The Artful Home

Featured in “The Artful Home | Using Art & Craft to Create Living Spaces You’ll Love” by Toni Sikes.

Houston Business Journal

Houston Business Journal
February 2007 | Page 1A  &  4A

Jeremy and Jamie Wells didn’t have a clear concept in mind when Chevron Corp. asked the husband and wife team to submit a design for artwork to be displayed in a company office building.

A stroll through the atrium lobby venue of the Bellaire building gave the co-owners of creative arts firm Imago Dei LLC inspiration on a grand scale.

Covering two walls 120 feet wide and six stories tall would require Texas-sized art.

They put the finishing touches this week on the display at 4800 Fournace Place, featuring abstract larger-than-life paintings based on photos of various Texas landscapes taken by the couple while on vacations.

The final design includes 18 mural paintings, each 10 feet by 14 feet, grouped in six triptych patterns of three paintings.

The company began preliminary design work in January 2006 at Imago Dei studios on Flintlock Road and began the actual painting in August, transposing the smaller image grid onto the large canvas.

“They really didn’t have any idea of what kind of artwork they wanted,” says Jeremy Wells. “But they had these offices with windows looking out at this beg wall, which was kind of boring.”

Although installation is complete, the lighting will take longer to finish. So the artwork titled “Life and Light: Texas Landscape” will remain draped mysteriously behind some equally large curtains until the April unveiling.

Instead of sweeping landscape scenes, the paintings reflect abstract close-ups of details seen in the wild, such as an oddly shaped tree branch or an artistic crack in a rock cliff face.

And no doubt about it, the paintings are big.

More than 100 gallons of acrylic paint were used, along with 2,500 feet of wooden framing and 2,700 square feet of canvas imported from Indonesia.

Mounted on two 100-foot by 22-foot metal sculptures, the artwork appears to be “floating” in front of the atrium walls.

In addition to giving the 10-employee company a major revenue boost, the Chevron project also has raised Imago Dei’s profile in the public and corporate art project world around North America.

The local art firm is now a finalist for another large civic project to create a mural on the side of a church for a town in rural New Brunswick, Canada.

Jeremy Wells, who founded the company in California in 1999 and relocated to Houston in 2001, sees the Chevron project as a springboard to more public art projects in the future.

Says Wells: “It’s opening up some doors.”

A Commission Story

A Commission Story
p. 240 The Guild Sourcebook of Architectural & Interior Art 22

Imago Dei

TITLE
The Five Elements, 2006

COMMISSIONED FOR
Nikko Cosmetic Surgery Center,
Houston, TX

TIMELINE
6 weeks

DIMENSIONS
Five panels, each: 60” x 24”

TRADE PROFESSIONAL
Diane Alexander and Rex Spencer,
Interior Designers,
Diane Alexander Designs

An office’s all-important space sets the tone for the business, shaping the outlook of all who enter. Houston’s Nikko Cosmetic Surgery Center offered designer Diane Alexander an opportunity to compose an interior for a state-of-the-art clinic grounded in an ancient philosophy. “Our client was Japanese and asked us to develop a blend of earth-centered Zen design with contemporary overtones,” Alexander explains. Together with Jamie and Jeremy Wells and their creative team at Imago Dei, Alexander developed a concept based on five elements; water, fire, earth, metal and forest. Spanning a twenty foot wall, five mixed-media panels explore and interpret each of the elements. Jeremy Wells recalls, “One of the things we looked for was abstract images of each of those elements. We then combined multiple imagery to create each unified piece.”

Playing further with the concept, the artists then incorporated each of the actual elements as an art medium. “For instance, in the Metal piece, we used paints that actually have metal particles in them, then sprayed patina solutions on the surface to form oxidation processes such as rust,” Jeremy Wells explains. Like-wise, the Forest panel was rendered with handmade papers that have strips of wood fiber woven into them. Earth is encrusted with soil and various earth-based plasters, while Fire is emblazoned with flames of gold leaf.

As a final touch, Imago Dei translated each element’s name into its Japanese character and melded it into the surface of each panel. Diane Alexander adds, “Since Eastern artists often used chop marks as signatures, we wanted Imago Dei to develop an appropriate chop mark for their signature. They did and it is beautiful.”

