Friday, September 23, 2016

Fence mural

What to do,...the dogs are barking at everyone who walks in front of the house...And that disturbs the neighbors!   This was a fun project!
 My daughter and her husband have 5 dogs, yes 5 dogs. They love all of them like they were their kids. When the dogs are outside, they can see all the activity going on in front of the house, like people walking by.(or God forbid they are trying to walk their own dogs past the house!) and try to be a part of it from behind the fence, which adds up to a lot of barking. Sheri and Peter put a piece of plywood  8ft by 4ft, in front of the fence so the dogs couldn't see out, which worked pretty well. I always try to paint something when I visit my kids, I think it is my way of leaving a little piece of me there when I leave to go home.  When I arrived, we decided to paint a mural on the plywood. I thought they would want some funky dogs on it, but I had done a bench with a similar scene to the one below, and they wanted it for their fence. So this is how it turned out. 

I had lots of supervision to make sure I did it just right.

I started with painting the background. I primed it with some Interior/Exterior primer, and then started with the blues mixed in with some white and some red violet. 

At one point it started thundering really loud...and I had all kinds of visitors to my painting area. They are all scared of the thunder except for the Brittany Spaniel, George. He just kept pacing wanting to be in on any action, but the other 4 couldn't get close enough to me! This is exactly where I am standing to paint. I kept straightening out the sheet I put on the floor for a drop cloth and then just gave up. LOL

So this is how it all begins. Background first, and then just start with whatever trips your fancy..mine is always the sun.  

And then the tree. I seem to start to work from the outside in without really thinking about it.

Sheri had found this image of the little red bird and wanted it on there. It looks like some one is getting some instruction on life....

What a happy little guy, I love dragonflies.

Do you see the knothole in the tree? I incorporated one of the knotholes in the wood to make a knothole in the tree. I try to work with what ever surface imperfections there are, and make them into a part of the painting.  You can also see a rough sketch of the bluebird at the bottom of the painting. I sketch out a few of the things like that so that I am not getting the dimensions wrong and having to erase marks on the painting. It is a lot easier to change them on paper first if you are not sure of the size you want. 

And it is finished..almost.. I actually added a little worm and worm hole on the left side (you can see him in the picture above..), but forgot to take a picture of the whole thing again with him included. After it was all finished, I put 5 coats of  Minwax Marine poly acrylic on (outdoor/exterior), making sure to coat the edges and top good. It should stand up to several years of weathering, I am not too worried since this is in South Carolina, and they don't get snow and frigid temperatures. If they poly it in a few years that will really keep it from weathering also.
My daughter was going to flip it over and poly the back after I left. It would need to dry for several days before setting it outside on the fence,  So I do not have a picture of it nailed to the fence. 
I bet it is going to be cool though, what do you think?

And then it was off to my favorite spot to see every time I visit my daughter, The Angel Oak Tree. It is so magnificent. If you are ever in Charleston, make sure you visit this spot. It is so awesome, it just takes my breath away. 

 I hope you have enjoyed the mural creation. If you have any questions, you can contact me in the comments here or email me at  I am always happy to share any information. I can't promise it is always correct..but just what has worked for me.

Remember: The hardest part is always beginning.   

Be sure to sign up to follow me if you like what you see here, and share it with your friends too. I would love hear your thoughts or questions in the comments below. 
Have a fabulous weekend!!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Painted Chairs

How many of you like to paint chairs? I love to paint chairs.  I met a lady who loved color, so of course I had to show her some of my colorful things I had painted. She was so enamored that she decided to have me paint some chairs for her dining room table. She is having her husband make her a farm table for them to go around. This is part of a series of 4 chairs that I painted for her.  She wanted them all different. She is such a fun and vibrant person..

