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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Growing Up

I've recently reconnected on facebook with a best friend from childhood. Teri and I met at a Forest Service party (Our dads worked together) at Phillip's Lake, and bonded instantly over our nearly identical long blonde braids, love of chocolate cake, a tomboy preference for anything likely to get us dirty, and the fact that we share a birthday, though I'm a year older.  We were about the age of my art students now, and we were unlimited.  We read books, rode her horses, put on plays and performances, created parade costumes, played mermaids (when we could be coaxed into the bathtub), built puppet theaters, bossed her younger siblings, and did it all at top speed and maximum decibels.  Teri's dad took a transfer before we made it to Jr. High, and we lost track of each other, except for my parents occasionally saying they saw her on T.V., reporting the news from some far corner of the world.  We have a lot of catching up to do, but it's clear that what we did back then shaped or signalled who we would become.

"Artgirl vs. Rainbow Dragon" starring Jensen the ham.
  I hope Jensen still remembers these days when she's all grown up.  She finished the rainbow dragon a couple of weeks ago, and in true Jensen fashion, when I asked her to pose for a photo, she turned it into a monster attack.  This little girl has a passel of big brothers, all athletes, and she's pretty tough stuff herself when it comes to sports.  She also has some musical talent, and has sampled guitar and piano lessons, giving me some impressive demos on the old piano in my dining room.  She'll be taking a break from art lessons to try other things now, but we all agree that "once an Artgirl, always an Artgirl ", so she'll be around from time to time.   Can't wait to see what else she tries!
"I have to draw what?" Here's Faith's drawing of the cordless drill. Not only can she draw it, she can use it...
 Faithie is growing up, too.  A year ago, when she built her beautiful cardboard fairy castle, we had to drill a couple of holes to secure things to the base, and saw some doors in the oatmeal cartons.  She wasn't thrilled about the little handsaw we used, being sure she would cut off a finger, and she was really afraid of the cordless drill, though she sucked it up and got it over with.  That was a year ago.

Hair tied back, safety glasses on, Faith is ready to make some sawdust!
This week, at her request, she is starting a carpentry project.  It seems her frustration with not having a place for her art supplies, in the bedroom she shares with her little sister, has grown larger than her fear of noisy tools, and she has asked me to teach her to build shelves!  It just so happens that when I was nine, I saw instructions in a magazine for simple shelves installed with grosgrain ribbon hangers, and since all I had were barn boards and garden twine, I adapted the technique.  Not only will Faithie's be made with the proper materials, but she will learn how to properly anchor screws into the wall.  (Note to Father:  Sorry about the giant nail holes in your fresh Sheetrock.  I figured the bigger the nail the better, and no way could I wait for you to get home from work.)

I haven't any idea where my amazing Artgirls will be when they are the age I am now, but I think I have a clue as to what they will be capable of.  Check this blog in 35 years, if you're curious too.  Heck, if you don't want to wait that long, Faithie's shelves will be done in a few weeks, and posted with instructions so you can build some, too, and if you check back here Friday night, I'll post some shots of the paint jobs I'm working on this week.

To view my portfolio of paint and plaster work, and get all the info on how to hire me, click on over to theartofthehome.com.

Working on a D-I-Y project and have questions?  Email me, and if I know the answer, I'll be happy to share it.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where shopping is pure entertainment...

Our women's business group, Keystone Women's Circle, (more pictures if you click this link: keystonewomenscircle.blogspot.com) had a booth at the Jordan Art Festival, last weekend.  We were guests of Maureen Carlson, which allowed us to be in the festival even though not all members are artists in the typical sense.  Most members of Keystone are artists of some sort, though a few are more in the healing arts.  Maureen wanted to give festival goers a chance to meet this amazing group of entrepeneurs, all of whom are well versed in the creative art of inventing and growing a business (or two or three...we have some seriously courageous members!). 

