Monthly Archives: November 2011

Sneak Preview: Painting of a Headboard

For a long time, I’ve been wanting to do a fabric headboard. Apparently if you saturate fabric and wall enough with spray starch, it’s supposed to adhere as temporary wallpaper. I’m going to finally get around to doing it, after I get the base of a peony-shaped headboard done. Here’s a sneak peek at the process so far.

First time around, in green.

I changed my mind to something more festive.


Hand drawn plans, 30 x 30 inches

I’m on to the messy part of cutting and tracing now but there will be more as we move furniture, block in the colors and sleep with paint fumes. Oh joy!


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Here’s what.

I really did start writing something that was very serious about the history of photography, and was really driving a point… but lost steam. So, here’s what. Don’t let these gloomy few months hinder your photography. Get out there, take advantage of the soft light provided by the clouds and create shapes and objects out of the things we see everyday.


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How To: Hang Your Art Pieces Salon Style

Gone are the days of the World’s Columbian Exposition but salon-style hanging when done right, is timeless, engaging and unbelievably effective. During the 18th and 19th century, expositions and competitions would show paintings floor-to-ceiling, in a matter that is rarely practiced today.

Martini, The Salon of 1785

There are ways to convey the richness of salon hanging in contemporary methods. I’ve hung numerous shows in this method and while it’s difficult to understand the balance of color, shape and scale in practicing this method, it’s an incredibly satisfying aesthetic. Most of us don’t have large oil paintings in ornate gold frames, but our photographs, prints and smaller scale paintings work just as well for this type of hanging. First and foremost, unless it’s a painting done on canvas and stretchers (a wood frame it’s built on), your pieces should either all be framed or not framed at all. (Framing is a whole other matter and perhaps I’ll do a post on that another day).


To get started, make sure you have enough work to show. You’ll need quite a few pieces for this method since covering an entire wall or area is no easy feat. If your pieces are framed, make sure their backs are secure and that wires are intact and strong. If you’re depending on the eyehooks or hanging mechanism on the back of a manufactured frame, make sure they’re stable. If not give them a good coat of glue, nail reinforcement or what ever care they need and let it sit for 24 hours.

All the way to the ceiling, Image: Apartment Therapy

If your pieces are unframed, my best recommendation for showing them in a consistent manner would be to use T-pins. They’re inexpensive and lend an air of “art school crit” to the look. They work especially well for photography with borders and edition works such as prints (etchings, lithography, monoprint). Map pins are much shorter but with a variety of colors to choose from, they make a wonderful presentation and are easy to push in the wall. Keep in mind that when you take them out, sometimes the heads pop off leaving a short, sharp pin in the wall. Please, use caution when removing and make sure you take all pieces out with pliers if needed.


You will need a level, pencil, measuring tape, hammer and nails or pins. They’re not necessary but bumpers for the backs of works are nice to have on hand especially if you have eggshell or matte finish paint on the walls. This will keep the works from marring the walls. Also, use the proper weight nails for pieces. Some specify the weight allowance they can handle and I suggest investing in a picture hanging kit if you’re going to hang things that are heavier than 10 pounds on a regular basis.


Regardless of whether you have an entire wall or a section of a wall that’s offset because of furniture in front of it, find your central spot. Keep in mind, your center may not be exactly in the center of the wall, but rather, where you build your structure of pieces out of. Think of it as a starburst. A great tool I use is laying the pieces on the ground and arranging them exactly how I envision them on the wall. That way, I can make changes before I put any holes in the wall. Once you have your order, hold the first piece by the wire or hanging bracket against the wall and use a pencil to mark a spot where the nail will go. (My rule of thumb for any type of two-dimensional work is to have the center of the piece at 60 inches from the ground up. That’s the prime viewing height which people generally miss as they tend to hang things too high on the wall).

The center yellow box is the starting point. Notice that the surrounding pieces are not uniform in size and structure but that there are a few rules in place. First, note the red lines where invisible lines relate pieces to one another. Not every line from the center has to be plum, but it’s nice to have a few pieces have order. Surrounding them, varying sizes and shapes fill in the space with a uniform amount of space between each piece.

