Saturday, August 30, 2008

Magazine Inspirations

This hammock chair called "Slink" comes from American Leather. Doesn't this look comfy? Picture it in a living area as a seat for reading, watching TV or just looking out the window.If the chartruese is a little loud for your color scheme, there are over 60 different leathers or ultrasuedes to choose from.

One of Elle Decor's picks of their September issue. Don't you love seeing what the top design magazines think is inspiring?
Many magazines are talking paint this month. One of our favorite websites for exploring color is Sherwin Williams. You can go into the design ideas section and click on color visualizer. Once there you can play with colors for exteriors or interiors. There are different rooms that can be "painted" with 1000s of hues. Of course all computer monitors show color shades differently, but you can get some good ideas before you head off to the paint store. Have fun!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sid Dickens Have Arrived

It's always a big event when we receive a shipment of Sid Dickens tiles. If you're familiar with these hand-crafted plaster wall tiles, you'll know why we are excited. Little pieces of art inspired by ancient manuscripts, myths and relics of the past - they are memory blocks. Below I share a few images from his latest series. On the back they are titled and printed with a few lines about their inspiration.


Abundant beauty,

Joy in such a measure,

Hearts feast.

Each memory block incorporates a unique chunk of history in a very modern way. Some designs are finished to a porcelain like quality and others are cracked with the look of weathered stone for an aged look. They project a timeless quality which is beloved by collectors.

Words we parted for,
Tenuous waits; days long.
Know my only allegiance is to you.
Out of his studio in Vancouver Sid Dickens tells the story of his journey to creating the 6"x8" blocks. Read it on his website. He says, "People like to feel they are an integral part of the story of humanity, and my tiles have the weight and feel of another era, a time when things were more permanent and longlasting."Heraldry
Protector of dominions,
Nature's stalwart lance.

Each year the artist designs a new collection. Spring of 2008 is the Empire, designs "to remind us of our place in history and those who have shared it."


This beauty; solemn twig.

Nature's oracle,

Hearkening tomorrow's bloom.

Some people like to display a tile singly on a small wall or propped on a stand on a table Others like to group them together which makes a dramatic art installation. See what Pamela did in a showcse home several years ago.

Our order is going fast. We will order again in two weeks to accomodate everyone's wants. The next order will be received in mid-November so now is the time to place Christmas requests.

PS. Sorry about the erratic line spacing. I continue to be blog challenged!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Little Show and Tell with Pamela

I asked Pamela to tell this audience a little about her design perspecive. Those who know Pamela realize that by asking her to verbalize her vision, I'm pushing her outside her comfort zone. So if you enjoy this post, please let her know.

Nine years ago I approached my children about my idea to open a retail gallery. After discussing the idea and the possibilities my daughter-in-law,Pamela, agreed to be my partner in my dream. She had experience in retail and design from being a manager of Expressions Furniture in Austin; so we combined my love of art and crafts with her knowledge of furniture and eye for design to create Annarella Home. Now 8 years and two children later we are still partners, still enjoying our store and still following our dream.

Design projects have become a huge part of our business. Pamela's reputation as a talented designer keeps her busy. She is creative, innovative and most importantly responsive to her client's needs. Enjoy her words along with some pictures from several of her projects.
Do you have favorite elements of design that you enjoy the most? My favorite thing is putting it all together at the end. After the client chooses their big pieces of furniture, I get to shop for surprise accessories, pillows, art and rugs. I usually kick the homeowners out of their house for the day of the install. When they come back the look on their faces is priceless! That is my favorite part!!!How do you stay up with new trends and products? New products...Market and TV. New design they come shortly after fashion. Whatever the new colors are in the fashion world, you know that they will be out in home interior styles shortly. I do have to say that I don't like "trendy" though. My goal is to create something the client will enjoy living in for a long time...not just until the "trend" is over. Also I work with so many families that I think listening to what is functional for them and then making it beautiful is the most important trend of all.What designers do you admire? I like quite a few, but my favorite is probably Candice Olsen. We don't get to do a lot of modern design here in Texas so I love watching her put together her modern or classic contemporary rooms! Are there any home and design magazines that you recommend? Not really. I usually tell clients to look through them all and pull out pages of things that really speak to them, There might be one thing in a picture that they like, such as a window treatment or a sofa. It really helps to have a magazine portfolio to show the designer so we can all be on the same page and create the dream room they want.What style is your home? A bit eclectic but mostly comfy and kid friendly!!! I love neutrals punched with color and a lot of texture in everything.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Around town

Looking for a special treat? Cherie Gilbert has opened Galaxy Cupcakes. Her new store is located at 1501 Park Lane, Georgetown, next to the Brooklyn Pie Company. The cupcakes are out of this world good! Besides having the standard flavors, there are a whole series of adult cupcakes inspired by cocktails. Not for the young but definitely for all the young at heart. Yummy!!!

