painting. Nichole donated the mural, valued at about $25,000, through her Big Sky Countries non-profit.

Four Panel Coffered Ceiling that was painted and woodgrained with Modern Masters Metallic Paints by California artist Nichole Blackburn | Scrollwork Pattern Design: Modello Stencils | Modern Mastery Blog Feature

Four panel coffered dining room ceiling reflects a soft metallic glow. Nichole used our Metallic Paints for both the scrollwork and the faux woodgrain.

We hope you’ve  enjoyed Nichole’s extraordinary artistry – and her big sky country heart! To learn more about her private commissions, please visit her Celadon Studio site. Head to Big Sky Countries to see more of the donated murals she’s painted, learn more about her mission, and to help support giving the gift of art. Thank you, Nichole, for sharing your time and incredible projects with us!

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Modern Mastery: Aliya Riaz

We discovered Aliya Riaz’ gorgeous decorative painting through Instagram. She shared many of her #ModernMasters projects with us and we were charmed with her artistry. We’re very happy to share the work of her studio, Portfauxlio, Inc., here today as part of our ongoing Modern Mastery series.

Modern Mastery: Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio | Decorative Painting Feature on the Modern Masters Blog

Artist: Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio

Artist Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio in Chatham, NJ, Is in love with the decorative arts. Every day and every project brings something new to get her creative juices flowing. She especially enjoys solving design dilemmas either as part of a design team or with the client directly to bring an abstract idea to life. When not busy with projects, she has a line of painted Anaglypta wallpaper that can be custom ordered or made from existing samples.

Aliya also finds great joy in teaching decorative finish workshops. She shares, “I never know who learns more – my students or I. Whether it is individual instruction or a group, I love helping students with decorative finishes, gilding, découpage and, more recently, working with foils. Having taught so many, a lot of my students stay in touch long after class. It’s interesting to track how they run with the knowledge and take it in different directions to suit their own personal endeavors.”

Custom Anaglypta Wallpaper is sold by the roll by artist Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio | Modern Masters Metallic Paints | Decorative Painting Feature on the Modern Masters Blog

A view of the custom anaglypta rolls that Aliya Riaz paints and sells. She frequently uses our Metallic Paint Collection to help create them.

Modern Masters Venetian Plaster on ceiling with a beautiful Bronze Metal Leaf pattern | Project by Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio

This ceiling was rendered in a dusky blue color using a base of our Venetian Plaster. It was waxed and polished after the design was put in place using bronze metal leaf.

Gorgeous Metallic Ceiling with a Raised Ornamental Pattern by artist Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio | Decorative Painting Modern Mastery Feature | Interior Designer: Rachel Kapner | Modern Masters Blog

Over a field of Platinum Metallic Paint, Ms. Riaz cut a stencil based on the design of the window fabric. The stencil was painted using Statuary Bronze Metallic Paint and Glass Bead Gel. The interior designer on the project was Rachel Kapner of Creative Wallcoverings and Interiors. Beautiful!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MODERN MASTERS PRODUCT OR COLOR?

I would be hard pressed to say which Modern Masters Product is my favorite and it would be even harder to come up with the best color – though I do tend to use a lot of Warm Silver Metallic Paint. From the Dead Flat Varnish to the Metallic Plaster, my decorative finishes are enhanced in every way by the entire Modern Masters product line.

A mix of Metallic Plaster and Metallic Paint was employed to match the cap of this lovely light fixture | Project by Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio | Modern Masters Blog Feature

A mix of Metallic Plaster and Metallic Paint was employed to match the cap of this lovely light fixture.

Modern Masters Metallic Plaster over Metal Leaf Wall Finish | Beautiful Decorative Paint Treatment by Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio | Modern Mastery Series

This light and beautiful bath wall treatment has our Metallic Plaster over metal leaf.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST CHALLENGING PROJECT?

My clients fell in love with the ceiling of a suite they stayed at in The Four Seasons Hotel, Milan – most of which is a 15th century converted convent. Armed with no pictures, they wanted me to recreate the ceiling of that suite in their New Jersey dining room. One challenge was that instead of 14′ high ceilings, we had only 9′ to work with, so the details had to be more delicate.

