Shop Talk with Amiel Mesner

One of our secrets to design success is the ability to mix colors using pigments. Years ago, all painters mixed their own custom colors. Now, paint stores have machines to automate the process. Mixing pigments by hand is becoming a lost art.

At Arteriors, our box of pigments is still the heart of our design shop. Mixing colors using pigments helps us do a superlative job because we mix colors right in the room.  And our ideas stay as fresh as our paint.

We never bring pre-mixed paint to the job. We customize our finishes right on the spot:
• Our light colors are made from pastel base paint.
• Medium colors are made from medium base (neutral with a bit of white pigment).
• Deep colors are made from neutral base.

We’re capable of matching anything, from window treatments to tile floors, and our decades of experience allow us to provide samples on location. If the result isn’t flawless, we adjust the sample right away.

It’s a service you can’t buy at the store because there’s no way to go back and forth, from the store, then to the studio, then back to a client’s location.

For the true professional, custom color mixing is more efficient, more reliable, and conserves materials because you can see what the paint looks like in the room where the paint will actually be used. Interior designers, working with residential clients or the hospitality design trade, especially love us for this reason.

Mixing colors might sound simple, but it’s not. You have to know the color wheel by heart.

For example: if the color’s too red, green’s the opposite of red—so adding a drop of green will subdue the red. Color choices are 90% of the success of an artisanal paint finish.

Personally, mixing colors is my favorite part of the job. Not surprisingly, I also love to cook. Like cooking, pigments have flavors. Our sense of taste can be described with four categories: bitter, sweet, sour, and salty. Yet you need more than four categories to describe how basil or oregano tastes. Pigments are like that too. Not every yellow is the same. There’s lemon yellow, oxide yellow, cadmium, and sienna. Each yellow has subtle differences. The wrong color looks garish when it’s not used properly.

An accomplished faux finisher learns how to create fine art by using the flavors of pigments. Mixing pigments can’t be learned overnight and mixing pigments to fit a specific room can’t be mastered by a machine. There aren’t any shortcuts. With designer finishes, practice makes perfect.

And a perfect example of the importance of using accurate colors is faux-bois. All the technique in the world cannot “fool the eye” if the glaze colors don’t add up to an accurate wood tone.

All photos feature faux-bois by Arteriors:


With master painters and their masterpieces, the colors are mixed deliberately and then carefully balanced with the adjacent hues. In my opinion, color mixing with pigments by hand is what separates professionals from rookies. A decorative artist who needs the paint store to scan their color chip will always have fewer options than a professional who mixes their own colors.

Arteriors: connecting feeling to art. Perfect colors for your world.