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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset...Sunrise

This was the view Sunday morning, from last week's project site.  It was also the view this (Monday) morning.  I didn't look out the window much in between, but I could have, because I was there working straight through all twenty-four hours, and then some.  I do this occasionally.  The project had a rough start, and I'm behind, with other jobs waiting, and the winter issue of 365 Being (365being.com, check it out!) to get ready for the printer, plus carpet installers expected in a couple of days, so I badly need to finish.  It's also nice to work when few if any other contractors are on site.  Seriously, there are times I feel like the forbidden woman on a sixteenth century sailing ship, but I have so far refrained from any "As a matter of fact, I am a real witch" comments.  :)  I'm professional like that. 
October sunrise on Rietz Lake, Waconia, MN.
Anyway, yes, I had a good nap this morning.  Well, except for two insistent knocks on my door (I'm pretty sure it was not the Prize Patrol, but more likely a local political candidate, with whom I did not wish to have a pajama clad conversation), and three phone calls.  Hmmm.  Perhaps at this point it's obvious somebody needs a little more sleep.  So yes, I am heading to bed very early.  Before I hit the pillows, here's a peek at what I'll be finishing in the wee hours before sunrise tomorrow morning...
The before shot.
That shot above is where it started, which you saw last week, when it was featured with one in progress (???), in all its un-glory.  Now, here's a hint of what it looked like a few days ago...
Creating the required non-combustible surround.
I'll be back here Thursday, with photos either of all four fireplaces complete, or if I manage to get a moment to turn the front weed patch into something that looks like intentional Halloween decor (not much of a stretch, sadly), I might share that first and leave the big fireplace reveal for next Monday.  Feel free to cast your vote!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

bits 'n bobs and a birthday girl...

Remember this photo?  You have to have been reading this blog for a few years.  It's my Artgirl Faithie, from the parade a few years ago, when all three Artgirls joined a few of us women as "everyday superheroes".  Faithie, as you can see, decided to be Peace Girl.  She may be a few years older today, but she hasn't changed in this respect.
Faith as a super hero in our local parade, age 8.

Faithie this September, weaving a basket...

...just like the Mayans...if the Mayans had pipe cleaners.
 I see what parents mean when they say it goes by so fast.  I don't know how much longer she'll think I'm worth spending Monday afternoons with, so I'll treasure every minute of it!


Now, if weaving baskets from pipe cleaners and yarn isn't your thing, here's a project you might want to try.  This is what one of my friends made here at Second Saturday Studio:
DeNell saw something like this in a catalog, and knew she could make a similar sign for her family's cabin. She started it here, but cut and drilled the deer antlers in her wood shop at home. 
And yes, I have accomplished something this week.  Progress has been made on the fireplace redesign.  Since I have to finish before the beginning of next week, I think it's safe to promise a shot of the finished job on Monday.  It won't look anything like this, so you better check back!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not your mama's Game of Life...

If I was going to have a stink of a week (and I did, as you probably guessed from the last post), last week was a good week to have it.  Why?  Because I had a Barb Kobe class scheduled for the weekend.  Any weekend of total artplay immersion is good after a stinky week, but a Barb Kobe weekend retreat can change the whole perspective of a stinky week.  In fact, a Barb Kobe weekend can change your perspective on life.  What?  You don't know Barb from this blog, or her own website, or her classes around the country?  Click on over to barbkobe.com, then come back here for the rest of the story, all about a Heroine's Journey.

This class was held at Maureen Carlson's Center for Creative Arts (maureencarlson.com. Yes, okay, click over there now, but then get back here pronto, so I can tell the rest of the story).  Here's the quick version of how we started the game making process...
First, we each made a game board, painting the background, then collaging or painting on images that symbolize various aspects of a quest.  The boards are usually square, but I chose to bring the top of a round table that already fits in my home.  This is not my only game board art piece, so I have to be strategic about making them to fit available spaces.

Then, we made or collected our cast of characters, or at least got started making and collecting them.  My cast includes one I named "Blew Fish" made by Maureen Carlson, a white angel Christmas ornament I was gifted a few years ago, The Divine Mother (my own version, still in progress), the retreat center (with double glass skylight, and still in progress, of course), a tiny vintage white rabbit figurine, the Heroine riding a white reindeer, and an Oaxacan dragon.

