Michelangelo & Sebastiano at The National Gallery

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Last week we visited the National Gallery to see The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano. We’ve written a short review of selected works from the exhibition and what we learnt about Mike and Seb’s friendship and careers.

The artists

Mike and Seb first met in Rome around 1511. Mike was 36 years old, Seb some 10 years Mike’s junior. Their professional reputations at this stage in their careers paralleled the differing years of their experience.

Mike, already known and respected, embraced punctilious preparation, method, and accuracy through observation and study (not unlike Leonardo); creating monumental works in the way of the Florentine and Roman schools that mark out his stylistic development.  Mike was clearly a driven individual who wanted to be number one in his field – not second or third. During his career as a painter, Mike was in fierce competition with Raphael. Raphael was eight years younger, clearly talented and innovative within the renaissance movement.  Historical accounts give a sense of difference between Mike and Raphael – that Mike was obstinate, moody, quarrelsome and unforgiving, where Raphael was humble, sincere and very likeable – which opened doors for him with ease when Mike had to force his way through. The threat to Mike from the young upstart Raphael seems to have been very real.

In his art, Seb was a freer spirit than Mike, intent upon creating atmosphere and emotion over the strictures of precision, in accordance with his training and development in the altogether more liberal Venice school – accentuating the use of colour and improvisation.  This was not dissimilar to Raphael’s sytle and when Mike became aware of Seb and his talent, Mike realised that rather than allow another unwanted competitor on to the Roman art scene, a collaboration might be in his better interest.  Something about keeping your enemies close, perhaps.

The Exhibition starts with pieces by each of Mike and Seb to illustrate their differing styles.

Individual work

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Left: The virgin and Child with Saint John and Angels (‘The Manchester Madonna’), 1497 – Michelangelo

This panel painting in the opening exhibition room shows Mike’s mastery of the sculptural form.   The vividness of detail and colour in the infant Jesus and his cousin St John the Baptist contrasts with the heavy and precise outlines to the left where the panel remains unfinished. These later outlines are likely transferred to the panel from preparatory drawings, hence their deliberateness at this stage in their introduction to the scene. There appears to be no doubt as to what the painting is intended to portray, and how it is to be produced.

Right: The judgement of Solomon – Sebastiano Del Piombo, 1505

Here, Seb does what he does best.  Many figures, all animated in a way that makes them seem alive and in motion, supporting the story that the scene tells.  Again the piece is not complete – the baby that Solomon is issuing judgement over does not appear.  When looking between this and the previous work of Mike, Compare the skin tone and detail on the nude courtier (who is without the sword that he will need to cut the baby in two) with the skin on the infants in Mike’s work.  Also note how Seb’s work is developing as his thoughts and designs develop.  Not much planning in evidence here.  There are sections around the porticos at the side that look like a montage of several different images such is the prominence of prior architectural layouts he has explored over the one currently adopted.

It is quite possible that Seb became infatuated with Mike.  They quickly struck a friendship and artistic partnership which involved doing sketches for each other and actually both painting on the same canvas.  There is a letter in the exhibition (one of several that illuminate the relationship between the two) in which Seb assumes Mike’s hatred of Raphael.  Whether this is founded on genuine artistic difference, or again evidence of the indoctrination that Seb went through under Mike’s control is not clear.

Whilst Mike may have wanted to get close to Seb to control the risk of more competition, he was professional enough to see the opportunity for creating collaborative art of a new type that could continue to develop the renaissance.

Collaborative work

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Left: Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Pietà) – Sebastiano Del Piombo, after partial designs by Michelangelo, 1512-16

In this collaborative piece the possibilities of their combined talents are explored.   The grieving Mary is painted by Seb in a flowing style with intense colours to her clothes.  The moonlit background is full of atmosphere and suggestion.  Here anatomic form, however, is something of a contradiction. A muscular neck, broad shoulders and chest are almost certainly the influence of Mike.  The body of Jesus is painted in a starkly contrasting style by Mike – precise body form and arrangement and highly detailed skin tone.  You can almost see how the body of Jesus could be taken out to be a sculpture, whilst the balance of the painting could only ever be a painting.   It is likely that this piece proved to be on the evolutionary path to Mike’s Pieto.

