An aficionado of Georgian silver offers valuable advice for would-be collectors

December 22, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service Master of faux finishes offers lessonsKnight-Ridder News Service

Leonard Pardon has left his mark on many of the world's grandest palaces, hotels and museums:

Buckingham Palace. Windsor Castle. The House of Lords. Blenheim Palace. Woburn Abbey. The Savoy Hotel in London. The Sultan's palaces in Salalah and Muscat, Oman. And many more in Europe and the Middle East.

He's also had commissions in American homes, notably in Palm Beach, Fla.

A master of faux finishes, Mr. Pardon, 53, has been painting trompe l'oeil scenes, fake marble and imitation woods for 30 years. He even painted Queen Elizabeth's office in her indoor riding school at Buckingham Palace, where she practices riding sidesaddle for her annual two-hour birthday parade.

Founder of the Pardon School of Specialist Decoration in London, Mr. Pardon and his wife, Shirley, recently opened a school in Miami for artists, interior designers and anyone interested in learning to paint faux finishes. They are keeping their London school, and Mr. Pardon plans to teach master classes there during the summer.

Why Miami?

"We decided we much prefer to be in Florida," Shirley Pardon said. "We ran our school in New York only four months in the fall. When we made the decision to run a school full-time in this country, we considered the climate, the closeness of Latin America and easy access to Europe. We also found that people thought New York too expensive. Here we have the beach and weather; it's a much more attractive prospect for students."

Mr. Pardon started the New York school in 1986. Further summer courses were given in California before the couple decided that Miami, which Mr. Pardon considers "the fastest-growing cultural area in the United States," would be the ideal place to base a permanent Pardon Studio.

Mr. Pardon believes faux finishes are gaining popularity in homes because "when you have texture on a wall, you give life to it. If you have nice art and furniture, but nothing on the walls, it's dull. Houses are like theater. You don't actually see the theater, but you feel it."

The new school in Miami is open to anyone, but Shirley Pardon said that "for someone to do this they have to have a feeling for it. We only get those who are interested. It doesn't appeal to me, for example, because I have no artistic feeling."

Students receive a certificate at the end of the course. Classes are limited to 20 students.

For those who think learning faux finishes is beyond them,

consider that the Pardons' son Richard started marbling at age 5. He says it's easy.

Mr. Pardon also had a painting session with Joan Rivers on her TV show in September 1990. Ms. Rivers suggested she stick to jokes and he to painting.

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