Children's book author and owner of Bridging the Universe,  Cat (Cathy) Isles held down the fort while I ran around and snapped photos.
 Turnout for the festival was pretty strong this year, despite the fact that the forecasted clear skies stayed hidden behind light rain until Sunday afternoon.  The selection of artists at this juried show was smaller this year than in previous years, but all were highly talented, with fine quality work for sale.  I snapped photos of a couple of my favorites: 

Enjoying the light breeze in her hair, Phyllis Hunter displays her gorgeous metal and stone jewelry.  Click here to check out her website:  jewelrybyphyllis.com

Molly Mae's glorious calico rabbit caught my eye, and that of many others.  The original wasn't priced for sale, but the prints had nearly sold out by early Sunday afternoon, and if I caught the story right, this was her first show!  (No website yet, but you can email her to order prints, mmbiebl@comcast.net)  Her sister is a photographer with lovely work on display as well.  I should have taken a shot of her, too, but you know me and rabbits...I was twitterpated.
 There were artist demos and live entertainment going on around the show throughout both days:
Pete-the-insurance-guy steps up to give pottery throwing demos at this art festival, and other venues.  This father of three brilliant children, and husband to an allegedly very patient woman, doesn't make pottery to sell at art shows.  He just loves to entice others to get their hands into wet clay, in hopes of spreading the addiction. 

Maureen Carlson enchants children and adults alike with a Story Clay Telling.  The audience makes up a character with prompts from Maureen, and as it's story emerges, so does a unique little creature.  This one became Estevan, who is very kind and very stubborn, came to Jordan from the Empire State Building, and while he was being invented, his eyes traveled to the Louvre in France, his ears were crammed with an assortment of knock-knock jokes, and his head was filled with wise words from small children. 

I didn't get to watch much of the performance, but the puppet show was boisterous and noisy, and seemed to entertain the adults as much as the kids.
There is always live music at the Jordan Art Festival.  Please remember to tip live performers at fairs and festivals.  They are rarely paid to be there, and at some shows, they pay for their spot, even though they do so much to create the festive atmosphere, giving you free live music.  Of course, if you really like their music, keep them in strings by purchasing their cd's! 
Greg Herriges was the musician on stage when I was racing around snapping photos.  As I tend to be easily charmed by musicians, whether they are actually charming or not (or whether they are even trying to charm anyone or not), I didn't stick around to meet this one.  Sorry.  I'm sure he's a fine human being, and his music was certainly lovely.  I bet you can google him, if you want to hear it. 

My friends may forbid me to fall in stupid with musicians, but nobody said I can't fall in love with a gorgeous musical instrument.  Who cares if I don't know how to play it?  I seriously covet this beauty!
So, mark your 2012 calendar for the Jordan Art Festival.  It's always on St. John's weekend, and perhaps next year the weather forecasters will make sure that Mother Nature knows that they have predicted dry sunny skies.  There are still plenty of art shows all over the country this summer.  All the artists would really appreciate your business, so why not do your Christmas shopping now, in the open air, with great live music in the background, purchasing unique gifts from the people who made them.  You do remember what last minute Christmas shopping in the mall was like a few months back, right?  Google "art shows" + your state, right now.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jordan Art Festival

While busily working away on preparations for tomorrow's art festival, I heard a knock at the door, and answered it to find a sweet young lady named Brooke, here to tell me all about Dish Network and DirecTV.  As a recovering decorating show addict, I had to just say "No", but when she admired the paint on my front porch, I invited her in for a quick tour.  When I told her my mess-in-progress was for an art festival, she asked if the details were on my blog. 


Here's how I'm spending Friday night this week...Redoing the photo display to show my latest work, and hmm, maybe updating the business name on it would be a fine idea, since it changed a couple of years ago.
So, this is short notice, but if you don't have plans for the weekend, head out highway 169, south of Minneapolis to the sweet little town of Jordan.  On Saturday there is both The Jordan Art Festival and Pork in the Park, and on Sunday there are some special children's activities.  You can continue on down 169 just a few miles past Belle Plaine and watch for the signs to Henderson.  This is also the weekend for their Sauerkraut Festival, and even if you don't like kraut, the scenic drive and the charming town are worth the trip.

Oh, and I guess I better put together more of my hand assembled business cards.  Yes, each one gets layered and embellished.  I'm sure there is medication for people like me, but it's such a delightful insanity, why cure it?
Jordan Art Festival hours are 10-5 on Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday.  I'll be down by Maureen Carlson's Center for Creative Arts, in the Keystone booth.  Hope to see you there!

