Meeting Julius Shulman

The Shulman Home Virtual Tour when listed for sale in 2009

I was schedule to meet the Iconic Architectural Photographer Julius Shulman for lunch at Pinot’s on Sunset, April 4th of 2004.  The lunch had been arranged by a client of mine who’d known him for years. Once the date was set, I cleared my schedule and arrived early for our  1:00 meeting.  At 1:15 my client came dashing in the door and said ‘Julius can’t make it, his friend Pierre just died and he’s fielding phone calls, would you mind getting lunch to go and meeting us at the house?‘ Absolutely. I arrived 30 minutes later at his Hollywood Hills home with our lunch in tow. From the moment I crossed the threshold into his home, I was speechless. There in front of me was every iconic image of his that I’d ever studied in my art history classes at UCLA, and then some. I had to fight back the tears, because at that moment I knew I was in the presence of genius. No Hollywood celebrity could hold a candle to this man standing in front of me, a man who’d shaped how I’d seen the world of architecture, long before I even knew who he was. But in that moment, his life’s work touched me in a very profound way that I’ll never forget.

As we were setting our lunch entrees on the dining room table, Julius began telling his stories.  Stories about how his peers looked to nature to create the homes of their era… cutting an avocado in half and being inspired by it’s color. He gushed about how the architect Soriano had built his home for him nearly 50 years ago and that he’d watched the trees grow up around the home.  The phone rang and interrupted him… it was another publication calling and wanting to use his image of the Case Study Home #22 for free. ‘Absolutely not, I don’t work for free’ he replied.  His friend Pierre Koenig had built it… the man who’d just died. It was all making sense now. He was the architect of the Stahl House, one of LA’s most iconic home’s for 50 years, the home that Julius made famous as  2 elegant women sat perched in the glass box that appeared to float over the city at night when he snapped their photo in 1960.

After lunch Julius gladly autographed one of his books for me, which is what he’s doing in the  studio shot above.  It’s a bit jarring to watch the virtual tour and see his studio stripped bare, and the walls of his home without his iconic photos, but they’re all in safe keeping at the Getty Archives. Ultimately I ended up buying that iconic photo from Julius and returned to his home a second time to pick it up. He rolled it out on his dining room table, inspected the print, and signed it in white ink. It’s still one of my favorite possessions to this day and I’m so grateful that I had the incredible honor of meeting him.

Julius Shulman: October 10, 1910 – July 15, 2009

 

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Wall Mural

 

DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Mural
DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Mural, Creating the Wainscot
DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Mural
DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Mural, Framing the Flowers
DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Mural
DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Mural, Painting the Flowers
DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Mural, The Big Reveal
DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh Inspired Mural, The Big Reveal

I created this DIY Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspired wall mural for a client who was converting a second bedroom into a home office. The ‘Mackintosh Roses’ are the focal point of the mural, with added geometric patterning to balance the composition.  The white lines also feel a bit like a wainscot, which work to frame the chairs that I found at the GoodWill for $10. One of my favorite tricks in a small room is to paint one of the walls darker than the others. It seems to draw your eye to the outer corners of the room, making it feel larger that it really is. I was able to easily complete this mural in just a few hours.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret McDonald were hugely influential in creating a modern esthetic in Glasgow Scotland,  in a time when Victorianism was all the rage. Their rooms with clean white geometric lines were a stark contrast to the dark baroque inspired furniture of that era.  Some of their masterpieces include the  Willow Tearooms, the Hill House Residence and of course the Glasgow School of Art.

Art Deco Wall Mural

I created this Art Deco Wall Mural for a home in LA’s Miracle Mile, known as one of the premiere Art Deco areas of the city. The beautiful yellow and black tile already existed and my challenge was to find a way to embrace the vintage tile, while  also  accentuating the verticality of the space. My inspiration came from the Desmond’s Department store which could be viewed from the Dining Room Window of the home. I  chose shades of yellow, silver and gray to compliment the rooms existing palette and vintage mirror. This was one of my more complex murals, but the end product was quite stunning.

DIY Butterfly Mural for the Home

DIY Butterfly Mural, Drawing the Butterflies
DIY Butterfly Mural, Drawing the Butterflies
DIY Butterfly Mural, Painting the Butterflies
DIY Butterfly Mural, Painting the Butterflies
DIY Butterfly Mural, Painting the Butterflies
DIY Butterfly Mural, Painting the Butterflies
DIY Butterfly Mural, Creating the Drips
DIY Butterfly Mural, Creating the Drips
DIY Butterfly Mural, the completed Wall Mural
DIY Butterfly Mural, the completed Wall Mural

 

Here’s a DIY Butterfly Mural that you can create in  your home. I know it looks complicated, but when you break it down and do it step by step, it’s relatively easy. The finished product is really outstanding, and looks great in a minimally furnished environment.

I created this Mural for my home in Palm Springs to promote Modernism Week 2014. I used traditional house paint diluted with water, on top of a light weight pencil drawing. Sample colors from Home Depot were a great alternative to buying large quantities of paint.  Also, house paint has more durability and will allow for light cleaning with a damp sponge. In the video below I show you how to use an opaque projector which allows you to project nearly any image on a wall for tracing. The desert heat helped the paint to dry quickly, which allowed me to build up the layers of color. I completed the mural in about 6 hours, excluding the drawing time. The home was open to the public as a Pop Up Gallery and featured several of my original oil paintings. Included above is ‘Marilyn in Charcoal Gray’, Oil on Canvas,  (inspired by the photography of the late Bert Stern) and ‘Study for Pool Coping’, Oil on Canvas.

If this is your first time watching one of my videos, I hope you find it both inspirational, and encouraging. As I like to say: It’s only paint… you can always paint over it. Good Luck!

Welcome to Where Art Inspires Beauty!

Romi Cortier, Photo by Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo by Michael Sanville

Welcome to Where Art Inspires Beauty! After a 7 year hiatus from blogging, I feel inspired to return to the blogosphere and contribute to the world of Art,  Architecture and Design.  My intention is to focus on what’s right in our world, and help celebrate those less obvious things we might overlook. Sometimes it’s as simple as the way the light reflects off a corrugated metal fence, lighting up an agave plant. Sometimes it’s a building we’ve all driven by a hundred times on our way to work, missing it’s beautiful Art Deco silhouette, or sleek Mid-Century lines. We’re all a tad bit obsessed with our devices, myself included. So I intend to keep my head up and eyes open, as I look for beauty in the mundane. It’s a subtle shift, but once you’re on that path, it becomes easier and easier to spot it.

I hope you’ll enjoy sharing this journey with me as I sift through my archive of images that I’ve been fortunate to capture on architectural tours, vacations, and quiet moments here in Los Angeles.  I also look forward to weighing in on the current building boom here in LA, as well as the burgeoning art scene. Rest assured, I’m carrying my camera with me everywhere I go, waiting for inspiration to strike.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

A Design Diary by Romi Cortier