Jamie Wells articulates the artwork’s Zen-infused potency: “We hope that as visitors are waiting they will have time to contemplate the textures and try to figure out the characters, meaning and symbolism in these paintings, which have produced an ambiance of rest and quiet meditation.”

Design Resource Magazine

Design Resource Magazine | Spring 2007
“The Fine Art of Murals | A Guide to Commissioning Contemporary Murals”
By Jeremy Wells

Chances are that you have noticed the incorporation of murals into the overall design theme of homes is increasing in popularity. From walls to ceilings to niches, more and more homeowners are seeking the escape, serenity, and sense of place that a mural can bring to any home. For the last few decades we have seen a resurgent interest in the private mural, possibly spurred on by the government sponsorship of public murals since the 1930s. The prevalent movement in the style of private murals seems to consist mostly of romanticized landscapes with an emphasis on subtle antiquity. It is not surprising considering our urban surroundings. Whether it is a diversion from the cool and architecturally austere interiors of post-war modernity or the need to escape from our stressful and overscheduled lives, there has been a definite revival of the domestic mural over the last forty years – one that has not been observed since the fourteenth century’s proliferation of great murals. Perhaps you or someone you know is currently considering commissioning a mural but has no idea where to begin. This article should shed some light on this often mysterious process as well as offer some valuable information and guidelines.

Let me preface the following by saying the art of domestic murals is nothing new. Actually, it is quite ancient. Modern painting as we know it was in fact birthed in the form of murals painted with charcoal and natural pigments on cave walls. The Roman author, Pliny the Elder, describing a Trompe L’oeil mural over two thousand years ago in Athens noted the grapes painted by Zeuxis were so life-like that the birds had actually attempted to eat them. From the Egyptians and their extremely skillful paintings adorning the pyramids to the remarkable murals of Pompeii to Early Christian catacombs, mural painting preceded and heavily influenced what today we call “high art.”

Perhaps no one culture has contributed more to the advancement of mural painting than the Italians. Examples abound, and volumes have been written on the subject. But for the sake of our dialogue, we can be grateful to the artists Tiepolo, Michelangelo, Giotto, Veronese, and the architect Brunelleschi. The contributions of these artists are immeasurable and serve to this day as a source of inspiration and awe for professional artists. The above named artists are widely known for their murals, but it is interesting to note that many other artists known more for their canvas work, such as Titian, Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Chagall, and Sargent have painted murals as well. The point of all this history is to help you understand that when you decide to commission a mural for your home, you are not simply participating in a new trend or fad that will pass. You are, in fact, becoming a participant in a rich history of an ancient art form.

When embarking on commissioning a mural, I would suggest you begin with determining a location that is fitting. Possible locations include, but should not be limited to, walls, ceilings, niches, barrel vaults, domes, and furniture. Ideally, a mural should be in a visible location that can be viewed from a distance simply to maximize its audience and viewing perspective. When considering themes, keep in mind that a mural should be an enhancement to and in harmony with the existing architecture and design, not a distraction. Perhaps most importantly, it should have personal significance and value to you. “A mural should have intrinsic as well as decorative merit…” says Caroline Cass in Grand Illusions, a fascinating book about contemporary interior murals. When our firm is commissioned to paint a landscape mural, we advise our patrons to consider a subject location that has direct sentimental value. These murals seem to be most enjoyed over time, as nothing quite captures the essence of a moment or memory like paint.

After you have determined the location of your mural, it is time to find the right artist for the job. First contacting your interior designer is recommended. Chances are they already have a working relationship with a muralist whom you could interview. The most important aspect, as with any art, is for you to be inspired by the muralist’s previous work. No two murals are alike, and no two muralist’s styles are alike, which is why this should be your first consideration. Fortunately, living in Houston you have more than a few sources available when searching for a style with which you can connect.

Once you have found several artists and have investigated their websites to learn more about them, you (or your designer) should schedule an initial consultation. If they have a studio you can visit, it may prove very helpful for you to see other works first hand to get an even better feel for their style and skill. Here at Imago Dei, we have a showroom and gallery where initial consultations are usually conducted. This gives you the opportunity to tour the studio, see works in progress, and personally meet with our artists. We try to demystify the process by involving you in every step of your mural.