At least the booth signs are finished, and drying on top of the sewing project that's spread across the dining room table.  There isn't a bare table top around here tonight!
Check back late Monday night for photos of our booth and the rest of the festival, and watch for a link to Brooke's new blog, sometime in the near future.  She's a girl who's been places and does things, so she'll probably have something interesting to share.  I hope the sales people who knock on your door are such a delight to meet!

If you can't make it to the festival, you can check out my work at theartofthehome.com.

If you are working on a project and run into snags, feel free to email questions to dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.  If I know the answer, I'll be happy to share it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is it that makes your heart sing?

This makes my heart sing: 

I've never seen a wild rabbit relax out in the open like this.  The photo quality is pretty bad, but I couldn't open the window and storm window to snap the shot, and I'm not exactly Susie Homemaker when it comes to things like window washing...sorry.

This was the view from my staircase window yesterday morning.  I see the rabbit at my back gate most mornings when I leave, but usually on alert.  This is the first time I've seen her looking like she owns the place.  I am particularly fond of rabbits, as you may have noticed, and I've found that if there are plenty of dandelions and clover in my lawn, they leave my flower beds alone.  Being eco-friendly is quite literally no work at all! 

This also makes my heart sing:

Background colors and twigs are hand-painted.  The teapots were cut from a poster and mounted with spray glue.
I painted my powder room door a couple of days ago.  I've been wanting to do it for awhile, but there have been many far more pressing projects, not to mention bids and jobs and obligations.  Finally, on a morning when I simply couldn't force myself to get going on The Endless List of Important Stuff, I gave in and grabbed a paint brush, and went at this door, still in my pajamas and bare feet.  I let the machine answer the phone, and had anyone come to the door, I wouldn't have answered.

I wish I could tell you the artist's name who painted the teapots, but I cut them from a poster years ago.
 Terribly irresponsible, but I'll wager you've done the same. You called in to work feigning flu, when really you just needed a mental health day. If you did it more often, you really might never get the flu. I kid you not, except for the occasional hint of a scratchy throat, a slightly stuffy nose for a couple of days last winter, and a stress tummy for a few hours one day, I haven't been sick in years. Really.  It isn't luck. It's listening to my body and soul, and giving them what they need.  Occasionally that's "calling in well" to work, so I can stay home and do something just for fun, barefoot and in my jammies.  You should try it more often.

In most cases, I would decoupage these, using Mod Podge or Weld-bond, and topping with several coats of sealer.  Because this house still has all its original doors, I didn't want to do something so difficult to remove, should a future owner not be as charmed by bold paint and flowery details, so I used spray glue instead.  It will still hold up for years.
So, what is it then, that makes your heart sing?  If it involves paint, plaster, or the imaginative use of junk, perhaps I can help make it happen for you.  Check out my website theartofthehome.com for all kinds of ideas, and the info on how to hire me.

Doing it yourself?  If you have questions about materials or techniques, I'll do my best to answer.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com

Monday, June 20, 2011

Well Versed Walls

Yee-haw!  Old Bessie is back and zippier than ever.  I'm talkin' about my computer, not the neighbor gal.  And yes, my cowtown roots are showing.  (So are my gray ones, for that matter, but it's summer, so I can pretend they are silver-blonde highlights on my granola-girl head.)  Anyway, I'm back and blogging, and it's not as if I wasn't doing at least a little writing...

Eileen chose a quote by Thoreau, to personalize her new home with a meaningful message for grandkids and guests.
Eileen is the great aunt of the two lucky little girls with the fawn mural, shown a few weeks back on this blog.  When I went to tweak the details on that, I popped over to see her new place, and discuss putting something personal on the living room wall.  She wanted mural scale, but featuring a quote, with some sort of art.

Step 1:  Chalk in what you think you are going to paint, where you think you are going to paint it.
 After sketching up a few ideas, the only way to know how it really works on the wall is to put it on the wall, so it starts with chalk.  Then it gets erased and repositioned.  Hopefully just once.  Cheap chalk, should anyone want to know, erases better than name-brand stuff, which seems to have a bit of oil in it.

