Contact: karenhetzer@gmail.com

DAY FOUR

Wow, where did the day go.....I feel like I didn't get much accomplished today, painting the second turtle proved to be a challenge.

HOSPITAL DAY THREE

Moving along....today I finished up the main part of the first mural, getting these pictures together I noticed a few changes that need to be made, but I'm happy with its overall feel.
At least I wanted to step away from it for awhile and look at it fresh another day........so I started work on the second mural.
The sea turtles. I've also decided to have children/babies in all the different mural sections as a thread to tie them all together. There will be a child in between these two guys.
I've got another picture of the hallway to give you an idea of the size of it.
The two sections that have been started are between windows four and six on the left. I've been getting a lot of suggestions from the staff, and one that I particularly like is having infants in clam shells, so I'm going to do those and have mermaids as there attendants. I'll also be getting a few pictures of children of staff members to use in the mural. Sometimes its good not to have a plan :-)

Hospital Update

I started work on the job at the University of Pennsylvania yesterday...the pediatric department at the hospital. It had been decided originally that murals would just be placed in a few sections of the hallway, leaving some walls alone so that pictures they already had could be rehung. Based on that decision I was asked if I could 'blend' murals into the wall (edges fading into the wall color)...they would have their painters paint the walls. I was only given four colors to choose from, and none I felt were really appropriate for an underwater mural...the theme that they had settled on. Regardless, I arrived yesterday to begin work and was pleasantly surprised by the blue wall color.......still not appropriate for an underwater mural, but the color was very calming and it just felt good.
So, I'm kind of taking a different approach than I'm used to because I don't want to interfere with the calm of that blue. My work is going to be a lot softer than usual, and while I will try to achieve some sense of depth using the ocean floor, I'm not going to use darker blues in the water.......usually you would to get added depth, but I'm just not feeling it.
I also confess I was a bit ovewhelmed by all....that....space.
I just randomly chose a wall and began. I'm thinking each section will have a main character(s), and this one is kids.
This was pretty much what got done on the first day.
And this was the end of today...day two. And yes......for all you purists out there, I know seaweed doesn't grow where coral is found, call it artistic license :-)
I'll finish this up tomorrow and move on to the next section of wall......it will be sea turtles.

END DAY FOUR MURAL LESSON

OK.......didn't get all done that I was hoping for, but made a lot of progress and will be able to finish up next Saturday. We have just begun working on the shadowing and shading.....so it is incomplete as you see it here.
We did a bit of trompe l'oeil on the end posts by creating a raised panel, and while doing that I had to take a break to show the student who I think is the master of this technique, Brita and Marlow DeMars who are located in Lebanon, Connecticut.....check out their website, I promise you'll be amazed. I don't think they'll mind if I post a picture of their work. Feast your eyes:
A snap of the student working on the balusters. I can't believe this girl has never done this before.....isn't she doing a great job!
Back next Saturday to finish up.
Hospital mural starts tomorrow :-)

MURAL STUDENT RETURNS

Here's where things left off last weekend.Today a few changes were made and work continued on. The background foliage was darken, the small tree that was going to be done was eliminated, the ground was given more definition with some shading and highlighting, the water darkened at both ends, and then work was started on the patio.
We decided that the tile pattern we made was actually to small in scale so we simply erased some lines to make larger tiles more appropriate for a exterior patio. Here the grout work is being started.
Here some more work is being done on the trees. Tomorrow more foliage will be added to the foreground trees, the patio floor will be completed, and hopefully the balusters will be too, as well as all the shadowing, shading and highlighting. We'd also like to bring in more color by perhaps adding some flowers along the two sides of the tiles. Next Saturday will be the final day of lessons and that will focus on adding some wildlife (most likely just a few birds) to the scene to really bring it to life.

VOLUNTEER SCHOOL MURAL PROJECT

I'm also preparing for a mural at KIPP a charter school here in Philadelphia that I've volunteered to do when I'm finished with the hospital gig. I confess I had difficulty coming up with a concept for this one until I saw these wonderful photos by Dan Heller.....they became my inspiration.
The ladies in charge that I met with wanted to use the analogy of the children climbing a mountain to success, and when I saw these photos I took a deep sigh of relief. At first all I could imagine was painting all......these.......children, and how long that would take, but now doing the mural in silhouette will really speed the process up.
Another point that the ladies wanted to emphasize was how important it is that we (as people in general) work together and help each other. So my plan is to photograph students helping each other do things, like pulling or pushing each other up the mountain, handing someone something they dropped, helping someone tie a shoe, helping someone carry something heavy....things like that............then turn the photos into silhouettes. I'll either project the images or do tracings and transfer, depending on what the width of the hallway will allow me to do. I also suggested that if they wanted it to be more colorful that decorative designs could be painted on the 'clothes' the silhouettes would be wearing.
One final issue they wanted to address was the hanging of plaques honoring people who have made contributions to the school. They want to place them in ascending heights based on the value(?) of the contributions made, and wondered if I could make the mountain steep enough. So I suggested adding some hot air balloon silhouettes to the mural for additional height (to hang the plaques on), or maybe they could be attached to path markers going up the mountain? I think this is going to be a really fun project.....very different from what I usually do....I'm looking forward to it.

