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: Casey and Vince Murray of Belle Arti

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.

Modern Mastery Series: Belle Artiky | Modern Masters Blog

Casey and Vince Murray of Belle Arti. Photographed by Andrew Miller Photography of Wicklow, Ireland.

“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 Accented with Modern Masters Metallic Paints | Modern Mastery Series | Decorative Artists: Belle Arti

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.

Modern Masters Metallic Paints accent a Glamorous Bath | Project by Belle Arti | Modern Mastery Series Feature

Golden and Glam Master Bath | Decorative Painting Project by Belle Arti | Modern Masters Blog Feature

Metallic gold accents in a glam bathroom. The moldings, rosettes and ceiling are layered with Olympic Gold, Pale Gold and Iridescent Gold Metallic Paints.

 

Dining Room Before Mural - Click Link to see Amazing After! Project by Belle Arti | Modern Mastery Series Feature

Before (top) and After (bottom)

Lush and Beautiful Dining Room Wall Mural by Decorative Painting Firm Belle Arti | Modern Masters | Modern Mastery Series Feature

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.”

Rococo Pastoral Mural | Wainscoting and Crown Molding are painted with Oyster Metallic Paint by Modern Masters | Gorgeous Artristy by Belle Arti of Central Kentucky

Dining Room Mural by Belle Arti | Rococo Pastoral Scene | Wainscot, Trim and Crown Molding have Oyster Metallic Paint | Modern Masters Blog Feature

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.

Glam Accents in Bar with Modern Masters Metallic Paints | Project by Belle Arti | Modern Mastery Series Feature

Crown Molding and Architectural Details are accented by Metallic Paints by Modern Masters in the very capable hands of Kentucky decorative painting studio Belle Arti | Modern Mastery Studio Series

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 Shot of incredible Theatre Room Makeover project by Belle Arti with Modern Masters products | Modern Mastery Series Blog Feature

Before (top) and After (bottom)

Theatre Room designed, created and painted by decorative painting firm Belle Arti out of Central Kentucky | Modern Masters Blog Feature

Metallic Paints and Glazes grace a faux Theatre Room Entrance | Project by Belle Arti from Central Kentucky | Modern Masters Studio Feature on Blog

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.

Croc Panels with Glazed Metallic Paints | Modern Masters | Project by Belle Arti

Gorgeous Paneled and Glazed Wall with a chic Crocodile Pattern | Beautiful decorative painting by Kentucky's Belle Arti | Modern Mastery Blog Series

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!

Modern Masters products can be found via local retailers across the US and the Modern Masters online shopping site.

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Modern Mastery: Amie Freling of Meme Hill Studio

Modern Mastery Feature of Amie Freling of Meme Hill Studio | Modern Masters Cafe BlogWe’re excited to introduce another wonderful artist, Rochester, NY-based Amie Freling, for our Modern Mastery blog series. Amie’s lifelong passion for design ultimately led to the opening of Meme Hill Studio in 1989. Meme Hill Studio was named after her grandparents, a woodworker and art teacher respectively, who influenced her as a child and strongly encouraged her creative development. Today, she proudly offers such professional services as interior design, color consultation, murals, custom faux finishes, furniture painting and more. “I love when the client gets excited,” says Amie, who studied illustration at Syracuse University and previously served as art director for a Washington D.C.-based magazine. ‘”I love creating happy, inviting niches in homes and businesses.” Part of creating these welcoming spaces including using Modern Masters, one of her favorite go-to product lines, and she shared a few of her favorite projects with us.

Harlequin Diamonds with Metallic Paint by Modern Masters | Meme Hill StudioOur Metallic Paint Collection helped create this beautiful harlequin diamond finish on the dining room walls.

 

Painted and Glazed Furniture | Modern Masters Tintable Glaze | Meme Hill Studio

Painted Furniture Glazed with our Tintable Scumble Glaze.

 

How has Modern Masters enhanced your business?

I was introduced to Modern Masters fifteen years ago when a fellow faux finisher (say that 5 times fast) asked me to help him with a large job faux finishing an entire 15,000 square foot home. We glazed a two and half story great room with the Tintable Scumble Glaze and I was hooked. The drying time was longer than any other glaze that I tried and there were absolutely no overlapping lines. I now use it on all my faux projects from large rooms to small accent pieces of furniture. Plus clients love that I custom tint, giving them a one-of-a kind project!

Horizontal Stripes with Metallic Paint on Foyer Walls | Modern Masters Project by Meme Hill StudioThin horizontal stripes with several Metallic Paint Collection colors add interest to foyer entry walls.

 

Modern Masters Metallic Paint and Glaze on Dining Room Ceiling and Walls | Meme Hill StudioPlatinum and Warm Silver Metallic Paints were crosshatched on the ceiling and a glaze made with Antique Bronze and Blackened Bronze create a gorgeous subtle finish on the dining room walls.

 

Mural Painted with Modern Masters Products | Meme Hill StudioAn Italian Mural by Amie is created with the help of our Tintable Scumble Glaze.

 

Handpainted Metallic Ornamental Scrolls | Artistry by Amie FrelingPretty ornamental vines climb up the walls and shimmer enticingly with our Metallic Paints.

 

What is your go-to Modern Masters product?

My favorite products other than the Tintable Scumble Glaze is the Metallic Paint Collection. My all time favorite color is the Champagne Metallic Paint. It works with whites, creams, silvers and gold. Its a warm metallic that screams richness. I love horizontal stripes in the metallics. I roll it on with a 6-inch roller and then use a course brush to create so many effects. The way both artificial and natural lights interfere and create interest is amazing.

Soft Painted Stripes on Nursery Ceiling | Modern Masters Project by Amie Freling of Meme Hill StudioA beautifully designed nursery by Amie features loose and soft metallic stripes on the ceiling and a subtle glaze on the dresser and changing table.

 

Metallic Stripes in Contemporary Office | Modern Masters Project by Meme Hill StudioA modern office receives a decidedly contemporary stripe treatment on the entryway and glazed walls in the main area.

 

What is your dream finishing project?

Any public space. My tag line is “Follow me paint the town. Literally!” and I love working in public spaces like restaurants, schools, hospitals and anyplace where art can be appreciated by those who might not be able to have my painting in their own homes. I feel everyone should be exposed to art. I’m always eager to volunteer my talents for charity events and fundraisers. My dream would be a part of a whole house makeover for a deserving family or child.

Painted Bench with Glazed Ornamental Scrolls by Amie FrelingA creative bench with handpainted ORNAMENTATION AND florals. Amie used our Tintable Scumble Glaze with her color palette to help with the flow OF BOTH painting AND AGING THE DECORATIVE ELEMENTS.

 

Amie Freling of Meme Hill Studio enjoys a dedicated following as a designer and artist. She shares her signature blend of patterns and colors with both commercial and residential clients. Her line of decorative hardware is carried by True Value and her original line of home accessories has sold in retail stores nationwide including Nordstroms. Her works have been featured on HGTV and in national magazines and she is also a contributing design editor for her local newspaper. Be sure to keep up with her as she shares more on her Facebook fan page. Many thanks to Amie for spending some time with us and sharing her incredible Modern Masters projects!

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