Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

It is amazing how "life" just gets so busy and we end up keeping ourselves from doing the things we truly love to do.  I was reading today and a comment made by the author really made me stop and think.  He said, life is what happens between the bookends of birth and death.  What you do in between those two words will make such a huge differance in your attitude, outlook and final address.

I love to create, whether it is with concrete, Italian plaster or just plain old paint.  So, this year I resolve to take the time to play.  Creating art is playing as far as I am concerned.  I spent so many years just having FUN when I had my hawk and trowel in hand creating beautiful walls and works of art.  I loved mixing colors and creating the most unique hue that could never to matched, or re-constructed again.  I spent hours creating works of concrete and just took sheer delight in seeing the finished masterpiece. 
Art was fun, until I decided to make it a career.  Then all of a sudden the fun turned into WORK.  I no longer just created for fun but felt judged, critical eyes on me at all times, inadequate....because all of a sudden someone was paying for my creations.  Well, I have decided to put the fun back in life, just create for the heck of creating and not worry about what other people think of it.  Life is what you make of it and when the fun is gone, do something about it.  My New Years for 2013, enjoy life and get back to creating just for the fun of it.  To heck with the paycheck!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ronald McDonald House Project

As an artist, of course it is nice to get "paid" for creating your art.  After all, the "Starving Artist" label gets old after awhile.  However, there is definitely a feeling that money just can't buy and that is when you create artwork for the sheer enjoyment of others, without any money being exchanged.  I had the opportunity to do just that this past summer at the Ronald McDonald House. 

I had been contacted by an interior decorator in the spring and asked if I would be willing to do a total makeover of the family/TV room at the RMH in Spokane, WA.  Not only was it ready for a new look, but they were wanting to make a special wish come true from a darling little boy who had been in and out of the RMH over the past 8 years and had lost his battle to cancer in February.  Realizing how many children stay in this place, I knew this little guy must have made quite an impression on the staff if they wanted to do this in his memory.

Skyler had been an avid Sponge Bob fan and had expressed the need to change this room and make it have a Sponge Bob theme.  After meeting with the powers to be on several occasions, it was decided that we would showcase Sponge Bob, his pineapple house and his friend Patrick, along with many other creatures you would see in the ocean.

This room is where the children and their families spend many hours either watching TV, playing board games, read books, play video games, just relax and enjoy.  The theme of an underwater playground needed to not only excite the kids but also offer a calm and reassuring feeling.

The task of painting the entire room an ocean blue was the first thing that needed to be done.  Dana took on this huge task and it set the stage for all our characters.  We searched diver magazines, salt water fish books, coloring books, sea animal internet sites, all sorts of differant resources to come up with a host of suggestions for this project.  Once we had a pretty good idea of the layout of the room, it was a matter of getting these ideas on the walls.

I truly enjoy being an artist but one of the special advantages of networking with fellow artists is finding not only like minded people who enjoy spending hours allowing our creative juices to thrive but in the process you form some wonderful friendships.  I asked three very close and creative friends to give up their time and talent over the summer to help make this dream project a reality.  Without hesitation they said yes.  Two of these gals had already proved how they love to share their gifts because they had already traveled to Tijuana, Mexico with me several years ago and spent countless hours transforming 5 rooms for Baja Bible College.  I'll write a blog on that someday as that is QUITE a story in itself.

Gerri, Deb and Annie were instrumental and inspiring to work with on this project and as always, we feed off of each other, teach each other and appreciate each others individual talents.  I drove the 1 1/2 hours each way about 9 times over the summer to work on this room.  Throughout the entire project, we only came upon one hitch.  I had envisioned this underwater room with 3 dolphins and not just any dolphins.  The ones that I had seen had been air brushed and that offers a totally different look than what we can accomplish with our brushes, sponges and other tools of the trade.  I have proof that people are still very good hearted and will step in when asked as I called a total stranger who I had learned of from a flyer I had recently picked up at an art store.  George, the owner of Air Illustrated did not hesitate to pitch in and complete our vision with his 3 dolphins that he quickly air brushed.  As a side note, we were so impressed with the speed that he accomplished this task in that we have all taken his air brush class which is offers the last Wednesday of each month at Spokane Art Supply.  I highly recommend it.  

We wanted our room to also offer a challenge for the kids, something to keep them busy when they were not involved in a game or TV.  We needed to be very careful of using any plasters that could be scraped off and ingested so having a "feel" center was not an option.  We came up with 24 hidden objects that were painted around the room that they need to find.  Most of the objects are things that you would see in the ocean such as sea shells but we decided to add some hamburgers, after all, it is the Ronald McDonald House! 

