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Clean is not a Color

September 21, 1897 New York Sun
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love, generosity and devotion exist and you know that they abound and give to your life it’s highest beauty and joy.

This came to me while standing in the living room of my dear friend, Virginia. Virginia was asking for a clean, new look. Working our way through the paint deck looking at all the possible color schemes she continued to ask for clean! But alas, Virginia, “clean” is not a color! I was forced to tease out more. “Clean” like spare, uncluttered, managed, new, neutral, clear, ethereal? Like the kind of “clean” we sense when we walk into an Apple store? “Clean” is the new, ethereal, un-color! The enigmatic neutral of the moment.

So let me share a tiny bit of wisdom. When you are standing in your living room with paint deck in hand creating a new look for 2015, keep in mind that neutrals are calm and soothing, but they can also be flat and lifeless! If you paint everything neutral there’s a good chance your home will look like you are just about to paint!

In order to visualize what’s next, you may want a blank slate. But painting it all out before painting it in, is a lot of work! So play around, sample test!

Color and tone can balance, correct, warm, cool and inspire an interior. If the architecture of a room is overbearing, color can live up to or temper it. Most of us live in interiors that need more architecture, more charm, more detail. Imagine the interior in 2-D first, as if you were going to, literally, paint a picture of the interior as an oil painting. Where does the room need highlights, drama, where does it need shadows? What do you want to amplify and what do you want to reduce? Why use one trim when two will increase depth, interest and vary the palette?

In this new vernacular of neutrals, form is essential. Strong sculptural shapes show better. And since the color shift is minimal the emphasis has shifted to texture or in the case of paint, finish or sheen. Pattern and color are less prominent and by reducing these elements we can see and play with the effects of gloss against matte.

There is a lot of emphasis on ceilings these days, look up and you will see cool colors and high gloss. Why? Because ethereal is definitely “in”! “Yes, Virginia, he lives and lives forever!” You can have a fresh, clean look with stylish magic in 2015, but you have to believe!

Susan English
The middle is everywhere and everything 
77″ x 20″, Polymer on Panel
Littlejohn Contemporary Art, Inc. 547 West 27th St.

Congratulations to Susan English on her new association with Littlejohn Contemporary Gallery in Chelsea.  Susan is a fine, Fine Artist.  Many of you know her as the principal Decorative Painter, of English and Harms.  Susan has an amazing eye for artful interiors and has been a great asset to me and my clients.  Thank you, Susan. For more “ethereal” inspiration, see Susan’s work on the gallery website link above.  

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