Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Friday, December 26, 2008

Twas the Day After Christmas

I hope you all had a wonderfully merry Christmas! I spent the weeks before the holiday painting commissioned gifts, but still managed to finish Mr. Q's quilt, though not until about 4:30 on Christmas morning. Elves don't sleep in December, they hibernate in January! I won't have time for that either, but I did get some good napping in yesterday afternoon, with the sun pouring through the front window, onto my favorite corner of the couch...mmmm.

What perfect Christmas weather! Plenty of snow on the ground for a proper white Christmas, but nothing new on the roads. The neighbor kids were out in our front yard with toys and toboggans, and seemed delighted that I haven't yet had time to shovel the sidewalk from Tuesday's storm. Did you know that you can sled down snowy front steps? It's a pretty short ride, with an abrupt end, but it can be done!

I'm looking forward to sharing photos of the projects just finished, and some fresh ideas for the new year, but for today, I better go get that snow shoveled, before today's warmer temps turn the sidewalk into a skating rink (sorry Kids). Oh yes, a final note for those of you who haven't yet sent all the gifts and cards...the wise men didn't get there with the gifts until twelve days later, so give yourself a break, and enjoy the whole season (yes, Mom, the card's in the mail)!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wow! It's the middle of December already! I am unusually busy this year, with a great mix of projects. I just got back from painting this mural in a clinic in St. Cloud, Minnesota. It is in their new Meditation Room. The staff got to choose from several samples, and many of them checked in to see it while it was underway. I am often asked if it bothers me to be watched or interrupted, to which I reply, "If I wanted to work all by myself, I could stay home in my studio and make gallery art."

The truth of it, is that I like to take some of the mystique out of the artistic process. People say I am so talented, and if art talent is a genetic thing, then I come from a good gene pool, but painting is something I didn't really do until I was a twenty-something sign painter. I learned a lot of drawing and calligraphy skills from my high school art teacher, but only did a few paintings, and mostly in poster style. He never saw a talent for landscape painting in me, and it wasn't until I needed to do illustrations on signs that I began to teach myself to paint. The point is, I don't think painting is as much an inborn talent, as it is a skill developed through practice, based on good drawing skills, which I know can be taught.

Pick up a copy of Betty Edwards' book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and do the lessons. Ten to thirty minutes each day, and you will find that drawing is simply learning to see things as they truly appear (do not even mention your lack of stick-figure ability, unless you are wanting to learn to draw stick figures.) I have learned from this book, and taught from it, so I know it works. Once you learn to draw, painting is a matter of experimentation. If you don't know where to start experimenting, Bob Ross, though gone from this world, is still available on video through art, craft and book stores. His techniques, combined with seeing skills will make anyone successful.

If you think you aren't creative, or don't have time to be, there's even a book for that. Pick up a copy of The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, and see what's really behind many a functioning artists "talent". There was a time in my life when my only creative outlets were a job in advertising, and the clothes and make-up I wore to that job. I was cute and I was successful, but I wasn't really creatively fulfilled. I first did the twelve weeks of Artist's Way in '92, and have used the techniques, mostly a lot of list-making and time-finding skills, continually since then. I am doing the full course for the third time right now, but with a group, this time. It's a great tool for self-discovery, and intended for anyone who wants a more creative life, not just "Capital A" artists.

Maybe you could put these on your wish-list for Christmas this year, and then as a New Year's resolution, you could resolve to give them a chance. Do the Artist's Way, first, and you will find that it will create time for you to do all the important things, including those creative things that you keep putting on the back burner. This is Someday. Wow. Isn't this some day?! Make it joyful!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Name calling

At last, here is the rug. It is a 1920's Chinese Wedding rug, approximately 5' x 8', in blues, pinks brown and purple on an ivory ground. Cindy is looking for as close to $3400 (the dealer appraisal) as she can get. Here, too is "Endora", the Diva of Divans. Endora was going to travel to her new home with the raspberry-haired Terri Ford, today, but it has snowed, and as she is too long to allow me to close the back of the mini van, she will have to wait for a day when we can keep her dry.