Step two:  Letter in a contemporary version of the Spencerian handwriting that was fashionable in Thoreau's time.
 The original plan was to copy Thoreau's handwriting (Oh look, a giant forgery!), and embellish it with a semi-formal arrangement of plants, with a mocking bird in the mix. After discovering that Thoreau was infamous for his terrible handwriting (along with bad grammar and spelling, writers take heart), we settled for Spencerian script, which was the fashionable lettering of the day.  Eileen was worried about it looking too formal for a Thoreau quote, and being too difficult to read, with all it's usual flourishes, so I used a more contemporary sign writer's Spencerian.

Step 3:  Re-chalk the artwork, after client has had a couple of days to realize she really can have anything she asks for.
For the border art, we started with photos of East Coast and Southern gardens, looking for plant material to create a swag around the lettering.  Eileen is an American history buff, and loves spending time visiting the places where our nation was founded.  While I worked, she surfed for photos, and read me tidbits of historical fact from various websites (most of which she knew, but I learned lots).  If she had followed this blog for long, and remembered everything I've written, she would have known that after chocolate, being read aloud to is one of my favorite things... story time and art, just like fourth grade.  Blissful sigh.

She had followed long enough to know that she could revise her ideas as we went, so I wasn't totally surprised to arrive on day two to a change of plans.  Even though Thoreau probably never saw them, could I paint Spanish moss and oak trees instead?  There weren't any in the books I had brought along, but if she could do the research, yes, I could paint them.

Step 4:  Rough in the artwork in light glaze versions of the final colors.
  Once I know what to paint, it's a matter of glazing in the artwork lightly, then gradually building up layers of color and detail until it matches the client's vision. 

Step 5:  Adding details depends on knowing what they should be.  Spanish moss, Virginia live oak, and the epiphytic ferns that accompany them are not exactly native to my stomping grounds, so research was in order...love google images!
 Even when I simplify details to fit time, budget and design, I still have to know what the distinctive features are.  Spanish moss grows in a certain way, live oak branches bend in certain ways, and their leaves group in certain ways (and they aren't as shapely as our oak leaves, here), and whada-ya-know, there are epiphytic ferns growing with the moss, which isn't a true moss.   One learns all kinds of things researching murals, including great Scrabble words, like epiphytic!  (air growers, like orchids).  Wonder how many years before I draw those letters in a rack? 

Thoreau probably never saw this flora, but he must have known a mocking bird or two. 
 The final touch was the mocking bird, and I have to say that the only bad thing about the whole job was that the lyrics to a certain Carly Simon song got stuck running through my head.  "Whoa-oh-oh-yeah-yeah."  Stuck in your head now?  You're welcome.  (Sorry, my week off of blogging has given me plenty of time to rest up and regain my brattiness)  You can sing it while mowing your yard and enjoying the fruits of the season.  Happy Summer!

Got something to say on your walls?  Click on over to my website for other lettering ideas, and all the info on how to hire me.  theartofthehome.com

Wanna do the graffiti yourself?  If you have questions that the quick explanation above didn't cover, feel free to email me.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com  (and hey you scammers, you can quit notifying me that I have won the British lottery.  If I didn't fall for it the first time, do ya really think I'm going to believe I won it fourteen times this week?  Seriously, you're just filling the spam trap, so give it up.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 13-19

My own computer is still not seeing its Internet connection, and my loaner computer is going on a road trip with its owner, so I don't know if there will be blog posts this week.  I'll be working on lettering a beautiful Thoreau quote on a living room wall, going on a garden tour with The Valley Garden Club, meeting with the wild women of Keystone, and the fabulous Third Thursday Artgroup as well, teaching three Artgirls, and possibly starting a mosaic tile job on my shower.  If I am without computer access for the week, at least I'll have lots of new stuff to blog about the week after!  Be well, do good work, and if you find you're missin' me, check back around midnight on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to see if we got old Bessie to work.  Ta!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wild Things

I did my usual Friday night thing tonight.  OK, well, usually (wild woman that I am) I stay home and work on exciting things like plumbing on Friday nights, but if I do go out, it's usually up to Maureen Carlson's for Open Studio.  There is a class there this weekend, and since they were a little talkative throughout the day, class went well into the evening.  This actually made for a fun night, as the bottle of wine came out, and though I got the impression that talk had been pretty uncensored all day, the real stories were revealed after 5.  (5 p.m., not five glasses of wine...yikes!).  Now, I have no interest in selling ad space on this blog, but maybe I could make a little money offering Diane Keeler's secrets to the highest bidder!  I'm not talking the secrets of her exquisite dolls (ABSOLUTELY DO CLICK HERE: dianekeeler.com ).  You can pay to learn those techniques in classes at Maureen's (maureencarlson.com).  I'm thinking others might want to know...hmmm...maybe not.  I think I admitted to wilder adventu...uh, yeah, never mind. 