Stop by and say hi to Nikki who will be helping out at the cash register. Don't forget the Gooberfest charity ride on September 6. All proceeds will go to the Nikki Gilbert Benefit Fund. A fun day for a good cause.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Artist Interview: Allyson Smith

Ochre Pine

Today I'm talking to figure painter, Allyson Smith. She studies the aspects of the human face and through that, the human condition . Her complex work is composed of heavy contrasts in color, light and shadow juxtaposed with subtle nuances of expression, mood and posture. Although (or because) she uses only herself and her husband, Tyson Skross, as models, the pieces reflect the constantly changing universe. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, Indiana University.

Tell me about art in your childhood. As far back as I can remember I loved to color, draw and paint. I grew up in a full house, the youngest of 5 kids, and when there was something going on I'd be in there, I'd have to be there, but when things didn't interest me or it was quiet I was just as happy to be by myself coloring or just thinking.

The Sound of Rocks in Dover

Was there art in your home or was creativity encouraged? We had a few paintings in our house from my father's side of the family, One, still hanging in the dining room, is of a young woman in a corseted dress in the country but it is mainly of her and only hints of a earthy background. She is holding her dress up with her hand and poised so delicately. I remember inspecting the hands especially for brush strokes and to see where the color changed, how it possibly could have been made.
There was another painting in the staircase, 2 that were side by side actually, of flowers and they were much more modern. The first was very light in color with lightly applied pigment,almost dry. The second, my favorite, was dark and energetic with pigment thickly put on with a pallette knife so colors were not completely mixed and were streaked. I couldn't tell if it were ugly or beautiful but I loved it.

We had art books in my house growing up. I remember especially a book on Picasso and loving his Blue Period and his drawings. And, oh, I watched Bob Ross! Art was always encouraged. We were always encouraged to be ourselves. Art was it for me. Nothing ever frustrated or satisfied me so much as when I tried to make something.Your formal education, was it valuable to you? I received my BFA from MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art, in Baltimore. I think my education there was great - very informative and I loved living in a community of curious and creative thinkers.

What inspires you? A lot of things inspire me. People, mainly my family and close friends, are my biggest inspiration. Light captivates me; especially dusk. Things change so fast at this time of day. Randomly more things that inspire me: other artists, sounds (like the clay pot and lid in the Thai restaurant in Baltimore), the ocean, mountains, dreams, memories, travel, adventure and transformation. The way things can unexpectedly relate in a glimpse.

Claiming Winter

How do you relate to your audience and how do you want your audience to relate to your paintings? I think of the play between the painting and the viewer a lot when I work. I want the paintings to be confrontational and also intimate. Ultimately I would love if the viewer simply enjoyed the paint itself as much as I do when I'm working. The qualities of paint, how paint can hover freely over the forms and subject or attach itself to them is a constant thrill to me and for me - really relates to the mysteries and sensations that surround us all the time.

Do you listen to music when you work? Who or what? I like a mix of musicians, some are instrumentals from all different countries that my husband, Tyson, finds and puts on my ipod. Some of my favorites are - Johnny Cash (The American Recordings), Nina Simone, Amalia Rodriquez, Talking Heads, MIA, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. When I lived in Bridgeport, Ty and I shared a studio and we had a record player and we played Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan records at night while we worked (and a Billy Joel record when we would make dinner!) I love the sound of those records.

Any favorite books, movies or TV you enjoy for relaxation or inspiration? I haven't been reading as much as I would like but I constantly have between 40-60 out from the IU library - mainly on different artists like Per Kirkeby, Piero Della Francesco, Nancy Spero, and Amy Sillman. I just started Dostoevsky's "The Double." I love Anthony Bourdain's show, Terence Malik's movies, Arrested Development TV series and movies "The Big Lebowski.' "Lost in Translation" and "My Blueberry Nights." Just the other night I saw a documentary on Julia Child which I loved. It showed how passion in life can translate into lucious forms.

Thank you, Allyson. I'm so glad you agreed to share your thoughts. You mentioned Julia Child, the great French chef, and I would like to share with everyone you're culinary achievement.