Terri is responsible for choosing the name, though I put her up to it. I grew up with Josephine, the wood cook stove, and Mathilda, the dress-form, and it just seems that there are certain inanimate objects that truly have a personality of their own. Besides, it confuses guests in the most amusing way, when you refer to these things by name. I swear, visitors too polite to ask would be obviously trying to puzzle out if we had some elderly aunt in the attic, which us kids thought was hysterical. Yes, we were odd children, but in the best sense of the word!

Yesterday I read more on Carole Hyder's website, and came across an intriguing thing about naming your house. She says that we care more about things when they are named, and that if you are living in a less-than ideal home, you can have a better relationship with it if you give it a (positive) name. I started calling our house Belle Ami, shortly after we moved in, just because she seemed to want a name. It comes from the town we live in, Belle Plaine, and the fact that the house was built by Friend J. Whitlock (the second or third). I usually shorten it to Belle in conversation.

Mr. Q., who is much more comfortable with things finished to perfection and a high shine is not always as in love as I am, with the old dame. I think I'll encourage him to call her by name, and maybe even a title of mama or tia, as he is very good to the aunties and grandmothers of his own culture, even the shabby beggars on the street. For today, it will probably improve his love for the place (and me???), if I go work on some of the unfinished decorating projects around here.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are ready for a magical Christmas/Solstice/Hanukkah season! I am truly grateful for all of you.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Front porch photo

Well, it's later, 24 hours later, and here's the porch. Got a bit sidetracked by a visit from my friend Cindy. She's a talented artist, and a talented cheerleader for other artists, and always inspiring to be around. She's bringing me a Chinese marriage rug on Tuesday, in hopes I can sell it for her. She figures anyone who can find a buyer for Barbies Dream Sofa (over eight feet of crown shaped fuchsia velvet magnificence), can pretty much sell anything. Help me out, dear friends, and check back here on Wednesday morning, just in case it's the rug of your dreams! I'll even include a photo of the diva of divans, as that's certainly a once-in-a-lifetime sight.

As to the porch decor, some of you may have heard that feng shui lists dried flowers as a no-no. All I can say, is that I've loved dried flowers in the winter, since I was a little girl, and discovered that one store in town would giftwrap your purchases, topping them with velvet ribbons and dried floral sprays, for free! This was a high-end art shop, but they sold Crabtree and Evelyn soaps and other English import goodies, and I could just about afford one of those $5 items for each family member, with my paper route money.

I don't remember what I gave to whom, just how luxurious the wrapping looked compared to the standard stuff used down the street at Levinger's Rexal Drug, where grumpy, gray haired ladies looked annoyed at a ten year-old asking for giftwrapping service for the giant Hershey Bar purchased for a first crush. The people at Baker Printing and Lithography, in contrast, treated me just like any valued customer. The dried flowers are staying on my porch.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

feng shui...fact or fooey?

This week, I attended a feng shui presentation here in Belle Plaine, at Mystic Journey. The proprietor, Sarah Jaeger, offers lovely things for your spiritual journey, whatever religious (or not) path you take. She has books, candles, incense, crystals, music, and more, and most Mondays, a workshop or presentation. Find her website in my list of favorite people, at the lower right .

Feng shui expert, Carole Hyder, spoke this Monday. Now, I've read just enough about feng shui to be skeptical. I know there is a very complicated traditional Chinese version requiring birth charts, astrology, and intensive training. This never clicked with me, as I just don't believe humans are designed to need detailed formulas and highly trained professionals to connect us with divine energy. Can it be done that way? Doubtless, but it doesn't sound like fun, and doing it intuitively, I know from experience, is fun.

The other feng shui, Black Hat, I believe it is called, I wasn't sold on either. It is far simpler, but one of the basic principles, having to do with direction, is so at odds with the traditional method, how could they both be true? Well, here's what I've come to understand after a week of mulling over Carole's presentation..

Everything is energy. Energy moves, like anything, either where it is directed, or along the path of least resistance. It is wise to attract healthy energy to your home, and allow it to flow freely through all parts. By following feng shui methods when decorating, you ascertain that all aspects of a healthy life are represented in a balanced manner, and that good energy flows to and around them all. I'm all about decorating with symbols of intention, and using feng shui forces you to pay close attention to what you're living with, and without, where life is flowing, and where it is stuck. Carole's information made sense to me, from this perspective.