Experiments in oil on plaster for the Sistine Chapel frescos may have been the subject of Mike and Seb’s early collaboration.  Ironical, as this is the very topic that was to be their undoing as friends.

Right: Study of a male upper torso with hands clasped and six studies of hands – Michelangelo

These studies, of which there are many in the exhibition, show the intensity of Mike’s pursuance of accuracy and truth in his art.  He is not leaving anything to chance when it comes to the final production.  How much his studies allowed him to vary his intentions is unsure.  Did he always start with a master plan for each piece, or were his studies and preliminary designs permitted to cause a change in the plan?

Mike spent many years back in Florence working for the Midici house whilst Seb stayed in Rome.  By the time of Mike’s return, Raphael had died a young man removing the threat to Mike’s ascendency to the top of his profession.

Late pieces

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Left: The Visitation, 1518-1519 – Sebastiano Del Piombo

Towards the middle of Seb’s career, during the collaboration period, his style of  painting seemed to take on characteristics of the defined and delicate work that Mike is known for. Here within The Visitation, one of his later works, he has gone beyond the figurative visualisation of Mike towards a subtly grand, abstracted and soulful style. He does, however, still maintain the expressive sky in the background of the work, something that for me allowed an instant recognition that the piece was the work of Seb.

Right: Section of the The last judgement, 1536-1541 – Michelangelo

With the sculptured and detailed bodies within The Last Judgement compared to The Visitation you can further see the differential stylings of the two artists. With Seb searching for less commissions and slowing down his painting career Mike was at the top of his game and with this he produced one of the most significant and renowned fresco paintings in the world. He had been fighting his whole career for the art work that would cause a stir and get his name  firmly secured within the art history bible with the Sistine chapel commission he had finally proven his worth. Although some people did believe that Raphael had painted the chapel, most definitely to Mike’s annoyance.

Mike and Seb’s friendship was put under strain when Seb ordered that the yet to be painted parts of the Sistine Chapel ceiling be prepared with an oil-paint base coat before Mike returned to Rome to complete the task.  Mike did not like working in oils and so ordered those areas painted in oil to be stripped and repaired in order that he could complete the work in his establish fresco style with water and egg-based paints on daily plaster applications.

Whilst Mike was away in Florence, working intensely and relentlessly as usual, Seb had taken up favour with the Pope’s court, where he became a salaried advisor.  Whether this role was so demanding that Seb reduced his painting output, or he became lazy with a fat guaranteed salary is not known.  When Mike returned to Rome he quickly formed the later opinion, which coupled with the Chapel ceiling incident was the undoing of their friendship.

Seb died some 18 years before Mike.  Seb had not produced much of note, and very little that was completed in the final 15 or so years of his life.  Mike went from strength to strength in painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry and letters up to his death in 1564 at the age of 83.  After Seb’s passing and before his own, Mike did not acknowledge any good to have come from his collaboration with Seb.  Indeed, Mike publicly scathed Seb, his work and of what he had become in his later life. Whether this attitude reveals evidence that Mike had only ever used Seb to further Mike’s own career is open for debate.

This exhibition, on at the National Gallery until June 25th, 2017 seeks to explore the coming together of Mike and Seb, their collaborative output, and the breakdown of their friendship.  Overall, the curators have achieved their aim, although Mike’s work out ways Seb’s.  We found one or two of the rooms to have odd exhibit numbering with no clear start point if following the very well put together exhibition guide in strict numeric order.  Also, the lighting was a little off on some pieces creating glare or reflection that was difficult to overcome by vantage point selection.

Thank you for reading!

Bethvictoria.com

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A few Little Greene Company colours & accessories

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We’ve chosen some Little Greene Company paint colours and matched them with fabrics, furniture and a few accessories. Hope you enjoy!