One of the questions I get a lot, is "Did they tell you what they wanted on them, or what colors to use?" Usually I visit with a customer about their interests, and colors they are drawn to. I then have them look at my blog and see if there is anything in particular they like or maybe even dislike. That gives me a pretty good idea of what to include or omit on their piece.  Most generally they tell me they want to be surprised, and to just use my imagination. In this particular instance, I went to her home and saw the room she was going to put the chairs in and we picked out some colors she  liked. As I toured her home, I got a very good sense of what she liked, and that she was a very colorful person. I saw things I knew had to be included on her chairs. She had already told me that she loved the big flowers I paint, and had talked about putting big flowers on all of them, but of course I had a little different idea after seeing her home. You will see what I did as you read through this post....

I keep thinking the thing that takes the longest is the spindles and the little knobs with all the details, but the truth is, it all takes a long time! Lol! The knobs do take a long time because every time I paint one color, I get it on the neighboring color, then I touch that up and I get it back on the first frustrating!!! But eventually I get it right and ..perrrrfect, which is the way I like them. 

The easiest way to paint spindle legs is like on a table where you can remove them and just twirl them in your hand while you paint. Chairs are more challenging and I end up turning the chair upside down, sideways, and on the other side, then on the other side, then back again (to touch up what I just screwed up lol!) lot of lifting. 

I love doing big flowers, and what is interesting to me is the fact that each time I start a flower, I think "well this certainly isn't turning out as well as the last one. Wonder what else I can do to it...."  Then I walk away for a while, and when I come back and start layering colors, it starts taking shape.  As it turns out, I usually was only half done when I was dissatisfied because I completely paint over the original flower. The original flower becomes just a base.  Does that ever happen to you?

One tip that I will share is my table I work on. It is an old TV swivel stand that I put a larger piece of plywood on top of, then covered it with an old towel so that it is soft and won't scratch the piece I am working on. It turns so I can reach several angles without jumping up from my stool all the time. You see them lots of times at garage sales.  By the way, my stool also rolls. Most things in my studio are on wheels so that I can move them when I need to. The stool is a auto mechanic's stool that my brother had for bar stools. Now I wish I had bought 2 of them at his garage sale..... It's all about making things easier and more convenient when you paint.

And finally, the end.  I like to put something fun and sweet on the back.  These chairs will be around a table so the backs will be visible all of the time.

The Turquoise chair is done, and Linda loved it, which is the best part...the smile when they see it! 

One of the things I saw at Linda's house when I toured it, were owls..and owls, and more owls. So, I asked the obvious question, Do you like owls??!  Of course she did!  It was a no brainer that owls were something I would put on one of  her chairs. 

 What started out as a great idea for the back of the chair turned into tedious work trying to come up with all the different designs. Needless to say, I was glad to be done with that part.

And..of course the little something to make the back interesting.

Here is the other flower chair. It was really fun to work on. I can't wear yellow, but I love to paint it! When Linda asked me to paint the chairs for her, she only had a couple of chairs. I found 3 chairs like this at a Goodwill Store and picked them up for her. I kept one and we used 2 of them. We didn't want to have 3 alike, and one odd one, so we used 2 of her mismatched chairs to finish out the set. I like this style, it has a lot of great lines. 

 I couldn't get the color adjusted right on this picture, it was outside and a sunny day. But you get the idea. The flower is more brilliant than this in person.

 I loved the way the back turned out. It is my favorite back out of the four. I like the way the colors blend.

 To get this effect I use a yellow base, then go over it with the turquoise, and go back in with some of a bright purple wash. I really like the way these colors blend and layer.   I think I will do my remaining chair I kept in this color. 

And, something interesting on the back. 
I would like to get a picture of them all together, but alas, I delivered them at different times. 

Hope you have enjoyed this. If you want to see more of my posts, sign up with your email and then when I post something new you will get an alert. If you like to paint chairs too, I would love to see some of your projects. You can email them to me at , or share them in your comments so we can all enjoy them!

Until later, remember " Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections."

TaTa for now. Carolyn

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Orange Cat chair

This is a story of one of four chairs that I did for a customer, Linda, who has become an interesting new friend in the process.

