By Anita Grace –
The front room of Tatiana Mandel’s Westboro home is artfully decorated. Intricate, hand-painted branches, birds and flowers cover the walls from floor to ceiling.
Mandel’s neighbour Paula Zoubek had seen these paintings through the open windows. “I finally knocked on the front door, my curiosity having gotten the better of me, and asked if I could see them,” Zoubek says.
Zoubek is also an artist, and a participant in the West End Studio Tour (WEST). She thought her neighbour’s wall coverings were “amazing” and encouraged Mandel to join the tour.
So it is that this year, for the first time, Mandel is part of the illustrious WEST roster.
The Moldova-born artist studied fine arts in Russia and graphic design at Algonquin College. She also has a background in oil painting and interior design that collectively inform her handmade wall coverings and custom murals.
Mandel will be showing her large-scale paintings at her home off Island Park Drive. Some of her bigger-than-life acrylic pieces resemble peacock feathers, leopard spots or zebra stripes. They are designed to make a bold statement, to be the focal point of a room.
“You hang one of these above your couch in a condo, add some accent pillows and your room is done,” she says.
Drawing on her background in interior design, Mandel carefully considers how her art will work with its surroundings, especially when she makes custom wall coverings. She notes that it is amazing to see how a mural or decorative wall covering can add so much to a room.
“It transforms a space in a couple of hours,” she says.
Her work decorates homes of the rich and famous, especially in California, and is receiving interest from around the world. Because she usually works on wallpaper, she can create a piece in her home, then ship it anywhere in the world. Her international network of interior designers ensures that each piece is hung by a professional.
“I love what I do,” she says. “I get ideas from everywhere.” The inspiration to hand-paint wallpaper came to her after visiting chateaus in southern France. In Europe, handmade wallpaper dates back to the 16th century.
Mandel had since found a unique niche as an artist. Her company, Actual Design & Décor, engages high-end clients from across North America who were looking for customized art to showcase in their homes.
To create her intricate and bold pieces, Mandel pays attention to the smallest details and does careful research before creating a new design. She even visits zoos so she can see the coats and colourings of exotic animals up close.
Recently she has begun experimenting with marble backsplashes decorated in gold leaf. “It’s very interesting to work with,” she says. “There are lots of opportunities.”
Mandel is looking forward to being part of WEST and hopes that the weather will cooperate so that she can display art both indoors and in her backyard.
Click here to read profiles of the other artists on the West End Studio Tour.
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