Friday, December 5, 2008

Polka Dot Surprise

If you read my other blog Hey look a chicken! you probably know that I am part of a church plant (C3). (Either that or you're just not paying attention.) Anyway, Jeff (our pastor), Tamara and the girls were living back in Ohio with Tam's parents for awhile so that Jeff could work on his masters at Cincinnati Bible College. After a long and complicated, frustrating, exhilarating, frustrating again, and "a total God thing" series of events, they began to plan their move back to Houston to plant a church. Jeff came down for a brief visit to do some church business and to attempt to find a house. Before and after his visit, I looked at a bunch of houses with their realtor. I took a bunch of pictures and videos and sent them to Ohio via computer. (Don't you just love technology?) As a matter of fact, here's a brief snippet of one such home tour. Please note my obnoxious gum smacking and talking smack about the person WHO I AM MAKING THE VIDEO FOR:

They didn't end up choosing that house. They placed a bid on another house (sight unseen) based on the video I sent them, a visual inspection by my husband of "guy stuff" like the roof, electrical, plumbing, a/c, etc. and my personal judgement about the house overall. That's a fairly big leap of faith, people! Jeff flew down ahead of the family to buy the house and do some more church stuff. During that time, Tam and I were back and forth on the phone trying to plan a surprise house warming gift for the girls -- their own custom decorated rooms. Even though they were welcome in their grandparents home in Ohio, it was, after all, not their home. They were ready to have their own rooms again. It was a labor of love and I was so happy to be involved in the process. Tamara had the girls select a couple of different bedding options on the Internet. The girls thought that the surprise was that once they got down here, they would get their new bedding. They had no idea the rooms would already be painted. I designed the walls based on the bedding. Here are pictures of the bedding:

And here are the rooms:

By the way, bargain shoppers, The bedding for the first room I bought at Marshall's for $29.99. The other set came from Target and also comes in pink and brown. If you have access to an overhead projector, circles are easy to paint. The lines are a bit trickier (especially on highly textured walls), but if you think you want to try it, let me know and I'll talk you through it. Obviously, the rooms are way cuter now that the girls have put all their furniture and personal effects in there, I just haven't had my camera handy when I've been over there!
I also painted the bathroom that the girls share. Tamara ended up finding a shower curtain a Kohl's that we used as the inspiration for wall and cabinet colors, but before she had made a final decision, here are a few options I suggested:

I think Jeff was really favoring the second one, but he got overruled.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

One more reason I'm not a decorator...

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but typically I only take jobs for people I know or referrals by people who know the potential client. I want to know that when I walk into someone's house, Tamara and I are in a safe working environment. So, when I got a call a couple of weeks ago from a guy I'd never heard of, I was hesitant to meet with him. But I checked him out and I felt reasonably sure that I could work for him. Since I have a hard and fast rule about not being alone with a male who is not my husband, I dragged Tamara along to take a look at his dining room that he wanted faux finished.

Turns out he had already had a crew paint over the existing brownish red with a color called "soft glow". He saw a picture in a magazine, got the color matched at the paint store and hired some painters. When we arrived, there was 2 coats of "soft glow" on the walls. Oh who are we kidding? It's pinky-orange! And since some of the red was still visible, the overall effect was kinda like a really thin-skinned blood orange. I've painted a bunch of rooms, done my fair share of faux finishes, but I was a little nervous about pulling this one off. He wanted a metallic finish. He wanted it to be stunning and high impact. As he put it, he wanted people to walk into his dining room and say, "Dam*". (To which Tam told me later, "People are saying that now, just not in a good way".) Now, I'm fairly confident in my abilities as a faux finisher, but here was the problem. He wanted it to flow with the rest of his house, and he was dead set on keeping the orange. What's that term they use in politics? "You can put lipstick on a pig..."

After several sample boards, I think I finally got one that kept his "soft glow" (not really, but it's close) yet still flowed with the rest of the house and complimented his existing window treatments. I'm happy with the results. What I'm not happy with is my attempt to decorate his art niches. His office is near a Tuesday Morning, so I popped in there to see if I could find something to put inside the niches. I found two fireplace screens that had a Tuscan look. I bought them figuring that if he liked them he could reimburse me. I was all proud of myself. I hung them up nice and even, borrowed some greenery from other parts of the house and "staged" the room to take pictures.

When I got home, I downloaded the pictures from my camera. In my excitement, I failed to see what is so obvious after viewing the pictures. Those fireplace screens look like giant bats. Giant bats with gold medallion necklaces. Giant bats who, if they had fingers, would be wearing diamond pinky rings. I immediately emailed him and apologized for hanging them. I really should stick to painting...

Friday, November 7, 2008

My funky laundry room

With the exception of my kid's rooms, most of my house is some shade of red, sage green or tan. The common areas are muted shades, but I wanted to go bright in the laundry room.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Second Grade Surfer

If you read my last post, you may remember that I donated a mural for my kids' silent auction and that I am a sucker. A teacher was the high bidder and I painted this room for her son. Actually, since the prize was for 10 hours of mural work, she painted the background colors (light blue sky, navy ocean, and tan sand). Then I came back in and added the shading and details. I still went well over 10 hours (with the help of another mural artist friend), but that's partly my fault because I'm really bad at estimating how long something is going to take me. Her son loves it. So that's pretty cool...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rhino Pop Art

Most schools have fundraisers. My kids' school has two: selling cookie dough (weird, I know) and a silent auction. The auction is a big money maker for the PTA. We live in a fairly affluent neighborhood, and the donated auction items are usually pretty impressive. Last year some of the items donated were: a Wii system, Hannah Montana tickets, a mosquito misting system (a very nice thing to have here), free orthodontics and a custom painted mural. (Yeah, I donated that last one. I'm such a sucker.)

