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Nothing false about faux finish experience

It was a trip and experience to remember with two fold results. Janet Foord, who is busy launching a new business, JF Designs Inc.
Janet Foord with the hills of Spain in the background.

It was a trip and experience to remember with two fold results. Janet Foord, who is busy launching a new business, JF Designs Inc., travelled to Spain in June to refine her skills in the faux finishing art forms that she can translate into her new business venture. While in Spain, Foord joined seven other North American artists participating in a mural project depicting Sant Jeroni which was located in the library at the monastery in Badalona. Foord said she has been offering faux finishing to local businesses and residents for the past 10 years as part of her interior design, renovation, painting and restoration business. It's about to get another new dimension.In 2006 Foord participated in a series of faux finish classes in Nebraska in the United States that led to her being certified as a faux finish artist . "The contacts I made there have proved invaluable," she said. Through one of those contacts, Foord heard about the opportunity to restore the mural in Spain and when she discovered that her application had been successful and she could re-arrange her work schedule around a 15-day commitment, she just jumped into the fray. There were eight artists in total, four from Canada and four from the United States. "Usually when you put several art people together you come up with conflicts or at least a few disagreements, but we managed to all get along very well," she said. "We ended up being a pretty tightly knit group and none of us had met before." To work in a library where, she learned later on, was the place Christopher Columbus had held conferences with the kings, was extra interesting to her. "Badalona is actually a suburb of Barcelona. It's a community of just over 220,000 people but still able to retain a village-like atmosphere and a delightful, slower paced lifestyle," she said. "We drew to scale from blank canvas for our personal murals which we were able to bring back home with us. Mine was a replica of the Sant Jeroni mural we worked on. We didn't get paid, so that was our reward our trip and a self-done mural. That way nobody had to worry about declaring income and or expenses. It was an even trade-off and we got to enjoy two weeks in Spain," she said. The faux finish work was done on old plasters. She said she had never worked on a portrait mural before, so jumped at the opportunity to add this skill to her repertoire. "A faux finish with an old European flair where we could add our own touch was something special," she said. Foord's work in the local business community is well documented since she has worked on several businesses some with old, pre-1920 buildings and others that are less than 10-years-old. "It was a huge experience and I got to meet more international artists while I was there. My Spanish is terrible, but the others were wanting to try out their English, so we managed to communicate pretty well. I made some friends with a lot of local people in the neighbourhood. While we were there they celebrated two masses and had one wedding in the monastery, and it was also leased out for a Buddhist retreat for one weekend. It was a busy place with one priest being pretty well in charge," she said. There is a lot of restoration work going on in Spain now, in the older buildings that date back to the 15th or 16th century. "I also found out that this particular monastery used to produce wine in its day, and wine is a very popular beverage over there. Some of the best wines I've ever tasted you could buy for a equivalent of about $4 . Wine is usually present at every meal," Foord added. "We got to see a lot of Spain, including a museum and gallery," she said. Foord said she took about 68 hours to complete her personal mural , which included 36 layers of glaze and paint. The complete restoration carried out by the eight North American artists for the monastery took several hundred total hours. "The days in the monastery were very productive, but at the same time, very relaxing," she said, noting that the Spanish have a unique blend of work ethic mixed with a pace of life that allows them to enjoy their surroundings too. "It's a more serene atmosphere that I think we here in Canada could adopt at times. If we learned how to calm down a little from our usual crazy paces, enjoy fresh food and learn to take things in stride, we might turn out to be a little bit healthier," she said with a laugh. But not only has Foord returned to a more hectic work-a-day world, she now has to mull over a couple of other opportunities that have just recently presented themselves to her. She has been invited to return to Spain for another 15-day project in September and/or a month in Italy in May of next year. The Italian trip she said she is finding quite tempting since it would involve working in a villa in Tuscany. "The September trip is a little trickier because of commitments arising from my position with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, among other things," she said. Foord is currently the first vice-president of the SSBA. "The trip to Italy is far enough ahead I could probably re-arrange my work schedule," she said. "If I get to Italy, I'll be working on walls, floors and ceilings whereas in Spain it was all on canvas." The experience she gained she'll be able to use to offer even more to her clients in terms of custom designs. "I'll be expanding the line of services, and products and I know now I can work with other artisans and local designers to give them one-of-a-kind design elements," she said. "That's one thing I learned in Spain that our talents are only limited by the scope of our imaginations. I worked with some very talented and creative people there." Introduction to Faux Finish artistic work:Faux finishes- include marbleizing or faux marbling to make walls and furniture look like real marble. Graining- or faux bois is used to imitate exotic or hard-to-find wood varieties. Trompe l'oeil- (trick the eye) is realistic painting used in murals to create architectural details.Venetian plaster- smooth plaster that appears textured. A traditional plaster decoration. Colour wash- free form finish creating subtle variations of colour using several hues of glaze blended with paint. Strie-stripe or streak- a glazing technique that creates soft thin streaks of colour using a paint brush. Often used to simulate fabrics. Rag painting- a glazing technique using twisted rags to create a textural pattern.