After a great many discussions, I drew up the plans. We started with a flat white ceiling. Aided by gifted woodworker Robert Bittner, I put into place each piece of applied compo molding (painted and gilded) using a palette of colors my clients loved. It was a labor of love and took well over a month to complete, along with the lime plaster walls, gold leaf gilding and using Modern Masters Metallic Paints on parts of the ceiling. It will remain one of my favorite projects not just because of how it all came together but because of the belief and trust placed in me by my clients.

Ornamental Ceiling Designed and Painted by Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio | Modern Masters Metallic Paint | Modern Mastery Series

Ornamental Ceiling by Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio | Modern Masters Metallic Paints | Decorative Painting and Finishing Feature for the Modern Mastery Series

Gorgeous close-up of an ornamental ceiling designed and created by artist Aliya Riaz of New Jersey studio, Portfauxlio | Part of a feature of the Modern Mastery Series showcasing incredible decorative finishing projects and surfaces | Modern Masters Blog

WHAT IS YOUR TOP FINISHING TIP?

Paying it forward helps us all. If Plan A doesn’t work out, you still have plans B through Z to work on! We decorative artists are known for thinking on our feet and in most cases come up with ingenious ideas and solutions. I find our community is amazingly supportive and have learned to reach out for help when needed.

Gorgeous Modern Masters ShimmerStone finish on Walls | Project by Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio | Interior Design by Mary LaVecchia | Modern Mastery Series

Stunning Coffered Ceiling with Metallics and Gilding and ShimmerStone Plaster Wall Finish | Decorative Painting by Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio in New Jersey | Interior Design by Mary LaVecchia |Modern Masters Blog Feature

This project was done in a private residence in New Jersey. The walls were plastered using ShimmerStone. The beautiful plaster finish provided the perfect shimmery neutral backdrop to the vaulted coffered ceiling, which is about 25 feet high. The interior designer on the project was Mary LaVecchia of Creative Wallcoverings and Interiors.

We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the beautiful decorative painting work of Aliya Riaz! She is truly quite versatile, as is her finishing work. If you’d like to keep up with her studio, be sure to follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Houzz, as well as her Portfauxlio website. Many thanks to Ms. Riaz for sharing her exquisite Modern Masters projects with us. We look forward to seeing many more and keeping up with your amazing studio!

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Modern Mastery: Patricia Presto

We discovered the amazing projects of Atlanta-based decorative artist Patricia Presto on Facebook and have been following her projects ever since! She has a beautiful eye for color and pairs gorgeous treatments with the right surface – and has the happy clients to prove it! We were thrilled when she agreed to be on our Modern Mastery series and are so happy to share some of her Modern Masters projects with you!

Modern Master Profile on Decorative Artist Patricia Presto of On the Surface | Modern Masters Blog

Decorative Artist Patricia Presto

Patricia Presto of Georgia’s On the Surface specializes in the decorative painting of furniture, cabinets, and the faux finishing of walls as well as architectural color consulting. She shares, “There is no way I could have imagined the places I would go, the people I would meet or the challenges I would face on my journey into this wonderfully creative business…every project is new, special, and always a creative challenge. My favorite projects are when I work with a passion-driven team to achieve one dream space. It is exhilarating and very rewarding!”

“Meeting the people I have met along the way is one of the best parts of my career”, she continues. “I can’t describe the joy I get out of doing my job well, but also creating my business around developing relationships with my clients. Many are actually sorry to see us go when a project is completed, as we are to leave! The people that are working for me are part of my joy and laughter is a big part of our days. My life is enriched by my job. I consider that an extreme blessing.” Her love for her art shows through and through – as you’ll see in her projects!

Silver Metallic Paint by Modern Masters enhances an ornamental bath sink. The project is by artist Patricia Presto of On the Surface and featured on the Modern Masters blog.

Bath Sink and Stand painted and embellished by artist Patricia Presto of On the Surface Design | Modern Masters Metallic Paints

This vanity was pickled wood with really pretty carvings and Patricia’s client wanted it painted a deep eggplant-gray color to go with her new bathroom design. “I suggested we take it up a notch and really put emphasis on the carvings as they were getting lost.  She had brushed silver accents in her new bathroom so I went with Silver Metallic Paint straight from the pot to paint the carvings. We also added silver leaf, crackle and finished off with wax.” Patricia did the same finish on the mirror.

What is the most inspiring space or place you have visited? 

Nature, history, and the heart are my inspiration. I love rural landscapes and rustic things with all the colors of the ocean, mountains and imperfectly perfect color combinations.There are feelings that go along with these places that I have lived or experienced and it is expressed through my work. I want the project to be treasured for reasons beyond technical expertise.I have had people write to me about how my furniture pieces “gave honor to my grandmother’s memory” or “you created an heirloom from a give away” or “you made our house a home”…..Inspiration to me is a constant awareness between knowledge of how to “produce it” and how to make it “come alive” with my paints, brush strokes, and putting my heart into it.

Kitchen Range Hood created with the help of Modern Masters' Metallic Paint Collection | Artist: Patricia Presto of On the Surface | Modern Mastery Feature

Kitchen Cabinetry and Range Hood transformed with the help of Modern Masters Metallic Paints by artist Patricia Presto of On the Surface | Modern Mastery Blog Feature

Patricia’s client wanted a contemporary look that was coupled with her love of a warm, rustic kitchen. Patricia used our Metallic Paint Collection in bronze and copper colors to highlight the gorgeous kitchen cabinetry and range hood details. What a transformation! The beautiful images are by Mary Powell Photography.

Metal Effects Patinas on Garden Art | Modern Mastery Feature on Artist Patricia Presto of On the Surface

Metal Effects Patinas on Craft DIY Letters | Modern Mastery Blog Feature on Artist Patricia Presto of On the Surface

Decorative garden and decor accents created with the help of Metal Effects rust and verdigris patinas.

What is your top finishing tip? 

Be prepared! My assistant, Emily, always hears me say “bring the kitchen sink” because we never know what the job could require beyond our actual finish. Always make a board, no matter how much you think you “remember” and always mix enough material so half way through a job you don’t have to re-mix and find you are mixing colors for hours because the shade is off. Always ask for help if needed. Don’t be an island! There is a great community of creatives in this field! Such an amazing array of ideas!

Modern Masters Metallic Paints help enhance a chair makeover | Artist: Patricia Presto of On the Surface

Lounge Chair and Ottoman refinished with the help of Modern Masters Metallic Paints and Glazes | Modern Mastery Feature: Patricia Presto of On the Surface

Small accents, BIG impression! Patricia was faced with a Bergère chair set that was dark but needed a more European look. Modern Masters Metallic Paint was paired with Chalk Paint® and foils for the luxe treatment. Patricia concludes, “Modern Masters gave it the European feel and lift it needed.”

What is your most memorable, challenging or rewarding project?   

The Atlanta Symphony Showcase Home of 2015. This was a particular challenge as the designer, Robin Lamonte of Rooms Revamped, had to work with what was there – no major construction. She called on us to create a finish on the large kitchen hood to become the “showpiece” of her design. Talk about pressure! She was interested in a copper hood, but wasn’t sure what would work. I had Modern Masters knowledge, and presented her a board using a Metal Effects with our own secret recipe that created a worn copper, patina look – and she immediately said “that’s it”!! My assistant, Emily, and I were working around lots of dust, several contractors, and other painters in a very tight space with very limited time. We were amongst a few HGTV stars, which felt intimidating at first, but I soon realized we were all just regular people trying to create something magical together and it was working! The house had great synergy!

The only glitch was our copper finish looked so real that the designer asked if I would create a postcard to place on counter that said “This is NOT real copper”! No one believed it was paint!

Metal Effects Patinas transform a kitchen range hood into a showpiece! Decorative Artist: Patricia Presto of On the Surface

Faux Floorcloth created with Modern Masters' Metallic Paints and Royal Design Studio Stencils | Modern Mastery Feature of artist Patricia Presto of On the Surface Design

If you look closely above, not only can you see the ‘copper’ range hood she created for the Atlanta Symphony Showcase Home, but also the faux floorcloth painted right on the wood floor with the help of the Metallic Paint Collection as well. Gorgeous space! Gorgeous photography by Mary Powell.

We absolutely love all the surfaces that Patricia and her team can transform and are honored she uses our Metal Effects and Metallic Paint Collection lines to help create their masterpieces. Be sure to visit Patricia’s website, On the Surface, as well as become a fan of her Facebook fan page. She also shares her commissions frequently on her Instagram account. Are you feeling inspired? We hope so! Thank you, Patricia, for sharing your time and your projects with us!

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