Allyson is a very good baker. She entered a healthy version of her decadent Dark Chocolate Florentines recipe to Eating Well. She is one of the 10 finalists! You can vote for her recipe here. Encourage all your friends to vote also.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sweet Smells of Luxe

Creme Brulee

French vanilla with a touch of caramel

Doesn't that sound delicious? Well, it smells as good as it sounds! Annarella Home just unpacked some Lux Candles which is always a sweet smelling treat. If you like candles for your home or business and aren't familiar with these, you are missing a real treat. This central Texas company produces the best candles at reasonable prices. (We're so proud when we can spotlight a local product that is made with such care and quality.) They are great for your home and make perfect hostess or "whatever" gifts.

Amber d"Luxe

warm sultry oriental vanilla with resonous woods

Made from a blend of highy refined paraffin and vegetable waxes and scented with essential oils, they burn for up to 100 hours in the beautifully embellished glass container. (Essential oils do not effect a lot of people who react to synthetic or chemical scents.)

Bourdeau Blanc

rich, robust mulled grapes

They choose not to use soy wax because it has such a distinctive natural odor which is difficult to disguise. Also soy wax tends not to hold fragrance well. But if you keep your wick trimmed to 1/4 inch, this candle does not throw off a lot of smoke.

Pictured here are 3 of our favorite scents. stop in with your nose and pick out your favorite.

We will let you know when we receive the special holiday scents.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New vases and bowls

New in the store, Annarela Home.

Feast your eyes on some new vases and bowls we just received. We love this time of year when after making room with our BIG SALE, we begin to receive our fall orders. These are from a new vendor and we love them! They have timeless classic lines mixed with color or texture for interest.

Won't some of these look great on bookshelves or mantles as accent pieces?

Or this vase with some fall dried grasses or berry branches on a console table?These bowls can even go into the holiday season with gourds for fall or shiny balls for Christmas.

Come in to see all the new treasures. Some of these won't last long.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Interview: Tyson Skross

This is the first in a planned series of talks with some of my favorite artists that exhibit here, Annarella Home.

I'm always interested in what experiences an artist has had and how that influences them. And the process - how they do what they do; why they do what they do. I hope all of you will enjoy this interview with Tyson Skross and find some insight into the artist's mind.

Tyson Skross - In 1988 Tyson and his family moved from suburban Texas to Geneva, Switzerland. At age 18 he returned to the United States to attend MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art, where he received his BFA in painting. His work is heavily influenced by his childhood experiences in that simultaneously sorrowful and optimistic European city as it is by his contemporary American lifestyle. Although his paintings most often depict buildings, he insists he paints places, not things.

Tell us what place art had in your childhood. I always remember drawing and painting, what stands out for me the most was frustration with not being able to get it right (color inside the lines, to draw what I imagined, to get the prespective right, etc) and eventually getting it right and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

How valuable was your formal education and training? My schooling was invaluable. But (and I almost hate to say this knowing how much was spent on my college education!!) I think my most valuable education came before (with art mentor and teacher, Janis Pozzi-Johnson) and after, simply learning what it means to be an artist in everyday life and how to continue that practice. Not that MICA wasn't important. It was, maybe its just that it was so much all at once (not just educationally but also in terms of culture shock and learning where I fit in in terms of my work.)

Can you label your style? No, I can't and even if I could I would rather not. It is difficult to identify stylistic trends in the contemporary professional environment, much less to place myself inside that environment.

Tell us a little about your process. What inspires you? Process is a mystery to me. There are days when I love being in the studio and would rather do nothing else, and others when I practically have to chain myself to my palette table to get anything done. As far as inspiration goes the sources are too numerous and varied to list. I will say that the older I get the more I understand the importance of routine and how a good routine helps keep a healthy balance in life. For me it is mostly experiences outside of the realm of art and the studio that I find inspiring; and it goes both ways, without a good studio regimen I find myself closed to the world around me, unable to find inspiration anywhere and vice versa. I will also say that I have been finding it useful to do a little reading and writing a few pages (about anything) before I get started painting in the morning.

What do you hope the viewers experience in your art? My greatest hope is to spark the imagination of the viewer. The art that inspires me does that. Whether it is writing, painting or film my favorites all share that quality.

Do you listen to music when you work? Who or what? Usually yes, and it really depends on my mood. I've been listening to KCSM (a jazz station in the Bay Area.) in the morning to get started, but after that it's anybody's guess.

Any favorite books, movies or TV you enjoy for relaxation or inspiration? I just finished reading "What I Talk about When I Talk about Running" by Haruki Murakami. And especially as an artist I found what he had to say very informative and inspiring. It has even made me think about taking up running again.

