From Thespian to wallpaper designer, Sonoma County artist Elan Evans has gone from stage drama to dramatic finishes that take wall coverings to an entirely new level. Founded in 2014, Elan Evan’s new line of die cut wall treatments are a full-time business. Evans creates spaces that feel as good as they look. This year, she had three wall works featured in the San Francisco Decorator Showcase and we caught up with her to find out more her designs at the Showcase and what inspires her glorious work.
CC: How did the collaboration with designer Cynthia Spence come about for this year’s SF Decorator Showcase?
Elan: Cynthia Spence was a Coupar introduction, thank you, Krista Coupar! We were introduced at the Designer Days walk through, and I had come laden with samples of techniques that I was really excited about, including the Liquid Tin paint. Cynthia really seemed to respond to everything, and that is always a good time when both you and the designer are feeling the same spark. When the dust settled and rooms were assigned, though, it looked like the only surface in her room for me was the tiny Liquid Tin ceiling. Until Cynthia got a call from the Showcase house manager informing her that the owner had decided to remove the door casing from her space. Her original concept included upholstered walls, so this posed a problem. Thinking on her feet, she reached out to me about possibly designing a painted finish. I suggested a hand painted paper, and we went from there.
Cynthia Spence's Teal Transitions Vestibule
CC: What inspired the gorgeous blue wall treatment and liquid tin faux bois ceiling for Cynthia’s ”Teal Transitions" room?
Elan: Cynthia was really inspired by the views of the water from the house and wanted to bring that shimmering light-on-water quality from the outside into this somewhat dark interior space, and then transition into the second section of the vestibule with that gorgeous dark teal velvet. So we started with the teal color, reducing it to a watery glaze, and then went over it with a pearlescent plaster in a rippled wave pattern. It was a fun day in the studio. The Liquid Tin paint can be applied and burnished in a variety of ways, on a whim I had run some wood graining tools through it and Cynthia’s eyes and hands went right to that sample.
Cynthia Spence's Teal Transitions Vestibule
CC: In addition to Cynthia’s vestibule, you also created a one-of-a-kind wall treatment for Tineke Triggs' Master Bedroom. Can you talk about what inspired that work?
Elan: Tineke had triangle shapes in her mind’s eye from the very beginning of her design process. Then she saw some paintings by Robert Stone that she loved, and we took the idea of that combed texture creating tone on tone, overscale triangular shapes on that back wall. I was working in that room in early April, on the first warm, beautiful Saturday day of the spring, and every sailboat in the bay area was out on the water. I looked out the windows of the master bedroom, with it’s amazing views of the water, and it was covered with triangles as far as the eye could see. A perfect moment.
Tineke Triggs' Master Bedroom
CC: Did you discover anything unexpected having your work featured at the Showcase?
Elan: I recently filled in for Cynthia Spence at one of the evening events, and during my time in the vestibule I was surprised by how many people asked permission to touch the wall covering. I love the tactile qualities that most of my finishes have - the shimmery blue paper has an irregular surface that lets you know it’s hand done, the walls in the Master Bedroom range from the combed plaster texture to the great velvety feel of the three limewashed walls, and if I could boost people up to the Liquid Tin ceiling, I would! In my next showcase room I may put a tiny notice up—‘Please touch the walls’.
From left to right: Elan Evans' studio and an image of the piece she created for the 2016 San Francisco Decorator Showcase
CC: How did you start designing wall coverings?
Elan: My company was born out of necessity. When I started decorative painting in the late 90’s, there just weren’t all that many good options for printed wall coverings. If you wanted some interesting texture or pattern on your walls, you had to call one of us. Since then, that industry has experienced an explosion of both creativity and technological advances, both feeding the other. How to compete? I wanted to focus on finishes on paper that looked and felt handmade, but still could provide the client the convenience of a paper installation, and I discovered, for myself, the convenience of working in my studio and skipping the morning commute. There are things you can do flat on a table that are just not practical to do on a wall, which is really exciting. You can work super wet. You can put a glaze on and then scrub it almost all off. You can drizzle, spatter, or throw paint. And then I discovered the die cutting machine! I have been developing a line of wall coverings that combine precision cut paper overlays with a hand painted finish. I find them to be that almost perfect marriage of hand and machine made.
For more information on Elan Evans Decorative Finishes, please visit her website.