Finally the University of Pennsylvania Hospital job will begin on Monday and I.......CAN'T......WAIT!
The theme.....a variety of global underwater environments....tropical, northern, pacific, mediterranean, etc.  In preparation I've been surfing the www and finding all sorts of gorgeous inspiration.
Mother nature is just so clever.
The work is being done in a pediatric (neonatology) department of the hospital, so the brighter the colors the better.

I love the expression on this guys face below......what ju lookin at?!


Mural Student-Day Two

Some detail work was added to the background, the sky was brought further down in the center and work began on the middle ground.
A patchy lawn was started as were the trees which you can see are not yet complete.
The student returns next weekend to finish those up and work will begin on the patio and baluster railing. Other things to be added.....smaller branches on the trees, leaves, birds, shadows and highlights, and maybe a critter or two.

New Student Started Today

Had a new student start today, one who has some painting background so I expect that she will do very well. And here she is getting under way.
By the end of the day, she'd gotten in almost all the background noise and started work on a small waterfall. You can see where some of the foreground trees will be going, and there will also be a tile patio and railing/balusters.........she's ambitious for a relative newbie :-) Ya gotta admire that.
In preparation for todays class, I stopped at Michaels yesterday to pick up some paint and fresh brushes and was wowed by the colorful autumn faux foliage that is on display already.
Just my personal opinion of course.......most of you know I use latex wall paint and inexpensive craft paint in my work, and as Michaels was out of some of the colors in the brand I usually buy, I ended up getting Plaids 'Craft Smart'.............hate it, hate it, hate it......thee worst paint I've ever worked with. Did I say I hate it?!
Student will be back tomorrow, look for new pictures.

Painted Furniture-feeling nostalgic

Not sure why, but I woke up today feeling nostalgic for the days when I first started painting. I think maybe its the feeling that I had when I was painting furniture (thats how my painting career started) that I long for.....when you just get lost in the work and don't think about anything else, an eight hour day feels like 45 minutes. You're quietly tucked away in your studio, the musics playing but you don't even hear it, its way past lunchtime but you're not hungry.....yep, I miss those days.
My work had a more serious tone to it too I think......course I guess when you're trying to replicate the works of Monet or Degas.....it would. I did these about twelve years ago, the chest below I actually found standing next to a dumpster.
Maybe I'll make the rounds today and visit some thrift shops..see if there isn't some sad little piece of furniture in need of a face lift that I can lose myself in for 45 minutes :-).

Craigslist

Ever notice how your feelings about Craigslist change based on outcome? Well, mine do. I post there fairly regularly with mixed results. It seems to be the place to 'go to' when you're feeling a bit desperate......at least I do. When work is slow I hope upon hope that a job will present itself there, and sometimes they do. Unfortunately, the jobs posted seem to be by people who have no clue what artists work is worth, and they're also there hoping upon hope.
Once in awhile though you get lucky in a different way. Today I met with two lovely young ladies at the KIPP Charter School in Philadelphia. One of my first questions to them was, "So who was it that was brave enough to post an ad on Craigslist?" They placed an ad looking for a muralist to volunteer to do two murals at their school. I'm all for educating the young and this school is all about that. They've got my support. Silly me.....I didn't even ask them if anyone else had responded or if they were meeting with other artists, but if they like my sketches and would like me to do the work for them, I'll be there as soon as I complete the mural work at the Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania (HUP) that will be starting in a few days.
This would be my 'canvas' at the school (part of it anyway), I seem to have a hallway thing going on lately, HUP is also a hallway mural, but way bigger:
Mostly now though I use Craigslist to get more exposure on Google searches. I'll place and ad and use the url of the page my ad is on to list on the google search engine. Seems to work pretty well.....I do the same with video posts that I put on YouTube. Seems Craigslist and YouTube are more search engine friendly than my website.
So theres my artist tip of the day...if you want to try and get more people to your website post an ad on Craigslist, click on your ad and use (copy and paste) that url when submitting to google's search listing. When you title your Craigslist ad make sure you use words that people would be searching for.....use key words as your title, don't worry that it doesn't make sense, and put pictures of your work in your ad and your website address (a live link to it). I know I can be lazy, if people don't post a live link to their website....I don't bother with it.

Mural Lesson Completion

Ok, I'm never sure a mural is ever complete, I always seem to find something here and there that can be tweaked, but for this student?........this lesson is completed. I am proud of her work and her determination to learn and improve.....she's going to be one of the best, I'm convinced of that.

Mural Lesson- couple more tweaks

Made a few adjustments to the monkey's arm and I think now it works better. If you look at the root coming from the tree, I also changed that a bit to help it look more 'planted' in the ground rather than protruding as much as it was...I think it has a more natural look now. Day six will begin tomorrow and the mural will be completed.

