March 7, 2006 > Art to go
Art to go
by John Fisher
If life is an adventure, Anita Danforth has chosen and interesting route. You have probably seen her art work in newspapers without knowing it. Anita was an advertising art director for Mervyn's for 18-plus years producing advertisement supplements. Prior to working for Mervyns, she worked for a Broadway department store in Los Angeles, then Brueners Furniture store which brought her to the Bay Area approximately 21 years ago.
"I loved my job and the work I was doing," she said. But after going through a divorce and surviving cancer, Anita decided to make a change. "I had worked for Broadway and they closed. Then I worked for Brueners and they went out of business. I don't want to go through that again; I decided to be my own person."
After talking to trusted friends and assessing her talents, Anita quit her Mervyn's job and enrolled at The Day Studio in Oakland where she learned "faux art" techniques. "I wanted to learn everything, not just one aspect," she said. She maintains a part time job at Home Depot and feels that they are supportive of her classes. "They have been great. If I have classes, I call in and it's okay."
She certainly knows the lingo when she reels off words like maquettes, chinaserie, grisaille and trompe l'oeil. Maquettes are work samples. Chinaserie is a European style of drawing, imitating Chinese panels or murals. Grisaille is shades of gray or monochromatic renditions, usually of architecture. Trompe l'oeil translated means "to trick the eye."
Faux art comes from the French word false, but there is nothing false about her work. Anita can create realistic images by painting on fabric, plaster or just about any material and make it look like marble, wood, ivory, cut gems and many other finishes.
Faux art is done on walls, ceilings or floors, or all three. Just about any surface can be used for faux art. Anita painted a wooden jewelry box that looked like it was inlaid with ivory. The idea of faux art is not to deceive, but to offer visual pleasure and enhancement to ordinary objects.
There are many reasons to use this type of technique. "Suppose you have a small room that you spend a lot of time in. You can fool the eye to make it appear larger. Or, with some faux art, if you move you can take it with you," Anita continued. Imitation drapes, columns, or flowing water fountains can be painted in places where the real thing would be impossible or impractical. The range and scope of possibilities are endless. "Composition is very important, the methodology of applying paint is straight forward and anyone can learn it."
The samples she showed were painted on art foam board, light and easy to carry. Beautiful oak, knotty pine, marble, tiled marble, and a high gloss ebony finish with a thin gold border with a Koi swimming in the blackness, were masterfully realistic.
Anita is making the transition from the corporate art world to the self-employed, carry-your-own-weight approach. Just as she was a success in her former occupation, there is no reason to believe that she won't succeed on her own with her new endeavors. Currently Anita is finishing a Tuscan-style mural at the Iron Dog (37589 Niles Blvd.) in the Niles district of Fremont.