STIR-IT-UP - Vol. 12

Novacolor Decorative Solutions

by Beth Schafer-Swinton

Novacolor was first established in 1982 in Forl√¨, one of the most productive areas of Italy. In 2009 Novacolor became part of the San Marco Group, a leading Italian Group in the production of paints and varnishes for the professional building industry, with 8 manufacturing plants worldwide. Thanks to the intuition and creativity of its people, marketing strategies and knowledge of the market as well as the careful selection of innovative raw materials, Novacolor has expanded worldwide, offering architects and designers a complete assortment of textured effects and mineral plasters for both interiors and exteriors, as well as wall coatings for contemporary and historical town setting.

Today Novacolor is represented in over 70 countries around the world and is a proud partner of prestigious international architectural studios.

NOVACOLOR is vertically integrated and a real specialist in the interior design segment. We design and develop with our R&D department every product and customize tailor made textures for specific architectural projects.  Customers can count on a great knowledge and sustainable solutions.

Novacolor has a great team and works with passion, creating relationships with clients and end-users, using its expertise to promote successful projects in the field of design and architecture. Its commitment is to offer efficient and cost effective solutions with high performances and innovative raw materials which fully respect the environment and all our people. We want to create a better world, green and sustainable.

Novacolor is a customer-oriented company and “Customer Service” is of primary relevance. The company supports its clients in the pre and post selling activities and it is committed to offer full training to ensure the proper use of its decorative wall coatings and architectural paints.  

Targeted investments in development, research and technology, great attitude towards design, together with a strong and committed internal organization, make Novacolor one of the biggest players in the world of architectural design and a trendsetter in the textured paint segment.

Novacolor Decorative Solutions:

  • Use of organic and high quality raw materials
  • Products with low environmental impact
  • Enhancement of the surface as a “piece of art”
  • Creativity, R&D, cutting edge products
  • Colors and textures with a trend-setter attitude

Beth Schafer-Swinton

Bio: Beth has been in the Fine Finish Industry since 1998. She has excelled in application and teaching through out the US. Her passion has always been for natural, organic products, textures and patterns. When introduced to Novacolor products over 15 yrs ago, it was love at first sight. The quality, beauty and character of these products are unsurpassed. Beth has great knowledge of the application of these beautiful, timeless products. For the past 6 years she has been training and instructing specifically with Novacolor Italy and is currently an Independent sales representative of the Novacolor brand. She has instructed at IDAL conferences for the past 3 years and is a past president of her areas IDAL chapter.

It's Faux Easy - reflections on the craft and future of a decorative painting career

by Gary Lord

I have been blessed to find a vocation in the arts where I could use my God given talents and share them with others. What a wonderful yet somewhat rare thing that is to be able to do. Statistically, only around 1/3rd or less of society actually love what they do for their vocation. When you drill that down even more into those that are able to make a living in the arts, it is even more rare. I believe for many of us artists that it is in our souls to create and share the wonders and beauty of our imaginations to help enhance our living environments. After 9/11, I wondered if my craft was frivolous and unnecessary. Why would anyone think the way your room was decorated would be important? I spoke about these concerns at length with my staff. One of them told me something that stuck with me, he said “We are invited into the most private and intimate places in a person’s life, their home. We are asked to make that environment become more comfortable and allow them a place of joy, tranquility and a place where they can feel comfortable, at piece and safe.” What a rare thing we as humans can offer one another. I never doubted my career after that.

I was able to parlay my skills into not only sharing my company’s talents with our clients but to also teach it as well. I come from a family of educators and teaching just seemed like a natural extension of my craft. I loved sharing what I had learned and the talents that I have. There is nothing better than awakening the passion for art in others and seeing them blossom. To be able to make a vocation for themselves and share their talents with humanity is very rewarding as a teacher. I also benefited greatly in this process because I got to meet other like-minded artists who shared similar passions and became good friends with many of these artists. My favorite organization to do this with was SALI, which became IDAL because they too have the same desire. When I retired, I was asked to be in their new mentoring program. I immediately said yes. I was lucky to have two wonderful mentees to work with. I was placed with someone at the very beginning of her career and someone who was 15 years or so into her craft. Each had similar yet several different needs. I found with them, as well as with most of us, that the biggest stumbling block is marketing. Creating an awareness of who we are as artists and what value we can bring to the table for any design project is crucial to our success. The IDAL mentoring program was designed as a 6-month period of working together. During that time, we dealt with how to get work, how to market yourself and where to spend your limited advertising dollars. We also addressed how to deal with the professional designers, builders and architects and how to incorporate them into their external sales force. I also helped with problems they were having on current projects and how to navigate through those issues. I even had a ZOOM session showing how to use some specific tools that one of mentees was not familiar with.