The only characters to move are the heroines, but they converse with each of the other characters.  This little rabbit is the still small voice that says it's time to go on a quest.

We had to make a Heroine version of ourselves to go on the journey, and this is mine.  The white reindeer probably needs eyes and some finery, lest it be lost in a snowstorm.  The heroine is made of pipe cleaners, dressed in bloomers made of silk flower petals (what else does one make bloomers from?), wearing a breastplate, and a face cut from a photo.  Yes, that's me at age four.  I was pretty fearless at age four.

As in all good quests, there is a guardian who blocks the path at the beginning.  My dragon is there to make sure I'm ready for the journey.  His smile reminds me of how dogs smile at you, when they ask "Wanna play? huh? Do ya huh, do ya?", right before they knock you down and slobber all over you.  Perhaps if I ever owned a dog smaller than your typical dragon, I wouldn't have quite so much experience with this.

One can always retreat to recharge one of four gifts.  Most people just made a special circle in the middle of their board, but I seem to have a thing for putting towering objects in the middle of mine.  It isn't fully decorated, but name a room in my home that is.  I guess it's a project for the next time I need to call in well to work, and take a sanity break.  Hopefully not later this week.
There isn't time in a weekend to create the entire board, or get the hang of how to move the heroine character and dialog with the other figures, so the class continues online for a couple of months.  Once finished, the game can be played over and over, either alone, for very personal journeys through tricky life challenges, or with close friends willing to explore the depths of a bottle of wine (if not the depths of their souls) on a chilly evening.  Kids of course will rearrange your pieces, but it's intriguing to hear the conversations and interactions they create between the characters.  The best thing?  Just like in a  Barb Kobe class, in the end, everyone wins.

And now, with the weekend over, it's time for me to head back to regular reality, and a redesign of last week's rather uncooperative fireplace project.  Check in on Thursday, if you want to see how that's going.  Feel free to keep my success in your thoughts/prayers/meditations! :)

You are welcome to leave comments or questions below, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.
Contact Barb directly through her website, if you have questions about this or any of her classes, barbkobe.com.  Artfield of dreams, a similar game class, is coming up in February, at Maureen's.

If you aren't familiar with my usual work, you can pop on over to my regular website, theartofthehome.com to see my portfolio.

For info on 365 Being, the quarterly bookazine for which I am "Boss of Everything", go to 365being.com.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

And sometimes, it just doesn't fly...

They say all's well that ends well.  Hm.  I'll let you know about that.  Remember that fireplace I mentioned a few posts back?  Well, I've been working on it...
Usually, I do fireplaces as a restyling project, but this, and four shorter ones in the same house, are brand new blank canvases.  Here's the sample I came up with, based on a fireplace the homeowner saw online...

sample, based on a huge marble slab fireplace spotted online
 And here's the fourth attempt, about 3/4 of the way done, when we decided to scrap the whole idea....
Ummm...don't think so.
The client was very hesitant to say it, but he finally asked how I would feel about trying something completely different.  Ummm...relieved!  Sometimes really cool ideas are better in concept than actuality.  Sometimes I just have to chalk it up to experience and move on.  A lot of folks in my industry will avoid trying unusual ideas, since it isn't really profitable to do something different on every job. 

This isn't just my job though.  This is my living.  How I spend my days in useful (okay, sometimes just interesting) pursuits.  As an artist, I know full well that you don't save every canvas.  Not that it wouldn't have been nicer if this had been canvas-sized.  Oh, well.  Check back often, and see how it ends.  It will end well. 

As they say, it will be alright in the end, so if it isn't alright, it isn't the end.  Tenacity Jane signing off...See ya in the bramble patch!

Things usually go much better, as you can see in my portfolio at theartofthehome.com.

Questions or comments?  Leave 'em below, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Where else I write?  365being.com.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Golden rules, and purple rules, and orange rules and pink...

Rules, schmules.  We make our own around here.  Here are mine:
1.  Leave your shoes on at the door, otherwise your socks will get dirty, and I'll be embarrassed.
2.  Don't eat anything you don't like, or I might serve it to you again.
3.  If you don't like glitter in your soup, eat in the kitchen, 'cause this isn't really the dining room, anymore.

