Apr

30

Posted by : schoolhouse | On : April 30, 2015

 

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Enjoying an ocean side respite…finally, a chance to rest, reminisce and write! It’s been a whirlwind year full of inspiring projects, and whittling away on my circa 1814 schoolhouse renovation every ‘spare’ moment. Time goes by in a blink!

A recent career highlight was the fortunate opportunity to paint and play with my dear friend and muse, Melanie Royals. Melanie is the creative super nova founder of my favorite ornament resources; Modello Designs and Royal Design Studio. She’s a renown decorative arts industry leader. I’ve travelled often to her studio headquarters in California for classes – mastering methods and mediums to create exquisite finishes for all sorts of hand-wrought surface design applications.

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November 2014 – to celebrate my 15 year milestone of being self-employed, I joined Melanie and friends for another epic painting adventure in Marrakech, Morocco. Like the 2009 project we worked on at internationally famous blogger Maryam Montague’s estate home and hotel boutique Peacock Pavilions, I knew this would be an incredibly inspiring experience and trip of a lifetime…

Like other painting adventures Melanie has coordinated for projects in Morocco, Italy, and France – the team she gathered was an eclectic ensemble of personalities, professions, and experience…unified by creative spirit and longing for adventure.

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We flew from New York City to Casablanca to Marrakech to get acquainted via a savory Moroccan fare dinner at our home base, Maison Du Tresor. The Maison (French for ‘home’) is an elegant, peaceful riad (traditional Moroccan style home with an open inner courtyard) in the heart of the old city near the famed Djemaa-el-Fna square.

Sprawling mysteriously behind an unassuming gated entrance door…

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The hotel has been renovated by it’s Italian owner in the tradition of discreet luxury and intimate hospitality.

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I loved the the roof-top terrace with cozy nooks offering sweeping views of the ancient fortified city and snow-capped Atlas Mountain range in the distance. Above the bustling maze of streets, the roof terrace is a surround sound stage for the daily calls to prayer which resonate from the Muslim minaret towers punctuating the landscape.

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Melanie has travelled to Morocco over a dozen times, paving the path for numerous collaborative projects. For this particular painting excursion, she partnered with her dear friend and gallery owner, Hadia Temli, to design beautiful wall finishes for Hadia’s up-and-coming space in Guelez (the newer, more cosmopolitan city facet of Marrakech). Hadia hails from a well connected family with a great appreciation for art – from antiquities to contemporary.

Melanie and Hadia worked months in advance to conceptualize the project, fine-tune design details and prepare logistics for our arrival to execute the decorative painting.

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With great camaraderie and teamwork, we were thrilled to work on the walls of Hadia’s new gallery.

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We painted two feature walls in a tone-on-tone white paint with metallic pearl stencil creme to create a subtle, but eye-catching backdrop. Melanie designed the Moroccan Key and African Protea Flower allover stencil patterns used, which are available via the Royal Design Studio collection.

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The piece de resistance was a room dedicated to the rendering of a ‘Haiti’ wall mural. Haiti’s are ceremonial wall hangings created from pieced and embroidered silk. The original, an early 20th century vintage piece, which inspired the wall finish is from the Temli family art collection.

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After completing the paint project, we spent the rest of our stay savoring all the senses – experiencing the quintessential exotic nature of Morocco.

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The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel of the region is an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, African, and European influences.

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As a decorative artist, I am in awe of the intricate detail, hand-wrought craftsmanship, vibrant color and geometric patterning of Islamic art.

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Everywhere I looked was a visual feast; from centuries old historical settings to swanky restaurants, to the souks in the medina teeming with food vendors, henna artists, musicians, snake charmers and artisans selling their handcrafted goods.

Our itinerary was thoughtfully planned to allow us the gamut of great experiences; fine dining, cooking classes, shopping, a hammam spa treatment, visiting historical sites, artist studios, cocktails at the Royal Mansour…

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Everything we did provided a deep sense of cultural appreciation, left us inspired and feeling rather privileged.

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The highlight for me was a day trip to the majestic Atlas Mountains.  Passing caravans as we wound our way through narrow mountain passes…listening to Berber music, was a wild ride to say the least.

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Landing in the village of Imlal, we hiked up to Kasbah du Toubkal for afternoon mint tea.

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Partway along a foot trail to reach the Kasbah, I stopped to hone in on a hauntingly beautiful sound…calls to prayer occur 5 times a day in the predominantly Muslim country of Morocco, and at that moment it was echoing through the mountain valley.

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Atop the Kasbah, I took the time to slowly turn 360 degrees studying the incredible raw beauty of it all…imagining the experience of daily life there. What if I had been born in that mountain village, rather than in Skaneateles, New York?

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Well…I surely would love to weave the amazing, one-of-a-kind Berber carpets which the region is famed for. It fascinates me how much ‘creativity’ is seeped in our nature as human beings.

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I feel blessed to love what I do and to do what I love. I feel blessed to live in a beautiful region…and to venture out for opportunities to explore our beautiful world. For me, inspiring friendships and the adventure of travel are what make life rich. I know when I’m old and gray and still painting away I’ll look back on this experience…and smile.

With much gratitude,
Heather

“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop” – Rumi