Hicks’ Blue and Gauze Mid

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Little Greene Paint, Hicks’ Blue (208)  & Gauze Mid (164) – Villa Nova Fabric, Norrland Indigo – Crumble Snuggler by Loaf at John Lewis, Brushed Cotton Flint – Ebbe Gehl for John Lewis Mira Sideboard – John Lewis Cavendish Cushion, Sulphur – John Lewis Boucle Cushion, Steel – Buster + Punch Hooked 3.0 Mix Cluster Ceiling Light, Copper/Stone

Ashes of Roses and China Clay 

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Little Greene Paint, Ashes of Roses (6) & China Clay (1) – Harlequin Fabric, MORAMO LINENS 132309 – Made, Frame Armchair, Blush Cotton Velvet – west elm Terrace Console Table – John Lewis Lockhart Floor Lamp, Dark Copper – John Lewis Hotel Morocco Rug, Cream – John Lewis Croft Collection Weave Cushion, Natural

Yellow Pink & French Grey 

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Little Greene Paint, Yellow-Pink (46) & French Grey Pale (161) – Fabric, Zoffany ILIAD 322619 – House by John Lewis Bow Upholstered Headboard Bed Frame – Fonteyn Bedside table, oak, Made.com – John Lewis Penelope Task Lamp, Quince – Design Project by John Lewis No.111 Rug, Blue – John Lewis Croft Collection Poppyheads Bedding – George Nelson Bubble Crisscross Saucer Ceiling Light, Medium – Roar + Rabbit for west elm Geo Inlay 6 Drawer Chest

Matthew Williamson Wallpaper & Pearl Colour Pale

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Wallpaper, Matthew Williamson at Osbourne & Little, Tropicana W6801/01 – Little Greene Paint, Pearl Colour Pale (167) – Fabric, Villa Nova, Vardo Petrol – west elm Mid-Century Extending Dining Table – Vitra Eames DAR 43cm Armchair, Cream/Chrome – Design Project by John Lewis No.004 Sideboard, Oak – Kartell FLY Ceiling Light, White – west elm Ombre Crackle dining collection – John Lewis Flamingo, Cactus and Melon Tumbler With Gold Rim – John Lewis Scandi Nova Table Runner, Mineral – John Lewis Pineapple Placemats, Set of 2, Green/Cream

Knightsbridge & Shallows

WILLIAMLittle Greene Paint, Knightsbridge (215) & Shallows (223)  – Fabric, William Morris & CO, Pure Ceiling Embroidery Paper White – John Lewis Hemingway Bookcase With Drawer – John Lewis Annabelle Armchair, Harlequin Vitto Sediment Fabric, Price Band G, Dark Legs – John Lewis Hemingway Round Lamp Table  – David Hunt Hare Table Lamp, Bronze

Thank you for reading!

Bethvictoria.com

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Spring colours

pantone color trends 2017

Pantone have released their spring 2017 colours and they’re a pretty bright and beautiful range. So we’ve collected some images of the colours in action to show you what you can do with them within your home.

Primrose Yellow

Pale dogwood

Hazelnut

island paradise

Greenery

Flame

Pink Yarrow

Niagara

Kale

Lapis Blue

Hope you have enjoyed this spring colour inspiration!

Bethvictoria.com

All images found on Pinterest

 

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Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern

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One of the current exhibitions at the Tate Modern is a large retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg’s 6o year career as an artist. Through 11 gallery spaces you are shown the journey of his work from his early experimentation to his late work with all the seemingly random and continuously experimental work in-between.

We went to visit it and so wanted to let you know what we thought. This is written with two people opinions. Beth’s (B) who is the designer and artist behind Bethvictoria.com and Paul (P) a lover of art and design but with a business background. We thought it would be interesting to see the two opinions formed from the pieces.

The first two pieces are found in the first, ‘Experimentation’ room of the exhibition. This room shows the work he created within Black Mountain College where he took classes in the fine arts and the initial works he created during his marriage to Susan Weil. ‘Experimentation’ shows various materials he worked with from light sensitive paper to a car, paint and paper.

Automobile Tire Print, 1953
Automobile Tire Print, 1953

About: Created with the help of composer John Cage and his Model A Ford. The piece challenges the idea of art and authorship.

What we thought

B: A simplistic idea and kind of print. For me it shows the trace that we leave. Even the simple day to day things that we do, like driving a car, change the world around us and leave a print. A comment on society.

P: I like this for its simplicity, but technically this probably isn’t as straightforward as one might think. Keeping all the sheets of paper accurately juxtaposed achieving a smooth substrate to minimise counter-imprints from under the paper, and ensuring the tire was loaded with sufficient paint to get the consistency of impression over what looks like to revolutions of the car wheel, would have been challenges to overcome.

