Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Artist's Daring Dream House

The David Ireland article in HG magazine (1985?).

More of David Ireland's home in San Francisco.

Crash, collapse, derelict, disaster area,  in a word a wreck. That's just what I found when I ventured back to the bungalow rental home, the last place I lived in Atlanta's charming Lake Claire neighborhood. Let's be clear, when I moved in the house had not been lived in for years and had the predictable deferred maintenance but I went with that and made decadence my esthetic. In fact I had help.

An old church niche and decorative frieze inspired by it. I made the paper star on top, some  stark white and strict geometry for contrast.
A lot of decorative painting used to detract from an ugly space heater. The candelabras are fashioned out of  twigs painted white and that's a real stem of ivy on top of the mirror.
My Atlanta kitchen with pentimento walls inspired by David Ireland.
A detail of the "space heater decoration", a simple trompe l'oeil technique.
The walls are varnished "as is" and I painted the door to (sort of ) match. You can see a bit more of the mantle  painting and the frieze all based on the Victorian Gothic niches.

David Ireland pointed the way for me with his San Francisco Victorian which I saw published in HG magazine. A brilliant conceptual artist, David realized while rehabilitating his home that he needn't return the place to it original condition or conform to any conventions for that matter. He soon realized the significance of the unfinished, of pentimento, and of the mystery of the ordinary.

This was the bedroom/sitting room of my place. Notice the carved wooden curtains. There are more wooden carved pieces on the mantle and the library is actually created out of a hallway.
Another shot of the bedroom/sitting room. The birds and rings motif is based  on Etruscan mural depicting the afterlife.
Soon after I moved into my bungalow I discovered an architectural salvage warehouse just down the road from me which instigated my collection of church artifacts and assorted carved wooden forms. Also, at this time in the world of decorative architectural painting Pompeii was once again being mined for it's stunningly creative murals, wall glazes, and schemes so that was another influence on me.

This is my Atlanta bungalow. I added the yellow stripes to the  awning.
Then/Now. I painted the front door Frida Kahlo blue but currently (as seen on the right) you'll note there's no door to be found!

This Wally Aero Eagle from the 50s was parked across the street from my old house. If only my old house looked this good. It's a shame because the Lake Claire neighborhood is otherwise in great shape.
This was in the window of the Wally. 

It's a little ironic that when I left Atlanta and moved to San Francisco I couldn't wait to paint all the walls stark white. I'm still pretty much that way. I like a neutral background. That's my dream house. Actually for the past several years I've been into traditional Japanese architecture, dark stained wood against white. What do you like?


  1. Scott I really love your unique decorative painting; it seems there is always some little treasure to be found and noticed!

    Art by Karena
    2012 Artists Series featuring Harrison Howard

  2. Thanks Karena.

    This was me in the 80s.

  3. I have always been intrigued by the style of decorating with decay, and while I probably would never do it myself, it is nonetheless inspiring. I like that you varnished the walls and imagine that the patina was quite rich.

  4. This place, a 20s bungalow, had a large light-filled studio added to the back (probably in the 50s) which was one of the principle draws.

  5. i like it all. i used to move often just to have the experience of living in different settings. i started with a condemned house and really liked the spooky decay of it. gutted it and painted it all white and clean. then got tired of that and faux'ed the crap out of everything. then painted it all out again. now after 22 (!) years it's kind of veering back towards that crazy romantic state from years of collecting and i find myself wishing i had more bookcases. and i travel to change settings.

    i like david ireland's house. i pass by it often and i am happy it's still there and hasn't been turned into some TIC flats.

  6. I was excited to paint "pure" white because I had never done that before. Diane Saeks wrote in a book or article about our place that it was the landlord's dictate (that the walls stay white) but that wasn't true. Landlords typically use muddy off-whites -terrible colors, like every goof paint mixed together resulting in a yukky blandness. On the other hand I was always tinkering with that Sunset apartment. The kitchen had a lot of color and a mural, the bathroom was painted to look aged, and the bedroom had stenciling (on fabric) from floor to ceiling. When we moved to Oakland I did paint hot colors in the kitchen but that was long ago, for years I've put all the energy that use to go to the architecture into my paintings and only think about architectural painting when I get a commission -when someone pays me to think about it.


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