Click to enlarge, then click again for details, to see what Diane Keeler was teaching tonight.
Diane's class this weekend is on sculpting an ethereal adult fairy bust.  If you are into really exquisitely beautiful dollmaking, or classic fantasy art, back up and click the link.  The one I already commanded you to click.  I mean it.  I'm serious, you scroll back up there right now and check out her website.  This blog post will still be here when you return.

Back now?  Gorgeous work, huh?  Lucky me!  While I sat and sewed on my Open Studio project, I got to eavesdrop on not only the candid conversation, but on a bit of Diane's teaching, as well.  They were done with heads and torsos by the time I arrived, but I learned a lot about making necks.  This is a good thing, since if you remember last week, you know I have a whole box of sculpted heads awaiting bodies.  I finished one tonight...

Inspired by another teacher's soul boxes at Maureen's awhile back, I spotted this little wooden box in my treasure pile, and immediately saw breasts and belly.  Then I added a bird's head and wings.  I know, somehow that doesn't sound like quite such an obvious combination, now that I wrote it down. 

Yeah, not quite as sexy as Diane's creations, no matter how you pose her...

The head of this bird box is Das modeling compound (paper clay) over a glass jelly jar.  The top lifts off so you can put thoughts in her head.

Her wings and legs have foam covered wire inside.  It's very important to be able to pose your jewelery box, don't you think?
So, there you have it.  When I'm not at work sculpting paper clay onto clients' walls, I'm hanging with other artists, sculpting paper clay into odd creatures...or home working on things like plumbing.  I really wouldn't have it any other way.  I hope you live a life you absolutely love, and if I can add artistry to your home to enhance that life, I would be delighted.  Check out my portfolio and services at theartofthehome.com.

If you have questions about a project, or Diane Keeler's secrets ;) , feel free to email  me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com .  I'll be happy to advise you on projects.  As to Diane's secrets, I'm not tellin', but I'd still love to know what they're worth!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Clear as glass

Wood grained doors with painted windows and transom welcome you to St. John/Assumption Catholic Church, Belle Plaine, MN.
The vestibule at this little country church had been "remuddled" so many times over the years, I really wish I could show you how awful it was, but nobody took a picture before they started dismantling the layers of paneling and ickiness.  Once the old linoleum was replaced with stone flooring, and the plaster revealed from under cedar paneling and repaired, they called me in.  The doors and transom had been added during the "Undecorating-of-Catholic-Churches" period, and were very plain and modern looking.  They didn't have the budget for leaded stained glass, but wondered if I could do a more realistic wood graining job, to match the nearly new oak front doors, and then somehow give some color to the windows and transom.

This is a "quickie" version of painted oak wood grain.  It fools most non-woodworkers, and fits in a modest budget.

I'd have liked to match the painted glass to the original painted glass panels in the church windows, but though I work in oils on statue painting, and occasionally portraits, painting on glass so that it's beautiful from both sides is a skill that would take a lot of practice to master.  I love the parishioners of this church, and deeply appreciate their commitment to being my patrons, but I just can't devote several months right now to learning to paint like the artists who painted the scenes in their original late 1800's windows.  As it was, the job took long enough that Father Keith seemed to be getting tired of seeing me still there every Sunday morning, but not in a pew!  I had to simplify it.

I used sign enamel for the line work, then switched to translucent glass paint for the colors. Sorry about the blurry picture, but I thought for those who want to try this themselves, a blurry photo of the supplies was better than none at all!  I think I was having a bad camera day :). 