Mural Adjustment-monkey

After some adjusting. Now we just gotta do something about that right arm/hand. The hand was beautifully painted by the student, but the arm is reading as too short, so a solution is needed.
Before:

ALERT:

I hate when people try to do these things, I can never figure out how they sleep at night.
Be aware of a bogus paypal email making the rounds asking you to correct your information. Notice in the email address (of the sender) the word paypal has two L's in its spelling....this is not from paypal.

Mural Lesson Day 5 .....one more to go

Not much more to go. Made some changes to the monkey's leg position, giving it a more natural (less human) look, and worked on his face (which is also going to need some adjustments). Sometimes when working on the details we tend to get lost in our focus and neglect to pay attention to how an area relates to another. In this case the monkey's nose was placed just a little lower (and a bit larger) than it should have been and as a result the face was unnaturally elongated and thrown out of proportion. This will be corrected.
On the final day more elements will be added to the mural to balance out the composition and attention will be spent on all the finishing details.

Mural Lesson-Day 4

Lion pretty much finished....chimp started. Trying to decide what to add to the foreground other than foliage......another critter or two perhaps? another tree?
So begins day 5.

Mural Lesson-Day 3

Here's what was accomplished today. Its always a slow go when working on the intricacies of painting animals. Still working on the lion of course. The zebra still needs a little work and of course his cast shadow and reflection in the water. Water still needs work, putting in lines to indicate movement etc. A monkey will be added climbing the tree...finish the tree....add more foliage...maybe another critter or two....a ways to go yet :-)
But I think the student is doing a great job.

Mural Class/New Student

Started with a new student on Monday and thought some may like to follow along. This project is being developed as we go, I'm trying to have the student make decisions (right or wrong), so that the steps and thought process that goes into creating a mural will be better understood. First lesson learned?......its almost always best to have a planned sketch, preferably drawn to scale, making for an easy transfer to the wall or canvas. You want to know where your main elements are so you don't waste time painting in a background for instance, when you're going to end up painting something on top of it. You want all your elements to be in proper size/perspective in relation to each other.
Day One:
Day Two:
Awhile ago I started making some very low tech (but I hope helpful :) instructional videos for beginning muralists, just me and my camera set to movie. I'll put a piece of one up here, you can let me know what you think. You can see others on my website or I have other clips on YouTube.
I'm thinking that I'll make this a regular feature on my blog....a short (shorter than this one I think) few minutes of instruction about anything to do with painting murals. I think we'll call it Movie Monday. If you have any requests for a few moments of instruction, just leave a comment.

One Murals Process-Start to Finish

I was going through some older photos of my work and came across these series of pics of a mural in progress, undoubtedly done as an update report to a client. OK....so the operative word here is 'old', I see the shortcomings (hopefully I've improved:), and I'm really not crazy about some of the things the client wanted in the mural, but its their call, and with that said, the photos may be helpful to beginning muralists.
I make it no secret that I'm a big fan of using a projector whenever possible......and albeit the method then not quite perfected, so did the master artists of the past.
The stage for this mural was loosely sketched in free hand, the players (the animals) were drawn in using the projector. One of my favorite books I use as my source for animal subjects is simply called ANIMALS 1419 copyright-free illustrations of mammals, birds, fish, insects, etc. from 19th century sources. It was put together by Jim Harter, and I love it, and use it all the time.
I try to remember to work background to foreground, but I will confess, I'm not one for rules, and sometimes I jump from one area to another when I'm bored. Here though, I'm being pretty disciplined. I started with putting in the bit of sky that will show and added the background trees. You can see I attempt to give the appearance of depth with the lightening of the trees furthest away and the color becomes more intense as it gets closer.
I've started putting in some trees in the background and defining the foliage with highlights. I'm also starting to work on the water. Painting water is a big issue for some of us artists, me included, but in a case like this, where its completely surrounded by dense foliage all thats really needed to give the illusion of water is to mirror the foliage (and the wee bit of sky).
Don't make the mistake of automatically painting water blue. Painting water is about whats beneath it, and whats reflected in it.
Continuing to move to the foreground I've started to paint in some of the ground, and out of shear boredom of working with the green paint, I turn my attention to painting the deer. You can see I also added a bit more detail in the background foliage with the suggestion of tree trunks.
Coming in even further I've defined my water's edge added the lily pads and another plant and started working on the foreground trees.
Now filling in the foreground and starting to work on more of the detail work.....adding and defining leaves, bringing more color in with flowers etc.
And finally, detailing the grass and the trees, finishing all the critters adding a raccoon, and as requested adding even more flowers. Now I know you might be asking 'whats up with the palm trees', but this was in a Florida home, and Florida actually does have all the animals you see here (well, maybe not the blue birds?).
I know its hard sometimes, but keep in mind part of your job is to have a happy client at the end.....
..... and so they were :-)