Thank you Tyson for taking the time to answer my questions.


(A disclaimer: Tyson Skross is my son - a fact that in no way should be held against him. I thank him for being my guinea pig as I develop questions for this continuing feature on my blog.)


Some of you are already familiar with Mike and Cherie Gilbert and their wonderful daughter, Nikki. The story of her brain cancer is one we've been following at Annarella Home for the past year and a half. Diagnosed with a rare type of brain tumor called Pleomorphic Xanthoastrocytoma (PXA) on her brain stem and going thru her midbrain into her thalamus, Nikki remains in good spirits despite the rigors of chemo-therapy. The tumor continues to grow leaving Nikki with lessening balance and mobility. But we never see Nikki without her bright smile as she tootles around on her scooter. She remains sweet-tempered and interested in all things teen like shopping for clothes, spending hours on the phone, and being with her friends.
When you hear stories like this, of what some families are facing, there is always the question of what can I do to ease their burden. One of the biggest worries for families involved with catastrophic illnesses is financial. There are always gaps in insurance coverage, and the families run up huge personal bills for hospital stays, eating out, extra gas, etc. Since Nikki's doctors are in Dallas, Cherie and Mike have made many trips up and down I35. They have had to cut down on work, but they will do whatever they must to see that Nikki gets the best care available.
Over the past years there have been several fundraisers held to help defray medical and other incidental costs. This Fall's major fundraiser is Gooberfest. On September 6 a charity motorcycle ride will start from Hog Alley in Georgetown, TX and conclude at Walburg Restaurant in Walburg, TX. Check out the Gooberfest website for all the details. This will be great fun. If you can't make the ride but would like to contribute donations can be made to the Nikki Gilbert Benefit Fund at First Texas Bank, 900 S Austin Ave, Georgetown, TX 78626.
Keep Nikki and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ottomans That Lead a Double Life

One of the leading trends in furniture for the past several years is to design pieces with a double function. This is seen especially in benches and ottomans with drawers or lids making them useful for extra storage. Here are some of the favorites at Annarella Home.

American Leather offer this lovely cube, called Uno, in leather or ultra suede to be used as an ottoman, coffee table or stool. The upholstered top reverses to a tray when you need a hard surface to sit a cup or glass. It comes off to reveal storage inside.

Here is the Keifer model from American Leather which can be used as a bench in an entry or under a window as well as a coffee table in front of your sofa. Inside is plenty of room for throws, pillows, videos, toys or anything else you want near at hand but hidden.

This sleek and contemporary bench/coffee table is the Madera from American Leather. Cushion and trays are removable so they can be switched around. You can put your feet up in the middle and still have a practical surface for your drink. This also comes smaller with one cushion and one tray. I love the punch of red, but it is available in over 60 leathers and microfiber choices.

Lee Furniture, our favorite earth-friendly furniture company, has created this pie ottoman. Each section is a stand alone stool which is great for extra seating, but push four together and you have a stylish round ottoman.

This upholstered stool from Lee Furniture can double as an occasional table next to a chair or sofa. Or picture 2 under a window for a different take on a window seat ready to pull into the room when needed for extra seating.

Two benches from Brownstone Furniture offer extra storage in the bedroom. With drawers to hold spare linens these look pretty and can still serve as a place to sit and put your shoes on.

Don't you love furniture that can be super functional and look good at the same time?

Monday, August 4, 2008

What kind of a week is it going to be?

I like to collect obscure anniversaries and celebrity birthdays. Of course, my definition of celebrity might be different from most; I am refering to accomplished people living or dead, not someone who is known for social hi-jinks. (Yes, I've just dated myself badly, but check my profile I do admit to being a grandmother.) Now with all that said, let's hear it for "Happiness Happens" and National Win with Civility" Month.

Favorite anniversaries - Aug 3 1492 Columbus sets out to the New World. Well, without this we wouldn't be here. Especially in an election year, we need to remember our history of how we got here. What courage to sail off into the great unknown - no radar, no cell phones just faith in an idea. Wow. So, hooray, Columbus.

- Aug 5 "American Bandstand" TV premier 1957. I can remember racing home from school to watch Dick Clark and the gang just like in "Hairspray." Art does imitate life!

Fav birthdays: Aug 4 - Louis Armstrong

Andy Warhol - see his self portrait above.

Aug. 8 - Marjorie Rawlings. Her book, The Yearling, turned many kids on to reading. Plus for a good cry rent and watch the movie version, also called "The Yearling."
Hope you enjoy these links. Have a good couple of days.