Artist in Residency Recap

A month in Italy to create art – a dreamy opportunity! How did this come about, you may ask. Here’s a quick art recap of how Steve’s Artist in Residence at La Fortezza came about and the fabulous results.

You may remember last fall, Steve taught a painting workshop at Annette Joseph’s 9th century villa, La Fortezza. It was full of creativity, laughs and exploration. That lead to this offer from Annette, be the first Artist in Residence, creating work inspired by the region. And he said YES! So, this past July, he did just that, creating a body of work that reflects the history, geography and beauty of the Lunigiana region. Truly a gift to focus on art for a full month.

If you haven’t been to this part of Italy, add it to your travel bucket list. Lunigiana is a historic region between Tuscany and Liguria, drenched in history, unique foods and breathtaking views.

Italy, art, Steve mckenzie's

Being familiar with the town and nearby art store, Steve knew what supplies he needed to take and what he could purchase there. So, with brushes and paint in hand, he spread out in the spacious studio, working on many canvases and paper pieces at once, as the inspiration moved him.

art, roman soldier, paper
Soldata Romano II

One of the benefits of being in one place for a longer period of time is you make friends with the locals. This was especially helpful as Steve wanted to make copies of historic rare books and ephemera at the local rare books archives, to incorporate into his paintings. With some patience and help with translating, he got more than he needed, including the Roman soldier seen above, an atlas of the region from 1785, and a lawyer’s goat skin bound book of contracts from 1635, all incorporated into various works of art.

It wasn’t all painting, there was cooking to be done, in Annette’s fabulous kitchen, plus visiting local museums, sites and an artists’ co-op. Check out Annette’s many workshops here.

Italy, food, Mutti tomatoes
A new favorite, Mutti tomatoes mixed with simple garden produce were the base for many suppers.

One of the artists shared some scrap chunks of Carrara marble with Steve. What an amazing new conduit for his art, another blessing from travels and learning from new friends.

Sculpture by Steve McKenzie – Carrara marble

How does one end such a wonderful month of painting? With a show of course! A downpour didn’t dampen our spirits either. The food truck brought the food inside the studio where our friends, local and from afar, ate, drank and danced into the night.

The next day, we packed up the art, said ciao to La Fortezza, and headed to the iconic beach town, Forte Dei Marmi, the perfect way to cap off a jubilant July.

Tastemaker Tuesday – Annette Joseph

Sounds the trumpets – we’re absolutely thrilled to be featuring our friend, and acclaimed stylist and entertaining expert, Annette Joseph as our latest Tastemaker here on the blog for steve mckenzie’s!!

If you’re a part of the home design and luxury lifestyle industry, you already know who Annette is. But, for those of you who may not be familiar, we recently shared a bit about her and her upcoming photography workshop, taking place this fall in Berlin, where Steve will be joining in as the branding and social media expert, along with Christina Wedge, an amazing lifestyle and interiors photographer.

In addition to her photography and style workshops, Annette has also authored a fantastic book, “Picture Perfect Parties,” which we urge you to check out!

If you can’t tell already, we’re so excited to have this opportunity to share all about Annette with you – so, without further ado, we give you the newest member of our Tastemaker family:

Annette Joseph
Annette Joseph

Annette Joseph is an expert on entertaining, cooking, and styling. She regularly appears on The Today Show and Martha Stewart Sirius Radio. Her recipes and party ideas have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Epicurious, DesignSponge, MSN, The Huffington Post, Southern Living, and Woman’s Worldamong others. Annette now enjoys sharing the many ideas, tips and tricks she has gained as a nationally recognized photo stylist/producer specializing in lifestyle editorial images for magazines. With over 20 years experience, her expertise includes photo styling for interiors, food propping and special production projects. Annette currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and 2 children.

1. Three words that describe your aesthetic?

Utilitarian, Masculine, Italian

picture perfect parties - Annette Joseph

2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date?

Oh gosh, there are so many. But I think shooting my own cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties, was probably the most exciting. Having total control of the aesthetic is a dream come true for a photo stylist and producer. My team was amazing we used my home, the home of Bill Peace and Innerpieces Antique Warehouse as locations. We pretty much had a blast everyday!

