Have you ever walked into your new office or your home and looked at a blank wall and wondered about the possibilities? New construction techniques allow for large open spaces, but sometimes this means large open walls that don’t easily lend themselves to traditional interior design. Is it enough to simply add furniture, some accents and maybe a few pictures and plants or are you looking for something more? It could be that you’re wondering how to manage some of the cracks, depressions and flaws in a wall or maybe the surface doesn’t lend itself to typical painting. If this is the case then maybe Faux Painting is for you. Our staff will show you the possibilities and help make your visions a reality.
There are many advantages to Faux Painting. We can work with virtually any surface; glass, fabric, sheetrock, stone, cement and concrete, wood, metal, plaster, and ceramics.
Faux (pronounced “foe”) is from the old French word, “fals” which means false. This is because the art has been used to imitate reality for thousands of years. A skilled craftsman can produce something that is a work of art.
Common building materials can be made to look like marble or expensive stone. Murals depicting complex scenes of nature or the heavens above transform bare walls and ceilings to works of art. Over the last few years there has been an explosion in new techniques, materials and paints that have taken Faux Painting to remarkable new levels. We now apply our finishes in restaurants, homes, office parks, hotels, casinos, and ocean going yachts.
Simply put, Faux Painting or Faux Finishing is an art whereby a skilled artist can use a wide variety of different painting techniques to create a desired finish. Techniques come with unique names such as stippling, combing, ragging off, wood graining, and marbling. You can simulate the view from an Italian Villa or a century old masonry wall.
Basic styles of Faux Painting include but are not limited to: Wood graining, Distressing Trompe-L’oeil, Color Glazing, Marbleizing, Antiquing, Fresco, Gilding, Venetian Plaster, Stenciling, Murals, Friezes, Lime washing, Dragging, Aging, and Wall Washing. Paint can either be applied (a positive technique) or removed (a negative technique) to create a desired result. Tools to achieve these effects run the gamut from the usual paintbrushes and rollers we are familiar with to such items as sponges, various types of cloth, feather dusters, spatulas, trowels, chamois, paints, earth pigments, tinted plasters, washes, glazes, foils, tints, and dyes. The techniques can be applied to walls, floors, ceilings, doors, exterior walls, and even furniture.
Faux Painting has been around since the earliest of human time. All you have to do is look on the walls of caves. Perhaps they were speaking to their achievements in battle, maybe showing things they had seen on their travels, or maybe the images had some spiritual significance. The earliest of these images found to date are in Spain and are more than 40,000 years old. They are simple hand prints on a wall traced in simple paint. Similar drawings in France are a mere 37,000 old.
Things have not changed much over the centuries. Move forward a few thousand years and look what the Egyptians gave us …Faux Painting on a scale that early man could never comprehend. Many say it reached its zenith with the Third Dynasty about 2680 BC. These artists took the common building stones of the time and used their skills to simulate wood grains. Even before that, the Mesopotamians were using stucco and plaster finishes to decorate their buildings and homes. This was more than 5000 years ago.
The Greeks worked primarily in earth tones and developed numerous new finished and techniques. Many wealthy Romans had their own portraits painted on the walls of their homes. We find numerous examples of this in the remains of Pompeii and the nearby town of Herculaneum. When archeologists excavated the sites they found numerous examples of the use of Faux Painting and finishes.
The Romans and Greeks helped to introduce Trompe-L’oeil Murals starting in 400 BC. These giant murals celebrated great victories, human depictions of the Gods, and great public events like Chariot Races at the Coliseum. The use of new colors, experimenting with compositions and spacing allowed for an almost three dimensional aspect to these murals. Those who wanted to learn the trade were required to undergo an apprenticeship that would typically last 10 years. As the Roman Empire declined, a new Order emerged as the Catholic Church held sway in the world of art for hundreds of years. As the great churches of Europe grew, the subjects and venues changed to churches. Religious themes from the Bible were used as subjects.
As the Renaissance emerged in the 1400’s “Art for Art’s Sake” became one of the driving forces in the new age of creativity and experimentation. Italian artists were developing new methods for creating Frescoes. The wealthy nobles of the time commissioned artists to decorate their palatial estates. As you can imagine with the great emergence of all kinds of painting, many new techniques and materials were evolving. Every town of significance wanted a grand church to show off to travelers as a sign of importance. The use of Faux painting allowed them to stretch the building budget by creating stone and marble effects on the far more economical wood used in general construction of the day.
This was the period in which the two major schools emerged. The French and the Italian Schools differed in their approach. While the French were extremely detail conscious, the Italians were more free flowing and softer in their styles. The Italians had the advantage of fewer steps in the process but their work was best viewed from a distance. The French however were so good that only an expert could tell the real from the “Faux”.
As the trading classes grew during the 1500’s to the 1700’s Faux Painting gave the “nouveau riche” an opportunity to decorate their new homes with simulated marble beams, faux tapestries and large wall murals with images depicting scenes drawn from their travels and experiences around the world. As more of the wealth moved from the nobles into the hands of the merchants, it became very popular to have your home decorated and many competed to have the best artists work in their homes.
By the 17th century faux painting was enjoying what was to be called the second golden age of faux painting. Along with the Baroque Era, new techniques using varnish and lacquers were used. If you want to see perhaps the most extreme example of this in all of history, you have to look no further than the Palace at Versailles. With a floor area of 67,000 square meters virtually every wall and ceiling, as well as many of the floors and much of the furniture are decorated by many of the finest artisans of the day.
In the 1800’s and 1900’s many people tried to get some of the same effects by using wallpaper. The patterns and colors were very attractive to the average consumer, but it was the low cost that gave rise to its widespread popularity. Still the Victorian age embraced faux painting. Bright colors and vivid hues were combined in intricate designs using stenciled patterns that appeared on walls, wainscoting, ceilings and floors. Schools sprang up to train all the artists needed to meet the demand. Soon after that, the pendulum swung the other way with the dawn of the 20th century. Tastes changed and the world was enthralled with producing the most goods at the lowest price and for the next 70 years we had the Dark Age of faux painting. The only bright light was the Art Deco movement in the 1920’s, complete with its modern interpretation of art based neoclassical design.
Beginning in the 1980’s decorative painting enjoyed a resurgence, which continues to this day. This has spawned new varieties of materials, resins and creative tools. Architectural and design magazines show us corporate boardrooms, beautiful interiors, restaurants, entertainment venues, and modern hotels, all decorated with beautiful faux finishes. Faux finishing is back and here to stay!!