She was also not adamant about the colors for each area. For instance, traditionally the front door should be red, and the area in the far left front corner, as you enter this door, should contain blue. Well, I don't want blue in that corner, and I would hate a red door on this house. And I really hate the work should! Carole recommended painting the front door a color that says "you", or decorating around it with red items.

Since it's about twenty degrees outside today, I don't think Mr. Q has to decide between fuchsia, plum or periwinkle paint, so I won't even stress him out (just yet) by mentioning the idea. I do think it's a good day to get out some winter decorations, like old red skis, for the porch. I'll pop a photo on here later. In the meantime, check out Carole's website, also listed to the right, and remember that this blog is my take on feng shui, not her information, verbatim.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mr. Q's magic bamboo

Okay. That didn't exactly go smoothly. It ended up in drafts and changed fonts by the time I got it to publish, and the picture didn't go in the right place. I'm inserting it here now, so it will archive on the right day, assuming I can get it done before the stroke of midnight. Remember Papa Bear of the Bernstein Bears? Yup, just watch me, Small Bear, and I'll show you how it's (NOT) done!
Whew! Bookkeeping completed in record time. Ah, the joys of small business ownership...times two, since my husband, Wilson, is a self-employed musician! I'll work on getting his music on here soon, but in the meantime, here's a peek at his walls. Yes, just one peek. I'm very new to this blogging, and I can't find the photos on my computer that I took on a nice sunny day when the music room was all styled and tidy. Tonight, of course, he has decided to sort his collection of a few thousand Cd's and this is the only shot I can get.

Wilson performs on strings (guitar, charango, mandolin, etc.), cedar flutes, and bamboo flutes (quenas) and panpipes (samponas or sikus). He originally had me paint his music room a custom-mixed red, but after realizing it was too dark for a sun-loving Colombian, I added blended tan panels with a Woolie tool, and painted a bamboo border around them. It still strikes you as a red room, but it's much brighter, and compliments his wood and bamboo instruments.

This room was the master bedroom of this house for a hundred years... and then we (artists)moved in. The sleeping porch balcony is beautiful, but I don't hang out in the bedroom during the day, and as we are located in the heart of downtown, right across the street from the Sparetime Tavern, I just couldn't see sleeping with the balcony doors thrown wide. It's a great room for daytime pursuits, and one of the bedrooms at the back of the house makes a much quieter and more private master.

It's an idea worth considering in your own home, even if you don't need the space to pursue your secret rock star dreams. In some homes, the big master bedroom is more appropriately sized and better positioned to be a child's room. Think about it. Adults get to spread their things through every room of the house, and then expect their children to cram their entire lives into the smallest bedrooms. Switching could mean plenty of room to play with and store toys , and may take some of the noise away from the common areas of the house, if the master suite was located for privacy.

Perhaps you really need a home gym, and according to feng shui experts it shouldn't be in the room you sleep in. Instead of moving the treadmill out, you could move the bed and nightstands to a smaller bedroom, and turn the master into a spa/gym/dressing area. This can feel really luxurious, and works especially well for couples who work and sleep different hours.

I really encourage you to use your home in ways that make sense for your life, and however you use the space, design it thoughtfully to cradle your sweetest dreams.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Look Ma, I'm blogging!

Just had to say that, which is kind of silly, since my mother is probably the last person I know who will actually see this. I've been meaning to create a website for a few years now, and have been intimidated by ALL THAT I DON'T KNOW, until my friend Toni, owner of Front Porch Photography, suggested a blog. Those are her photos of my dining room at the top of this page. She is, by the way, not to be blamed for any of the other photos I post on here, as she is not able to follow me to every job site with a camera, and therefore the blurry ones are mine. Anyway, "Thanks, Toni, for taking time out of your busy, busy day to get me started!"

Over the next weeks, I intend to get samples of much of my work uploaded, and to start sharing lots of ideas and information on the artful decorating of soulful living spaces. For the time being, I have a class tomorrow morning and a deadline of Tuesday to finish nearly a years worth of bookkeeping, or my accountant, whose name really is Mr. Lovlie, will take away my paintbrushes and send me to my office. So, if this is the only entry you find, please be patient, once I get started, you won't be able to get me to shut up!