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 25, 2009

I'm dreaming of a...

View out the back door...poor old lilacs!

There are those who think this is perfect napping weather!

View out the front door. This pile is 125 feet long!

Merry Christmas! I hope your house is filled with warmth, sweet scents, and lots of family and friends. If you are here in the Midwest, you may be sitting alone in your dining room, staring at the mountains of goodies meant for a houseful of guests, and wondering if there's room in the freezer to hold it all until Sunday. I don't know if we've broken records yet, but this is the snowiest Christmas I've seen in Minnesota these past twelve years.
I awoke to the beep-beep-beep of the snowplow backing up(repeatedly), grumbled for about two seconds, and then realized some poor soul was out there on Christmas morning plowing yet more snow, while I lay tucked in and toasty. My gratitude to all of you who work this Holiday! It let up briefly this morning and I got some shots of the wonderland outside my doors.

I had almost decided to drive up to Minneapolis this afternoon, but it started snowing again, with flakes that would have hurt when they hit, had they been any bigger. Seriously, it was practically dropping snowballs by mid-morning! I've decided to stay put and enjoy the muffled quiet of a snowbound day, instead.

So, if you don't have your dear ones crowded around and underfoot, remember you always have them in your heart, where it really matters. You are all in my heart. Stay warm, and travel safe, if you must go out!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This week I am very grateful for the friends I've made here in Belle Plaine. I spent the last few days helping Melissa Schwartz paint her double living room. Nothing special, beyond a color so like fudgecicles that it makes you want to lick the walls, but I appreciate that she keeps me in mind this time of year, when decorating jobs are scarcer, as people get ready for the holidays. I especially appreciate the extra cash, as my van had a little fire under the hood this weekend, and is now down at John's Mobil...please, Kenny, tell me it isn't fried.

Last year, Melissa had me paint her daughter Janie's room to look as though she sleeps in the tack room of a horse stable, with her desperately wished-for horse, Snicker, looking in. I don't have any illusions that Janie likes this as much as she would like the real thing, but I do know that using visual symbols to help manifest a thing is quite powerful, so "hang onto the dream, Sweetheart!"
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Say whatever you want

This week I spent much of my time prepping for Nest Feathers November Edition, nestfeathersboutique.blogspot.com, so didn't do a lot of wall work. One project I did complete was for Carol Buszmann, here in Belle Plaine. They have a beautiful home overlooking the river, with a vaulted ceiling in the living room. Carol has had words stencilled on the high walls before, and has purchased vinyl rub-on lettering for another spot in her home, but this needed something custom.

As you can see, it takes up the whole wall, and the lettering and scroll work are stylized to mimic the bull rushes and river grasses visible from the window opposite. These are details you can't get with stencils or vinyl. There is also a warmth to hand-lettering that can't be matched.

Words are powerful things, and if there is a phrase that resonates with you, consider giving it a prominent place on a wall in your home. It doesn't have to be lettered this large. However, going big means you never have to try to figure out what kind of art to display in these sometimes awkward spots, and there's nothing to have to climb up and dust! Very practical, and you know I'm all about practicality!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Paint Like an Egyptian?

Sometimes, the simplest things take the longest. Rita's bath was one of those projects. She wanted something "simple, but different", so after a few experiments, we decided on a papyrus finish like that in her artwork, complete with the jagged edge. Overall, it looked good, but the edge looked unfinished, instead of interesting. We decided a more even fade to white might be better, so I feathered it out. Better, but still needing something.

I spent some time at the library and online, researching Egyptian art, and came up with the lotus blossom. It symbolizes the sun, rebirth, and new beginnings, and is feminine in nature. I used colors from her framed art, being sure to incorporate some of the deep rose, to emphasize the femininity and match the wall color in the adjoining room. The bands are painted gold to coordinate with the fixtures in the room, the gold in the papyrus finish, and even Rita's favorite toenail polish. The style is kept simple, so it won't compete with the art that hangs over it.

I don't get rich when jobs take extra time like this, but I don't mind doing it. I promise at the outset that the job isn't finished until the client is delighted, and I mean it. It's no fun for me to drive away wondering if I got it right, worrying that I somehow missed the mark. I can't promise to always finish as early as I estimate (which is why I usually won't say "yes" to painting your dining room three days before Thanksgiving), but I do promise to never leave you with less than you were expecting, for the price you expected to pay.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Divinity is in the Details

Those of you who read music just might recognize the score in the photo above. Yup, Beethoven's Ode to Joy, or as they call it at Hope Presbyterian in Richfield, Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. Whatever you call it, it's one of my favorites. And this job, though a lot more work than I planned, was a joy to do.

