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

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The art of change...

or the changing of the art. 

Living room mural at Belle Ami, before repaint.
I get asked a lot of questions when I'm painting a mural, and this last week the questions were, "Where do you get your talent?" and "Does it kill you to think that someone will eventually paint over it?" The answers may not be what you would expect.

I initially planned to paint the mural as if you were looking through the door into a conservatory, like the one shown in this magazine clipping, but with a fountain and koi pool, from which the sprite could have emerged. 
To the question of talent, the answer is "Life." People will insist it's genetic, and maybe there's a small part that is, but mostly I think that's just an easy out for those who would rather wish than work. Yes, I've always been creative, but it was my big brother Jesse who was the "born" artist in the family. He came by it easily, and created entire fantastical worlds in his imagination, then put them to paper with colored pencils, in astonishingly realistic detail. I took art classes in Jr. and Sr. high school, from the same teacher he did, and through the patience of Mr. Pickens, along with the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards, I became fairly skilled at drawing what was put in front of me. However, it wasn't until I owned a sign shop and needed to design and paint an illustration on a sign, that I had to actually become a painter. It's this creative confidence to step up to the challenge that comes from my parents.

After nearly a full day of working out the concept sketches for a conservatory, I decided there was too much structure to make the painting believable from more than one angle, and besides, the living room already has the feel of a conservatory.  I scrapped the lot, and using this clipping as inspiration, decided on an exterior pool.
Growing up, we didn't have all the fancy toys our friends had. We had poster paint and Lincoln Logs, an Erector Set and X-acto knives, Tinker Toys and pipe cleaners. We had parents who expected us to use our imagination and solve our own problems, who treated us as perfectly capable and intelligent people.  They expected us to help cook meals, build sheds, mend clothes, garden, and  do hundreds of other skill-building tasks.  Because of this, when I need to do something, artistic or otherwise, I may get nervous as to how to go about it, but it never crosses my mind that I can't.

Yes, this has led to some rather spectacular misadventures, (how was I to know that entire wall of cabinets was going to come off as one unit, with me under it?) but what would life be without hair raising escapes and embarrassing flops? Of course I don't know how to do everything, but I've yet to encounter anything I truly want to do that I can't learn. There are a lot of things that I do not have any natural skill for that I have learned to do (not perfectly, but sufficient to the purpose), simply because I needed or wanted to. So, if it ain't in your DNA, but you still want to be an artist, start practicing.

Ahhh, the clipboard.  No matter how nervous a new project has me, just hand me my clipboard, with a stack of clean white paper.  Actually, anytime I'm freaking out, or just mildly edgy, hand me my clipboard and a pen.  It's like handing a pacifier to a baby, I tell ya. 
I'm still practicing. Which leads me to the answer to the second question. Does it kill me to have my work painted over? No. In fact, there are still some signs I painted more than 20 years ago that I truly wish the owners would have painted over! Artists grow, skill evolves, and in my case, most of what I do is commercial or decorative, so it's meant to serve a purpose for a time, and then be changed.

First I masked out the shape of the new door opening, which matches all the other doors in the room, then painted in a twilight sky.
I'm working on changing the mural in my living room here at Belle Ami. As it was, it was a good example of a one-day mural, and included the ever-popular white columns, making it a useful portfolio piece. It had good colors for the room, but there were a few problems with it. First, the columns weren't "installed" in an architecturally correct way, meaning that in real life, the engineering wouldn't work, unless the wall was very thin, which isn't how walls are built. Second, the purpose of the mural has changed, and I now need it to be a backdrop for a life-sized sculpture of a Welsh water sprite, a Gwragedd Anwnn, who will be stepping into the room. The third problem with the mural, is that it doesn't showcase the type of artwork for which I most want to be commissioned, and Belle Ami is, after all, both design lab and walk-in portfolio, as well as my home.

...then, realizing all the problems with lighting a twilight sky would create, I quickly scrubbed it off and painted a not-quite twilight sky.  See?  Still practicing.
The style of the new mural is intended to be true trompe l'oeil, French for "trick (or fool) the eye".  My goal is to achieve such realism that although you know it's painted, your eye does not immediately see where reality gives way to paint.  Is this a good time to admit that I've not done this to the degree I am envisioning, on this scale, ever before?  Well, if Necessity is the mother of Invention, then Determination is her father.  I think I know how to do this, and if I don't know how, I know how to learn.  Then, all it takes is practice.  And time.  Hopefully, not a lot of time.  Shall we see?

Want a change of scenery on your walls?  Check out my portfolio, and the info on how to hire me, at theartofthehome.com.

Questions or comments?  Click on the word comments below, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

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