There’s no one way to do this but visual balance is essential. You don’t have to have symmetrical or frames that mirror one another on either side but think of it this way. A large horizontal frame on the left would balance two small vertical ones on the right. Every time you hang a piece, use the level to check your work and move on to the next piece. You can also integrate plates and other art objects into the equation for visual interest.

You’ll get the hang of it. But if you don’t, shoot us an email. We’ll bring all the tools and hang it for you!



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Giving Thanks

Tomorrow on Thanksgiving, Chin-Azzaro will officially mark the company’s one month anniversary. It seems like much longer because we’ve met so many incredible people. We want to thank:

The talented art conservator, Celina at The Art Conservation Laboratory of Michigan, for your encouragement and partnership.

All the talented and friendly framer’s we’ve met: Randy at Parrish, Becky at Format, Scott at Pictures Plus.

And a special thank you to Marsana and Loretta at Jordan Lovell Picture Framing for the wonderful and informative visit.

Adrienne and all the talented artists at WSG Gallery for your warm welcome.

Mary at Found Gallery for sharing your time and expertise. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for December!

Ben at Photo Studio Group for taking the time to show us around the incredible space – what a resource unlike any other.

Sadashi and Melanie for being such gracious hosts and encouraging friends.

Meghan Reynard for creating such an inspiring piece at the A&D All Student Exhibit. We’re still talking about it.

Betty, John, Kate, Ed – we can’t thank you enough for the support and people you keep sending our way!

To the Maskells, our dinner together gave us hope that we’ll make it happen too. Thank you for believing in us.

DuWaine and the entire committee, for giving us a reason to conversate about art and all that goes with it.

826Michigan for their delightful and inspiring evening of children and adult writers working together to build a vision.

Three Chairs Co. for their wall space and collaboration.

Insanely-talented Anne-Marie at Genui Forma for your continued and unwavering love and support.

Susan at The Arts Alliance for the wonderful coffee meetings and exchange of ideas.

Our new (old) friend Ebru at Ayse’s Cafe for your willing ear and enthusiastic outlook on life!

Lastly, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do if we didn’t have the support of our amazing friends, family and the new clients and friends we’ve met in the last month. You’re a constant source of inspiration to us and we can’t wait to share more of our crazy ideas with you. We wish everyone a very safe, healthy and Happy Thanksgiving with full bellies and many laughs. Cheers, everyone! See you Friday.

Y + N

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Start to Finish: Painting A Wall Mural

I just finished a mural at Three Chairs Co., a prominent furniture store in downtown Ann Arbor (they have an additional showroom across the street as well). I was excited to do one here because my concept matches the mid-century aesthetic of their pieces with designers like Ray and Charles Eames, George Nelson and Isamu Noguchi.

My design of the Modern Rorschach inkblot came easily as I was sketching in Adobe Illustrator and the owner thought it would be perfect for the front window during the Herman Miller winter sale.

After I printed it out, I labeled each color and shape by section and dimension.

Now comes the real work. I measured each section (or color) to scale and translated it to hand-drawn illustrations on paper.

Then I cut each section out and labeled it.

I laid out the area for the “canvas” and blocked it in using Behr primer and paint in one. Great stuff!

Then I could start taping and tracing. 

And cutting in the colors by hand.

And filling them in. Using vibrant colors together is always a gamble. But after double and some triple coats, I think it paid off nicely.


The white space is 6' wide by 5' height.

Thank you, Three Chairs Co. for your cooperation and wall space. Special thanks to Genui Forma for sponsoring the materials! And a big thank you to -N- for being a great partner in crime.

If you need a mural in your home or office, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email


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What’s she thinking?!?

Is this the untimely end of Y’s sanity?! Could she be  plotting some sinister, diabolical scheme? Or is she gifting mankind with a glimpse of the future of art?  Tune in tomorrow for the shocking reveal!

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Do It Yourself: Business Card Holder, part 2

Last week I made my own business card holder out of bookboard and it’s held up surprisingly well, even without a paper covering or acrylic finish. I was feeling inspired yesterday so I bust out the watercolors and gave it a fluid wash and then went over the whole thing with acrylic polymer clear gloss, which can be found at any art supply. At some point I may draw an intricate design on it with ink but I’m going to live with it for a while and see how I feel. I think it looks rather smart.

