May 30, 2008 -
Earth tones in contemporary furnishings, both residential and commercial, are the popular choices these days. Those well-blended tans, peaches, beiges, sagey-greens, slatey-blues, burnt oranges, eggplant-purples, light turquoises, taupes and golden yellows are filling our homes and offices. From sofas, pillows and window coverings, to vases, lamps, wall decors and silk flowers, neutral earth tones provide an ever-popular palette for matching and contrasting colors - with, of course, the occasional infused color splash of a bright red sofa, or a sleek chrome or brushed-nickel finish table or lamp.
Lately, however, interior designers have been adding a new element to this earthy-colored mix. Bold-colored, modern abstract paintings are fast becoming the darling match to the neutral tones in residential homes and offices. Extraordinary color intensity and balanced form are the name of the game with this abstract genre. Done right, they add energy to an environment, yet look stylish in any home or office setting.
“We are seeing bold-color, modern abstract art is becoming increasingly popular with our clients,” says Judy Kirsch, President of Designs by Judy, an interior design firm located in Chicago. “Neutral and neuter colors have been prevalent, and our clients are looking for paintings with more of a color zing. Modernistic abstract art with bold colors is definitely in demand.”
“It is important to our clients that the abstract pick up colors or shapes in the room,
or even of the exterior environment,” continues Kirsch. “This is not always an easy
task to pull off with an abstract design. On a recent decorating project with a high-rise condominium in Chicago, the modern abstract art we selected almost represented Millennium Park and some of the other structures in the Chicago area that could be seen from outside of our client’s window. The art also brought out a little bit of turquoise which went with the water on the lake, and a bit of orange reflecting the tangerine pillows in the room. This modernistic abstract just pulled the entire room together.”
The artist that produced the work for this project is Scott J. Menaul, who creates original modern abstract art using a combination of 3-D modeling, illustration and photo enhancement tools on the computer. The common theme threaded throughout Menaul’s art is his use of crystal geometric objects (in virtual space) that reflect and refract the environment around them. The objects take on color - frequently extremely vivid color - and reflect the images of nearby forms.
“One of the benefits of working with a computer is the ability to change the color palette, print size and proportions at will to match the décor,” says Menaul. “A designer, or art buyer, can select color swatches, color system numbers, print sizes and different proportions to customize the artwork more exactly to fit their client’s needs.”
Many of my pieces include geometrical forms and a sense of precision that bridges fine art and design. The color, patterns and forms, when combined together, take on a life of their own.
“The abstracts are done using a variety of graphics and 3D programs as tools,” explains Menaul. “People are frequently surprised because the pieces are personal and captivating. The most exciting artwork, in my opinion, is art that compels the viewer to participate in it. That is why I love abstract art, each viewer sees something different in my abstracts.”
Menaul’s final artwork is then printed as limited-edition giclées on canvas - very high quality prints made with fade-resistant UV inks, or open (Unlimited) editions on paper using a variety of smooth or textured watercolor papers. Canvas prints are printed directly onto high-quality canvas and coated with a clear protective topcoat for UV, abrasion, water and chemical resistance. The canvas giclées are very rich, with extraordinary color intensity and tonal range, and almost indistinguishable from oil paintings.
Designers, and their clients, do not seem to mind that their abstracts are being “painted” electronically instead of using a brush. “I have not found that to make any difference with my clients,” says Kirsch. “They are happy with the end results - the bold colors and the unusual designs.”
Interior designers working on both commercial and residential properties, seem to be increasingly drawn to modern abstract triptychs - a work of art which is divided into three sections with a central painting flanked on either side by two related paintings. Menaul’s abstract triptychs are particularly popular. Because the elements and colors of Menaul’s triptychs and other work can be manipulated electronically, and because he sends proofs to make sure the colors match the design of the room, designers and clients find they have more flexibility to better match colors and shapes to the surrounding room and overall environment.
“We purchased an abstract from Menaul for a home that we had just finished designing, but still had to complete the project with art,” says Jeanne Bemis, President of JMB Designs LLC in Seattle, Washington, and a member of the American Society of Interior Designers. “I saw a sample of Menaul’s work - the colors and the abstraction of the composition was most interesting. His work is very different, it fit my client’s needs so we purchased a grouping of three pieces.
“Our design method is to research, identify and creatively solve problems pertaining to the function and quality of the interior home and business environment,” Bemis explains. “We create an environment which is both beautiful and functional for our client’s needs, including every aspect of the interior environment - furnishings, floor coverings, window treatments, accessories and art - and it all has to work together. I liked that Menaul produced painting samples so we could see what the abstract was actually going to look like. On this design project, which had a rather challenging color scheme, Menaul’s samples were critical to bringing about a perfect color match with the other elements in the room.”
“The colors we selected are very trendy,” continues Bemis. “The composition is quite free form, like a flowing abstract which we interpreted as water. That is what we were after. Menaul uses the right colors that fit in the homes of today. That is why I like his style.”
For more information on Menaul Fine Art, visit http://menaul-art.com