A typical day at the office of 365 Being.  Biggest on the job hazzard?  The paint water mug is the same color as our coffee mugs.
Now that the dining-room-turned-art-studio-annex has morphed into corporate headquarters for our bookazine, 365 Being Savoring a Life of Abundance, Joy and Beauty, we have been making up business rules:
1.  Only do it if it's fun.
2.  If you don't like the way it's supposed to be done, do it some other way.
3.  Be authentic.
4.  Make money the last consideration, not the first.
5.  It's okay to blur the lines between work and play, if that's what suits you.
6.  If you are going to sugar the popcorn, go all the way to caramel, or don't do it at all.  We can't agree on rules about dunking popcorn kernels in one's beverage.

Cat calls herself the "Charwoman" of the company.  Not a typo.  Don't ask me why.  She did help make this mess, so I let her clean it up, but I made her finish playing first.  Rules are rules.
This week, Cat and I met on Sunday instead of Monday, and spent a blissfully quiet day (wait, quiet?  Okay, uninterrupted day) prepping backgrounds for the collaged pages of the winter issue.  We talked about the week's progress on our respective articles, the number of new subscriptions received (wow!), and all the stuff friends yak about at work, when the boss isn't there.  And we painted, glued, layered, smooshed, swirled and generally mucked about.  Cat was actually quite proud to be going home with paint up to her elbows, which is kind of my signature look.  Watch for it, she'll be wearing paint rags to the grocery store, next!

Yes, at this point, it does resemble a year's accumulation from a typical kindergartener.  Come to think of it, we probably could have saved ourselves a day of work  fun, and raided Cat's attic for her son's old stuff.  In case you're wondering, there are many more layers before these become the pages of our winter issue.  Keep watching, you'll see.
The design of the winter issue is inspired by the work of artist/instructor, Barb Kobe (click here:  barbkobe.com), who will be the featured artist.  Hers is a style of layers of stuff, layers of meaning, lots of fun, and some interesting introspection.  Best of all, there isn't a wrong way in a Barb Kobe class, so anyone can get involved, no matter how non-artistic they consider themselves to be.  You are going to want to try it.  You are going to want to steal your children's art supplies.  You might want to start morphing your house rules, now.

When I'm not breaking all the rules for how a magazine is supposed to be published, I still create unique decor for cool clients.  You can see more of my portfolio at theartofthehome.com.

If you have questions or comments, you can leave them at the bottom of this post, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Want to check out 365 Being (we say it "Three Sixty-Five Being")?  Just click here:  365being.com.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Finishing touches and getting started

What a busy week, so far!  Good busy, not crazy busy.  Had my weekly meeting with Cat, about our bookazine, 365 Being, Savoring a Life of Abundance, Joy and Beauty.  Subscriptions are coming in, and not just from people we know!  I find this really satisfying, for some reason. If you haven't already, check out our website, 365being.com, to learn more about this unique lifestyle publication.  You can order it right there, but if you want our introductory special, which gives you $10 off and our premier issue free, email and ask how.  My regular email is at the end of this post, or contact any of the emails listed on the website.

After that meeting, I taught my usual Monday Artgirl.  I was relieved to hear that even though Faithie has decided to switch from homeschooling to public school, she'll still come to class here on Monday afternoons.  Whew!  I need my Monday afternoon playtime!  I need my kid hugs!  I need to start my week with a little Faith.  Mondays would not be nearly so nice without that.  Mondays might become, well...Mondays.

Tuesday's project was to finish my part of this beautiful dining room...
I don't get credit for the satin striped upper walls.  My job was to turn the dark pink wainscoting into burgundy leather, and spiff up the trim.  Before shots?  Ummm...oops.

The nice thing about glazing wainscoting is that the small area makes it easy to work the glaze before it dries, so the results are always good.  The bad thing? Spending the day on my knees.  Lucky for me, nice houses have nice carpet, which has nice padding!

I created the leather glaze by rolling the glaze on with a Woolie roller, then removing some of it with plastic grocery bags.  On the trim, I brushed the glaze on, then as soon as it dried, hit the edges and details with a touch of gilding wax (Rub n Buff).  As I said, I didn't paint the stripes, but in case you were wondering how to get the subtle effect of a satin stripe, the fella who did it masked off the stripes and brushed on clear Polycrylic.

