Resisting the urge to lick your walls

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When color experiments go 'wrong', homeowners tend to blame themselves. But really, it's the fault of a misleading paint-picking process and underwhelming colors, says Tucson-based Citron Paint.

encanto -- master bedroom after #96, c=#15

Hours of thought and experimentation go into developing Citron's paint colors. Photo courtesy of Citron Paint

When people paint their walls and the color turns out 'wrong', they tend to blame it on themselves, thinking they made the wrong choice or just aren’t creative enough.  But the folks at Citron Paint are here to tell homeowners not to be too hard on themselves - that it's actually the fault of the paint company.


Colors are mixed with the same formula used by fine artists. Photo courtesy of Citron Paint

When C J Vohs, founder of the Tucson-based boutique paint company, was trying to understand why most paint colors looked bad, she found that they were mixed for budget, not beauty.  Worse, the big paint companies use black, a dirty colorant that deadens color, says C J. Not only that, trying to replicate a paint color on a tiny paper swatch is nigh on impossible, because they’re printed from ink. And so it's no wonder homeowners are beating up on their decorating selves.

Citron Paint does it differently, following the technique of fine artists with a color blend of at least eight pigments, and no black or gray. The result? A richer, deeper color, and thicker, more milkshake-like consistency. It's all summed up by the company's slogan: "Resist the urge to lick your walls."  After putting Citron on the walls, it may be tough to resist.

Once C J's eyes were open to nature’s colors and the possibility of replicating them in paint, she couldn't stop herself. She's a person who can't just walk down the street in one straight line, or flick steadily through a magazine. She'll stop to pick up a leaf that's not quite turned brown yet and shows signs of summer and fall. She'll save fashion pages and make a trip to the fabric store to find more textiles so she can create a new paint color, inspired by the color of a beautiful silk gown.

Coming up with gorgeous paint colors is a time-consuming business, and C J and her son, Kevin Volk, who joined the company this year, put hours of thought and experimentation into getting the colors exactly right. And she’s quick to point out that mama nature is usually her muse, so she can focus on creating paint of real beauty.


C J Vohs. Photo by Gillian Drummond

With  Kevin's arrival, C J is happily concentrating on color consultations, in which she guides clients to a beautiful “color story.“ Kevin, a born and bred Tucsonan, recently returned to the city after some years away. “I grew up in a house with 20 to 30 constantly changing colors,” he jokes of being brought up by a color maven. “I realized it wasn’t exactly average, but I did get used to being surrounded by good paint.”

Kevin is a graduate of Brown University, where he majored in economics (funnily enough, so did his mom). His path back to Tucson snaked its way through California (where he was a Teach For America corps member), Mexico (as a Fulbright scholar), and Virginia (working on new media for Virginia governor Tim Kaine’s successful campaign for the U.S. Senate). “I’m excited to be back home in Tucson,” he says. “There’s a new energy in the city, and people are more and more supportive of local business.”

alhaja console

Citron's paint has fans in Mexico and Canada, as well as all over the United States. Photo courtesy of Citron Paint

Now a partner in the business, Kevin is working on expanding Citron’s online presence and national sales.  C J and Kevin are both proud to point out that their paint has been shipped to every state but Hawaii, and internationally to Mexico and Canada.  Kevin also wants to increase Citron’s community presence and continue to grow its relationships with the best painters, contractors, builders, designers & architects in Arizona. To him, it’s a matter of maintaining the highest level of quality. “If they’re designing or building beautiful spaces, they should be using truly beautiful paint.”

Citron is one of the sponsors of the second annual Tucson Modernism Week, which takes place in October. As part of this celebration of mid-century modern design, they will overhaul the colors in the lobby of The Loft cinema, which will screen Modernism Week's films and documentaries, with a fresh coat of luminous paint.

* Find Citron Paint at 7041 E. Tanque Verde Road, Tucson or online at Tel:  520 886 5800 or toll free 877 418 5800. C J is available for color consultations nationwide.

adelaide -- office after #33

Citron is a proud sponsor of Tucson Modernism Week. Photo courtesy of Citron Paint


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