Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meet artist Susan Bailie & win a fabulous painting!

petit puff 4A couple of months ago, I discovered a new-to-me artist here in Ottawa, Susan Bailie. I checked out Susan’s web site, and then contacted her to ask if I could check out her artwork in person. The next thing I knew, we were hanging in her kitchen and yapping away like we’d known each other forever. You know how some people just exude warmth and joy? That’s Susan :-) I’ve posted pics of the paintings that I’ve bought from Susan (like Petit Puff 2 over there on the right), and now I’m so excited to introduce you to the amazing artist herself. Heeeeeeere’s Susan!

How did you get started creating your foil art?
I have always loved things that are metallic and shiny. I guess I’m kind of like a magpie… ;-) Metallic paint just doesn’t do it for me, so I sourced out a product, and experimented with glazes and lacquers. I started using the product on paintings first, and then on larger surfaces such as door panels, and then eventually walls.

susan LR wall Susan’s living room with raspberry foil wall

Are you self-taught or did you study art at school?

carousel swings“Carousel Swings”

Where do you create your artwork?
I have a studio in my home, but when the weather is nice, I love painting in my backyard.

flowers In-progress painting

I know you can’t give out your secrets for how you do your foil work, but can you give us a brief overview of the process?
Basically a foiled wall is done in a series of steps. The desired colour or end result is decided first. The base coat is a special glue mixture that has been tinted. It is rolled onto the surface that is to be foiled with a paint roller. The metallic foil has a mylar backing, and it is applied to the wall with a soft cloth. Once the foil surface has been pressed down, the mylar is torn off, and the foil remains stuck on the wall. After the surface is dry, you can either add another layer of foil, or a tinted glaze, and then a lacquer.

plinko “Plinko”

On average, how long does it take you to complete a painting from the initial idea to the completed piece?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Every piece is different, and it also depends on the size. I would say anywhere between 3-14 days. I’m constantly inspired by things that I see, so I often will sketch out an idea, and then get down to business. I never sign (finish) a piece until I absolutely love it. Some pieces can be more challenging than others. I often have 6 or 7 paintings on the go at any given time, so that if one is not working the way that I had envisioned, I can move on to something else. I am easily frustrated ;-) In the beginning, I was very product-oriented. Now, I can truly say I love the process. It’s so rewarding to discover a new technique or colour combination.


What/who influences your work?
I am often inspired by nature, textiles and music. I love bright colours and things that are shiny and metallic. Oddly, some of my favourite artists don’t have any of these components in their work. These are some of them: Banksy (the documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” was a HUGE inspiration to me. I love that his identity is unknown. I’m a big fan!), Damien Hirst, Jackson Pollock, and local artists, Stephan Thompson and Shannon Armishaw. I do also love Jeff Koons and Anish Kapoor though :-)

Pinchuk Art Center

Balloon Rabbit (Violet) by Jeff Koons

Do you have any particular theme that runs through your work?
Hmmmmmm… Organic movement.

Susan Bailie Puff 2“Puff 2”

Do you still have the first painting you ever created? How has your work evolved since then?
Haha…No. I do not. I actually painted over it for my last art show. So technically, it still exists. A good friend of mine owns it now. It’s called Landslide. I will say that the first painting I did that I truly loved does still exist. I don’t own it, but a very good friend of mine bought it, so I can see it whenever I like! It was called Square Peg Round Hole. It was the inspiration for my very first art show, which was titled the same. I think my work has evolved quite a great deal since then. Some of the elements are still the same, such as texture, and foil, but I have become much less rigid with my work since then. I think you can see that in my work if you compare my very first piece with my latest piece.

Square Peg Round Hole“Square Peg Round Hole”

How do you choose the names for your paintings?
As I said, I am often inspired by music. A lot of the titles are quotes from songs. For example: The piece that recently sold at the Ottawa Art Gallery was called Shake it Off. It’s one of my favourite songs by Florence and the Machine.

shake it off“Shake It Off”

My original city series was called The City is Still Breathing, which is the title of one of my most favourite “Weakerthans” songs. One thing I will never do is title a piece “untitled”. For me, a painting isn’t alive until it has a title.

city is still breathing“City Is Still Breathing”

What materials do you use?
A combination of: plaster, glue, acrylic paint, oil paint, glaze, dimensional gel, sand, metallic foil, and lacquer.

Do you have a favourite brush or tool that you always use?
My favourite spatula, huge 4 inch glazing brush, foil and the colour quinacridone violet (golden) are all things that I cannot live without.


What similarities and differences are there between working on an art piece and working on a wall?
The scale is different. The only thing I wish is that I could do one of my city pieces on a wall. Unfortunately, some of the products that I use for my art cannot be used on a vertical surface.

1000 spools“1000 Spools”

Do you have a preference – working on canvases or walls?
I like that a wall can be totally abstract and not have to represent anything. I also love working on something that is huge in scale. I rarely use canvas. I prefer panel board. The surface is easier to work on and you have the ability to use more layers. I like an equal balance between the two.

Wonderland-2“Wonderland 2”

What’s your favourite colour and why?
Quinacridone Violet. I love the intensity of it. The combination of turquoise, yellow and QV make me really happy.

Connect-the-Dots“Connect the Dots”

Do you do commissioned pieces and what’s the process?
Yes. I meet with the client and they discuss with me what it is they are looking for. I usually ask them to bring pictures of what inspires them, and then we go from there. I come up with a design and present it to them. I am typically an abstract artist, but I have done commissions in the past that are more stylized realism. I did a bull and a matador for the restaurant Navarra in Ottawa.

navarraCommissioned matador at Navarro

You recently held an online art auction to raise money for The Lindenhof in Ottawa. Why was this cause so important to you? Have you been involved with other fundraising efforts?
This was my first fundraising effort. It was important to me because Alison, the owner is a friend of mine, and I wanted to try to help her out. It’s also important to me because The Lindenhof is the only German restaurant in town. I grew up in Germany (my father was in the army), so it’s the one place I can go to relive the amazing food experience that I had overseas.

Wonderland 5“Wonderland 5”, my auction win!

You created a foil tulip for Sens Mile for this year’s Tulip Festival – how did that opportunity come about?
(It took Susan about 40 hours to create her tulip.) One of the Tulip Festival organizers had seen my work through the online art auction that I did for the Lindenhof. He called me to set up a meeting to discuss it. I had to be a Sens fan, so thankfully I am. He really liked the idea of using foil on the tulip. I had a huge 30x80 city that was a commission I had done in my studio, and I suggested my idea to use that concept. He loved the idea. We had a gin and tonic, and two days later there was a giant tulip in my backyard!

susan and tulip Susan and her giant tulip!

You started with a big blank 5 foot tall fiberglass tulip – was that intimidating? How did your design come together?
Robin, the organizer from the tulip fest came to my studio, and I showed him my city painting that I wanted to use to showcase the Sens Mile on Elgin. My husband, Steve Mitton (who owns Murray Street) and I are strong believers in supporting all things local. So he and I came up with the idea to use the city idea to represent all of the local businesses on Elgin. And thus “Crimson Glory” was born :-)

susans tulip“Crimson Glory” in Susan’s backyard

I wasn’t intimidated at all! It was SO EXCITING! It was really cool that the press conference was held in my backyard. I got to meet a bunch of really great people including Jeff Kyle, the VP of marketing for the Sens. (!!!!) It was one of the best things I have ever done! Still though, the top of my list was last September I drove a scissor lift to do the 30ft tall wall at the new Clocktower Brew Pub in Westboro. THAT was AWESOME.

clocktowerClocktower Brew Pub

Do you find it easy to connect with other artists in Ottawa? In general, is the arts community in the city supportive?
Yes, absolutely, to both questions. I was excited to be part of the New Art Festival earlier this month. It was a great chance to meet a bunch of other artists that I really admire. So exciting!

Found-Marbles-1“Found Marbles 1”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to try their hand at creating art but isn’t sure where to start?
The best thing to do is to just go for it. There’s no right or wrong way. And don’t be hard on yourself. Everyone is an artist, just not everyone has fully developed the skill. I’m a big fan of the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Picasso said, “Every Child is an Artist” I believe that 100%. Think back to when you were little… remember making and creating things without the concern or stress about what other people would think? Find that place and go there. We are our own worst critics. Let that all go, and just focus on the process. If you enjoy the process, that will come through in the piece.

full circle 3“Full Circle 3”

Where can people see your work?
Some of my commercial wall installations are: Navarra Restaurant, The Clocktower Brew Pub, Whalesbone Oyster House, Town Restaurant, and The Urban Element. You can also see my work on my website at, on Facebook, and on Twitter. I also show my work at the Ottawa Art Gallery/art rental and sales. You can also come by my studio any time. Just call to make an appointment! 613-240-4681.