After visiting the artist’s studio, the next step is usually an onsite visit to your home. It is extremely valuable for your artist to observe the architectural space and examine the light and colors that will ultimately have a major affect on the mural (whether it is painted on site or on canvas in the studio.)

The current preferred method of creating murals is to paint them on canvas in the artist’s studio and then install them on site. This is the process we practice, as it has many benefits such as the following: a finer quality of artwork, archival artwork that can appreciate in value, the canvas may be safely and easily removed and transported for reinstallation, and it is conveniently non-disruptive to your home environment.

There are, of course, many more things to consider, and surely your designer will have advice for you. As with any major investment, do your homework before proceeding with commissioning a mural. The blog section of our website (www.ImagoDeiGallery.com) contains many useful tips and resources on this subject as well as other Art and Design topics.

Above all, I hope you enjoy the process. Savor the smell of the artist’s fresh paints in the studio, engage in the creative brainstorming of initial designs, contribute your thoughts and concerns, and be a player on your artistic team. Be soothed and consoled after a stressful day by the power of well executed artwork. Take the time to enjoy your mural as a part of your everyday life.

I leave you with a quote from Henri Matisse that is perhaps more relevant in our day than ever when regarding private murals: “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter – a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.”

Imperative guidelines to a successful mural commission:

• Make sure you have seen (and enjoyed) the artist’s previous work. This will most likely be seen in a professional portfolio. If there is no portfolio, this should serve as a red flag.
• When meeting with your artist, there should be a connection and trust. A mural will be a very intimate part of your home. You want to be reminded of a positive commissioning experience, not a stressful one.
• Your concerns and opinions matter. You don’t have to have a formal art degree to share your concerns with an artist. You should feel that your input is considered.
• Pay attention to the details. How do the artists present themselves, their work, and any business materials? These are key indications of their level of professionalism and the service you will experience.
• Expect a formal written proposal and understand the total price and terms of the project. A mural can be a considerable investment, averaging between $10-20,000 for a high quality mural.
• References should be available if requested. Don’t hesitate asking – a successful artist will be ready and proud to present you with a list of references.

The Language of the Soul

The Language of the Soul
Why does art move us in ways that nothing else can?
BY JEREMY & JAMIE WELLS

On a recent trip to study the Italian landscape for our paintings, my wife and I traveled for three weeks taking thousands of photos and meeting many different local artists. During our time in Italy, we experienced the delicate tastes and illustrious light that bathes that land with ethereal colors. We made our way from Rome, exploring every tiny village road connecting Umbria to Tuscany, finally arriving in Florence. This city is a treasure chest of art and architecture. It is truly one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. In Florence (and every other town) we immediately sought out the great art we had traveled so far to see. The locals we met along the way had as much character as the land in which they lived. They were warm and generous, always pointing us in the right direction to see whatever beautiful art that particular town had hidden within its ancient walls.

We saw one awe-inspiring piece after another—exquisite Trompe L’oiel (some even tricked our eyes!), ancient Frescos, infamous paintings, and infamous artist’s work we had never seen. To say it was inspiring does not begin to capture what was happening in our minds and hearts.

Our arrival in Rome was, at best, frantic. We participated in a circus act of chasing, catching, and changing planes only to arrive and be told that our luggage was still in America. But who cares when you’re at an airport named Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci. At that point we were just happy to be on solid Italian ground. Our hotel had arranged for a driver to pick us up. He appeared to be a nice man – in a mafia sort of way – until the click of our seat belts. We squealed out into traffic as if we were in a mob shoot-out chase scene. Convinced our driver had another passenger in the trunk and we were being chased by the Policia, I thought to myself, “Now this is the way to see Rome!” We brushed up on our Italian while our driver screamed out a barrage of friendly Italian words for each car we passed or almost hit. Before we knew it, we had arrived at the Hotel Renaissance, a little white knuckled but happy to be there.

Several hours later we emerged from our hotel room to have a romantic dinner near the Pantheon. We dined and drank several glasses of aged wine to recover from the adventures of the day and then returned to the haven of our hotel with, of course, another exciting cab ride.

