Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Colorful Bar

Today, I thought I would share a recent commission project I just finished. I have a friend, Aurelia,who is an artist at Noyes Art Gallery where I display my art. She asked me to redo her bar, which was in her studio.  Originally she wanted all the squares to look the same so it wouldn't be too busy.  Of course, that just sounded too tame to me. I mean, who wants the same polkadots or stripes on every single square? After visiting further, she said , "You just do it however you want to do it. I love my bedroom set so much!" (I had done a bedroom set a couple of years ago for her.) 
Hmmmm... free reign.... We talked about doing a mural of some sorts on it, but when I went to visit it again, the bar's squares were much more detailed than I remembered!! It immediately cried out to me to cover the "D" in the center of the diamond..I knew that much! 

This is a story of how this blah white bar went from this

to this.

So how did this dull white bar, with a big "D" in the center get a face lift?  

In this picture, you can tell I filled in the "D" with wall  spackling. It took several applications but it was finally smooth, .......and then I couldn't decide what to do with it! So I just left it until the last. middle name..                                    

The top band below the black and white stripes is variated.  I do that by painting a base color, which in this case is the Bahama Blue, then going back over it with Bahama Blue, but this time picking up ever so often, a little red/violet, and some true blue, and a tiny bit of white. I just pick these colors up, alternately one at a time on the very tip of my brush (just a dot , really) and streak it into the Bahama Blue to get the pretty shading you see. 
 I did the same thing with the top of the bar. I used primarily the yellow green, and mixed in the other colors. In this case, true, blue, Bahama Blue, red-violet, and a little white.

I painted all the little squares with different designs.

Here is a picture of Aurelia, painting a picture of poppies.  No one paints poppies like Aurelia!  Can you see the tall armoire in the back, with the painted panels? Funny story. I was painting til sometimes 1 and 2am to get this done. I was staying at Aurelia's while I did it, and she would say every day, "You know those panels would look so good on that armoire if they matched the bar."

 I would say, "I don't think I will have enough time to paint them." I wanted to leave by Tuesday. This went on every day, a couple of times a day, and on the third night, I painted the inside panels, the blue you see, but not the trim, because the trim would take a lot of time. She said (like about 5 times), "Oh, you know,  wouldn't that look great if the trim matched the bar." Again, I said , "I'm really running short on time."  On Tuesday night I finished the painting and by that time knew that I had to stay an extra day to do the polyurethane. I was so excited to be done, my sister drove for 4 hours round trip to come see it. She and Aurelia were in the living room. When I finished the painting, I came in so excited and proclaimed, "I'm done with the painting!!!  I am so excited!"  Mary Ann, my sister, said " I bet you are tired."  "No, I am invigorated!  I just want to paint some more!!" Then Aurelia very softly said, "You know, you could paint that trim around those panels.."  I laughed til I had tears coming out of my eyes.  Of course, you know where I was later that night! I painted the trim for her. :)

What to do with the front diamond. .... Hmmm.....I thought about painting some paint brushes on the front.

I thought about attaching real paint brushes, and how I could attach them. Would that be too much though?  My artist friend Kevin was sitting and looking at it one night and he said, "you know what would be cool is if you could put some real paint brushes on there!" That did it!  Aurelia produced some old paint brushes the next morning that she was going to throw away. We  doctored them up with more color and when it was all done, I glued the brushes in place. It was the perfect crowning touch. Now it was a true artsy piece for her studio.

Now isn't this much better than the boring white? Aurelia is so thrilled with it, and she is so much fun to do a project for. She says, do what you want, because if I tell you what to do, then it will be my project, not yours. She sat and watched so much of the time, telling me which block she loved the best, but NEVER saying "are you going to leave it like that? I don't know if I like that.."  Most of my things are a work in progress until they are done..done... I put on the first layers, then go back and forth as I complete different parts, always adding and changing it up.  I usually don't like to paint in front of people for that reason. But we had so much fun I didn't want to leave for home.

I hope you have enjoyed my Bar post. What do you think? Do you think it looks better white, or like this? I love to read comments, and remember that you can receive email updates from me by signing up to follow me. Have a wonderful spring and remember "Never put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fun Bookcase

So, does anyone out there have a plain brown bookcase like this?This isn't the actual bookcase, but you all recognize the basic concept.  I had a brown book case that looked kinda like this, and I made it into ...
this! I was tired of the boringness  (is that a word? spell checker says no..) of it, and started painting. 

I put striped legs on it, painted the sides fun, the middle black and white for a touch of contrast.. and of course doodled a lot on the sides and top!

A heart on one side, and a sun with funky flowers on the other side. 