This is one of five classrooms I did five years ago for this church. The walls are parchment glazed, with sheets of music scattered randomly. An unused bulletin board got a shadow box frame and a montage of retired music instruments, with the help of their uber-capable handyman, Reed. The music staff is made of sprinkler wire, suspended from the ceiling with mono filament, and occasionally screwed to the wall.

When it came time to add the notes, it suddenly occurred to me (give me a break, I was designing five different classrooms at the same time, and my brain was on overload) that people who read music would use this room. Randomly scattered notes would be, well, disrespectful. Ode to joy came immediately to mind, and I was delighted to hear that it is also sung as a hymn. My sincere gratitude to the women who helped cut all the foamcore notes.

This was such a fun project because they gave me a list of the classrooms, showed me the furnishings they had to work with, and then let me come up with the ideas. They supplied volunteers to help with some of the painting and faux finishing, and it was so rewarding, teaching them to do creative things they didn't believe they were capable of. It also gave me a chance to talk with some of the women who teach the "Rotation Model Sunday School" classes in these rooms, enabling me to tweak the details for better function.

When I did this job, I didn't yet have a digital camera, so when they called me back for touch-ups, I took the opportunity to re-shoot most of the rooms. Check the sidebar for photos of some of the others.

While you're checking out things, check out the work of George Bilak, an artist who recently visited Minneapolis, and quite bravely hung out with the Third Thursday Art Group, a band of wild women, if ever there was one! It's probably good I didn't know I was in the presence of such genius at the time, as I would have been so worried about offending him with our raucous humor that I wouldn't have gotten to know what a charming and witty man he is. His website, featuring carved wood miniatures and beautifully painted icons, is www.carvingart.com. Be sure to note the size on these pieces, as you appreciate the minute detail. Then go to www.carvingart.com/A0..htm (that's a zero after the A)to check out what happens when he works BIG. I am in awe!

While these icons are for The Orthodox Church, George says that the Catholic Church is bringing them back as well, and of course many churches and other public and private spaces incorporate fine wood carving. If you think anyone you know might be interested in George's work, please pass his info along, or direct them to this blog. We artists count on word of mouth to keep us in the business of creating beauty, so please feel free to talk about us!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm baaaack!

Not that I actually went anywhere, I just couldn't seem to get anything posted on here. Part of the reason for that was getting Nest Feathers Boutique up and running. Check out what's happening with this magazine-come-to-life at nestfeathersboutique.blogspot.com.

I've also been busy retouching statues for St. John's Catholic Church in Jordan, lettering words on walls at Unity of the Valley in Savage, and retouching Sunday school classrooms at Hope Presbyterian in Richfield. Making up for all the time I haven't spent in church in my life, I guess!

When not in church, I've been busy painting some fun homes. I recently finished the last three rooms in the home of my chiropractor, Dr. Todd "Magic Fingers" Meeker, allowing his son's to move downstairs into bedrooms of their own, and his wife Connie "Command Central Coordinator" Meeker to have a fun-ctional home office and craft room. Here's their entry.
Since I'm not sure how this post will actually look, I think I'll stop at this point. I have a lot more photos and news to share, but my computer patience is running out, and the fruit flies are threatening to carry off the heirloom tomatoes and other veggies that my friend Beth dropped off a couple of days ago...Time for a nice tomato and mozzarella omelet, I think...back someday soon!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cast Concrete Garden Leaf Class

You've probably seen these leaves in your friend's garden, at art and craft shows, in garden centers, or seen the directions in magazines, and you thought "I could make that." But did you ever make it? No. It's still on the list of fun ideas to try, and if you reexamine that list, you will find that macrame plant hangers are still on there from 1974 (retro is in, so you could bring that back to the top.) Life is short, do fun stuff NOW!

The leaf class will be this Friday, June 5th, at 6:00 and 7:30.

Cost is $20, which includes two leaves. Additional leaves can be made for $5 each, space, time and materials permitting.

You will need to bring a pair of rubber gloves, and a few large heavily veined leaves, such as Hosta or Rhubarb. If you don't have any leaves that you like, don't worry, we will have some there.

Instead of doing this outdoors, here at my place, we'll hold this class over the river and up the hill, at T.C. and Carol's shop, which is set up with nice work tables, not to mention a roof, in case of rain. Their address is 10477 182nd street, Belle Plaine, if you want to mapquest the directions. From Belle Plaine, you simply turn off of Main at John's Mobil (wave at Kenny, the mechanic who keeps Dawn-Marie "Drive-It-Till-It-Dies" Quinche on the road), and stay on 25 down the hill (WATCH THE SPEED LIMIT HERE), across the bridge, and up the hill around the curve. Soon after the road levels out and narrows back to two lanes, take a right onto county road 14. It's just a short distance to 182nd, where you will see Fogarty's place on your left.