tilt-a-whirl 1“Tilt-A-Whirl 1”

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for… here’s the beautiful original painting by Susan that you could win! Petit Puff 11 is an 8” x 8” painting done with silver foil and hologram gold foil, which give it a wonderful sparkle and amazing colour effects.

petit puff II Petit Puff 11

How to enter

The giveaway is open to EVERYONE – YAY! If you don’t have a blog, please leave your e-mail address in your comment(s) so I’ll be able to contact you if you’re the winner. You can enter up to five times. Leave a separate comment for each of the following that you do.

  1. Visit Susan’s web site, and then come back here and tell me which of her paintings is your favourite.
  2. “Like” Susan’s Facebook page.
  3. Follow on Twitter.
  4. Mention my giveaway on your blog.
  5. Tweet about my giveaway. Feel free to copy & paste:

Meet artist Susan Bailie and win a fabulous painting at JAX does design! @JAXdecor

I’ll be taking a blog break for a week and a half, so you have until I’m back to enter – giveaway closes at midnight on Tuesday, July 10th, and I’ll announce the lucky winner on Wednesday, July 11th

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rub-a-dub-dub, we bought a new tub!

Well that was easy! I went out last Friday to do some tile, tub, and toilet sourcing for our bathroom makeover. And just like that, we have a new tub!


I wandered around the showroom at Boone Plumbing & Heating Supply, not really looking for anything specific other than a freestanding tub, preferably with air jets. The swoon-worthy tubs from Albert + Victoria and WetStyle caught my eye, but swoon-worthy doesn’t usually come cheap. So I kept looking.

Bathtub-AmbrosiaF from above

There were rectangular tubs and claw foot tubs and tubs with white insides and grey outsides. And then I saw it. Sitting there unassumingly among the rectangular tubs and claw foot tubs and white & grey tubs… the MAAX Ambrosia F.

Bathtub-AmbrosiaF-1Images via MAAX

There wasn’t any swooning at first. The shape was nice – kind of an oval/egg shape. It was comfortable to sit in. Then the sales person pointed out the price tag – $6,692 on sale for $3,700. For a freestanding tub with air system, chromotherapy lights, drain, and overflow. OK, NOW it’s swoon-worthy!

ambrosia f houzzImage via Houzz

The first item of many checked off of our bathroom makeover list :-)

And now, time to announce my Blurb winner…

Lisa from Lisa Goulet Design!

Lisa narrowed down her book options to her kids, her cats, Paris, gardens, or maybe even design. Have fun designing & creating your book!

If you didn’t win this giveaway, not to worry, I’ve got another great giveaway happening tomorrow! Don’t miss it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bubblelicious fireplace mantel

I just discovered that The Lettered Cottage is having a summer mantel link party. I’m at the cottage and only have one camera and memory card with me, and not all my mantel pictures are on my laptop. But I don’t want to miss out on the fun, so I’ve put together some pictures that I have on hand.

After we finished making over our fireplace this past winter, I couldn’t figure out what to hang above the mantel. I wanted it to be something different and unexpected. And then I came across an awesome bubble “light fixture” project by Jenna at Homeslice, and it was a total AH-HA! moment :-)

This is how my bubble project turned out. If you’d like to read about how hubby and I put it all together, click here.

mantel bubbles

Someone suggested hanging a mirror on the wall to reflect the bubbles. Great idea! I found one on Kijiji that was the perfect size – sold for $35!

mantel mirror

mantel mirror 2

Oh yeah, double the bubbleliciousness! But figuring out how to style the mantel was a big pain – it was too plain with nothing, but I didn’t want it cluttered and overshadowing the bubbles. I decided to keep with the bubbly theme and display my glass floats.

mantel floats left 2

mantel floats right

mantel floats right 2

This is the best picture that I have on hand of the whole mantel. I took it a few weeks ago when I had an art party at my house – hence all the art!

mantel art party

And that’s my summer mantel. Head on over to The Lettered Cottage to get lots of great summer mantel inspiration :-)

The Lettered Cottage

Don't forget to enter my giveaway - Blurb is offering one lucky JAX does design reader the opportunity to create and publish your very own book! Click here for all the details.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Woot! It's master bathroom makeover time!