With a little jet lag and a good night’s sleep, we were awake and on our way quite early. As we walked quietly toward St. Peters Square, the dew on the cobble stone streets was glistening like a thousand still mountain lakes. The city seemed to be asleep. What a transition from the craziness and crowds of the day before! As we approached St. Peters we were stunned by the stillness of the square. What was a line a mile long the day before, was now a few pieces of trash and some devout pigeons. We noticed several locals scurrying inside St. Peters apparently trying to make morning mass. Curious as to where they were going, we followed them inside the great cathedral.

Walking inside St. Peters Basilica was indescribable. Stepping inside the huge bas-reliefs bronze doors designed by Filarete and Simone Baldi, our eyes slowly adjusted to the expansive interior stretching upward beyond what seemed humanly possible. The vast architectural spaces dressed with sculptures, paintings, mosaics, and reliefs were all bathed in warm morning light flooding in through the windows of Michelangelo’s wondrous dome and reflecting off the patterned marble floor. We solemnly proceeded forward with our eyes exploring all the richness and creativity of the culmination of different artists life’s works.

The interior of the cathedral alone is a work of art, speaking to its visitors through its visual stimulation. It’s truly amazing to be moved by art and architecture. Henry James’ reflection of St. Peters as a work of art captures what we were feeling in that moment of awe. In his book, Italian Hours, he states: “Few great works of art last longer to the curiosity, to the perpetually transcendent attention. You think you have taken the whole thing in, but it expands, it rises sublime again and leaves your measure itself poor. You have only to stroll and stroll and gaze and gaze; its colossal embroidered contortions, like a temple within a temple, and feel yourself, at the bottom of an abysmal shaft of the dome, dwindle to a crawling dot. This is a building that goes beyond the foundational purpose of providing shelter and shows you your place in the universe.”

After a time of reflection, we were drawn to a large painting hanging above an inner alter. A closer inspection revealed this was not a painting but a mosaic formed from thousands of tiny colorful glass cubes! We sat down completely mesmerized by the amount of work that had gone into this mosaic. The colors, the composition, the subjects, all connected to emotions deep within, and without realizing it we were soon moved to tears. The painting depicted a man sinking into violent waters and another man reaching down to rescue him. Somehow this painting, several centuries old, was stretching space-time boundaries to capture the drowning feeling of the current events in our lives. The pressure from unexpected cards dealt us, dealing with family sicknesses had been suffocating. Here we were trying to escape from the chaos of the past few months, and this painting brought us right back to what we thought we had left back home. This painting spoke to us, and we came away from it with a feeling of hope that hadn’t been there before. If only this artist knew while composing this intricate masterwork that his work would be touching our two souls hundreds of years later. This is the beauty of art: its ability to touch, speak, connect and inspire regardless of time and its restrictions. Art cares not your age, race, gender, occupation, or the breadth of your knowledge of itself. It has the ability to evoke emotions in a way that only fine art can.

This is our personal passion with art: to continue in the legacy of the great masters and to create great works of art that tell stories and take others to distant places they have been or would like to be. Whether it’s a serene Tuscan landscape letting someone feel the warmth of the magical Italian light, or a more contemporary urban landscape, the notion is the same—create works of art that move people. As artists, we find no greater pleasure than to create a painting, mural, or faux finish which takes mundane, ordinary spaces and transforms them into awe inspiring surroundings.

Commissioning a custom mural, faux finish or fine art was once reserved for select patron families and nobilities. Now it has become much more accessible with many offering such services. When considering buying any artwork or commissioning a mural or decorative painting, do some research and look for an artistic style that captivates you. Don’t be afraid to call and have us meet with you. We welcome the opportunity to meet with anyone who is seriously considering our work. Our showroom and studio are open to the public by appointment. We have found it is extremely valuable for our clients to see the faux finishes on an actual wall in our studio (not just a sample board) as well as being able to see their mural in progress and original artwork in our gallery. Murals are constantly gaining popularity, especially in the new home market. Many custom homes are being built with numerous art niches, expansive domes, and gallery-like walls. Homeowners are finding this to be a wonderful opportunity to commission custom fit murals. While it can be an intrusive undertaking to have an artist in your home for an extended period, this is not the only option. Murals can be painted on canvas and installed in your home to custom fit any desired space. This is our preferred method. Murals painted on canvas have many advantages, such as the ability to be moved if relocation should occur. Canvas is much more archival than sheetrock, and the mural can be created in the artist’s studio where the environment is more conducive to creating art. One of the biggest advantages is the convenience to the client. For instance, a large mural may take weeks to paint, but is sometimes installed in a matter of hours!

