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Banish bare walls by making art yourself

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

(Photo)
This undated photo provided by HGTV shows the dining room of homeowners Carol Montoto and Ty Stalnaker after a transformation as seen on HGTV's "Color Splash: Miami". Bromstad, who creates wall-art magic as host of "Color Splash: Miami," shares a few, basic pointers: Keep it simple. Have reasonable expectations. And copy, copy, copy. (AP Photo/HGTV) NO SALES
Our walls beg for art, but we don't have to.

With a little ingenuity, do-it-yourselfers can have chic artwork covering nearly any bare wall space. And not just any slapped-together art, mind you, but pieces that guests will coo over.

It can be done in hours with little money. Home-design experts are brimming with DIY ideas to help anyone strike out artfully on their own.

Designer David Bromstad, who creates wall-art magic as host of HGTV's "Color Splash: Miami," shares a few, basic pointers: Keep it simple. Have reasonable expectations. And copy, copy, copy.

"I cannot stress it enough: Be inspired by other artists and designers," Bromstad said. "Copy it. It's OK to do. That's what they're there for."

After all, beginning artists learn from copying the masters.

"That's how I learned how to paint [and draw]. Van Gogh, Rembrandt -- I copied them," Bromstad said.

French artist and textile designer Lola Gavarry takes the fear out of painting with her book "DIY Art at Home" (Watson-Guptill, 2010). Templates are included for some of the 28 projects, each of which offers a simple, contemporary design element. Gavarry walks DIYers through each project, and the steps are amply photographed.

From her home in Paris, Gavarry recommends finding a quiet place and taking a few practice runs.

"Make an initial test on paper to get comfortable," she said. "Don't worry about small imperfections. They are your marks."

Artsy DIY ideas

From Bromstad:

* Buy several inexpensive canvases and acrylic paint. Consider using a high-quality, latex house paint. Artists often do, he said. Choose a simple design, such as stripes or geometric shapes, or paint each canvas a different color. Hang the canvases like an installation -- randomly, or in rows. Bromstad said the idea is especially good for children -- allow a child to paint her own canvases, then hang the results like a headboard -- and for apartment dwellers wanting to cover drab walls. "Bring in tons of canvases and hang them almost like wallpaper," he advised.

* Take a black-and-white photograph to a copier store that has rolls of oversize blueprint paper and have it blown up several feet wide and as long as desired. As it enlarges, the photo will pixelate, adding interest. "It looks incredible," Bromstad said.

From Rachael Liska, a senior editor at Fresh Home magazine:

These ideas are "not a lot of money, not a lot of time, and they're temporary," Liska said. "You can switch them out if your mood changes, or your lifestyle changes."

* Paint directly onto a wooden pallet, alternating colors on the wooden slats or going with a simple design, such as a flag. Display collected dishes among the slats. "It gives you that funky, urban vibe," Liska said.

* In a kitchen or dining area, hang color-coordinating tea towels on a cord or wire, or frame vintage cookbook pages. Restaurant menus often are graphically appealing, so frame your favorites.

* Frame a square of high-quality wallpaper and set it on an easel so it resembles a work of art. Stretch fabric across a canvas frame and staple it on the backside.

From Danielle Claro, Home editor for Real Simple magazine:

* Decorate with colorful decals. "Use it artfully," Claro said. "It can be dramatic." She warns that decals, or "wall tattoos" as they're sometimes called, may not be appropriate for every room of the house. If you want a sophisticated-looking living room, don't decal it. But they're always a hit in children's bedrooms. Claro recommended shopping at online sites Blik, Surface Collective and Dezign With a Z.

* Hang a collection of mirrors or flea market finds that are unified in some way -- by style, frame color or size. Examine what you already collect: Can you group it and hang it? Plates or silver trays can make artful installations, Claro said, as can multiple pages from a single, artful book, framed and hung in a grid or a straight line. "It can look very purposeful and upscale," Claro said.

Try this plywood art project contributed by Rachel Liska, a senior editor at Fresh Home Magazine.

Supplies:

Plywood

White latex house paint

Acrylic paints

Paint brushes

Stencil (optional)

Wood veneer, balsa, paperboard (optional)

Assembly:

1. Mix water into the white latex paint to create a whitewash, and paint plywood background.

2. Stencil a favorite saying, offsetting the words on each successive line.

3. Find an image online and print it in the size appropriate to your piece. Trace and paint the image directly onto the art itself or onto wood veneer, balsa or paperboard that is then mounted onto the plywood.


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