What a Prrrr fectly fine chair! This little chair actually had a broken cane seat. It looked kind of sad until Jim, Linda's husband, put a solid wooden seat on the hole where the cane was. I painted a piece of canvas, put some batting under it, and tacked it down with  upholstery tacks. It turned out kinda cute don't you think?  Not bad for an old chair that had seen better days and probably was never going to be in anyone's dining room again....until now!

Want to know how I do the seat? Well, it is not as intimidating as it looks. The first thing I do is take some paper and  make a template of the wood piece I am wanting to cover up. Next I cut a piece of canvas a couple of inches bigger than the  area I want to cover.  This will be bigger than the template, because it has to cover the batting, and leave room to put the upholstery tacks down. I will trim it up better before I tack it down.  Next I paint it. I actually use a combination of artist acrylics, and craft acrylics. To insure that they stay flexible, I put some Fabric medium on my palette, and just mix it in with the paint as I go, right on the brush. No rocket science here. I get all the picture painted the way I want, and then I seal it with a flexible varnish. I use Polyurethane on the rest of the chair, but I want to make sure the picture doesn't crack when it is used. I like Liquitex flexible varnish for this part.  I don't make the batting very thick either because I don't want a lot of give to it, just a little padding to cover up the edge of the wood insert .  Just an FYI, I seal it before I tack it down.

I take the paper  template and cut a piece of batting 1/4 inch larger than the template.. Don't make this too thick or it will set up too high and look funny. I actually had about a 3/4 inch to 1 inch batting, and I thought it was too thick so I just separated it in half width wise and it was perfect.  The hard part is determining how much of an edge you want on the picture. I just tacked mine pretty close to the wood insert, and the edge of the batting. To get the batting to stay in place, spray some fabric adhesive on the wooden insert. I put plastic all around it  to prevent the sticky from getting on the chair. That would be terrible!!

I am so bad about eyeballing things instead of measuring sometimes, that I drive myself crazy. Now in hindsight, I should have measured all around the perimeter, made a mark everywhere I wanted a tack...but of course I started tacking and then started making marks when it looked like I was having trouble getting it even.... SO, what you get is a chair that has the tacks uneven with handmade charm...,. ANDDDDD do you see the one lone silver tack? I didn't even know this until someone was studying the chair (closer than I did obviously!) and ask about it! I actually had one box of antique tacks, and one box of shiny gold tacks..same style but different finish. Time to improvise. I painted the gold ones black, waited 30 to 45 seconds and wiped them off.. Now the problem came in when I was short one lousy tack and I searched everywhere. Finally I found one, whew!  painted it, and tacked it on, only to realize (after it was pointed out to me by someone who was studying the tacks a lot closer than I was...) that it was silver!!! Well, I will have to make a trip over to Linda's one of these days and replace the tack.

 She said she doesn't care, but I do, that I know!

How long did it take me? Wow, I always think I am going to log my hours in but I forget and get sidetracked, so I will never know for sure.  I would have to guess around 27 or 28 hours. What can I say, I get lost in the details.. :-)

If you have any questions about the process that I haven't explained, feel free to contact me by email.  at   I am happy to help in any way. Oh, and sign up with your email if you would like to get updates when I post something new. Thanks for visiting!

Have a grateful day! Carolyn

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blast from the Past

Looking back through some of my pictures, I saw several pieces I have not posted, they are!  Hope they start the wheels turning in your head to create something.
I painted this cat picture on a piece of wood that is very similar to a TV tray top, but a lot heavier. It was at the gallery for a short while before it went to it's new home in Lincoln, NE.

Now this was a fun project. I wish I still had it but that darn Kye wanted it! Kye is a friend of mine who has several pieces of my work. She is a wonderful mosaic artist. I found this at a garage sale, (imagine that!) and it was one of those home interior type wall hangings. It was all cream colored and had, I believe some fluffy roses or something in each panel. The panels are thin board with texture on them. I knew I wanted something fun in them and this is what evolved! I love to do funky hearts, funky birds, and funky flowers. All my favorites in one place. Hope you are enjoying it Kye!