I'm guest posting over at Olga's blog, Stardust - Decor & Style today (Friday, June 22nd). Well, it's actually still June 21st here, but Olga is in Greece, so it's already Friday where she is :-)
Click here to check out some of my DIY and room before & afters.

Did you see the Homestyler bathroom layouts that I posted last week?


Well, I'm seriously stoked because hubby FINALLY agreed to gutting & redoing our master bathroom.

Can I get a WOOT!

Did he give in to my 11 years of nagging? Nope. All it took was a real estate agent assessing our house to walk into the room and say "Oh, this all has to go." If I'd known, I would have called a real estate agent  ages years ago!

Anyway - in all honesty, it's not the worst bathroom in the world. It's a good size, but the corner tub literally takes up 1/4 of the room, and we never even use it. We also never use the bidet. Does anyone use a bidet? The only things we've done with ours is use it as a dog water fountain and for party entertainment.

Guest: "Look! It's a bidet! What's a bidet for?"
Me: "I have no idea - but let's see how high we can get the water to shoot up!"
Everyone: "Oooooooh, cooooooool!"

via schwingeninswitzerland
This is what the bathroom looked like when we moved in (minus the Hollywood light that we replaced). That green marble tile around the tub & shower is also on the floor. I mean, seriously, could a room be any greener?

So anyway, all the ugly is going and lots of pretty is coming in. YAY! I'm totally inspired by the bathroom makeover that Sarah & Tommy did on Sarah 101 last week. Coincidentally, they had a lot of green to ditch too.

I LOVE the moonstone tiles on the floor. I went to Saltillo to check them out, but according to the lady at the store here in Ottawa, the biggest size they come in is 3" x 6". The tiles in Sarah & Tommy's bathroom are definitely bigger than that. Well, one way or another, we'll definitely be putting moonstone in the bathroom because hubby and I both love it. Well, I love it. He doesn't really care one way or the other ;-)

If we don't use moonstone on the floor, we'll go with honed carrera marble (1) with some sort of accent, possibly Matrix Multi Gray Marble Mosaic (4). Mini Sunflower Marble Mosaic in Moonstoone & Thassos (2) will be the accent tile in the shower and in the niche behind the tub (like Sarah & Tommy's "nooche"). I'm also planning to do "wainscoting" with 3" x 6" honed carrera marble (3).

♥ ♥ ♥

via DecorPad
And hubby doesn't know this yet, but I want to replace the door & window trim with carrera marble too. I totally love this look!

via Houzz, photo by Cynthia Lynn Photogrpahy
These are the PARA paint colours I've narrowed the choices down to. I pulled them from the colours in the moonstone. Do you have a favourite?
Lindsay at Little House Blog considered these three marble alternatives for her kitchen countertops. I'm thinking any one of them would work well as the vanity countertop in our bathroom. I particularly like Corian "Rain Cloud".

Speaking of the vanity - hubby says he's going to make it. UGH! He does good work, but he's sooooooo slow! I've never seen anyone think and analyze and plan so much!

I love, love, love the Virage faucet from Brizo. I want, want, want polished nickel Virage faucets in our bathroom, please!

The shower design is still in the works, but it'll be big and glass and have body jets and maybe a rain shower head. You might never get me out of it!

I've always wanted a free-standing tub - now's my chance! I love the design on this tub from WetStyle's IMAGE-in collection. I saw their tubs at IDS12 - they're just beautiful, and the finish is so smooth and feels amazing.

There's definitely going to be a chandelier for some bling, as well as scones above the vanity and some pot lights. I'm thinking something along the lines of this chandelier, which looks a bit like water drops.

Alexandra from Bellacor

And at the non-blingy end of things, every bathroom needs a toilet. We're planning to go with a wall-mounted Toto, which will take up less space than a traditional toilet. Plus there's less surface area to clean :-) Does anyone have a wall-mounted toilet? I'm just wondering how securely they attach to the wall...

Toto Aquia from
So that's my vision for the room. Whether or not it comes together the way I'm hoping remains to be seen. I have to narrow down some choices, do some budget calculations, and start making some concrete decisions so we can get this party started! I'm sure compromises will be made along the way, but getting hubby to agree to the new layout was a major coup :-) The power of a real estate agent and 11 decorators who ALL chose the same layout from the four I showed them. Thank you, ladies! :-)

Don't forget to enter my giveaway - Blurb is offering one lucky JAX does design reader the opportunity to create and publish your very own book! Click here for all the details.