Although everyone gets busy in their lives and we all have just 24 hours each day to enjoy as we wish, I would suggest that if you can give your time to a philanthropic project-DO IT.  The feeling you have knowing that your gift of talent from God is blessing others is priceless.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Importance of Picking Your Friends (or Mentors) Wisely

Sometimes events or people in your life just seem to "happen" randomly and you refer to it as "fate" or just good luck.  However, I think there is much more that goes on behind the scenes of our lives that impacts us so much.  Like meeting someone and just having a connection that is very hard to describe.  That is what happened well over 6 years ago when I finally got to meet a lady that I had been visiting with via the phone for over 2 years.  I had gotten her business card from Whitman Cellars, a winery that just shouted FANTASTIC WINE not necessarily because the wine was or wasn't great- but because the owners cared enough about making their tasting room absolutely beautiful by hiring this artist to work her magic on the walls, and therefore they must also care very deeply about crafting fine wine.  This is also true about how your home reflects your values and your personality.  That is why being a wall artist and creating the  personality of the homeowner through decorative wall art is so rewarding.

My new friend, who quickly became my mentor was Donna Maiden of "Maiden Design" and as I shadowed her for the next six years on jobs around the Walla Walla, WA and Milton Freewater, OR area, my respect and admiration continued to grow and grow.  I have taken countless classes from highly respectable teachers within the industry but making sample boards is one thing.  Putting that technique to the wall atop a 20 foot scaffold, dragging 80 pound buckets of Italian Plaster up the ladder and using way too many rolls of painters blue tape to mask around wood brings on a whole new meaning to the words...wall art.

I found that Donna's love for creating art and beauty in her client's homes or in commercial settings (especially wineries) was at the top of her priority list, just below "grandkids".  She blew away the hesitation on my part to just jump right in and create, carefully guiding me along as I put to work the techniques I had been taught and then she showed me how it was done in the "real world". 

I have spent many hours with this gal and have just about split a gut laughing at her silly comments, listening to her sensitive responses when a client can't make up their mind on the personality they wish their home to take on, or just soaking in many words of wisdom.  My favorite is "smoke and mirrors".  If she did not know exactly how to achieve the finish a client wanted, she would spend hours researching, creating sample boards and asking for constructive criticism until she achieved the perfect finish for that client. 

I don't know if she really knows just how much she has affected my life or just what an inspiration she has been to me all these years.  Because of her, I have had opportunities to work with mediums I would most likely have shyed away from, she has given me the assurance within myself to tackle jobs I would have been afraid of, and she gave me the respect as an artist that I really desired and needed.  She may not be some high paid teacher but she is the best art teacher I have ever been lucky enough to tutor under.  Thank you Donna, for your friendship and your mentoring. 

These pictures are some of the projects I have worked on with her and the finishes that she lovingly creates.  As an artist, we take pride in our work but it is also very gratifying to share our knowledge, good and bad experiences, and just help other artists along in their journey.  This is also a Biblical principle found in Titus II that as women we are to teach others what we have learned.  I hope I can help others and share my knowledge along the way.  You may find that what you give away comes back two-fold and that is quite a blessing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Carved Artistry

I never stop being amazed at all the fascinating ways that people create and what materials they chose to create with.  I also find it interesting that simple can far exceed the complex things in life.  Sometimes we get too involved in all the "politics and business" of creating art by attending conventions and all we hear is BUY, BUY, BUY.  Of course alot of these are good products, but also expensive.  Maybe it is high time we get back to the basic things in life.

Today I happened onto a fascinating and INEXPENSIVE way to create absolutely beautiful art using MUD.  I have always loved the smell of dirt after a rainfall and as a kid I could spend hours in my playhouse making mud pies.  Maybe my true inner self has just been waiting for a time in my adult life that I can go back to the basics of  just having fun with MUD. 

If you would like to know what I am referring to you must check out this fascinating website: and take a look at that gorgeous work of art on the wall.  It is sculpted MUD.  With all the interest in going green, this is just a perfect answer.  Amazingly, I was also looking at pictures today from a friend's recent visit to Africa and there were lots of beautiful pictures of MUD homes, isn't it funny how some countries think they are so advanced and yet we are just getting around to figuring out some of these things that the so called "not so advanced" countries have known for years.  I just found this all rather interesting, hope you are following my thoughts on that.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Collaborate and Innovate

I periodically see articles that really hit the spot and a recent one sent by Alyson Stanfield, a marketing coach with did just that.   You know how sometimes you feel like the pastor has been listening in on your private thoughts because the sermon he just gave seemed to be directed totally at YOU.  Well, maybe some of you don't have a guilty conscience and have not experienced that but how about when you just seem to have bitten off more than you can chew and rather than coughing some up and admitting that you have done it, you would rather quietly just sit there and choke!

This article seemed to be written especially for me as I feel like I have got too many irons in the fire and if I don't watch it, I just might get burnt.  See what your personal take on it is.

In order to innovate, something that takes time and energy has to go.  When you have no extra SPACE on your plate you need to delete, along with working smarter not harder.  There needs to be a challenge in order to get me motivated.

Ask yourself some questions like:

Are you a member or leader of an organization that is no longer serving you?
If you are doing something that you think might not be working ask yourself:

Is it fun?
Is it a challenge?
Am I learning anything?
Am I working too hard and not smart enough?