Leather glaze always looks good in a traditional dining room.  In fact, this is the second dining room this summer that I've painted with this classic treatment. 
 But that was just the beginning of the week.  On this next project, I did get a before shot.  The sample is the big board leaning against the fireplace.  The project is the fireplace (actually four fireplaces).  I'm playing in the mud again, at least on the two upstairs ones...

Inspired by a photo he spotted online, of a fireplace faced in a huge sheet of agate-like marble, this young art collector asked me to create something similar for him. 
It is really fun working with a homeowner who is totally into color, and loves commissioning custom art.  One contractor today commented that it looked like a lot of work.  I laughed and asked him if it really looked like I was working.  Of course, if anyone makes that comment at the end of the day tomorrow, when my arms are lead jello, I might not giggle quite so loud.  Check back here over the next couple of weeks to see how these progress.

Questions? You can leave them in the comments below, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmial.com.

Want to see other fireplaces or more plaster techniques I've done?  Check out my website at theartofthehome.com.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A well balanced breakfast...

When I was in my teens, my dad, a forester,  went on a kick of making dinner for breakfast.  I'm pretty sure this coincided with shifting his work schedule to four ten-hour days, and needing serious fuel for hiking through the woods from dawn to dusk.  Some of my favorite breakfasts are still like those, and when two boxes of amazing produce recently appeared on my back step, I had visions of those early autumn breakfasts.  Papa's breakfast often included venison steaks, though by late summer, the previous year's had vanished from the freezer, and it wasn't quite hunting season again.  No matter.  Greens and eggs were such a natural combination.  Still are...
Every breakfast should include the basic food groups:  Edible, drinkable, readable. No?

This mess of mustard greens sauteed with onions and mushrooms was the perfect bed for an over-easy egg (with lots of pepper), and slices of heirloom tomato.  Of course, my grown-up idea of the perfect breakfast also includes a lovely cup of sweet dark java, and something gorgeous to read, since I don't have Dad at my breakfast table.  Most days...

Well, you can see where I learned it all, huh?
One of the lovely things about my recent trip home was letting my parents spoil me thoroughly, which I swear they never did when I was a child.  : ) .  My siblings will swear otherwise, of course.  Knowing I am an early riser, coming from an earlier timezone, Papa was up very early most mornings, making sure coffee was brewed, and breakfast started.  Some mornings, it was granola and pears with Greek yogurt, and one morning, he even treated me to his infamous oatmeal, which I must admit has either improved with time, or I've developed my taste for it.  On the morning pictured above, it was just like old times, with plates of zucchini, crookneck squash and onions, caught in scrambled eggs, topped with fresh tomatoes.

Are there any country songs with lyrics about daddy cooking breakfast at the stove?  Of course, the countless ones with wives and mamas are all about dinner.  Maybe it's a forester thing, and the cowboys haven't caught on yet.
Except, unlike old times, Dad now hangs out in his jammies for the first few hours of the day, puttering about.  He may have taught me to cook breakfast, but could I have taught him a thing or two about the pleasures of leisurely mornings, stretched longer by starting the workday in flannel? It's a well-balanced start to a well-balanced day.  

I may start slow and early, and in my jammies, but I do still show up for full days on the job, creating wonderful walls for fine folks.  You can check out my portfolio, and all the info on how to hire me at theartofthehome.com.

You might have spotted my reading material in the first photo.  If you like reading this blog, you might like reading that, since I am the Editor-in Chief of that, and write many of the articles (in the wee hours of the day, in my jammies). Check it out at 365being.com.

Comments or questions can be left below, or feel perfectly welcome to email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cedar Doors - Take 2, or is it 3?

Cedar doors coordinate beautifully with the stone face of this house.  They coordinate beautifully with golden labs and retrievers, too.
Didn't I just post photos of a cedar garage door?  Yup, but not this one.  This one is different.  This one belongs to two goldens...

The humans who own this house are super sweet.  The dogs who adopted them are equally so.  Don't tell the humans, but I probably woulda done the job just for Gunner's sweet kisses.
Oh, and it's a bit smaller than the last one. 

