Category Archives: Art

HANDPAINTED WALLPAPERS = my newest fascination

It seems I may have been asleep for a long time.  Perhaps for much of my life, actually.  It has taken me several decades to find myself, and yet when I think I’ve got myself sussed, I find myself standing on the threshold of yet another startling discovery, on the verge of yet another Grand Adventure.  What I’ve discovered about myself in the past is my Modus Operandi: that is, if I find anything interesting and worth investigating, I will proceed to get totally immersed in it, and then from within that subject I will follow this lead and that, getting tangled and disentangled, going down dead-ends and cul-de-sacs, or simply round and round, until eventually it leads me to another subject to pursue.

Now I find myself beckoning to a clarion call by the fascinating subject of HANDPAINTED WALLPAPER.  For my own record, I will trace how I got here, to this point.

I was fascinated by the idea of creating patterns firstly when coming across Kaleidoscope and Fractal art on the internet.  I dabbled with various Kaleidoscope apps on my iPad and Samsung Galaxy S4. While that was a lot of fun, it did not teach me how to make seamless repeats. Try as I might, with cropping and resizing, I could not replicate a repeat without showing the joins.  I even subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud in an effort to try to learn how to make repeats…but even though I know a few tricks on Photoshop now, I still haven’t got the hang of using the software. It’s a mental block for me, is Photoshop hahaha.

So that was why I turned to the wonderful world of smartphone Apps to see if I could create and recreate seamless patterns.  More for my own retrospective reference than anything else (in case I forget how I did it in the first place!), I posted up 30 mini tutorials showing my workflow of how I did it on my Samsung Galaxy S4 (very) smartphone. Yes, I now know how to create seamless repeats, I know how to create those 4 Magic Corners, I know about half-drops, brick and tile repeats, how to fill in gaps, etc.

And what lessons did I learn from that steep learning curve? My explorations took me into the realm of clipart and techniques for blending and juxtaposing different elements or images.  I searched the App world for clipart that I could use in my designs, concentrating specifically on my favourites – birds, butterflies, flowers, trees. My 3 go-to Apps for blending are:

Photoshop Touch,


and Litho.

All have their idiosyncrasies and quirks.

When the iOS App Frax appeared in the last quarter of 2013, I was delighted as it gave me an extra dimension to create patterns from.  By now I was a firm fan of pattern designs, and was constantly seeking out new ideas for creating repeats.  Frax opened up a whole new world for me.  One day, as I was toying with blending different images together, I decided to play around with Percolator, an iOS App, on my iPad 2.  After Percolating a few dozen images, I transferred them to my S4 to play with.  By happy chance, I decided to try to blend Percolator with Frax, and create a pattern out of them.  The results were surprisingly good, so I took that idea and ran with it.

Frax Percolator pattern

While experimenting with Percolator in one of my favourite Apps, Photo Editor, I decided to play around with replacing some colours.  I discovered the Tolerance or Threshold slider, and yet another world bloomed before my very eyes.  Not only could I change selected colours in my image, I could also control, to some extent, how much or how little of the new colour I wanted in my image.  By shifting the Tolerance slider bit by bit, I could reveal or cover elements of the overall design.  This was really exciting for me, as now I could really control the placement of my clipart or cut-n-paste images onto my prepared background image.  In fact, I was so encouraged by this that I researched clipart online and found Dover Pictura, which is a division of Dover Publications, but specialises in royalty-free clipart.  The images are available as a physical book, CD or e-book.  Being the impatient sort, I plumped for electronic means, and very soon I had folders filled with images of birds and other strange organic forms.

Check out Dover Pictura for yourself:

After all these discoveries, I decided to have a play with printing my images as panoramic images, and in different sizes, just for fun.

Peonies scarf trial blue 30x60cm  Four Water Lilies for Snapfish

Around this time I was starting to look at the possibility of printing my “long” designs onto textiles or fabric, as scarves or throws.  Despite hunting high and low for printers, (I even engaged in a month-long conversation with several traders on Ali Baba to discuss this), it all came to nothing.  I was not prepared to invest in thousands of dollars buying  my own flat-bed printer, or a specialised printer that would do banner printing.  Nor was I looking to print my own designs in bulk and try to market and sell them myself.

So I had to contend myself with knowing that I COULD venture down the pathway of a textile designer if I wanted to and if I had the money to invest, but meanwhile, back in the land of the living, I would have to be satisfied with having my artwork on canvasses and posters.

Now for the next big leap…but first, I had to discover several inspirational women artists who crossed the gap between Art and Industry.  I have written about these women in my previous posts: Angie Lewin, Orla Kiely, Florence Broadhurst, Kathe Fraga, Sonia Delaunay, Kate Spade.  I’m sure there will be more to come.  It was through these women that I realised that my own art and designs did not have to just become prints or posters, they could perhaps be large panels to decorate a room.  I knew for my designs to be wallpaper, I would have to create repeats…but I could create triptychs and have 3 canvasses hang side by side to create a large picture, or perhaps I could create 2 panels horizontally that could be used to decorate the wall of a stairwell?

I was reading an article in Vogue Living Australia, and was captivated by the Chinoiserie wallpaper in the photoshoot.  The wallpaper was by de Gournay, and get this – it was HANDPAINTED.  This, of course, was the technique used in the old days, before screen printing and digital printing.  And, as I researched further, I was struck  by how many artisans were out there creating beautiful, handpainted and handmade wallpapers for the discerning homeowner.  Now you can have ART on your walls permanently, not just hanging frames and canvasses.  In fact, your wall BECOMES Art.

And so, in a roundabout fashion, this is how I came to discover my newest fascination – Handpainted Wallpapers.  I shall write more about various artisans that I will no doubt discover on my travels on the internet, so do bookmark me and check in often!