I do need a head and leaf count, so please call me or email to confirm. (952)873-4493, or artistinwonderland@frontiernet.net.

This really is a super easy project, so put aside your inhibitions and come play in the mud, grown-up style! It doesn't take very long, so it might be a fun start to your date night or girls night out. The leaves will need to dry 48 hours before moving, so we will discuss options to pick them up at Fogarty's, my place, or store them until the next Nest Feathers boutique.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Splish Splash

Yup folks, I'll paint pretty much anything that holds still long enough! This pretty slipper tub was a barter job with my friends T.C. and Carol. I got sparkly windows last year, a house cleaning rescue during a really hectic time when I was overbooked and Wilson was on the road, and spur of the moment sod help...not to mention some lovely home-cooked meals this last weekend, while I was painting it. Thanks, you two!

I also painted details on a firetruck toy box while I was there. Although I forgot to run back out to the workshop to snap a photo of that, check out the side bar to the right, to see photos of some of T.C.'s other carpentry. We team up on things like heirloom kid's furniture and custom wine cabinets, and he also builds top quality garden furniture and gazebos. We have a few pieces in stock, but mostly we build and paint to order.

Now is a great time to order from him, as he can't seem to fully embrace retirement, and works construction and landscaping jobs in the summer. You can call me, or call him direct at (952)873-2809.

As some of you reading this know, my calendar recently went very suddenly from booked-just-enough, to almost empty, with a string of economy-related cancellations. My parents, who were depression-era babies, believe this is the beginning of terribly tough times. I see the logic of Dad's reasoning, but stubborn kid that I am (who'd I get that from, Dad?), I sure would love to prove him wrong, so if you have need of my services, I am available right now.

On the other hand, if you are also on the slippery side of things, and there is something I can do to help you, please let me know. We're all in this together, and I do agree with Dad that the best thing we can do is extend a hand to those around us, so that we all make it through to better times. While I don't sell my services as a seamstress, plumber, carpenter, cook or bat catcher (yes, the little furry kind), I often help my friends and neighbors with such tasks, so think of me as one of your "barn-raising friends", and call me...just remember, there should always be a bit of dancing to follow the work!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I have recently been working through The Artist's Way (a fabulous book for anyone wanting a more creative life), for the third time since 1992. The first two times I did this course, I got a lot out of the early chapters. This time, the later chapters pertained more to where I am now in my life. I took the quiz about being a workaholic, though I clearly knew it did not apply to me.
Although I only book 24 hours of paying work per week, I hadn't realized that my erratic hours, underbid projects that spill over into the weekend, and the never shrinking mountain of marketing tasks and paperwork were workaholic indicators. As far as I know, I am the only one in the group who bombed the test. I, Dawn-Marie, happy-go-lucky, trust-the-flow, take-life-as-it-comes, Artist in Wonderland am a workaholic.
I have found the recovery process pretty painless, so far. I am on the clock from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. I will return a phone call if the person needs to hear from me before 10 the next working day, but otherwise, I must do non-work activities.
This is not all fun and games, of course, as evidenced by my very sparkly bathroom sinks, but it is now much easier to relax, knowing that I am not allowed to think about all the things that didn't get checked off of the list. So, being an artist, what I do with my time off is make other art.
Today's pictures are of polymer clay pieces I've made under the tutelage of Maureen Carlson. If you haven't yet visited her website, www.maureencarlson.com, now is a good time, as I think it has been recently updated with Spring class info. Maureen is an amazing teacher and author. She has been featured on shows like Carol Duval, and has taught at conferences across the U.S. She won't tell you this, but she's kind of one of the rock stars of the polymer clay community.
That said, don't be intimidated. She's still a Midwestern gal, and she has classes for both beginners and advanced students. If you are still nervous, get a friend to join you, and if the only one you can think of is your Aunt from Arizona, then check out the overnight accommodations there. Maureen's is located in an old boarding house, and students fly in from around the world for classes.
Not all of the classes are polymer clay. I've taken a fabric embellishing class from Barb Kobe there, and taught one myself on turning and old chair into a garden planter. You can also reserve the space, when there aren't classes scheduled, for your own group to do something like a family scrapbooking reunion, or an annual quilting retreat.
Whatever you do, make sure you take time to smell the roses...or plant them, or paint them or sculpt them...or leave them on your desk, to enjoy again tomorrow. Have a lovely Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Coming Out of the Closet

I told you elves hibernate in January! Actually, I wasn't hibernating, just working on Belle when not working for clients. While Wilson took care of family business in Bogota (yes, the Colombian managed to miss the 30-below temps), I took advantage of his absence and tore into the master bedroom closet.