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Untitled, 1951

About: Part of a body of work named Black Paintings created to test the boundaries of abstraction in the 50s. Untitled, 1951, created whilst he was studying, uses layers of newspaper and dense black paint to create a textured and glossy painting.

What we thought

B: The texture of the newspaper isn’t obvious until you get closer to this piece. That’s what I find interesting about this piece. From far away it just looks like black canvas but when you get closer you see that there’s texture and movement with how the light plays on the glossy paint. If you don’t look at it properly you don’t see the detail and it doesn’t make sense.

P: This is moody. The exhibition lighting could, to my mind, have created more atmosphere. Rauschenberg probably approached this from an experimental angle and discovered an abstraction of form and colour that worked. The proportions are comfortable to the eye and I like the emphasis that is given to the abutment of the varying width canvases that make up the whole.

In room three of the exhibition you find the ‘Combines’. Combining materials, objects and processes to create works that he said became ‘awkward physically’. Using mostly found objects which he put on canvas and then enhanced with abstract paint marks. The combines were made in his studio, live on stage and also some grew with their time in exhibition via viewer participation.

Bed, 1955
Bed, 1955

About: Not being able to afford canvas Rauschenberg decided to use his quilt, sheet and pillow for this piece. When it was first viewed it was considered a threatening piece, Rauschenberg said that he did not mean for it it be harsh.

What we thought

B: I wouldn’t say it looks cozy. But I do relate to it. To me its the boundary between being awake and dreaming. The cover at the bottom and pillow at the top are practically untouched – the real uniform world we are in when we are awake. And the part where you would slip under the cover is messy and colourful – the explosion of your ideas and imagination that comes when you are asleep and dreaming.

P: Not a lot to say about this other than I think it is great. I particularly like the almost ‘impressionist’ colour spectrum that is created around the fold of the quilt.

Black Market, 1961
Black Market, 1961

About: Originally this was a piece that the audience could participate in. The four clipboards on the canvas were for viewers to put their own pieces of art/notes or doodles into the work. The box contained objects and people were encouraged to take one in exchange for an object of their own. (This was stopped when in one exhibition the objects were taken and not replaced)

What we thought

B: The idea of being able to add to and interact with this piece is really great. I love the idea that Rauschenberg took his recognition and allowed other people to get involved with it. Collaborating with everyone and getting everyone involved in making art.

P: I would love to know if Rauschenberg took an interest in how the contents of the box changed over time. Keeping snapshots of the ever-changing range of items, with the common theme of having been ‘swapped in’ might have been the basis for more follow-on work perhaps.

Silkscreens (Room 5) were a key part in Rauschenberg’s recognition as an artist, being the key to his breakthrough in 1963. Rauschenberg was working on these at the same time as Warhol. He started using his own imagery then he developed to using colour and more recognisable found imagery, touching on the subjects of politics, science and sport. Once his silkscreens had been recognised and shown within galleries he immediately destroyed the tools needed to make any more, removing any possibility of the ease to just repeat himself.

Almanac, 1962
Almanac, 1962

About: Almanac was one of his first screen prints and doesn’t hold any real meaning. It is just an exploration of the combination of imagery, strokes and textures.

What we thought

B: Unlike Warhol, Rauschenberg’s screen prints aren’t concerned with the celebrity. They are, as with his other work, experimental and show working. It doesn’t tell you what it is or how you should think about it – you decide for yourself.

P: At first, this piece creates an internal struggle in the observer as it appears chaotic (Tate calls it ‘poetic’ – I’m not so sure). But as one deciphers the images that have been screen printed and the brush work that is added for emphasis, one is taken on a journey of one’s own making. The piece becomes something different to each observer.

Room 11 shows Rauschenberg’s late works. He had a keen interest in using the latest technology in photography to produce large scale works. He continued to make work until his death in 2008. They continued to be collaborative and experimental. Questioning the idea of art and ownership and the development in technology, media and culture.

Mirthday Man, 1997
Mirthday Man, 1997

About: Mirthday Man was made on Rauschenberg’s 72nd birthday. It includes an x-ray of himself, clippings from art history and imagery from his travels.

What we thought

B: From the exhibition it seemed that Rauschenberg after time creating less colourful box, B&W photographs and installations went back to this type of work that is similar to his screen prints but with modern techniques. I just love that even on his 72nd birthday and for ten more years he was creating such interesting works.

