Ron Ames, Decorative Wall Artist located in Silver Springs, MD, has been completing specialty wall finishes for over twenty years, has had his work featured in numerous publications and teaches classes to students eager to learn about the world of decorative finishes and he does it all with a strong sense of our planet. When asked which photos from his website showcase an eco-friendly example of his beautiful work, Ron enthusiastically responded: “All of the work[s] shown on my site use only eco-friendly products”. With close to 100 images on his website, spanning the past twenty years of work, that is quite impressive.
Describe a day in your personal or professional life.
The night before, get materials ready for next day project. Wake up at six am, meditate till seven, make lunches and breakfast for my mamacita and adolescents, brew up some coffee, sit, chat, and watch the wildlife until we are ready to leave.
Is it your personal belief that creativity, and the ability to create art, is innate?
The ability to create is not only innate, but is who and what we are. How that creativity is expressed is an individual discovery.
Who or what inspired you to become a Decorative Painter and Finisher?
Back in the mid-80’s, when I was working for a painting company, I observed another member of the crew creating a faux marble effect and I felt such an excitement seeing how it was all coming together that the very fact that I was excited made me realize I should pursue this, so I asked him for info on where I could learn some more and he turned me on to a book which had Ina and Allan Marx’s school address in the back, so for two years I commuted from Washington DC to New York to take most of her classes.
What prompted your shift from use of oil paint to latex or other Earth friendly products?
In the late 80’s to the early 90’s, I began to experience physical symptoms such as red eyes, dry skin, runny nose and headaches. My wife works in the health field and suggested that I could be allergic to the petroleum solvents in the oil paints. It was then that I started to explore the water based products using Floetrol as a glazing medium.
How do you find that water soluble products hold up compared to their oil counterparts?
There are pros and cons to each, but as the demand for environmentally friendly products increases, the quality and durability of water soluble finishes will catch up to the standard reputation of oils, if it hasn’t already done so.
How did you approach your first client with green design concepts? How long ago was that and were they immediately receptive?
In the 90’s, I began to suggest to clients that they use water soluble products mainly because I was allergic to petroleum, but many were already unhappy with the off-gassing of oils, not to mention that, because of the long wet time of oils, brushing up against the finish leaves marks that have to be fixed.
When teaching classes, how much emphasis do you place on green concepts with your students?
What are some of the important green issues you feel must be emphasized to your students?
Recycle water based paints by letting the cans dry out then take them to the recycling center or donate unused paints to shelters, high schools, etc.
Do you find more students have a focus on being ecologically responsible now than say ten years ago?
Can you tell me about your creative process?
For me, creativity is about being in a playful mood first. Ones’ attitude or approach to the creation of something is vital. Being tense inhibits the opportunity for creative ideas to flourish. Don’t be tentative which can only come from having expectations and with that comes the fear that you may not live up to those expectations and therefore you will judge yourself as a failure. The creative process is about tuning into an energy that can’t be described, but certainly felt. Tuning into it requires letting go of preconceptions of…whatever.
Were you influenced by the Green Movement?
What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?
Recycling materials, using reusable bags for groceries, using recycled products for countertops, floors, cutting boards, kitchen cabinets, using energy star appliances, energy efficient light bulbs. We plan to purchase a hybrid vehicle in 2009.
What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?
Conservation and preservation of our environment begins with the understanding of conserving and preserving our selves. We can only conserve and preserve ourselves when we acknowledge that which is life giving, and when we are in touch with that, there is a natural extension of it in out external environment. As within so without.
What challenges have you had in your work?
Whatever challenges I have had in work has to do with the fundamental ability to relax and realize that there is a solution to all problems. Things get worse if my mind is in an agitated state. Solutions arise when the mind is quiet.
Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?
It depends on how one uses it for it to be positive or negative. For exposure, it has helped me tremendously.
What is your greatest ambition as an artist?
To keep on growing in knowledge and spread the joy that I experience from doing something that I love to do.
What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about it?
I am currently working on writing a book that has to do with wood graining. Nothing much to tell at this point.
Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?
For historical Trompe L’Oeil, definitely the Flemish Masters, the Impressionists, Joan Miro, Kandinsky, for contemporary Masters in my field, I would have to include the legendary Marx’s, William Cochran, Pascal Amblard, Pierre Finklestein, Sean Crosby, Nicole Vigini, Kaltoum Maroufi-Colle, and many more that are out there that I have not had the privilege of learning from.
What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?
Ask yourself: What do I want, how bad do I want it, what am I going to do to get it?
What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?
Benjamin Moore Aura, Milk paints, American Clay Plasters, Faux Effects products
What is your best “going green tip?
What we do today affects our tomorrow
How would your friends describe you?
Deep, eccentric, thinker
Do you have a website or online presence that showcases your work?
Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com