The answers to these questions should reveal alot of things that maybe you didn't even have the time to think about before.  You only get one shot at life, this is not a dress rehearsal.  Therefore, make each day count and if you are not truly enjoying what you are doing you had better figure out what will make you happy and DO IT!

I love to create and do my art.  I don't like computers but it seems to be a necessary evil in order to allow my "fun" jobs to expand and allow me to do what I like. I love cooking and teaching my gals new and differant dishes they can fix for their families. I also like to spend time with my kids and grandkids.  Maybe the next article will be about finding "balance".  I can't wait to see what suggestions there may be.

If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Allow Your Home to be a Journey Through Time With Textured Fresco

Inspired by plastering methods once used by craftsmen in ancient Rome, the Old World Look can offer a unique, handcrafted appearance that has incredible depth and dimension.  These dimensional qualities offer a journey through time by reproducing the characteristics of aged, weathered walls-adding a  true sense of history to your home.  This finish is fantastic for new homes as it gives instant character, yet is also perfect for older homes that may already be sporting some "character lines" with cracks in the wall that you no longer want to hide but enhance!

If you would like to create this look for yourself, I would suggest following these easy steps.  Before taking on any project, you should always do a sample board for your finished look as there is a learning curve to any new products and tools.  I always create a sample board for my client's project, even if I have done the technique 50 times before.  Using the colors chosen by the homeowner, they will have a very good feel for what their room will look like when completed.  Be sure to always keep in mind however that because this is an artistic piece of work, the design varies though out the finished wall.  This will give you a "one of a kind" finish and unique to your personal home.  Of course the colors remain the same but the variance of color and pooling gives the highly sought after look and artistic balance.  If you prefer an "exacting" finish you should chose wallpaper, that any other homeowner can purchase.

Remove all furniture, cover floors and anything you might not want to be "wearing" plaster.  Tape off all areas around doors and windows.  You may also need to wash the walls with TSP cleaner to remove any dirt or grime before starting.

Apply plaster with a small sea sponge mini roller in a curving, sporadic motion.  Only work on an area that you can manage easily.  Don't get too far ahead of yourself because while this plaster is still wet you want to follow by back troweling with a 10" rounded trowel to smooth down the texture of the plaster.
Continue around the entire room.  Allow to dry completely.

When dry, apply 2 coats of matte paint in the desired color.  Use a sash brush to cut around the edges of doors and windows and then while still wet blend these edges into the body of the wall.  This is very important because if you do not blend you will end up with a framed look around the wall and that is not very attractive.Dry completely

Mix glaze and your choice of color for the final finish.  Apply small amounts of the glaze mixture in a random circular action using either a mitt, brush and leon neon or whatever tools produces the finish you are wanting.  Once again, continue across the walls working wet into wet and blending all edges so there are no harsh edges.

To complete approximately 400 square feet of wall space it will take 2-3 days allowing for dry time.  If you would prefer not to attack such a project please feel free to contact me via email or calling 509-991-8334.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Walk Through My Thoughts

For the better part of a year I have realized that we have been "missing the boat" when it comes to seizing the whole "social media marketing" craze.  Only as recently as November of this past year did I really realize how the market was passing us by and we were in no way, shape, or form ready to grab ahold without getting drug through some mud while we were trying to catch up.  For those of you who have been business owners for the past 30 to 35 years and think you can do things just like back in the good old days, I have news for you.  It ain't going to happen.

I have been using the excuse that I am an artist and my artist brain just does not think that way.  Well, I realized my artist brain just needs a huge portion of "technical bootcamp" if we hope to let people know just what a beautiful part of the country we live in and what an amazing home we are willing to share with the people who pass through our doors. 

North Idaho has got to be one of the places that you can truly say is a little piece of heaven.  Yes, we have had our share of rain these past few months but how do you think the magnificent shades of green are captured on our hillsides?  Just taking the time to appreciate the river as it flows swiftly downstream headed for the Coeur d'Alene Lake is enough to say "Thank you God for allowing me to live here".  The snow pack always allows a grand show this time of year as it melts away and the level of the river rises higher and higher. 

See what I meant by "a walk through my thoughts" as my thoughts can start wandering here and there.  Back to my social media predicament...I met a wonderful gal who has been walking me through this jungle of social media.  Everything from facebook to blogs, from Aweber to Dropbox, new websites needing to be built, SEO and Google Analytics.  For those of you who learned to play on a computer at age 3, this most likely sounds silly but for those of us who just want a phone that rings so you can say "hello" or a TV that just has 4 channels so you don't have to ask your 5 year old grandson how to change the channel, this has been QUITE a challenge.

I would like to highly recommend the person who has taken on the job of being my bootcamp commanding officer, Christy Ruffner.  She has helped pull me through the mud when I have fallen down and keeps on encouraging me--even after the 5th time that she needs to explain something -yet once again.  I know this whole endeavor will be well worth the final outcome but like anything else, when you are right in the midst of the storm you cannot see the safety of the shore.  Her patience and professional manner are appreciated and if you are a small business who needs help with Web Design or Internet Marketing Support just contact her at
P.S.  She taught me how to add this link and I am VERY proud of myself!