3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

I live in Italy part of the year it’s a huge part of my life and my style inspiration.

4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…

Only three? Okay… Wes Anderson, Pablo Picasso, Julia Child


5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

I love chairs, I own lots of them. I actually have to stop myself from buying chairs.

6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?

I am pretty much from the gut. I have a natural ability to mix textures and colors in a design composition. Having said this, I hate color themes, so I tend to design with textures in mind not color. Italians are not about color themes at all when they decorate, they are more about textures and color composition and quality, which is completely different than designing with just color in mind, it may be why I love Italian design so much. I feel like getting away from strict color themes is something American designers need to work on.


7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”

Right now I am designing our new home in Italy. Although it’s over 500 years old, so it’s not exactly new, but I am into external wiring and vintage light switches. Over? I am over Jonathan Adler, he needs to update his home furnishings collection. I dislike whimsy in interior design.

8. How does artwork fit into your designs?

We collect photography so that’s a must in every home. My father was an oil painter so only original artwork has a place on our walls.

9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Olive oil, that way everything would be tasty and it’s a great moisturizer as well.

10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry.

The same advice I offer photo stylists, apprentice or assist someone you admire for at least 2 years. Travel as much as you can. Put in your time, work hard, read a lot, listen, and pay attention to details. Be humble, and kind and professional. Everything takes time, so be patient. In this day and age everything is so immediate but learning an artistic craft and feeling confident takes time. Enjoy the process, life is a journey, not a competition.

As much as we appreciated Annette before this little q&a session, we love her even more now – and have realized more similarities than we initially thought… Her love for chairs being one of those areas. Steve is addicted too!

berlin 1

After reading this post, you’re probably as taken with Annette as we are – and for good reason! Meet and learn from her in person, along with Steve and Christina, at her Berlin photographic workshop. It promises to be an unforgettable experience!!

Thank you so much to Annette for her participation in this series and for her friendship and inspiring work!

Berlin in October – a Photographic Dream!

Building on his WCAF Bloggers Tour success, Steve is joining acclaimed stylist and entertaining expert, Annette Joseph on a once-in-a-lifetime photographer’s retreat to Berlin as the tour’s Branding Expert!


 Annette enjoys sharing the many ideas, tips and tricks she has gained as a nationally recognized photo stylist/producer specializing in lifestyle editorial images for magazines.

Annette Joseph

With over 20 years experience, her expertise includes photo styling for interiors, food propping and special production projects. Check out Annette’s fabulous book, “Picture Perfect Parties,” to gain a sense of Annette’s signature style.Marrakech

Throughout Annette’s Berlin photography workshop, guests will be immersed in one of the hippest urban landscapes in the world. They’ll mingle with other creatives, relax and enjoy an educational photo styling experience.


Also joining Annette and Steve will be Christina Wedge, an amazing lifestyle and interiors photographer.


Home base for the group will be the stylish Honigmond Garden Hotel.

ItalyFaves_GroupSHoot_PR--- - 1

The workshop is for all levels of photographers, as long as they have a basic knowledge of how to operate their camera and place it on a manual setting.

berlin 1

Steve is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide social media and branding tips to such a creative group, and you can be a part of it… Please join us and be a groovy Berliner – there’s a great team in place to show you the ropes!

Featured on Annette Joseph Style!

What a highlight for our week, last week – steve mckenzie’s was featured on the Annette Joseph Style blog this past Thursday!


And we couldn’t have asked for a better description: “A Home Store with Heart & Soul.” They get us. A big shout out to writer, Nicole M. Letts, the gal behind the fabulous blog Probably Polka Dots, who authored this post – thank you Nicole!

We had such a wonderful time sharing a bit about us, the business and what makes us special, and we couldn’t have asked for a more thoughtful post featuring steve mckenzie’s!


In addition to really “getting” us, and our aesthetic, the post features a bit about our store merchandising and some of our favorite products, carried in the showroom…


Please click here to read the full post and check out the Annette Joseph Style blog – it’s one to save for your regular blog perusal!

And if you haven’t been to the showroom recently, we invite you to come check out everything we have going on. We’ve been working on re-merchandising the store, with new merchandise arriving weekly, and would love to see what you think about it!