By 1906 standards, it's huge, at six feet wide by five feet deep. At the time it was built, clothes hangers weren't used, so the closet was encircled by a 1"x4" band with coat hooks at twelve inch intervals, topped by a shelf. Bamboo closet poles, added sometime after 1940, had long since warped and cracked, so for the past few years, I've made do with the hooks, and installed a heavy rod on Mr. Q's side, for his extensive collection of Levis. It never actually worked very well, and the color, a pink somewhere between "Calamine" and "Band-aid", was just grim.

So, New Year's Day I dropped Q at the airport,and on the way home, stopped at Fashion Bug for a reason to install a closet bar on my side (hey, it was half-off the clearance prices, and someone had to keep the hung-over clerks company). By dinner time, all his clothes were piled on the music room floor, all of mine on his side of the bed, and all existing hooks, bars, and boards were ripped out. No turning back.

The plaster had never been smooth, so patching was pretty non-technical, and I knew a Woolie finish would make the texture seem part of the charm, but what to do about the ceiling? I considered "pressed tin" wallpaper, but I've used that in two rooms already, and I wanted something to coordinate with the Aubuson rug pattern painted on the bedroom ceiling.

An obsession with ceilings? Um, well, yes, a little. I think in older houses especially, the ceilings beg to be included in the room. Maybe because they are high, and people walk in and exclaim "oh, such high ceilings", and there the poor dears are, in their plain white underwear.
I don't know if all the ceilings in this house were wallpapered originally, but several had been, and the back parlor had a fairly elaborate job, with at least three patterns. It's hard to tell exactly, as it's been re-papered twice and then painted. Belle likes her ceilings dressed, and I like dressing them. I also like my chiropractor...a lot.

The project halted while I sifted through tear sheets and paint books for ideas, and eventually I realized that one look I've always loved (but never wanted in a large room) is a tent-striped ceiling. Since a visit to the circus at the age of four sparked my decorating passion, this is perhaps not surprising. While there are several ways to paint this, I chose stripes radiating from the center point, to tie in with corner fans on the bedroom ceiling, and the painting finally began.

Good thing it's a really small room, because I always underestimate the time it takes to paint ceilings, and even simple stripes are tedious to plan and mark. I painted them freehand, since meeting at a center point created more taping hassle than I have patience for...Chinese finger trap, overhead, on a ladder, at midnight...not funny, unless you are the fly on the wall. Ending the stripes at the new level of the upper shelf was obvious, and I decided on harlequin points for the ends on the back wall, which got me thinking about a Harlequin pattern on the walls, which led to using a stencil made for a plaster stove hood a while back, which led to the little square pattern stamp on the points, which was all a little busy and disjointed, until the brown line was added, grounding it with a little graphic zing. Whew. Done.

Well, except for shelves and bars and functionality. My carpentry skills and tools are very basic, but that's all one needs for these things. That and confidence. My fear of crooked cuts and botched measurements stalled me for several days. The impending arrival of my husband, and the thought of him finding all his clothes on the floor, finally forced me to measure everything twice, clamp on cutting guides and go.

I wanted double bars with sweater shelves for him, and long and short hanging space for me, with a little more shelving for shoes and bags, as well as sweaters. Yes, though many have only seen me in painting duds, I do own heels with matching handbags, and even hats...and with a fabulous closet to organize it all, I may one day buy clothes to coordinate with them.
I did manage to finish the closet about an hour before Wilson's flight landed. I don't think it's what he expected when I told him I had a surprise for him in the bedroom, but he's pretty pleased. As for me, I'm just happy to have one room in the house that I don't have to explain as a "work in progress"!

Many things about Belle fill me with gratitude, but this jewel box of a closet, custom fitted for our needs, is the perfect marriage of function and decadence. The feeling of bliss I get every time I open the door and am met with beautiful color and pattern, and crisp white shelving, makes every minute (hour) spent on the project worthwhile. There are always a hundred practical things to do with your time, but I hope you make time to treat yourself to something that makes you feel this good.

Author's update, November 2011:  This is one of the posts that still gets a lot of hits, and one of the few posts in which I mention Mr. Q.  Readers who have followed me for very long have figured out that he no longer inhabits this closet, nor my life.  I mention this because anyone jumping from this post to newer ones might be a bit confused by my occasional wisecracks about single life.  I'm enjoying the closet even more these days, having filled it with a lovely array of paint clothes, which though comfy and practical, do not compliment the matching heels and handbags.  Sigh.  Perhaps someday I will fill it with properly girly frocks...or not.