P: It seems a random combination of images, but it isn’t. I imagine the artist anguishing over the arrangement of colour, shape and topic, either to give some order to it all, or to intentionally create disharmony. This is a piece one can look at for hours and see different things and think different things.

So, that’s what we thought about it. The exhibition is open till 2 April 2017 so get down to Tate to see it for yourself!

Bethvictoria.com

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Garden DIYs for Summer

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Here are 5 summer garden DIYs that we’ve found and would love to make! Perfect for getting you in the mood for summer and your garden looking BBQ ready.

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Tea light holders. This is a simple DIY that offers a fun way to have extra light in your garden as well as some recycling! (Click the image for the process)

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Bright colourful hanging plant pots! Perfect for in the home or in the garden.

(Click the image for the process)

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Stackable recycled planters. Make these from wooden wine boxes for even more of a rustic feel or make them from new! These are great because they make use of the height, creating more floor space, or creating mock walls in the garden.

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These teepees are not only great for creating a space in the shade for children to play in, but they’re great for adults too! We would definitely hang out in this, and they’re not too hard to make either.(Click the image for the process)

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This DIY takes a little more skill, but the outcome is the perfect comfy place to kick back with a book in the sun. (Click the image for the process)

Happy Making!

Bethvictoria.com

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Spring time!

Here are a few simple ways to add colour and a spring feel to your home!

Flowers! (of course)

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Flowers are the perfect symbol of spring. But try to mix up what you display them in. Keep the colours light and bright!

Paint your front door! 

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Add a splash of colour to the front of your house. When thinking about painting your door don’t forget that painting your interior doors is also a great way to get that extra colour into your home.

Fresh new bedding

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Getting new colour into the bedroom is easy with new bedding. No need to paint the whole room or change the furniture. These are two of our bright and airy favourites!

Left – Cactus print set from Urban Outfitters. Right – STRANDKRYPA from Ikea.

Get some print and colour into your home

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Any thing that adds colour and pattern to your home gives it a spring feel. Here are a few more examples! Including our wallpaper!

Bethvictoria.com

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5 Interior Colour Combinations

Five colourful combinations that work great in the home.

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The key with the selection that we’ve chosen here is the neutral base. The colour comes from the furniture and accessories.

As we’ve said before this is a great way to be able to easily change the look and feel of a room.

Bethvictoria.com

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Inspiring Interiors – Mural Wall Designs

There are various ways to get a mural onto your walls at home or in the office. From pattern and design being hand painted (Bethvictoria.com/mural) to wall decals (stickers).

Decals

For the playroom or nursery:

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Available here: Animal tree , Owl and Pussycat , Twinkle Twinkle and

For the rest of the house:

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Available here: Tree and birds , Feather and Map

Hand Painted

Do it yourself:

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Here are a couple of ideas that you could do at home. From a small design to a whole wall piece.

The professional:

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By us:

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Bethvictoria.com

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A few Colourful DIYs for 2015

    Here are a few colourful DIYs for bringing your home from winter to spring ready for summer.

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Paint your interior doors, in block or pattern, to add a splash of colour or pattern to a room.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/353673376961493620/   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/163255555218403953/  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/246290673347562431/

Paint the back of box shelves to add a splash of colour. Create these hanging colourful pieces, just tie some coloured wool to a stick.

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Bunting done differently. Circles and rain drops and clouds make for cute colourful decor. Peg up your colourful leaflets and zines! A great way to display your books and create an visually interesting piece.

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Spruce up your fairy lights with these little ideas. Use ping pong balls, paper cups or origami cubes to add shape and colour to your lights.

Happy DIY-ing!

Bethvictoria.com

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DIY: Fill a space on a wall

Here are some great simple little DIY ways to fill a wall space. They look great and they’re not really that hard to do!

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Collect colour swatches and stick them/pin them to your wall.

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And if you’re feeling really creative here are some great little ideas for a DIY wall decor.

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Use black tape to create geometric shapes and animals, an easy and quick way to create something new and different in a room.

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Colour tape looks great too.

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Blackboard walls! We love them at bethvictoria.com and will deffo be creating one of these at home!

Paint a wall with blackboard paint and then let your creativeness flow.

Happy DIY-ing!

Bethvictoria.com

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