From the rolling hills of Tuscany to your home in Houston – commissioning works of art can be a very exciting process. The world has so much beauty to offer, and though we cannot see it all at once, we can create works of art that take us there and speak to us in a foreign language called the soul.

Houston Chronicle

Houston Chronicle
Copperfield couple thrives on art
By CARISSA D. LAMKAHOUAN CHRONICLE CORRESPONDENT
Jan. 13, 2009

Copperfield couple thrives on art | Cy-Fair News | Chron.com – Houston ChronicleAngels are meant to inspire and awe. Louis and Alice Varela’s angels, depicted in murals that adorn their home’s ceiling and doorway, are no exception. “Seeing people’s faces and reactions when they see it is fantastic,” said Alice of her specially commissioned images. “There’s something so beautiful in the art that it moves people and makes them feel that they are somewhere else.”

To achieve their artistic vision for their home, Varela and her husband Louis called on artists Jeremy and Jaime Wells, founders of Imago Dei. The husband-and-wife team, who live in Copperfield, have been working together since they married in 2002. However, Imago Dei, which is Latin for “Image of God,” had its beginnings in 1999 in Ventura, Calif., where Jeremy was attending college. He moved to Texas after meeting his wife, a Houston native, at a Christian gathering in Tennessee where he was attending as a pastor and Jaime had been hired to create art for the event. The Wells’ first attempt to get their business going in Texas was with an Imago Dei Gallery on Galveston’s famous Strand from 2002-2003. “We didn’t do one (decorative) painting job in Galveston the whole time,” said Jeremy.

Instead, he was forced to make daily trips to The Woodlands and Sugar Land where he was able to work on commissioned art. The long commutes soon took their toll and the couple headed back to the Bayou City where they opened Imago Dei out of their home.

Heading home seemed to do the trick. Their name and reputation soon grew, as did their business. “Our garage was our studio, but after a year or two our business was growing faster than our house,” said Jeremy.

Now, with their business housed in a studio near Beltway 8 and Texas 290, the Wells work with a staff of 14, including 10 artists. Jeremy and Jaime attribute their success to their easy collaboration and passion for their art. “We encourage and motivate each other,” said Jaime, who holds a bachelor of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. “In our case we’re extremely blessed because we work together so well. My greatest strengths are Jeremy’s weaknesses and his strengths are my weaknesses.

“Together we are able to be stronger than we would be alone.”

Alice Varela praised the Wells’ unique working relationship, which involves Jeremy handling the technical aspect of the project and Jaime, Imago Dei’s lead artist, focusing more on the creative elements. She added she was particularly impressed with Jaime’s ability to intuitively tap into what she and her husband were looking for in their artwork.

“We had a sense that she understood (what we wanted) and that she was truly listening,” said Varela. “She understood what we were trying to express, as if she could see what was in our head and heart and interpret it.”

The Wells, who are fans of the Renaissance art they have seen in Rome and other parts of Europe, said they are particularly proud of the work they’ve done for the Varelas, which will also include a mural of the Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mother once it is complete. “This is like a dream come true to do these large-scale works on the religious theme,” said Jaime. “I don’t think anyone else is doing this in Houston.”

In addition to custom murals, Imago Dei specializes in fine art, faux finishes and public art.
For more information, go to www.imagodeigallery.com.

Gloss

GLOSS
Houston Chronicle
November 2008 | Page D1
www.chron.com/gloss

Congratulations to our friends Diane Alexander, ASID and Shundra Harris for their winning designs! We were proud to collaborate with Diane in the creation of the Quintych featured in the photo here. The work as a whole is titled “Five Elements”; and individually (from left to right) “Metal”, “Earth”, “Fire”, “Wood/Forest”, and “Water”. Each piece has the Japaneese inscription for the element featured as well as the elements themselves being used in the media selection. (clay for the “Earth”, metal for… well, “Metal”, gold leaf for “Fire”, strips of wood and fiber for “Wood/Forest”).

