14 October 2013

Coming soon to the Wine Spectator!

Since I wrote in this recent post about my trompe l'oeil painting, I have gotten several inquiries about the wine labels. This was one I did for our family, incorporating wine labels we had saved over the years - mostly with special memories attached. I have also been asked to do special orders of friends' own labels and corks, as well as cheese labels, and other personal memory-laden items.

I am currently accepting commissions on custom versions of this wine painting - incorporating specific labels and corks of the client's choosing. I will paint each label exactly as it is sent to me, including wine spills, rips, handwriting, etc., unless I receive instructions to "clean it up" (but I personally think the wine spills and other imperfections give the painting much more character).

This is the perfect gift for wine aficionados who already have all the oenophile's accoutrements. In a way, it's a very personal portrait of a wine lover's best memories!

Here are some of the specific details:
  • Hand painted in highest quality artists oils on board (museum quality), signed
  • Size: 24" x 16", unframed
  • Price: $2100 (unframed)
  • Price with gold leaf style frame: $2100 + 250 = $2350 (framed)
  • Lead time: 6-8 weeks from the time I receive complete package of materials from customer
  • Shipping: FedEx standard fee
  • Cash, check and all credit cards accepted
Here's what I need from the customer to get started:
  • Either actual labels and corks (preferable) or good photocopies & photos
  • Signed contract and 50% downpayment
Balance, plus shipping, and sales tax within Massachusetts, will be due upon completion.

Here are some close-up shots of my own painting, showing my attention to even the tiniest details:

 It's a bit hard to capture on film, but I use real gold, silver and copper paints.

Contact: kate@katedickerson.com

If you are interested in special ordering one of these paintings for the upcoming December holidays, please respond ASAP. 
Thank you!

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28 June 2013

Creating a New "OLD" Kitchen - Part 2 - Our Inspiration

Who doesn't just love Pinterest? I'm sure that someday soon, we'll be able to access all of our picture files in the same format as on Pinterest, but for now, the best way I know of to look at lots of decent sized photo files together on one page at the same time, is to post them on Pinterest. 

For a couple of years now, I have been collecting "Kitchen Re-do Inspiration" photos on Pinterest. For my entire collection, visit my page here. I have been honing my ideas about what I would like to do in our new kitchen. In some ways, we want a similar feel to our old kitchen, but this room is much more spacious, airy and light than that old room, so it calls for a different execution than the last, which was smaller and cozy.

The following pictures are just a few of the many I have been collecting, as inspiration for general themes we want to implement in our new "OLD" kitchen:
Yellow ochre walls, muted green cabinetry, natural wood
Yellow ochre walls with natural limestone around windows
Red ochre
 Woodwork color - a "weathered" combination of many greens (above & below)
Corner brick oven with cubby for fire wood below
Unfinished wood around the hood
 The beauty of raw wood, straight from the tree
Vintage looking towel bars and faucet
 Double sink with vintage style hardware
Stone sink (above & below)
 I love the graceful outline of these plate racks! (above & below)
Sink/under counter skirt...and the fabric lamp shades
Rustic wood counter and skirt
Under counter skirts of different lengths/heights
Stone block vaulted ceilings (above & below)
Open wood island (above & below)
Charmingly painted woodwork

Painted vintage French advertisements, like those found outside of shops and restaurants
Mismatched Italian tiles (above & below)
Another wonderful kitchen with Delft tiles and a massive La Cornue range as long as the wall!
Rustic pantry or cabinet doors with chicken wire
Okay, I admit it. I want EVERYTHING in this kitchen - the fireplace and wall oven, that La Cornue range, the stone corbels holding up the shelf, those pendant lamps....
Another view of the same kitchen - I could move right in!

Really there is nothing like the warmth of an old European kitchen. It is the heart of the home, and a gathering place for family and friends, young and old.

We have just begun updating - really backdating - our new "OLD" kitchen, so join me in the next few posts to see what we're doing!

23 June 2013

Creating a New "OLD" Kitchen - Part 1 - a Bit of Historic Background

As my regular readers know, we live in a Mediterranean style house, totally unlike a typical Cape Cod house (and yes, we do live on Cape Cod!) As a couple of francophile dreamers who have always fantasized about living in Provence or the French Pyrenees, we knew this house was for us the minute we walked into it for the first time.
We are just beginning to renovate/decorate the kitchen here, and we are making our already Mediterranean style room into an old-fashioned version of itself ...so I thought I'd give a little background history first.
Above are two photos I took before we bought the house, with the previous owner's furnishings.

Our previous house was an early American antique (300+ years old) which had reminded us of old French homes with low ceilings, antique fireplaces, wavy glass windows, etc. When we redid the kitchen in that house, we wanted it to look like a French country kitchen, even though we were starting with all new construction (including new ceiling) and new appliances. I painted just about every surface in that kitchen, to make it look rustic and antiquated.