Our craft is a difficult one to make a full-time vocation. I admire IDAL for setting up a mentoring program to use the knowledge and skills of many of the extremely talented artists that belong to this organization. Each one of us has something different to bring to the table to help each other along our paths. When we share the skills and knowledge that we have found along the way, we all become stronger. This act of sharing enhances the entire industry and benefits society at large. I cannot think of a better way to have spent my time working.

Bio: Gary Lord’s career in decorative painting spanned over 45 years. His company Gary Lord Wall Options won 10 national first place awards for being the best decorative painting company in the nation. Wall Options also won many region and local awards for their artistic talents. Gary parlayed his skills into writing 5 books and numerous magazine and newspaper articles promoting decorative painting. He also was a national and international radio and TV personality and appeared on over 100 different segments as an ambassador for the decorative arts. He also shared those skills with others by teaching his craft for over 30 years.

5 Organic Ways
to Increase Your Follower Count on Instagram

by Regina Garay

Instagram is an easy way to share your projects and, of course, your aesthetic. Growing your follower account organically (meaning, no ads) takes time and diligence, but the results will reflect your efforts. I’ve put together 5 ways to help grow your follower account organically.


Instagram provides a lot of algorithm attention to their tools, and here’s the key, rewards those who use them. If you are simply putting up your posts and not using anything else on Instagram, you are missing out on organic growth. Some of the more prevalent tools are Stories, IGTV, Live, Reels, and Guides. Get to know them and continue using those that appeal to you.


At one point, you could only search for hashtags and other accounts on Instagram’s search bar. Recently, they added keyword searches. This means that you can type in a keyword and Instagram will showcase posts containing that keyword. Longer captions were already hot on Instagram, so think engaging and informative and not quick and cute for your copy.


Instagram has leaned away from perfectly curated feeds, however, it is necessary to share attractive content. Potential clients may be seeing these so it is advantageous to ensure your photographs are visually pleasing and that they convey how finishes can transform a space. Use photo apps to help your photos look their best.


Someone may follow you because they like your content, but if you are not active, they may choose to unfollow you for that reason. Posting consistently helps your account stay interesting. Also, be engaged with others by leaving comments, sending feedback on their stories, watching their Lives, and more. Gain a following by consistently sharing your work and appreciating those of others.


I have quite a bit of experience working with brands and the artists who use their products. These brands want to see your work and might also share it (with your permission, of course). Being featured by a brand is an easy way to enhance your visibility. Consistently tag the brands you are loyal to – and think outside the box to tape, ladders, brushes, trowels, shops, and such. One word of caution: don’t tag a slew of brands at the same time, especially if the product doesn’t show well or if they had nothing to do with the project.

I hope this helps jumpstart new ways to look at your Instagram! If you’d like more in-depth information and visual tutorials on Instagram tools, photo apps, and more, I am working on an Instagram online class for The Paint Hive. Be sure to get on their email list to be notified of its release in 2021! Thank you for reading my recommendations and let me know how they work for you. I’m also leaving you with a bonus. If you’re curious about hashtags, grab the free download, Hashtags for Creative Shares. Enjoy!

Regina Garay

Bio: Regina Garay has over 20 years in the lifestyle field, from running an award-winning decorative services studio to helping plan and execute marketing strategies for world-renowned companies. She has traveled to speak to audiences large and small at industry conferences and private brand events to share social media strategies, trends, and emerging technologies. She is one of the three founders of The Paint Hive.

Unique Experiences

by Lorie Wolff

I opened One Horse Studio, LLC from my Oregon home in 2001. My background was commercial interior design, textile design and office furniture sales. I love traveling to take classes or attend conventions and am a sponge when it comes to learning new or studying historic techniques.

The infamous Friends door &
Parquet Table - in progress

My active involvement in local interior design and home building organizations along with my local Chamber of Commerce has opened many doors for me, one really never knows where the next big client will come from.

How I met this client is a funny story, a friend of mine who I know through my gym had crashed during a bike race and one of the project managers of this exhibit company happened to be the one to take her to get checked out and she somehow was rambling on about me when he told her what he did for work. He called me the very next week and asked if I could paint part of a plane to look like it had crashed, true story. I completed the project, with a couple of helpers, for him with 2 days notice and over a weekend.

I hold a BS degree in interior design from Oregon State University and an associate degree in textile design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

I started One Horse Studio in 2001, and was both anxious and excited about the types of doors that would open when I announced to the world that I was a decorative painting contractor for hire. I quickly learned about all of the extra duties that would come along with running a successful small business, from taking extra care of the customer, going the extra mile, and project management to branding, marketing and the dreaded bookkeeping. These responsibilities became just as much a part of my toolset as paints, brushes and artistic techniques. Just as the one horse in a one horse town had to wear many hats, so did I.

In this article I am going to share with you one of the most interesting and challenging segments of my business. For over 10 years, I have been an artist for hire, or they call me their scenic painter, with a large exhibit company. One of the best things about working with such an out–of-the-box client, is that there are no rules or standard methods, impossible time lines and the work is very demanding. They simply want the art to deliver the experience that their customer is looking for.