I has no legs here! This was pre-legs!  
I like how it turned out. It is another one of those projects that I thought would be great in that color, but after I had painted it all, I was kinda tired of the green so I just covered a bunch of it up with art, and I like it much better. This has already found a home in Iowa, with a lady that has a many pieces of my painted furniture. I have never seen her house, but I bet it makes you smile when you see it!

Hope you are having a great weekend, it is supposed to turn colder again tomorrow and maybe even snow here~~ but I have faith that the warm weather will prevail! Ta ta for now, and keep thinking Spring!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fun Storage Cabinet

Hi everybody, Think Spring!!! I am so ready for some warm weather and this week looks like it is going to be very promising! Supposed to be up in the 60's according to my weather source. 
I have been working on a fun project, it was originally a trash bin, that you could hide your trash can in. I just saw it as a fun storage cabinet from the very first. 
Sorry I couldn't find the "before" pictures. I always like to post them so that you can envision what things around your house could look like. And, you know, you don't have to get all fancy like I do on my pieces, just prepare them the way I tell you in some of my earlier posts,(sanding and priming them) and put a coat of paint on them. It gives them a whole new look! This is the first side of the cabinet. I actually had done the background months ago. I was trying a new look....and I didn't care for it, but it took me so long to do all the little checks and shading that I didn't have the desire to cover it up just yet... And am I glad I didn't! I painted these flowers on, thinking I would just gift it to some child, and I started loving it! The original painting worked great as a background, just not as THE focal point. 

Then I got to work on the other side. (I didn't like the other side either, but again,  it made a great back ground for my detail work!) It was close to Valentine's Day, so I went with hearts and of course a daisy, because daisies are my favorite flower. 

 It's was starting to take shape, .

 I love doing big funky hearts so I continued with one on the door, adding some whimsical curly cues ......and of course, polka dots!

I like how the hearts repeat on the side and door. I will admit, I was stumped for a while, trying to decide what to do on the door. I like the way it is turning out at this point.
A close up of the heart on the door.

The inside, as it is displayed at the gallery, with one of my desk art piece on the shelf. Originally, it had no shelf in it, but I thought it needed one if someone was going to use it for storage. Can you believe it, I even got the shelf straight!
A little trim work on the underside of the lid,  and it ties in with the door when it is open.

And there you have it. What do you think? Have you seen one of these at a garage sale and passed it by? Are you going to pass it by again??? This would look great in a kitchen, or bathroom for extra storage and as a focal point.  Take a look around your house and see if you can come up with something that a coat of paint would turn into a fun piece. Just about time to be hitting those garage sales again with spring here. Maybe I will get lucky again! Ta ta for now, take a risk and redo one of your old pieces of furniture. It's just paint, and if you make a mistake, you can always just paint it all one color and it will look good too! Remember Eleanor Roosevelt's words, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." So dust those paint brushes off and get busy! I would love to hear what you are thinking of painting.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

December gallery display

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, and my dear you're so delightful, and tho' we've got no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Sounds like they are sure getting it in the Northeast now. We just have enough to cover the ground, so we have been lucky in that respect. I know I am late posting this, but I was in Charleston, SC visiting my daughter and her family. I had a wonderful time. They have 5 , it's not a typo! 5 Dogs, and yes they are allowed in the house. So I made this sign for them out of old barn wood from my sister' barn, and took it to them in a huge old  brown suit case. They loved it!

I might add that if you would like a sign like this, I am taking orders. They are made out of old barn wood, approximately 15" X 24", can be made in the colors you want. Each sign is hand made so there will be little variances in the wood (and you can customize them if the size isn't perfect for your spot- or you have cats, or you have one get the picture!) $69. Just email me at

Now back to my post I started in December but didn't get finished.

I have several projects I still would like to complete, but of course I always think I can get a weeks worth of work done each day, when I plan my time out in my mind..I have been doing this for years and you would think I would be able to gauge it better!
I was at the gallery and this is part of my display for the month. I snagged such a great spot, and had fun things to display.

I finished some clocks for the Christamas display, and you can see a couple of them in the back ground. 


These  clocks are such fun to work on. I find them at the used furniture store, thrift store and sometimes at garage sales. They are always stained brown when I get them, with some domestic picture in the bottom picture frame, like a spinning wheel, or maybe a fireplace with a teddy bear. So, of course...

I take the picture out and make a pendulum out of wire and beads. It is not a working pendulum, but just a pretty bright fun thing to look at.

Here are some more shots of the gallery display.




These are some little desk art wooden blocks that I paint a saying onto, and then embellish it with color. They seem to go over real well and they are at a good price point too.


And, one final shot of my display. Hope you had a great end of the year, I am off to gallery tomorrow to change my display.

