Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Paint it Black

As some of you may know, Matt is currently back in the States on temporary duty in California. As usual, he's not going to be gone for too long, but when he is, I generally end up finding unusual projects to fill my time with. Beside adding to our photography wall and reading a lot, I also decided to do another little art project!

Story: I'm in the back seat of my in-law's SUV about a month ago. We're driving in downtown Chicago at night - I think we're on North Avenue. We just came from the theater. And then I see it - the giant Z Gallerie store - one of my favorite design stores ever - and in the storefront window: an enormous piece of artwork displaying famous and historic streets in Chicago... in black & white... I fell in love!

Come to find out later, the piece really IS very large... a little too large for my tiny Japanese apartment walls. It also retails for $400. Bummer. But wait, I'm pretty sure I can replicate this piece of artwork and do so in a smaller format that works better for our place - I mean, it can't be that hard, right? To be honest, I've had some difficulties with painting in the past - I may have gone to an art school, but Matt will tell you that I'm no Van Gogh. I'm more technical than organic. My last piece of art was produced using a protractor. But, I decided to give it a try. I went to a local art store I know of out in town called "Green Note Stationary", which is more of an art supply store than a stationary store, but that's the Japanese for you. I purchased a canvas that I thought would fit perfectly in the spot I had allocated, along with a bunch of paints from the 100yen store. I used the Z Gallerie piece as my inspiration, and went to work making stencils of the street names. I was incredibly surprised at how well it turned out on my first try - and all for about $20!

The original Z Gallerie edition... except imagine it huge!

Step 1: Paint it black
Step 2: Make it look worn

Step 3: Sponge gray paint over homemade stencils

Step 4: Hang!

Mine is smaller and has more of a contrast (darker blacks, whiter whites) but, it looks great in our place, and you can't beat $20! It's a little bit of "Home Away From Home":)



  1. You are SO talented!!!! I remember when we saw this in the window of the store and you commented on it! That is incredible that you could replicate it!! WOW!! I love it!! Great job! (You could start selling stuff like this. Z Gallary knock-offs for a much cheaper price!)

  2. Wow, homemade stencils? Very impressive. The sign looks great!

  3. I'm shocked not to see my comment...I had posted it yesterday? Hmmm?
    I echoe Andrea's comments. Amazing! You are very talented! Here's a thought...how about making these to sell, even personalizing them? How about family names and est. dates? I'll be your first customer!

  4. Cortnie...You did SUCH a great job! I'd buy on of these! I think you could have alittle side job.

  5. You did a great job! Doesn't surprise me tho' ...I knew u when u were a kid :) xo

  6. You are amazing!! I love Z Gallery too, that is an awesome idea..! I might have to do something similar if you don't mind :)