Thursday, March 4, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Artist Spotlight: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

If you were to only know one thing about me, then you should know I am a closet art "freak". I absolutely can't get enough of the post impressionistic art period.

I always wish I could have lived during the late 19th century in Paris. What an inspirational time it must have been, but of course also emotional. To have walked the streets of Monmartre and had a drink with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

For some reason people seem to think Toulouse-Lautrec was born in Monmartre or that he was poor. But in fact it was the exact opposite. He was a Parisian aristocrat. I know what you're thinking - man, he had everything! To be at the top of the social world during Paris in the late 19th century - how lucky. But again, appearences aren't always what they seem.

Henri was born November 24, 1864 in Albi, France and was the son and heir of Comte Alphonse-Charles de Toulouse. He was also the last male heir to a family that dated back nearly 1,000 years. His father was very handsome and eccentric (aka a weirdo who was never there) and his mother was...overly protective of their only son (aka she has no life so he was always sick and weak as a child).

Henri broke his left leg when he was 12 and his right leg when he was 14 and neither healed properly so it stunted his growth. He continued to grow normally, except his legs.

Henri's one escape was his art. By the time he was 10 he began to develop his artistic skill, unfortunately a lot of it was due to the fact his mother always thought he was sick and he stayed inside a lot.

As he grew older he sought refuge from the torments of aristocratic society in Monmartre. He loved the bohemian lifestyle, the cabarets, the vibrant lights, action, and of course his ultimate undoing - alcohol.

Many of his paintings reflect his actual experience from hanging out in nightclubs. He would sit and drink and chat all night, while drawing little sketches of what was going on around him. The next day he would take the sketches and elaborate them on canvas.

But Henri's only happy days were numbered in Paris. In the late 1800s he was temporarily put into a sanatorium for his alcoholic (and some would say crazy) behavior that he started to exhibit. Before I go further, please keep in mind 2 things: 1)they did not have hospitals like today, sanatorium's were common and really the only place for drug addicts to go and 2) he wasn't drinking just beer, he was drinking hardcore Absinthe and other hallucinogenic drinks that if drank heavily enough could have the ability to make you go insane.

He eventually was allowed to return to his mother's care and home and died September 9, 1901.

One of the reason's Toulouse is one of my top 3 favorite artists is because he is the father of modern graphic art. All of those really trippy 1960s peace and love posters can find their roots in his paintings. Plus, I don't know... there is just something beautiful about his art. I always like to think it's because you can see his soul in his art. Here are some of his paintings:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Design Inspiration: Unique Shampoo Bottles, pretty slick - check them out!

Design Inspiration: Unique Shampoo Bottles, pretty slick

Traditional shampoo bottles are fairly plain. But what happens when a designer lands a bid to design a very unique, marketable bottle? A wow factor that is over the top......not to mention inspirational.

I went online to locate some cool shampoo bottles and here is what I came up with - how cool are these? Anyhow - they helped inspire some marketing designs I was working on, so I thought I would share. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Exterior Lighting Architecture, look at what it can do!

Outdoor lighting is something most home owners seem to forget about or are just content with lights on the end of the house and a motion sensor above the garage or back door. But, wouldn't you prefer your home and yard to be beautiful both during day and night? After all, you put a lot of time, effort, and/or money into the exterior of your home and yard. In short - exterior lighting not only adds value to your home, but it can make it a true work of art.

But where do you begin?

If you happen to live in Nashville, TN then the answer is Outdoor Lighting Perspectives with CEO Michael Wynn and his expert team of landscape lighting architects/artists. Note: OLP is a national company as well, so they are probably in your neighborhood too. You can also request a special visit from them if they are not in your area.

Originally called LightScapes, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives is the oldest business in Nashville that specializes in outdoor landscape lighting.

There are so many things you can do with outdoor lighting that can really add drama, elegance, security, and just beauty to your home. If you don't believe me, check out these local homes with exterior lighting that OLP designed:

Now - imagine those beautiful homes and yards featured above with nothing more than little lights on the corners and a motion sensor light above the back door. Can you see the difference outdoor lighting can really make?

The lighting from OLP is installed by hand, and done on a case-by-case basis so you know you are getting quality work AND great personal customer service. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives wants your home to be as beautiful as the day they installed it, so it is customary for OLP to come service, adjust, and help you maintain the lighting architecture they install (for specifics on length of time, warranties, etc please contact OLP directly).

One of the hottest trends in landscape lighting is lighting control automation (LCA). Why? Well not only does it look beautiful, it can add a lot of security to your home. Here is a great informational video from OLP about lighting control automation - for more videos and information please visit

But really, outdoor lighting is something every home should have and you should definitely have experts who know what they are doing set it up.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit: or contact owner Michael Wynn and his team at 615-373-0638.

Extra Note: Michael Wynn will be teaching a CEU credit course at A1 appliances for the ASID of Nashville on March 11th at 9:00 am, if you are interested.

Monday, March 1, 2010

French Antiques and Rooms, Simply Beautiful

I was lucky enough to visit an antique store at The Factory in Franklin, TN this weekend and I was incredibly inspired. The antique booths were filled with high end furniture, pictures, books, china, silver sets, and more fresh from the drawing rooms of Europe.

One great thing about this antique store was that the furniture was so well preserved it looked brand new (rustic furniture is nice, but shabby isn't my thing). And the other great thing is that you can actually furnish your home for about the same price as going to a brand new furniture store, incredible huh?

I am always a fan for using antiques in your home. It's a great way to invest your money and also to preserve history.

Here are some french antiques, rooms and garden items I came across (not at the store, but online) that are simply stunning: