June 24th, 2016

Classically Modern Wall Art Inspired by Dorothy Draper

Bold colors and classic design are two of my favorite elements to combine when I’m designing a room. And wall art is like magic fairy dust, changing the style and feeling of a room in an instant. It can transform an otherwise too-formal room, making it feel comfortable, inviting, and infuse tons of personality. This is why I’m a huge devotee of the legendary Dorothy Draper. She was the first famous interior designer, and for good reason. Beyond her heritage and upbringing among the elite well-connected society, she turned traditional style on its head and painted wood white. While that doesn’t sound revolutionary now, but back then, it seemed outrageous. Kind of like painting your grass hot pink would seem today. Dorothey used vibrant colors, thick stripes, exagerated plaster details, and oversized whimsical elements. And her designs were applauded by critics and patrons of the famous places she designed. So as a designer who loves to try new things, I was inspired to interpret Dorothy Draper’s classic manor rose print as a graphic series of wall art.   The classic and popular cabbage rose print by designer Dorothy Draper After finding the rose design online, I started to manipulate the image to achieve the vision in my brain. My idea was to do my version of Dorothy Draper-ing the rose print. So, I decided to use her design techinques of playing with scale and vibrant colors to create something visually interesting and slightly arresting. Scale. Playing with the size of anything can be an effective design technique. The goal was to enlarge the print to slightly distort the image, and transform the boldness of the detailed original into a modern version of bold, with cleaner and simpler lines and larger swaths of color. I selected a few areas of the print and zoomed in until the rose form started to be less obvious but still interpreted as a flower design. Color. Using the three new prints from above, I wanted to find the perfect paint colors for this project. As it is a fresh interpretation, I didn’t want to color match, but use the mojo of Dorothy’s boldness to push the color pallette into an even bolder and crisper versions of her original colors. I also limited myself to selecting just three shades of pink and three shades of green. Any more color variation and the wall art would appear less graphic and have too much detail to have the bold abstract look I wanted to achieve. chose Glidden’s Miami Grass, Whimsical Green and Emerald Leaf Green for greens. Florida Pink, Red Red Rose and Red Rose Bouquet were my pinks.   For the rose prints, I chose three green paint colors and three pink paint colors. After selecting the paint colors for every project, I am elated and psyched to open the paint and get started seeing the colors come alive. For this project I used three canvases. I started with the middle green, and then added the other greens, then the pinks in the same manner. Since this is a personal interpretation, I lightly penciled a few marks on each canvas so that I had a few important placements marked before I put paint to canvas. As this is more art than science, I gave myself the freedom to dip a brush in the paint and allow the brush to curve and follow the shapes from the oversized images that I had created from the original. Canvas absorbs more paint than drywall does. So for the darker colors, I applied three coats. The lighter colors needed just two.   I added each paint color to the canvas to create the graphic modern interpretation.Comparing the new painted interpretation to the orginal, it has the same kinds of colors and the same kinds of shapes. It is exactly what I had in mind when I started, and I am delighted. The classic Dorothy Draper rose print on the left is reimagined as a bolder graphic on the right. After admiring the artwork above my tufted navy blue sofa, I’m thinking that bold green 6-inch wide stripes behind the wall art and a tall leafy tree would set off the look and amp up the Dorothy Draper design style even more. While I'm happy with the result of the modern interpretation of the manor rose print, I'm thinking that painting a bold green stripe and a palm tree by the sofa would amp up the glamour and Dorothy Draper boldness. So while I’m out fussing on those last elements of my project, I would like to think that Dorothy Draper would tilt her head in recognition of my triptych tribute to her design prowess. Have you ever admired classic artwork and had that urge to reinterpret it in a new way?

This post is sponsored by Glidden® paint, a PPG brand. All thoughts, opinions and paintbrushes are my own.