Tranquil Design

Tranquil Design
Homeowners find divine inspiration in religious art
By MARY VUONG Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Jan. 16, 2009, 2:03PM

Pam Pierce finds it in a collection of religious art. As an interior designer, Pierce works with color and pattern. When it’s time to head home, she wants a place that’s neutral and tranquil.

She began collecting religious art after her husband gave her a santo, a statue of a saint, which she found had a calming effect.
Pierce is among a growing number of homeowners who are incorporating spiritual objects and images into their décor to bring a warm and soothing quality to their lives.

Houston antiques dealer John Holt has seen the trend grow. He opened his Montrose shop, which specializes in religious pieces from Spain and France, 20 years ago. Back then, he recalls, many Catholic customers came by looking for things that fell in line with their beliefs. But as interest in Mediterranean-style homes increased, so did the number of people seeking religious artifacts for decorative, not devout, reasons. Now John Holt Antiques caters to a mixed clientele.

“Some people like comfort food; I happen to like comfort art,” Sallie Ann Hart tells photographer Peter Vitale in his new book The Divine Home (Clarkson Potter, $60). The Houston homes of Hart, Pierce and Carol Glasser are among 30 featured.

Vitale lives in Santa Fe, N.M., where he says religious artifacts — mostly Catholic — can be found almost everywhere you look. It’s a natural fit for the Southwest, given its proximity to Mexico, where religious icons are abundant.

People used to think some of these items were stolen from churches, Vitale says, not realizing that priests and private homeowners did, in fact, sell them. “Most people’s collections are perfectly legit,” Vitale says.

Nearly all of the home­owners that he interviewed collect for aesthetic, not religious, reasons.

“I look at the pieces as art,” Pierce told the Chronicle. “I tire easily of paintings.” She says the santos provide dimension, texture and structure to her 1920s home in the Museum District.

Glasser’s River Oaks home was Georgian with Spanish colonial bones, decorated in shades of red, peach and teal. She has moved to another house with a lighter, paler palette, but says the religious art fits in just as well there. Her favorite pieces are two angels she bought in Dallas years ago, when she was in her 20s.

“I have to use antiques when I decorate because they give that sense of history and character,” Glasser says.

Hart was raised Catholic but does not consider herself devout. “I just respect and enjoy my faith,” she says. The dining room of her River Oaks home is painted red, with a striking wall of South American primitive crosses, an Italian gilt tabernacle and a wrought-iron votive holder for 60 candles.

“Art is something that gracefully comes off the wall and speaks to you or it doesn’t,” Hart says. “I just get this feeling of being uplifted.”

Hart says her collection seems more at home in Houston than it did in a former Washington, D.C., residence, where people would question her choice of art. Houston antique shops tend to carry more religious items than those in her East Coast hometown, she adds.

Holt, the antiques dealer, also collects for home décor. “I have an apartment full of stuff. It looks like a church,” he says. Like Pierce, he finds his collection comforting.

Of course, for some homeowners, religious imagery is more than art.

Motivated by their faith, Dr. Louis Varela and his wife, Alicia, of Spring wanted to find a way to glorify God in their new, custom home. They commissioned the artists at Imago Dei to create larger-than-life murals above the front door, on the living-room ceiling and on a dome above the staircase.

The dome mural, painted in trompe l’oeil style, required scaffolding, 300 tiny paintbrushes and a crew of eight artists. It took three months to complete.

The Varelas, who belong to St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church, also built a private chapel with a suite for visiting priests and a meditation garden. The water fountain awaits a statue of St. Michael the Archangel.

For them, Alicia says, it’s about “keeping in mind that we have been blessed.”

At Imago Dei, presidents Jeremy and Jamie Wells and their team of artists create custom murals, faux finishes, fine art and public works.

While most of their business is secular, Jeremy says in the last five years, more homeowners have started commissioning religious pieces. He attributes that rise to business growth and an increasing tolerance of all faiths.

“I think in general there’s more acceptance,” he says.

