Unique Paint Techniques Create Old World Charm

South Bend Tribune:

Faux painting took the decorating world by storm 15 or so years ago. Professionals and do-it-yourselfers alike grabbed sponges, rags and rakes and attempted to create distinctive wall treatments that began to appear, well, not so distinctive.

But Hallwood has taken faux finishing to another level. Operating as Hallwood Design out of South Bend, she takes what she calls “a fine art approach to faux finishing,” specializing in European plasters and customized glazings.

Her talents certainly come in to play in a rural Niles home where she has spent hours on scaffolding to give the European-style house even more character.

Hallwood finishes the last of 10 columns, most of them 20 feet high. The columns, plastered and glazed to imitate natural stone, look as though they could belong in a Roman villa. As she applies another layer of glaze, she talks about her technique.

“It’s all in the wrist movement. The real key is layering and blending,” she says as she swipes a brush to blend colors. “I believe the columns mimic more of a natural stone; that is the purpose of the particular plaster that was used. The columns blend into the travertine floor. We wanted a presence with the column but did not want them to take over the entire space. They are a part of it, not all of it.”

She moves in close, flicks her brush, then stands back.

No sponges here. She laughs at the mention of sponge painting.

Hallwood has had some interesting and varied careers as she’s bounced from her hometown of Niles to California and back again. She’s played in a rock band and been a medical transcriber. But her heart felt it had finally found its home when she discovered art, particularly faux painting.

“I had dabbled in it and did some things for family and friends. Everybody told me I should pursue it,” she says. She finally took a faux painting workshop in Chicago and discovered that she had the knack and the passion.

She found herself trying to balance her work in medical transcription, going back to Indiana University South Bend for a degree in fine arts, doing some faux painting, all the while being a single mom to daughter Ali, whose words a few years ago gave Hallwood pause.

“In her 9-year-old wisdom, she said, ‘Mom, paint and take your pictures ’cause that’s when you’re happy.’ I hadn’t really thought of my happiness. But, it was pivotal. I’ve learned a lot from the arts. They have taught me to be very passionate about life.”

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