From across the pond, British paint expert Annie Sloan has been wielding her paintbrush and inspiring DIYers since the ‘90s when she invented her own brand of decorative paint called Chalk Paint.
Not to be confused with chalkboard paint, Sloan’s unique formula, with eco credentials - it’s water-based, non-toxic and low VOC - allows DIYers to paint virtually any surface without the usual prep work of priming and sanding. Her latest book, Annie Sloan Paints Everything (CICO Books), published last November - not to mention the countless Pinterest boards devoted to projects created using her product - proves that there is endless creative inspiration to share.
What inspired you back in 1990 to invent Chalk Paint?
I was a mother with three small boys and I wanted a paint that was quick and easy to use. I was at a dinner party one evening and started talking to someone about my ideas and they happened to know someone in Belgium who could help me. It was quite a lengthy process and there were lots of trips out there to make sure it did all the things I wanted it to do. But we got there and the rest is history.
Why do you prefer to sell your paint to independent stockists?
I think it’s where all the love, thought and interest goes. These independent shops are the lifeblood of countries, towns, villages and cities. It’s a whole experience, and without it we will lose touch with people and everything will be online. It’s about seeing and touching the product, or watching a demonstration and talking about it.
What sets your paint apart from other brands?
It’s an intelligent paint that has a lot of depth to it. I was the first person to develop Chalk Paint. Some people have copied the name, but they haven’t copied the paint. That’s what makes us special. It’s mixed in a special way. I don’t just make a blue; it’s a blue that is good to mix and make other colours with. The properties in it work with the other paint colours.
Your 26th book came out last fall. What inspired you to write it?
Funnily enough, as time goes by you think: “I need to do this,” and as fashions change we all move on. My books are suitable for the times, and don’t forget there are more and more people painting now and looking for the next challenge, which is fantastic.
Your mantra is “paint everything.” How can someone who is fairly new to painting apply this mantra to their home?
Well, I bet everyone owns a piece of furniture that is a little worn and unloved - or they simply hate the way it looks. Maybe it’s a modern piece of furniture, which is a little orangey, or it’s something that used to belong to their grandparents and has sentimental value, but they want to change it. That’s where I would start.
Where does your inspiration come from these days to generate your new paint palettes?
I think I always return to the artist’s paint palette. I am an artist by training and my colour knowledge really comes from understanding pigments and knowing how they work. But of course I travel a lot and take inspiration from my travels.
I have just returned from Sweden and that was a wonderful experience, as it is the home of painted furniture. I visited many great houses, a painted palace and theatre, and I went to someone’s house in the country that was completely run down and without electricity or water, but it was full of 18th- or 19th-century painted wood in a bright blue. It was extraordinary and so stimulating.
Your latest colour that was released in August is Giverny. Have you been to Claude Monet’s famous home? How did it inspire the new hue?
I certainly have been to his home in Giverny in Northern France. We have a house nearby. The impressionists made a huge impression on me. Monet just happens to be one of them. The colour palette in his home was just absolutely exquisite and so inspirational. It completes all the blues in my Chalk Paint range. It’s a sophisticated, modern colour.
What do you see being the colour trend for 2017?
It’s strong positive colours. I think we are all fed up with the beiges, greys and whites. We need something that will liven us up and get us going!
– Special to the Toronto Star