Here are some photos of the kitchen in our old house:
An overall shot of our former kitchen showing painted walls, cabinetry and ceiling. The idea was that you felt you were in a dilapidated French farm building (specifically, a dépendence of a mas provençal), with the beamed ceiling broken away in areas, revealing the sky, and wild herbs growing on the roof above. The cabinets above the countertops were painted like windows looking outside to fruits, vegetables, olive branches, etc., and the lower cabinets were painted to look like animal pens, housing pigs, a lamb, chickens & rabbits (all edible, bien sûr!)
(Photo by Nan & Monty Abbott)
Smooth walls were transformed into faux bumpy stone ones with paint. I also added trompe l'oeil postcards, business cards from France and a French recipe, just for pure fun. People used to run their hands over this wood post to see if the items were real...and just to tease people, the Van Gogh postcard WAS real!

One corner with Italian majolica plates and an old Venetian floor lamp
 The breakfast nook with French wheat-back chairs and French linens
(Photo by Jay Elliott)

Another view of the breakfast nook with my husband, Jack Dickerson's painting, Il Contidino, a portrait of an Italian farmer at the end of the day, waiting to share wine and bread with a friend. The table, covered in an Italian tablecloth, was set with Italian and French items. The silverware is French; the plates were from a visit we made to San Gimignano in Deruta pottery country, Italy; and the glasses were some we picked up on a trip to Biot in the South of France, near where I used to live - so many happy memories!
Jack and I designed this dish rack in the breakfast nook, to hold some of our French, Italian & Portuguese plates. There's a Moroccan plate in there, too, from one of Jack's mother's voyages; a vintage carved wood German bread board; and an antique copper mold inherited from Jack's ancestors in Amsterdam.
These two photos (above & below) show the kitchen after years of use - rather worn out, but still charming.
The drawers above the animals all featured herbs. Note the chicken with a special plaque - "Poulets de Bresse". I also featured these fabulously delicious French chickens in my murals at PB Boulangerie Bistro. I wrote about them here.

The real door to the basement was painted to look like a door out to a French garden, with a pear tree and rows of lavender in full bloom.
Above the door was a Della Robbia plaque we had brought back from San Gimignano.
We hung real garlic to further trick the eye (what trompe l'oeil painting is all about.) I even had to nail the antique square nail into the door at a distinct angle, so that it would seem to be in the correct perspective!
The goose waddling around the corner of the door is a foie gras producing goose, famous in the Dordogne region of France. Again, this gourmet bird had a special place in my PB Boulangerie Bistro murals. I wrote about it here.
I took this photo as we were moving out. The shelves had been full of cookbooks. The grain sheaves depict wheat, barley, oats & rye. The quote, which continues around the top of the room, is from one of my favorite French cooks, Madame Lulu Peyraud, owner of Domaine Tempier vineyards in Provence. The quote is, "You know, my food is nothing but plain old cuisine de bonne femme [traditional housewife cooking]. What makes it different from restaurant cuisine or recipes in cookbooks, is that I am always cooking for someone I love." Jack painted the lettering.

Another quote on our woodwork, which has great memories and meaning for us, is this one by our friend, Patricia Wells: "What grows together, goes together." A prolific cookbook author, Patricia also teaches fun and informative French cooking classes in both Paris and Provence. We once took a week of Provençal cooking lessons from Patricia, and learned this quote during that week.
Notice my window valences, above, and then the very similar one, below, in Lulu's kitchen. Both are traditional, hand-block-printed cotton indiennes from Souleiado, in Provence. 
Above is an absolutely charming photo of Lulu Peyraud with her dear friend, Alice Waters, photographed in Lulu's kitchen. For more about Alice Waters, see my posts here and here. Our Lulu quote came from the book, Lulu's Provençal Table, by Richard Olney, with a forward by Alice Waters.
Another picture of Lulu in her kitchen, shows the wonderful Souleiado border fabric in color. This border fabric, called La Grosse Rose, is available online here. Old French farmhouses often have a fabric valence like this one, to keep smoke and ash from going into the room, in case of a strong wind.

A third quote in the old kitchen was from Julia Child: "Life itself is the proper binge." Since Patricia Wells, Alice Waters, Lulu Peyraud and Julia Child are all culinary heroines of mine, I may have to include quotes from all of them in our new kitchen. Click here to read my post about a cooking class I once took with Julia Child.

 The tiles used for backsplashes and stairway were ones we had purchased on our honeymoon in Portugal. The marble countertops were made of slabs that had been rescued from an old bank building in Boston.

Detail showing the gorgeous ochre marble, which Jack installed himself (very heavy!!)

I went out one day and came back to discover Jack installing leftover tiles on the stair risers - I just LOVE this! Our original island, which Jack also had built, was covered in these tiles, with the floral border all around. Unfortunately, that had to be sacrificed when we had the new kitchen built. The flooring was Portuguese cork - a lovely warm color and so soft to stand on.

The new island was covered in tumbled Botticino marble, which beautifully matched the marble countertops and our faux painted walls.

This old kitchen of ours was photographed numerous times for various magazine and newspaper articles. Here it is, as featured for Christmas, in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, December 2003:
Better Homes & Gardens Christmas '03  (I will upload a better PDF, soon, I promise!)

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