First, I had to research the proper symbols both for the location in the building, and to represent the name of the church.  The church is St. John's, but it took in the parish of Assumption several years ago, so both needed to be shown.  Although I sometimes think I spend more time in Catholic churches than many Catholics, I'm not one, and I've found that when it comes to symbols, colors, etc, there are rules that few people, even Catholics, know.  I'm grateful to friends who heeded my emails and phone calls, putting out requests for ideas for Assumption (and my apologies to a certain artist who was roused from sleep by one friend, then later pestered with emails from others...apparently everyone thought of the same person for answers).

The new window picks up details from the old windows beyond the doorway.
In the end, Lisa, who writes the newsletter for St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Jordan MN, a church for which I also do a lot of statue restoration, had access to just the information I needed.  She found a couple of options, and the concept was approved by my favorite renegade nun, who wishes to remain nameless, possibly due to my mentioning that we weren't exactly asking for diocese design opinion on this one (I still haven't forgiven them for vetoing clouds on the sanctuary ceiling, saying Catholic churches don't put them there...somebody forgot to tell Michelangelo this?).  I also got design and color inspiration from stained glass in the absolutely gorgeous Cathedral of St. Paul, in St. Paul, MN. 

Painted glass design taken from windows in the Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, MN.

T.C. Fogarty, my carpenter, was instrumental in securing the grant for this project, rounding up the trades people, and doing all the carpentry bits.  Without his hard work, which is apparently as natural to him as breathing, the project wouldn't have happened, much less turned out as beautiful as it did.  The entrance to a holy place is truly sacred, and I am honored to have been given a place on the team whose job it was to polish up this one.

You can see more of my work on this church and others on my website, theartofthehome.com.

If you have questions about the products or techniques used, and a few tested and not used, feel welcome to email me.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com

Monday, June 6, 2011

Taking Shape

I spent a little time yesterday at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  It was a beautiful day, and I had intended to spend part of it outdoors sketching, but I arrived later than planned, and without sunscreen, so I went directly inside to view the sculpture exhibit in the main hall.  My friend Melody Villars had two of her pieces entered, and lucky for me, the one I want didn't sell.  I'm not really sure when she'll fit in my budget, but she would live happily in my plant-filled living room, don't you think?

Click photos to enlarge, click again for detail.  See more of Melody's sculpture on her website, Melodyvillars.com (Do click this link!)
 When  I was a kid, I didn't like sculpting very much.  Playing around with kitchen clay was fine, but when it came to making a figure, I didn't automatically have the skills to create what I envisioned, so it wasn't any fun.  Patience with new skills has never been one of my natural virtues...I still have the attention span of a two year old, I just make myself work on, anyway. 

It wasn't until my early thirties, when I tried polymer clay, with sensible directions by Maureen Carlson (maureencarlson.com), that I sculpted something I actually liked.  After that, making party decor for Richfield Flowers and Events (richfieldflowers.com  DO click this link, you are in for a visual feast in party decor), I got to do a lot of quick stuff with carved foam, chicken wire, aluminum conduit, fabric, and about anything else you can imagine using to create dimensional art.  From there, I started adding dimension to murals with carved styro, and after buying Belle Ami, got into sculpted plaster ornament for walls and ceilings.  These days, I would rather work three dimensional! 

I'm trying to give the Artgirls a better introduction to sculpting than I had...

The nice thing about teaching private art lessons is that I can help each kid as much as she needs, so first experiences are successful.  Faith was especially unenthusiastic about this project, which started with wadded up newspaper, wrapped in masking tape.  Based on my own experience, I sympathised with her, but promised she would learn some tricks she would use over and over her whole life, if she would just give it a try. 

She settled on making a dragon (siiiiighhhhh, with eyeroll), but after seeing Kadence's Seussical bird (It's in the ABC book, one tiny thing in a long line of critters, so why it stood out to her, I cannot imagine), Faith decided she wanted to make a bird, too.  We pulled out the morgue file (magazine clippings) of bird pictures, and she spotted a photo of a sculpture of a penguin slipping on the ice.  Suddenly, her interest (and her beautiful smile) flared.  Apparently, seeing how another artist sculpted it was just as important as finding a subject she liked.  Jensen, by the way, is working on a rainbow dragon, but hasn't been to class much lately, so we'll show hers off another day.