Anyway, I wanted to donate something unique. Several years ago during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (it's huge down here), someone came up with the idea to paint these large cow statues with different themes. I wanted to do something along the same lines only using our school's mascot (you guessed it) a Rhino. That was 4 years ago. It's sort of taken on a life of its own. I donate about 10 canvases every year and I get a lot of requests for personalized rhinos and other work. How many ways can you paint a rhino? I'll let you know when I run out of ideas...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Elementary School Musical: Fun with Paper

Warning: If you have school aged children and word gets out that you can make stuff out of paper, your home and cell phone numbers will be on the speed dial of every music teacher, homeroom parent and overzealous PTA member from now until your kids graduate from high school. After my friend Desiree and I created the set for "Bugz! The Musical" for our kids' second grade performance, suddenly I was to go-to gal for projects involving large amounts of colored paper. Last year, I got a call from a 5th grade mom asking if I could make a woody station wagon for the surf themed, end of the year 5th grade party. Thinking she must have mistaken me for another mom, I said, "You do know that I don't have a child in 5th grade?". "Yes", she said. From that moment on, I have honed my skills in the art of "Just Say No". It's not that I didn't want to help, but I know that I'm not the only creative-type parent who has kids at that school. Besides, being a good Christian and all, I didn't want to "steal any one's blessing" by doing something someone else could do.
This was my first hands-on experience working with those big rolls of paper that teachers use to cover bulletin boards in their classrooms. With the exception of a few purple balloons, a couple sheets of tissue paper, and a small amount of craft paint, this entire set is made of paper. And staples -- lots and lots of staples! Oh wait, I forgot the pb&j sandwich. This was made out of upholstery foam, purple satin and brown felt. (That sandwich was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.) The red and white picnic blanket was weaved out of two sheets of paper. I gotta give props to Desiree for that one: cutting straight lines is not my strongest attribute. Speaking of Desiree, she is one of the most creative people I know, and she was such an encourager during the creation of this set. When I was up on a ladder with 20 feet of scrunched up paper atop my head, she kept saying, "It will be fine. We just need more staples!" Love that gal!
Because I was also in charge of costumes, I had to figure out how to create roughly 300 pairs of wings for various type of bugs. After pricing pre-made fairy wings, I concluded that option was not in the budget. My solution? White pantyhose, Rit dye in an assortment of colors and wire coat hangers. We dyed the hose and stretched them over the coat hangers (shaped in the form of wings). Oh, and safety pins -- we used lots and lots of safety pins!

I hope that this has stirred your creative juices and perhaps inspired you volunteer your creative services to your local school or church. That creative mom they always call needs a break, and she doesn't want to steal your blessing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Different Kind of Blog

If you follow my other blog, "Hey look, a chicken" then you may know that I'm a painter. Clients and potential clients are always asking me if I have a website. To which I tell them no, but I plan to someday. Right now, I'm doing well just to blog a little here and there between family life, home projects and paying gigs.

But I thought it might be cool to share some of the projects I've done and perhaps inspire some of you to take on a project or two yourselves. Sometimes I will give step-by-step instructions, sometimes I'll just post pictures. If you ever have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will try my best to answer them. While I'm sure I'll add some stupid commentary here and there, this will primarily be a painting/home decorating/diy blog; as opposed to "Hey look, a chicken", a blog about, well, whatever that blog is about...

I've done a bunch of projects -- some for paying customers, some for charity, and some just because I wanted to create something (the latter fall under the category of home projects or gifts for friends). I didn't know where to start, so I thought I would post my most recent projects and work backwards. That's not nearly as overwhelming as trying to post everything I've done.

So without further adieu, I give you "Audrey's Kitchen".

Audrey is a friend of a friend. She has a beautiful home. What I especially like about her home is that it reflects her personality. One of my big complaints about homes that are professionally decorated is that while they are usually tastefully done and well thought out, they tend to reflect the taste of the decorator, not the lives of the homeowners. I'm sure there are professional designers that can pull this off; I just haven't run across any.

Audrey was looking to update the outdated wallpaper in her kitchen. If you know me, you know that I deplore wallpaper. It may look great for years, but eventually it's going to date the space. And once it's up, you either have to paper over it, pull it off and re-float the walls, or do what I did. Namely, check to see if all the seams are tight, put an oil-based primer over it and paint it - preferably a faux finish.

Why a faux finish? Because straight painting is rather unforgiving when it comes to hiding seams. The finish itself is fairly easy, it just takes some practice. The treacherous part is the prep work - especially taping off everything, which I hate almost as much as wallpaper.

I love the way this turned out. Her kitchen was nice before, but now it ties in with the rest of rooms adjacent to it. She really likes it too -- which is what matters most.

Audrey's Kitchen Before:

Audrey's Kitchen After:

I love the splash of red here. It's also easier to touch up scuff marks.