One of my favorite examples of this was when I was hired to paint on a very large cathedral, as an exhibit for a gaming convention. The client wanted the guests at the convention to immerse themselves in one of the signature location elements of the game. So, when I was hired, I was presented with a modular exhibit built out of pressboard. I had to think about how the design would look as a set. I soon realized that incorporating higher contrast between darks and lights and bold textures would work better under the lights of a convention floor. The first challenge was how to seal the pressboard knowing I needed to use a lot of water to get an old patina appearance. With one day’s notice I was able to hire a painting company to apply an oil paint white basecoat the night before I was suppose to start work. My job was then to make it look real, make it look old and make it look weathered.

Faux aged stone using acrylic tints and house paints. Project included finishing the inside
and the outside of the structure. Completed in 5 days with a small crew. The work was
performed in a warehouse and shipped to the exhibit in modular pieces.

From the photos you can see that the end result was a stunning example of trompe l’oeil stones, aged effects and textures. The combination of the scale that I needed to paint along with the quick turnaround schedule of 5 days, meant I needed to get creative not just about the materials, textures and overall look, but also in the procedure for getting it done quickly. My primary tools were garden sprayers and large mops, using long sticks with painted edges to print the grout lines of the massive amount of stones. Knowing that when complete thousands of people will be able to immerse themselves in an enhanced personal experience because of the game environment that I helped bring to life which was quite exciting and nerve-racking! The temporary structure was modularly taken down and re-constructed on the convention floor in a city many states away.

Friends TV Show: Monica's Kitchen and The Coffee Bar

Another of my favorite projects had to do with the infamous TV show, Friends. 25 years after the show ended, I was brought in to help re-create two of the shows famous sets for promotional fan experiences that were going to be displayed in a variety of locations around the country. This exciting project including painting the shows coffee shop “Central Perk” as well as the interior of Monica’s apartment. Very few reference photos were provided, so the project included a lot of watching and pausing the show to gather details. All of the background cabinets, the apartment kitchen table and chairs, the walls, the coffee bar and other miscellaneous items were painted to look like the reference photos. Again, my exhibit company client manufactured the furniture and wall pieces from pressboard. The Central Perk counter tops were painted to look like the original marble, of which only a single grainy photo was available. Even the parquet dining table in Monica’s apartment was painted using faux bois techniques. All in all, I painted four central perk sets and one of Monica’s apartment which were carefully shipped and set up in different cities. The client team expected every detail to be authentic; I spent approx. four months executing the many, many aspects of this particular project.

Every project was not large. Lets talk about teeth. For one project, I was hired to fix a large tooth on a character for a video game display. I arrived on the scene and used floral foam, paper mache’ and a variety of glazes to bring the tooth back to full health. No anesthetic required! If only a real tooth could be fixed so easy.

How about a plane crash? Once again, this was a gaming convention project. In the original video game, a prominent story feature is a crashed plane. In the exhibit, the plane was made out of wood. My job was to make it look like it had crashed in the jungle, burned and then aged with time. I added the silver metallic finish, and then the scaring and aging using glazes. I enjoy taking something new and making it look old and messy and was able to give the display a sense of history with my techniques that helped to enhance the impact of the story.

Another video game exhibit involved the players ending up in a bathroom in an end of the world scenario. Just like with the cathedral and the airplane, my job was to make things aged and smoke damaged, as if a bomb had gone off. My technique was almost a staining of the walls using water and paint, letting drips and other irregularities remain. On the old bathtub, I used tissue paper and paint to emulate decay, certainly something that I don’t do everyday!

On a different type of project, there was a lot of room for creative freedom with the running company display I was hired to complete. My challenge was to create a series of bar stools where the legs of the stools looked like human running legs. I was provided a box of mannequin legs and a collection of brand new shoes. I sketched out mock-ups of the various ideas for client approval and added as much individuality to these legs as I could imagine. Each set of legs was unique, with the choice of socks of which I doused in glue to adhere to the legs, skin texture, clever sayings and tattoo’s, anything else that made them unique. My client’s client wanted to celebrate the running culture that has built their business.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of practicing most all aspects of decorative painting. However, working on exhibits that are for the most part temporary have been some of the most satisfying. Maybe it’s the quick turnover, or the vast creative freedom or just having a respectful polite client make these projects my favorite. I never know when they will call, I’d like to think that I have developed a deep trust with them as they realize I absolutely jump when they ask. They answer to very demanding clients, often I am not given enough detail to complete what is asked but over time I have figured out what they want even though their clients may not even know. This might make some of us in the industry absolutely crazy but because this exhibit company has a respectful, non-dramatic, just get it done culture I am happy to accommodate!

415 S. Sharon Amity Rd, Suite B
Charlotte, NC  28211
Phone: (407) 618-3272

International Decorative Artisans League (IDAL)
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