A little closer picture of the heart..

and the flowers..

even the hangers got a makeover....

and of course the goof ball bird. Notice his tennis shoes. I didn't like the way they turned out so I put grass around them and they were much better!

I displayed it on an easel I had painted, and the easel  sold the first week  :-)

Its a bed knob, it's an upside down table leg...It's a FINIAL with inspirational sayings~  This Table leg was in the mark downs at Hobby Lobby ~score--4 of them!~ and I thought I would put a table on top. But when I got started painting, I just saw it as a fun colorful finial that would brighten up any spot. I have done 4 of these and they always sell right away. People like them as gifts for graduation and such. I put little saying of hope around the base, and that seems to be very popular. Use your imagination. What have you done that was totally different from the original intended use?

 Don't throw that old table away. Keep the legs, they could also become a dragonfly body if you added some wings like ! She does awesome work. OR you could just order one from her!

Here is my version, I had fun with it. Not nearly as intricate as Lucy's, but fun.

This is a bench I bought at the dollar store many years ago for ten bucks, unassembled. It was the redwood look.  I sanded it really well, and then applied several coats of exterior primer. The preparation stage is imperative to get your paint to last. I used craft paints because these blend well for what I like to do. Gussied it up a little and then applied 3 coats of exterior polyurethane. I had this sitting on my porch for about 7 years. I would bring it in in the wintertime except for the last 2 years. The paint started coming loose last year (on the ends)after sitting out and getting snowed on, frozen, thawed, frozen, thawed, (we lived in Nebraska) and morning sun.  

Pretty good run for a couple of bottles of craft paint! I sold it at my garage sale when I moved, to a very enthusiastic young couple- well, she was enthusiastic enough for both of them!! It was fun seeing her so excited about giving my old friend a new warm loving home! As far as the paint peeling,  I told her to put a couple of coats of exterior poly on it and it would be good for several more years. I was actually very surprised that the metallic paint stayed perfect on the metal parts. For the metal sides, I did a dry brushing with a couple of different copper colors.

This is a little fun clock I did for a friend of mine. She helped SOOOOO much when I was selling the house and moving. She worked in yard all day (and was such a SLAVE DRIVER)...was up early the next morning helping me put river rock down, before the couple looking at the house, came at 9:30 AM. She took all the crap I had collected over the years  treasures waiting to be painted, and got them to fit into one stall of our 3 car garage, swept it all out, (while I showered so I could be the hostess with the mostess) and finished before the future buyers arrived. She took her dog to her car and drove up the block to the corner, where she sat until they left!! They actually saw her leave as they were getting out of the car and said "your friend didn't have to leave, she's welcome to stay while we are here". Jenna said she sat on the corner in the car with her dog,  because she too dusty and sweaty to even go to Menards! So I owed her big time, but all she wanted was this clock... She also came back and helped pack because the couple loved the house!! Yayyyy! She made it look so wonderful outside I wanted to stay!(really really wanted to stay) Aren't good friends just the best?? I am so blessed with all the friends that helped me pack and move. I can't begin to repay them, but that's what friends do.. Love them all. 

When I go this, it had a nice finish but was so boring. I put the little ball feet on it, drilled holes in the top and put the little antenna things on top. I put the round ball feet on a lot of things. I think it adds to the whimsical appeal. If you look back at the dragonfly picture, you will see it in the background on the mantle waiting patiently to be transformed.

I hope you have enjoyed my Blast from the past, and want to thank you for stopping by. If you like what you see, sign up in the email box (at the top right)  to receive alerts when I publish a new post.  If I can help you with anything or answer any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. I have made a lot of mistakes that you don't need to recreate!! LOL 
My quote for the day is "Someone out there is praying for the things you take for granted."  
Have a Grateful day. Catch you later, Carolyn