The front is notched so I know which way faces up


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‘Tis the Season…

To be silly…

To be original…

To be photographed.

Need photos? Call us at 734-929-2498. That’s what we do, Thank you friends, family and clients for all the support!

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Neighborly Visit: Jordan Lovell Picture Framing

-N- and I have made a big push to support and buy from local businesses since we’ve been back. In doing so we’ve met some wonderful store owners including Marsana Lovell at Jordan Lovell Picture Framing. During our first visit we were immediately taken with the inviting interior and endless selection of frames. Situated at 155 East Hoover Ave. (at Brown Street) it’s a short jaunt from the Big House.

Originating out of a basement of Ypsilanti in 1958, it moved to its current location in 1968. In 1986, Marsana was a customer at the shop when she was offered a position to work there. After accepting the post, she found herself manager within months and since 2000, full time owner where she’s been present every step of the way. As she puts it, “A frame shop won’t support an absentee owner.” From naming it after her whippet (may sweet Jordan rest in peace) to ordering dinners in late to finish orders, Marsana along with store manager Loretta Motsinger have prided themselves in offering consistent and superior service every step of the way. That’s why the store has continued to thrive from word-of-mouth despite little internet presence.

Marsana Lovell and Loretta Motsinger

The shop gets lots of return business including the University of Michigan and local collectors of fine art and art objects. We had no idea that so much handwork was involved with framing as Marsana and Loretta talked about sewing jerseys and other delicate weavings and cross-stitches. They’ve framed everything from President Obama’s honorary degree certificate to a lobster (yes, you read that right) to a hole-in-one golfball. These ladies are creative problem-solvers to say the least!

Recently they framed a print by Op artist, Julian Stanczak and are currently working on multiple orders including two large Australian aboriginal paintings.

“There’s a sentimental value attached to these things…you buy work because you like it, so treat it well,” says Marsana.   “Framing the item completes it, many times making it look better than it ever could have on its own.” We totally agree.

Stop in any time for their expertise and warm service. For your framing needs, call Jordan Lovell Picture Framing at 734-769-2120.

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Nick Cave: Fashion or Art or Something Else Altogether

Last Thursday we attended a dialogue between University of Michigan Museum of Art’s director, Jopseh Rosa and artist Nick Cave. Known for his extraordinary sound suits, the two talked about his role as an artist and educator, highlighting his process in both worlds.

Using found objects from nature and flea markets, there are three components to his suits: stand-alone sculpture, how they look and sound in dance and performance (Cave trained in dance at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) and as photographed objects. There are motifs which repeat themselves including colorful fur suits, twig and tree trunk shaped suits with basket weavings incorporated, iridescent space-age looking suits made of buttons with open “mouths” as well as what I call oversized gingerbread men among others. Because of this, I found it particularly interesting when he denounced fashion design’s need to produce a collection. In his mind, it was more about the process of “making”, the challenge and excitement of producing work during art school that not only engaged but challenged the mainstream norms.

His vision is absolutely astounding and achieves the “dream-state” ,something he touched upon, but I found myself watching the loop of videos and images, beginning to get a sense of what aesthetics and themes he was comfortable returning to. That to me, began to feel like a collection.

Which brings up the question: Is fashion design as it’s taught in school meant to be replicated and sold at Gap? Is that an art? Or should it be a solitary experience, one which allows the artist to choose and learn based on his/her own experience of making the piece by hand and not sold in stores to be consumed by the masses. Most fashion design students go on to work for companies (like Ann Taylor or Banana Republic) and sometimes, fashion labels such as Calvin Klein, Michael Kors or even Alexander McQueen.

Cave’s perception of fashion moves further beyond that, laying the responsibility on the viewer to deem what his work is. It’s been featured in a diverse array of publications including fashion, art and craft magazines which further allows him to learn how his work is categorized. For someone that’s selling out shows in a world that’s generally suffering from recession is quite a feat. But I’m sure you can see why people are clamoring at his works.


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