Whether large or small, if a garage door is going to be a prominent feature on the front of a house, I truly think it needs to be as beautiful as possible.
It was the summer of garage doors, right to the very end.  Wooden garage doors are currently very much in fashion, and quite spendy, even compared to a pro faux job, if one is to judge by the number of them I painted these past few months. 

I'm not sure Dixie entirely saw the point of my standing there all day rubbing stuff on her doors, but as long as I was willing to let her in and out at regular intervals and pet her, she seemed to approve.
It isn't the most exciting faux finish to do(and certainly not the least), but woodgraining is decidedly one of the most believable. 
Cedar has a wide range of tones, and not a lot of whorls.  It's easily achieved with russet and burnt umber paint, thinned a bit, worked over a golden pumpkin base coat.  Because it's all top quality exterior paint, no clear coat is used.  In fact, most clear products will break down in the sun and peel long before this paint will.
Oh, yes, I did paint the front door to match...
A beautiful front door is the second best way to greet guests.  Two well-behaved goldens and a matching tabby cat trump paint any old day, but I don't mind having my work upstaged.
If you have questions about woodgraining, feel free to leave them in the comments below, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com

Want to see more of my portfolio than shows on the side of this blog?  Check out theartofthehome.com.

Did you know I also am the Editor-in-Chief (and staff writer, art department, and generally Little Miss Bossy Pants) of a quarterly bookazine, to which you can subscribe in print or pdf?  I am!  you can check that out at 365being.com .

Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumn (decorating) in the great outdoors...

Last week in Oregon was fun.  I spent the week with my folks, harvesting fruit and veggies, canning pear sauce and pear nectar, kickin' the old people's butts at dominoes, being called names by the old people that I will not print on this blog (sheesh!), and taking in a little Eastern Oregon culture.  Since I now have to blog here and on 365being.com (starting as soon as I figure out how that one works), I'll leave the story of the salt lick art auction for that blog, or next issue of the bookazine, but here's a shot of the (okay, not-so-)old people the day after they bought five of the thirty-five, um, sculptures:
Why would anyone buy used salt licks at an auction?  It raises money for research into Parkinson's disease.  Why would anyone buy so many salt licks at auction?  A very good auctioneer made it reeeeeaaallly fun.  And it raises money for research into Parkinson's disease.
Most people think of Oregon as coastal rain forest, but once you cross the Cascade Mountains, you get into high desert and ponderosa pine country.  Sage brush, rattlesnakes, and cowboys (and salt licks) dot the landscape around my hometown of Baker City.  Of course everyone has a barn, but some are a little more stylish than others...especially in my family:

The inability to leave perfectly nice wood in its natural state runs in the family, as evidenced by the paint job my aunt did on her barn.
Although Aunt Rose and Uncle Dwayne live outside of town, my parents house is just a few blocks off of Main Street.  Main Street this autumn echoes the country style of most of the locals with corn shocks and scarecrows trussed to every light post:

Autumn decor or scarecrows held hostage? 

Scarecrows shopping.  Gotta love small town style!
My dad was a forester, not a rancher, so his outdoor styling reflects more of a woodland theme.  The only drawback to this?  With the cattle overtaking all the deer habitat, the deer have moved into town, and they love this natural drought-tolerant design.  They might nibble the neighbor's roses, but they hang out at the Lara place.  If it weren't for the 7 foot tall deer fence around the kitchen garden, my "vacation" might have been a bit more leisurely.  Oh well.  More leisure time would only have resulted in games of cribbage or Scrabble, and those old people are just plain mean about losing. :)))

The neighbors never did know what to make of our weedy (no chemicals in our garden shed) lawn.  I'm not sure the ones with crew-cut grass think the drought-tolerant natural landscape is any better, but the deer love it, and the water consumption is way lower.  Goes nicely with the solar panel on the roof, too. 
As lovely as vacation was, it's nice to be home (okay, that was home, but I mean back to Belle Ami), and back to work.  As far as I know, I've got another garage door to woodgrain, and a dining room to leather glaze this week, and wait 'til you see the fireplaces coming up later this month!  Check back Monday and Thursday nights here for decorating updates, and watch for new posts of behind the scenes goofiness on the 365being.com blog, too.
If you want to see more of my work than shows down the side of this blog, you can check out my portfolio at theartofthehome.com.

Feel free to leave questions or comments below, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.