Living in the Lap of Luxury

Living in the Lap of Luxury
Imago Dei’s was proud to collaborate with Keron Weathered & Bayou Bend Homes Riverstone Showcase Home
Fort Bend Lifestyles & Homes | April 2009

It’s little wonder that Riverstone in Fort Bend County was recently named one of Hiouston’s top ten selling communities. Just take a look at these custom gems, the ultimate in lakeside living.

Dramatic Elegance

Dramatic Elegance
An Interview with Jeremy Wells
LUXE Vol. 2 Issue 4 p. 211

Suitable for every room in the house, interesting and intricate faux finishes create a certain mystique. One of the more popular faux treatments, labor-intensive Venetian plaster adds interest to a space through color, texture and sheen. “Legend has it that the Venetians invented Venetian plaster as a way to make the walls of the city look like marble because heavy marble walls would have made the city sink. Extremely versatile, Venetian plaster can be applied in such a way that it creates a clean, modern look for a subtle and elegant background,” says Jeremy Wells, president of Imago Dei in Houston. The finished product relies heavily on the creativity of the artist’s application technique, since the decorative plaster is spread across the wall using a variety of strokes with very small spatulas, resulting in different angles and shades. “Venetian plaster – which has flourished in residences alongside everything else that falls into the Old World tren – can be burnished to a highly reflective sheen that’s smooth to the touch,” Wells says.

Murals have always been responsible for telling a story. Due largely to their customizable characteristics these hand-painted masterpieces are being integrated into the home more and more, even in the most minimalist of settings. “Murals are typically used to capture and express the homeowner’s personality and the world around them in an artistic manner,” notes Wells. “We tend to do a lot of oversized murals on canvas because they can be removed and reinstalled, allowing a client to take the mural from one home to another.”

Often considered to be the most versatile of the faux finishes, glazes are admired for their smooth surfaces that create the illusion of sumptuous textures like suede, linen, silk, wood, stone and even metal. The use of glazes not only adds character to otherwise ordinary walls, it also gives a space depth and intrigue, according to Wells. “Glazes are like jeewelry for the home; they transform the walls into an elegant backdrop while unifying the design of your space,” he says.

Click here or on the images above to view the entire article.

Art Revealed

Art Revealed An Interview with Jeremy Wells Houston Design Resources Vol 14 Issue 1

Imago Dei is a creative arts firm based in Houston, Texas with offices in Houston and Austin offering custom murals, decorative finishes, original fine art and archival giclée prints. For more information visit ImagoDeiHouston.com or JamieJeremyWells.com or call 713-466-9990.

Wielding a palette derived from nature, Jeremy Wells, founder and contributing artist of Imago Dei, is creating innovative mixed media works. The world that Jeremy references in his art is not just the inspiration of creation itself, but also the inventions of man, the process of creativity and the interaction and juxtaposition of these elements.

He has developed an innovative process of combining his own digital photography, image editing software as well as a variety of media output including vinyl, canvas and paper. He then applies it directly to his painting surface, be it canvas or wood, and employs paints, mediums, textures and other media, peeling off layers to expose what color and texture lay underneath in a constant process of addition and subtraction, removal and regrowth, hiding and revealing.

Jeremy likens the acquisition of his source photography to “perceptual awareness,” the visual discoveries being the line, texture and composition of natural elements. Armed with high-caliber cameras, he seeks nature in vacant lots, street corners and abandoned developments, discovering the triumph of nature in an urban context. Jeremy comments that trees once “groomed to man’s ideal of artificial beauty, overcome their scars and become natural sculpture in and of themselves.” He strives to honor that perseverance of nature and “do it justice” on canvas. These new works are mixed media pieces with layers applied, peeled, painted back, sanded down, scratched into and painted again and again to achieve just the right texture and appearance. The strong organic lines of the original source imagery surviving to unify the composition.

“I may take a subtle, nuanced approach to develop an emotionally evocative painting, allowing nature’s form to determine the composition, or be totally abstract in expression.” His artistic inspirations range from travels in Italy to his native California and adopted Texas.

Q What defines your style?
The moment. Painting to me has become about capturing the moment of creation within the canvas. It is a very lengthy process from the moment of conception of an idea to the completion of a piece. Once I have developed a concept to the point where I feel it is studio-ready it is very much like the final movement of a symphony where the entire piece and process come together to birth the meaning and purpose of each stroke of paint. Style is a byproduct of creation, so I try not to set out to create a particular style, but let creativity flow.

