A few months ago, not long after I retired, a friend asked me if I could do something to brighten up some special wall-mounted plant frames she had bought, second-hand. Although they were rather expensive (even second-hand) she didn't like the shiny white plastic finish. She wondered if I could think of way to make them "not shiny, maybe even with a pattern or some colour". I said I'd be happy to have a look, so she brought one round and we discussed ideas over a couple of weeks. At first I wondered if it might be possible to sew fabric covers for the frames (like a sofa slip cover), but I wasn't sure I could tailor them to be 'off-and-on-able" without being too loose. Then we discussed using wall-paper, but I wasn't sure if wall-paper paste would adhere well to the plastic surface, and I was quite keen to come up with something potentially reversible, given the cost of the frames. Eventually, after some tentative experimentation, I suggested painting them with acrylic paint. This would be water resistant and tough enough to withstand dusting/gentle wiping with a damp cloth, but could be removed (if needed) by soaking in hot water.
Sunday 12 September 2021
The next decision was what colour to paint the frames. When we were considering fabric slip-covers my friend had seen this fabric she quite liked...
...but the only design brief I had to go on for painting the frames was "duck egg blue, maybe with some darker blue bits, not just a flat colour".
This was just enough information to cause me to procrastinate for weeks, as I really didn't know where to begin! Eventually I decided to "pick up a brush and see what happens", and over the ensuing
weeks months a kind of visual 'language' developed. I had to work in short bursts of an hour or so at a time because I was mostly standing/leaning slightly forward over the frames while painting and my hip/back really didn't enjoy prolonged periods in this position. So I would give myself a little blob of cadmium yellow/pithalo blue/titanium white (and after a while, permanent rose) each time, and then paint until I'd used it all up. I'd stick mainly to shades of greeny/blue, venturing slightly into creamy yellow, mauve territory from time to time, and then allow the "darker blue bits" to scatter across at will. For some reason these ended up with an accompanying dash of bright cadmium yellow - as I was painting I couldn't decide if they reminded me of petals or leaves or flames, but afterwards my friend's 5 year old daughter said that they were "fairy fingerprints" and that seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea to me!
I'm not sure I'd have ever reached a point where I could have declared them "finished", had it not been for my friend putting her foot down and saying that she loved them as they were and wanted to get them home and up on the wall! She sent me the pictures below once they were back in situ. Some of the plants have perished during their long months of framelessness, but new plants (some with red leaves, apparently) will be coming soon to fill the gaps. Watch this space...