The Art of the Decorative Interior

Scenes from Stephen Spera's PICTUS...decorative painting
The world’s grooviest stripes….I wish this room still existed, but the fleeting nature of paint on walls …..well, I’ll do it again elsewhere….

The world’s grooviest stripes….I wish this room still existed, but the fleeting nature of paint on walls …..well, I’ll do it again elsewhere….

Whittemore House, Greenwich Village, NYC. Painted damasks, distressed surfaces, distressed furniture, you name it…..

Whittemore House, Greenwich Village, NYC. Painted damasks, distressed surfaces, distressed furniture, you name it…..

Rubbed Metallic walls on Fifth Ave, NYC. I kept the marks more or less horizontal, though in this type of finish they could be done in both horizontal and vertical strokes, and the transparency of the metallic / iridescents would make a gorgeously uneven faux burlap effect…

Rubbed Metallic walls on Fifth Ave, NYC. I kept the marks more or less horizontal, though in this type of finish they could be done in both horizontal and vertical strokes, and the transparency of the metallic / iridescents would make a gorgeously uneven faux burlap effect…

A lobby I am doing, in progress. Upper West Side, Manhattan. This is a huge lobby, here shown only a piece. I am doing all the panels, raised moldings, walls, railings, etc etc…..many of my students ( and even assistants) can do a finish in something the size of one panel….then are paralyzed to think of any more than that…. it is totally different thing altogether to try a large ( or in this case, massive) area, with inlays, mouldings, crowns, etc etc. To keep it perfect and clean…and remember that this is a public area …and the walls are quite high, the work so extensive….

A lobby I am doing, in progress. Upper West Side, Manhattan. This is a huge lobby, here shown only a piece. I am doing all the panels, raised moldings, walls, railings, etc etc…..many of my students ( and even assistants) can do a finish in something the size of one panel….then are paralyzed to think of any more than that…. it is totally different thing altogether to try a large ( or in this case, massive) area, with inlays, mouldings, crowns, etc etc. To keep it perfect and clean…and remember that this is a public area …and the walls are quite high, the work so extensive….

An old project…had the full crew at work on this. Pictus made a gigantic painted sisal floor ( this was three sisal rugs sewn together!) and the patterns were abstracted from ancient vestments, etc. The piece was so big we couldn’t fit it in the clients’ Ballroom! Part was always ‘up the wall’…or folded….

An old project…had the full crew at work on this. Pictus made a gigantic painted sisal floor ( this was three sisal rugs sewn together!) and the patterns were abstracted from ancient vestments, etc. The piece was so big we couldn’t fit it in the clients’ Ballroom! Part was always ‘up the wall’…or folded….

A surprise, yesterday.  This project I did with the A.D.100 great Samuel Botero, for the legendary restauranteur Ormando Orsini….We did the walls in a swirl of orange-reds, and Sam’s original concept was to spray paint words around the place. Ormando was against the use of graffiti-like forms, so I suggested perhaps pieces of poems….When they discovered I was a published poet,everyone felt confident that it would be the way to go.  My team and I cut stencils of endless fonts, in various sizes, and fragments from Dante and Shakespeare to Leonard Cohen went all over the restaurant. Words even made it to the huge glass partition, and the custom fabric for the chairs. It was widely published, but I’d never seen these shots till now.

A surprise, yesterday.  This project I did with the A.D.100 great Samuel Botero, for the legendary restauranteur Ormando Orsini….We did the walls in a swirl of orange-reds, and Sam’s original concept was to spray paint words around the place. Ormando was against the use of graffiti-like forms, so I suggested perhaps pieces of poems….When they discovered I was a published poet,everyone felt confident that it would be the way to go.  My team and I cut stencils of endless fonts, in various sizes, and fragments from Dante and Shakespeare to Leonard Cohen went all over the restaurant. Words even made it to the huge glass partition, and the custom fabric for the chairs. It was widely published, but I’d never seen these shots till now.

I love to create Tapestries - This one, for example, was hand painted on heavy unbleached muslin, with gold and copper leaf pounded into its borders.

It hung on heavy poles with finials that were similarly treated. This tapestry was chosen by the legendary Benardaud to hang in its windows on Park Avenue, NYC. Naturally I didn’t go around to take a snapshot of it in situ….( and it was there for quite a while!!) but here it is in Samuel Botero’s showroom, and below, in its resting place in a client’s apartment. I also did the walls in a red damask, and there are two of my smaller paintings just off to the right. You can see some of the decorative poles and finials at bottom, leaning on the medieval furniture. A hard learned lesson- take photos of your work, now….

One of the first Interiors Pictus ever did…..clouds were so the rage then….

One of the first Interiors Pictus ever did…..clouds were so the rage then….

Bath, Upper West Side, NYC.  Very streaky, drippy effect in the painting…lots of dragging. Quite the ‘rainforest’ effect, though light and airy……

Bath, Upper West Side, NYC.  Very streaky, drippy effect in the painting…lots of dragging. Quite the ‘rainforest’ effect, though light and airy……

Rubbed Metallic walls on fifth avenue, nyc

Rubbed Metallic walls on fifth avenue, nyc

In a manner of speaking, objects are colourless

In a manner of speaking, objects are colourless

Someone recently asked how I began Pictus- what were the projects like? For one thing, there was a lot more Faux Marble! I love doing it, the amount of depth one can show is fascinating…and I learned from ‘old-timers’ who had some super-creative approaches- due to the limitations of materials. There are more limitations now, as most materials have changed due to VOC laws, and so many other factors…But I still do them, and faux marble and faux bois are still big loves for me…..

Someone recently asked how I began Pictus- what were the projects like? For one thing, there was a lot more Faux Marble! I love doing it, the amount of depth one can show is fascinating…and I learned from ‘old-timers’ who had some super-creative approaches- due to the limitations of materials. There are more limitations now, as most materials have changed due to VOC laws, and so many other factors…But I still do them, and faux marble and faux bois are still big loves for me…..

This folding screen was painted after the Visconti-Sforza deck, the 15th century Tarot that is one of, if not THE oldest known…and the most famous. I had an old deck that I gold-leafed (where it is ‘gold’, of course)….So, one day my client needed a folding screen, and the deck came to mind….Later, It was my clients’ idea to turn the decorative screens into a long table…

This folding screen was painted after the Visconti-Sforza deck, the 15th century Tarot that is one of, if not THE oldest known…and the most famous. I had an old deck that I gold-leafed (where it is ‘gold’, of course)….So, one day my client needed a folding screen, and the deck came to mind….Later, It was my clients’ idea to turn the decorative screens into a long table…

A floor I did on the Upper West Side…it went throughout the apartment, appearing and disappearing under things, around corners……It was a zodiac version of an Italian ceiling done 100 years after the Sistine Chapel…

A floor I did on the Upper West Side…it went throughout the apartment, appearing and disappearing under things, around corners……It was a zodiac version of an Italian ceiling done 100 years after the Sistine Chapel…

"Watercolour" bath, Upper East Side.NYC … washes of color within loose-fitting outlines …

"Watercolour" bath, Upper East Side.NYC … washes of color within loose-fitting outlines …

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