I hope you have a wonderful, artful  New Year this coming year, If you have any questions about painting on wood, give me a holler, I am always glad to help. My email is  Catch you later, Carolyn.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Playful Kitten Chair

Happy  Fall!  The trees are turning and dropping their leaves, and there is a crispness in the air that makes me miss going to my son's high school football games.  I still have some outdoor work to get done before old man winter dumps snow on us. I try to get a lot of my sanding of furniture done before it gets too cold, because I do that in the garage and it is not heated. Are you trying to get some of your projects done before the first cold snap?  

What do you think of this little beauty? I had this in my garage for way too long, because I didn't quite know how I was going to get it sanded down enough to make the paint stick. There were so many details on it, and the finish was all cracked and flaking.

Ever wonder what something looked like when I first started it? Here it is in all it's shining glory. This was for a client of mine, and had belonged to her husband's uncle, so it had sentimental value. It was all flaking and powdery when I got it. I used a wire brush to get most of the flakes out of all the crevices.

You can see there were a LOT of crevices!  Still it had beautiful lines, and I knew it could be something special. The seat was really bad.  Judy said " just paint over it, because I don't know what else you can do to it when the wood is so cracked and raised like it is". Of course my mind was already turning on possibilities to cover up seat. 

The legs just chipped off when I tried to sand them, so I got most of the loose finish off with my wire brush and started sanding by hand. Man, it was looking pretty sad, and I actually put it away for a long time before tackling it again. (yes, chicken is a word that comes to mind) I am always afraid I will do it wrong when it is a commission piece! When I do pieces and then just sell them, I don't have to worry about the process I go through to get to the finished product.  I might change my mind mid project and come out with a completely different piece than I first had in mind, because I don't have to please every one...just the one person that can't live without it... .but on a commission piece, you have only one person to please to start with, and that is the only chance you get to please someone. Does that make sense?I have yet to have a dissatisfied customer that I know of, but it always makes me nervous. (Yes I know...I always tell you it is  JUST PAINT, and you can do it over if you don't like it! LOL)

I started with the base coat, and I used chalk paint because I thought I would distress it  some. (I didn't in the end but I still like the soft look . ) Chalk paint seems to come in earthy soft colors that blend with just about everything. The Chalk paint is designed for painting furniture and distressing it. It also sticks without primer and I wanted something that would bond good and be a little thicker paint for this piece. 

First I did a green base.

Next I did the light turquoise accents

  Then did a very light brushing of the red in the crevices. After I do the shading in the crevices (like the red in this picture) I usually have to go back over the piece several time with the other colors until I get just the right contrast that I want. ...For instance, I put more green back into the detail so that so much red didn't show, or  have a distinct line where the red ended. Same goes for the turquoise. 

Next came the details, and of course this is where the I just get lost with my little polka dots and stripes. :) When you are doing a piece, try to tie the colors together so that when the eye sweeps over the whole piece you catch colors on the way down that repeat. Like the red for instance. I have it as accent on top, then the spindles are more solid, then just in accents on the bottom rungs. 

Translated: What the heck am I going to do with that seat????

Even with paint on it, the seat is very rough. The top layer would crack and probably give you a splinter eventually (OUCH!), so I had an idea.

 I have canvas that is heavier and preprimed , I use it for floor cloths so it is very durable. 
So I painted this picture on it. (I knew that they loved cats)

Cut it and a piece of batting  to the size I wanted. (Cut the batting about 1/2 inch smaller than the canvas. ) To make the painting  fit, I first did a pattern out of paper, folded in half so that it would be identical in shape on each side. I then centered the pattern over the painting, placed the batting underneath,

Tacked it down with upholstery tacks, and no splinters today!

Previously before I tacked the painting down, I put 4 coats of polyacrylic on the chair, I also put 3 coats of flexible artist varnish on the  painting before I cut it out. This will allow clean up with a damp cloth without damaging the painting.

Do you have an old chair sitting around just waiting for you to breathe new life into it? It doesn't have to be fancy, just a solid color changes the look  so much. I am going to paint some kitchen chairs for my kitchen is solid sherbet colors.  I haven't decided on the table top yet but when I do, I am sure you will see it here!
I hope you are having a wonderful life, and if you are not....what can you do to change it? This is it, there are no dress rehearsals, we don't get to have a "do over".  My email is, if anyone is having problems that seem too great for them, please feel free to contact me. Sometimes it is easier to talk to a stranger than it is to someone you know. Not saying I can fix anything, but I have been accused of being a good listener. Until next time,  take care, Carolyn
I want to leave you with this:
                                                This is the beginning of a new day.
                                                God has given me this day to use as I will.
                                                 I can waste it or use it for good.
                                               What I do today is important,
                                               Because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.
                                               When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, 
                                               leaving in it's place something that I have traded for it.
                                               I want it to be gain, not loss;
                                              good, not evil;
                                              success, not failure;
                                              so that I shall not regret the price I paid for it.