The materials for this are cheap and easy to find (newspaper, masking tape, white glue-Elmer's or Weldbond, and muslin), and the method is simple enough for an eight year old, but interesting enough for any age.  You can learn the basic technique from a book called How to Make A Simple Screamer, which I promise you is a great read just for the authors gallery of hillariously titled life-sized monsters, even if you never make one.  I gave my copy of the book to my brother to share with his kids years ago, so I can't tell you the author, but I saw it on Amazon.com one day, so it's still out there.  Check it out, and give this project a try this summer!

Happy artists make happy art.

If she doesn't become a fashion designer, news anchor, or actress, this one might be an ornithologist...or something yet unimagined, to be added to the list next week.

To view some of the detail I can sculpt on your walls and ceilings, check out my website theartofthehome.com.

If you have questions about this or any project, feel free to email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tweakin' Details

When I am hired to do a job, I promise a couple of things.  One, I never charge more than the quote, unless the customer changes the order, and two, the job is done when the customer is perfectly satisfied.

Today's project was a mural adjustment to keep the second promise.  We had originally planned that this story book mural be extremely light and airy, but adding a fawn to the scene, high enough on the wall to be seen if a small garden bench was placed in front of it, meant we needed solid ground for the critter to stand on.  The clients were happy with the final artwork when I finished, but after a few weeks, they called to ask if I could possibly lighten up the top edge.  I took a look at the photo, and agreed it could be done.  It might seem a small difference to the casual viewer, but in the scope of the room, it lightens the weight of the artwork, giving it better balance, and it makes them happier.

Fawn mural original

Fawn mural with grassy background thinned.  Click either photo to enlarge.
I know they were hesitant to ask me for this, partly because they wanted to respect me as an artist, and partly because it seemed a small detail, but I'm glad they did.  I am not a gallery artist.  I'm an artistic translator.  It's my job, my passion, to get the client's vision out of his/her head, and onto the walls.  I'm truly not happy until they are.  And in this case, it just so happens that I think the mural looks better with the change, which makes me doubly happy!  The end...again.

To check out my portfolio, and all the info on how to hire me to paint walls you are guaranteed to love, click here:  theartofthehome.com.

If you are more of a D-I-Y type, and run into problems with a decorating project, feel free to email and ask me.  If I know the answer to your question, I'll be happy to share the info.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Time to face up to the truth

I am in the process of rearranging the art studio, since I had to steal a table from there for the new potting area in the mudroom.  Don't know what I think I'm going to pot, but I feel like a real gardener with pots and seed packets all neatly organized.  Of course, as soon as I look out at my (ahem) "gardens", the feeling is pretty much dashed, but short lived fantasies are better than none at all, to my way of thinking. 

Anyway, upon seeing the new layout, the first thing one of the Artgirls honed in on is the cluster of half-finished sculptures.  "You still haven't finished these?  It's been like, for-e-ver!"  Aaagh, the guilt! 

I'm trying to teach them good habits.  "Sketch something every day" I tell them. (groan).  "You could wipe your brush on a rag instead of your smock", I gently instruct (eye roll, while wiping brush across shoulder).  "I know this part is boring, but you will be happy later that you took the time for the prep" (grumbling sigh).  "Let's just finish last week's project before we start something new.  It's very important to get in the habit of completing things." (mutinous glare).

Do I sketch something every day?  Work plans, maybe, but just to whip out the sketch book for five minutes and draw whatever is in front of me?  Luxury I rarely allow myself the time to indulge in.  I could wipe my brush on a rag, but what's the harm of wiping it on my shirt, when that's what paint clothes are for?  And if it's for a client, I will always do all the prep, but on my own house, I'll skip masking, in order to get to the fun part quicker, then spend all kinds of time later wiping up my messes.  Do I think these amazingly brilliant little girls don't pick up on these things?

They say we are drawn to teach what we need to learn.  Unless I want an uprising the next time I insist on completing last week's project before starting the new one, I think I better get some bodies on these heads!  The truth is, I know I can schedule my time to allow for personal art, if I truly value it, and myself, and if I want to set the best example I can for these (mostly) sweet, trusting souls.  But I think I'll lighten up on the virtues just a little, and make it a rule that brushes always be wiped on one's paint shirt (to save on studio laundry, of course).