If you’ve seen a light switch or watertight door appear to feature the same magnificent marble or warm woodwork of its surroundings aboard a megayacht, you may have seen the handiwork of Anne Renaud High Fidelity Reproductions. Company partners Anne Renaud and Bruce Thalman specialize in reproducing all types of materials so that technical features and enclosures are nearly imperceptible. They also retouch imperfections and scratches that occur prior to a megayacht’s delivery and inevitably after a megayacht is used a while or displayed at a yacht show.
While it may be hard to believe, few companies do what Anne Renaud High Fidelity Reproductions does. In fact, most replace the entire damaged wall panel or countertop. Renaud and Thalman argue that on-site retouching saves money and time. In fact, Renaud says, “100 to 150 of little dings and scratches can be addressed in a mere two to three days, even between charters, thus avoiding chaos onboard.” This, plus their expert artistry, has earned Renaud and Thalman the loyalty of captains and owners worldwide.
In this Megayacht News Leadership Series interview, Renaud explains how the multi-lingual team of Anne Renaud High Fidelity Reproductions works.
Q: How did you and your co-artist Bruce get into this line of business, and how did you create your niche within the yachting industry?
A: As the daughter of a Canadian oil painter in the classic style (think Turner, Rembrandt), I grew up to have great respect for those capable of realism in art. As an artist myself, I chose not pictorial scenes, but the reproduction of materials in a hyper-realistic style, to the point where the viewer of a painted surface would not believe it isn’t real. I first applied this skill in film, where extremely believable camera-friendly reproduction work was essential. I then worked on private jet interiors, and became one of the top six faux artists in the U.S. custom aircraft industry. During this stint, I met my first yacht interior designer, Patrick Knowles, who brought me into the yachting world with his frequent need for highly precise work in faux marble and wood.
It is during preparations for one of Patrick’s jobs that I met Bruce Thalman, in a workshop led by one of the foremost French wood-graining masters. Bruce stood out. First, he showed up in a kilt. But he had the downright manic taste for perfection that is so well-suited for yacht work. He was invited on the spot to join me on my next yacht project.
Bruce comes from a 147-year-long line of professional craftsmen. The exacting skills Bruce learned in his father’s antique restoration business developed in him an excellent eye for the personality of different woods, a chemist’s spirit, a keen sense of design, as well as a deep respect for proper methods, also culled from years of inquiry about artistic traditions from around the world. For the last 25 years, he’s applied this specialized knowledge creating high-end decorative finishes from hand-ground pigments from London, or authetic Venetian plasters from Italy, for discriminating clients in New York and surrounding areas.
Being a cancer survivor of almost 25 years, Bruce is particularly interested in the green materials/low-VOC trend that is emerging in our industry. Besides, pairing the old with the new calls into play his MacGyver instinct. It all comes down to incorporating them into our methods intelligently, by understanding their chemical composition and their compatibility with what we use.
Q: How did you create your niche within the yacht industry, and how would you characterize most of your work: original faux painting and related items, or repair work?
A: There is much to be grateful for when a designer approaches you for what we call “art art.” The reality on the ground is that such missions are few and far between, though with new safety requirements in place for watertight and fire-safe interior doors in yachts of higher tonnage, we expect to see more demand in reproduction work to harmonize these with their exotic environments. The bulk of our work consists of fixing dings and scratches, construction and refit mishaps, impact damage resulting from a rough passage, or particularly rock n’ roll charter. We also love to prepare boats for the shows (we thrive under pressure and in chaos), and very much look forward to assisting owners and brokers showing at the Monaco Yacht Show this fall. Demand for our service comes from the original builder, the refit companies, yacht owners, right on through to the chief stew.
As artists, of course, we love the idea of custom everything, and have fantasies about coming in early on builds and being asked to create original finishes, do innovative development work with glass, etc. But Bruce and I both have a little bit of a defiant streak: Repair work calls out a desire to “win” over the damage. For this reason, and considering that each repair demands reproduction work that is no less precise than an artistic commission, it is just as fulfilling.
Q: Can you give an example or two of the faux painting you’ve done aboard a yacht, such as camouflaging light switch panels? How do you match the tones and textures of the wood, stone, etc.?
A: By far, our most compelling project was Unbridled, in 2009. We painted 233 switch plates to match their backgrounds, and several fire doors as well, in materials such as koa (our favorite), several satiny burls, over 20 different types of wood in all. We also matched some fabrics and stone, like the sarrancolin at the skylounge bar or the dark granite in the galley. There, all switch plates, control panel frames, even the freezer temp control panel are in pinch-me-it-can’t-possibly-be-fake granite.
On an earlier project, we painted a ceiling escape hatch to blend in with the Botticino marble cladding of the master head. The owner had to look for the telltale pull-down loops to find it. It is moments like these we find the most gratifying.
The only way to achieve the high-fidelity reproduction of a material is through direct observation, to understand its structure. Bruce has studied the depth and movement of all kinds of woods, right to the very knitting of the fibers, and I am the girl at the Carrara stone expo who stares for an hour at the same square centimeter of marble. Then, with the subtleties of depth and structure in mind, we apply colors, transparents or opaques, layered or combined, so as to reproduce physically the depth, or lack thereof, in dimensions and shapes that are particular to the material. Then comes the controlled interaction of the colors; sometimes, some of the colors need to “sit” on top of a translucent layer, in order to “float” the same way they do in the real stone or wood. It’s very 3-D thinking, resulting in a flat surface that has all the characteristics of the material of origin.
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Such a nice article for two deserving , albeit a litte manic, artists! It’s all in the details, and you two have mastered them!
Great article…. great photos! Well done you two.
DEAR ANNE AS AN ARTIST AND AS AN ART RESTORER FOR YEARS, YOUR ARTICLE IS VERY IMPORTANT AND YOU OPEN MANY WINDOWS AND DOORS TO ARTIST.VERY, VERY INTERESTING AND BEAUTIFUL WORK.CONGRATULATIONS BOTJ
Great article. Your work achieves the highest quality reproductions. Bravo!