Q How does the inclusion of digital technology in your work contribute to timeless art rather than a hot trend?
Artists have always used whatever technology they had available – be it charcoal for a brush and fire for light or the invention of photography to capture a scene for later reference – I am simply a small dot in an infinite line of creatives using the available technology of the day to scratch a creative itch. The work I create today will be meaningful in the future because I am attempting to use high-end production tools to create uncommon, fresh works of art that are still guided by the timeless laws of composition and color theory.

Summer Living

Summer Living
Imago Dei’s was proud to collaborate with Jane Page Design on this award winning lake front home
Texas Home & Living | August 2009

Recipient of the ASID Award for best Vacation Home in 2009, Imago Dei was proud to collaborate with Jane Page Design Firm on this stunning lake home.

Luxe Life

Strokes of Genius A LUXE Life Interview with Jamie & Jeremy Wells LUXE Vol. 2 Issue 4 p. 211

When Jamie and Jeremy Wells met while painting in a field in Tennessee, as part of a public art project, they had no way of knowing where the path before the would lead. Namely: a marriage, a daughter and a thriving partnership that is redefining the perception of decorative painting. Through their Houston- and Austin-based company, Imago Dei, the Wells treat every installation as an opportunity to showcase their profound love of fine art. It’s a challenge that Jeremy thrives on: “We’re very ambitious in our thinking when it comes to our vision for a space,” he says. “We don’t let our past experiences limit our creativity, and we’re always striving to create the most amazing thing.” The results are reflected in works that find inspirations from the great masters, as well as abstract tradition. The youthful aspirations they shared before their chance meeting are now being fulfilled in unison, and for Jamie, that’s the best part. “It’s a total blast,” she says. “I can’t imagine working with anyone else.” www.imagodei.pro; 713.466.9990

Favorite Museum?
Jeremy: Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts. It’s world class, and we go there all the time.
Jamie: I love the Uffizi in Italy.

One masterpiece you wish you’d done yourself?
Jeremy: The Sistine Chapel.
Jamie: William Bouguereau’s Elder Sister.

Alternative occupation?
Jeremy: Actor or entrepreneur.
Jamie: Oceanographer.

Favorite artist?
Jeremy: Malcolm Liepke. He’s amazing at capturing emotion, and I admire his use of color.
Jamie: I adore John Singer Sargent.

One thing you can’t live without?
Jeremy: My iPhone.
Jamie: My MacBook Pro.

How do you approach a new design?
Jeremy: We listen to the client and translate the information into art.
Jamie: We design on computers. This allows us to show our clients exactly what the work will look like in their space.

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Houston Design

Houston Design Resources Magazine
A Journey of Faith
By Anne Marie Paul
Issue Il 2009

When Dr.Luis Varela and his wife, Alicia,embarked on a search for an artist to paint large scale murals in their new home, they had no idea of the journey they had begun. Know- ing they wanted a mural of an archangel inspired by Psalm 34 at their front door to protect and bless their home and all who entered it, they interviewed many artists. Their quest was completed when their interior designer, Michelle McManus of By Design Interiors, introduced them to Jamie and Jeremy Wells of Imago Dei. According to Dr. and Mrs.Varela, “The artistic knowledge, as well as the faith of the artists, was a deciding factor in selecting Jamie and Jeremy. They seemed to understand us and were able to draw out the inspiration in our thoughts.”

“From the beginning, the Varelas wanted to give thanks to God for the many blessings they have received over the years and to dedicate their new home in recognition of this fact. They had a vision of large scale art that would inspire awe and faith in those who viewed it.” (D. Comstock, Brushstrokes, 2009) The owners gave their feedback at every turn as the art evolved. A true partnership developed as the homeowners and artists from Imago Dei found themselves on the same page throughout the evolution of the works. The 20-foot archangel that greets you at the front entrance to theVarela home was only the beginning of their journey of faith. As the homeowners and artists worked together, the project soon evolved to include a trompe l’oeil mural in the dome towering 60 feet over the foyer as well as a massive living room ceiling mural.