Who says art has to hang on walls? Jesse Lance thinks it can be underfoot. *
That's the thinking behind ArtFloor.ca, a company that works with local artists to create works of art that function as the decorating equivalent of area rugs. Take a large painting, frame it, cover it with enough protective coats of resin so that it holds up to furniture, dogs, kids and shoes -- and you have art for the floor.
Lance is a conceptual designer with a background in marketing, but he's been installing and finishing wide-plank red pine flooring since launching A. Marreed & D. Prestman Distressed Pine Flooring Inc. several years ago.
ArtFloor.ca is an offshoot of his pine flooring business and an approach to a different segment of the market.
Distressed pine flooring has a distinctive country appeal, while his art floors can fit into a wide range of styles -- depending on the artwork. That's why he has a half-dozen artists with distinctive painting styles.
There is one floor with a wetlands scene, complete with bulrushes, trees, water and ducks, in a style reminiscent of a traditional hooked rug. The floor would fit neatly into a country decor. Others are colourful abstracts and would fit into an urban home.
Catherine Gutsche is one of the abstract artists working with Lance, discovered when he saw her work on the Red Trillium Studio Tour. (This year's Red Trillium Studio Tour is Nov. 24 to 25 and includes artists in the West Carleton area. Visit redtrilliumst.com.) "He explained the project and it sounded exciting, especially the size of the canvases," says Gutsche.
"It gave me the opportunity to work on a piece larger than I have ever worked on before."
The mixed-media artist explains there are restrictions when doing floor art. Texture and rough or uneven surfaces are out, for example, because the painted surface has got to be flat and easily covered with resin.
Gutsche kept her acrylics simple." I think they are quite cool. They would really make quite a splash in a modern condo."
Country or urban, floor art is particularly appropriate for open-concept living spaces.
"We live in a wall-less society, with new conditions based on the fact that there's no place to hang art."
Another advantage is the versatility of floor art. If you change houses, you might find the walls won't accommodate your art. But chances are pretty high there will always be room if your art fits under the coffee table.
The panels are also easy to transport, so they can go to the cottage for summer living, he suggests. Right now, Lance is sticking to one size -- three by 1.5 metres. He chose the size for a reason: "It fits into most standard service elevators."
The artwork is done on canvas, but it's given special treatment.
First the canvas is laminated onto a piece of solid board and given two coats of gesso, a primer that dries hard. Then Lance delivers the canvas to the artist, who does the creative stuff.
"They do paintings as if they were going to hang on a wall, and when I get it back, I put it through a transformation process -- and that process can go anywhere from simple glazes to tints to sandings."
Lance covers the art with seven coats of resin. The resin makes it "four times tougher than the average hardwood floor."
He doesn't have a shop, instead operating out of his home near Almonte and via his website, artfloor.ca.
He offers a RICH (Residential, Institutional, Corporate, Hospitality) Lease Program, starting at $ 29.00 a month, which is a business tax deductible item, home-based or otherwise. If you lease-to-purchase, you can deduct the capital cost and depreciation as office furnishings as well.
* Pricing updated as of today's date.
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