Contact: karenhetzer@gmail.com

While preparing for a sketch

I'm working on a sketch for a mural of the Champs Elysees, and while I was searching for inspiration online I came across these wonderful vacation photos. Nothing to do with what I'm looking for, but what a nice diversion.
Work like this sure puts you in your place......lol..... gorgeous!

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

Great day to stay inside and catch up on things. While I was burning some DVD's I decided to offer a sale..... just for a couple of weeks, so if you've been hoping to purchase a set, nows the time :-)
I got a call last week about a job in Florida, one I was asked to submit a bid for way back in June. So it looks like there is a road trip in my immediate future. I'm hoping to leave within the next week or two. It will be for the same folks I had done an elevator mural for a couple of years ago.

................... video
Here's a picture of it while it was in progress, before the portrait was added. It was 25' in total length, the bottom does not show here.
I love traveling to jobs, theres just something about the open road, and it'll be nice to visit with my Florida friends. I'll have a couple of jobs while I'm there.
I'll be back in the Spa this week to do one more mural for them...a Parisian street scene, I'm looking forward to it.

Before and After

Here it is .... the before and after shots.
It really does brighten up the area. Another small table is going next to the desk in the photo, thats why I didn't bother doing any writing there.
I think this is way more appropriate for the space and its use, and the clients were very happy with how it changed the feel of the room.

Here we are at day four

Here's where we are so far.
Still have more foliage to add in and more engraving of the blocks.....then of course the students in cap and gown. I know it looks a little stark right now, but remember most of this wall is going to be covered by desks and shelves.
As I was walking out of the school I found myself again focusing on the beautiful old architecture in the building. Here's a couple of shots as I'm walking down the hallway.
These paintings are all up and down the hallway.This one fascinates me....what looks like closets, they have seats in them. They remind of confessionals. I'll have to see if I can find the history of this school.

Oops....matchy matchy

Gotta fix those clouds first thing tomorrow....I don't like it when I lose my focus, they're too similar.
Other than that I think I got a lot done today, just put in five and a half hours today. There's something about painting in a loud, busy environment that tires me quicker.
Tomorrow I should finish up the sky and the stone work and start on the vines and birds. I've got the office staff working on choosing the inspirational sayings that I will 'carve' into some of the stone blocks.

Newest Project-Frankford High School

This is the project for this week....replacing this mural.
This is the student support center. I'm not sure how long this mural has been there.
The challenge for this project is all the things that are along this wall, have to stay in this location.
We decided the room needed to be brightened up a bit. The dark blue is on all the walls and really has an oppressive feel when you enter the room.........not really conducive with inspiring young men and ladies.
This is my sketch for the wall.
I wanted to lighten things up and bring a sense of openness but also needed to consider all the cabinets and desks that need to be here......no sense in doing a bunch of pretty work that no one would see. The stone blocks will have inspirational sayings and career choices 'carved' into them.....the students are pointing to some and contemplating their futures.
Yesterday was spent priming the wall. Not sure what the previous artist used, but after three coats I'm still getting images bleeding through. I'll have to address that today. I also got a lot of the design sketched in and will begin painting today.

That's what I'm talking about

This was left outside the door of the room I was working in.....notice the partial footprint in the lower left corner, it was on the floor.....the lights weren't on, I didn't see it until I had been working for awhile and came back out of the room.
This is the stuff that makes it all worthwhile.......and it wasn't even finished yet!
But now it is.


UT-:o

Have I fallen victim to the dreaded path that goes uphill?? I hate when that happens.
There were two things I was trying to do here.....One, make the balusters look as though they continue from the first part of the mural and second, at the end of the railing make it look as though the railing continues down some stairs. I'm not sure I accomplished the second bit. Anyway as I look at this, I'm getting the feeling that the pathway does not lie flat. I do however have an easy fix that will address the path and the stair rail. I will simply give a bit more volume to this goddesses dress on the left side that will cover that little blue 'V' section where the top of the stairs meets the rail....not the whole area, just enough to conceal the top of the 'stairs' so that you don't really know what is behind her. That door to the right is the entrance into the room.
This part of the mural is incorporating a statue of the clients that once belonged to her father....it has very special meaning to her, and how it is portrayed is also important to her......she's very specific about what she wants. To me, to be able to work with a client and get their expressions into the project accurately is one of the most rewarding (albeit challenging) parts of doing this work.
Today I will finish this room.
Tomorrow.....Frankford High School, Philadelphia, Pa.

A question for the beginning muralist

I can't get the 'poll' application to work, so I'll just ask and you can leave a comment if you care to.
I'm wondering if instruction via a live chat such as Skype would be of interest to anyone........or if you think it would not be helpful. Its just something I've been thinking of offering.

Update

Well...the end of day three, and there's still more detail I'd like to add to this. All the elements are in, but things need some fine tuning.
I'm much happier with the view from the door now.
I just need to focus now on some of the shading/shadowing and little details on the leaves and flowers, reflections in the water. Still not quite happy with the water.....not sure if I should disturb it or not though.......the term 'can of worms' keeps coming to mind.

Spa Day 2

You can see I've started working on hiding the edges on the right side.
Day 3 should finish this up.

There will be foliage climbing further up the column.
The left side will be good to leave alone.

Whoa......Spa Day 1

This is very challenging. The initial challenge is that your first view of the wall is as you come through the door which makes giving convincing dimension to the architectural elements really tough. As soon as you enter the room there is a lounge type chair right in the center of the space and there is only enough room to walk around the chair. The room is probably only about 5-6 feet wide, so there really is no main viewing spot (except from the chair I guess, but then again you'll be reclining), and I always feel murals (especially architectural ones with scenes) are more convincing viewed from a distance......theres none of that in this room.
This is what was on the wall when I got there, started by another artist but it wasn't going in the direction the owners wanted.
I tried to take a photo to show you what I mean about proper perspective for viewing (below). This is taken from the doorway as you enter the room. I just started drawing in my design...I decided to just go ahead and use one point perspective (like in the sketch). If you look at the base that the column is sitting on, you wouldn't be able to see that left (inside) side of the base from the doorway if it were real...so it really looks odd. But of course when you walk into the room and view it from the center.....all falls into place. But like I mentioned there will be a big ol chair sitting there, so there is really no good spot to view this properly....so I just aim to make it pretty and as convincing as possible.

I'll work on camouflaging the inside edge of the post that the column sits on and the base caps with vines and foliage, giving little glimpses of them, but hiding their edges....maybe use a trompe l'oeil potted plant sitting in front of the one on the right...the left side should be ok.
I'm looking forward to trying to make the depth of the patio look convincing ....yikes.
End of day 1.

KIPP CHARTER SCHOOL..PHILADELPHIA, PA.

The volunteer mural I did for the school ran a little longer than I thought...took two days instead of one.
Here's a couple of shots of it. I like the graphic simplicity of the silhouette mural.
The idea behind the mural was to show students helping each other along the path while climbing that mountain to get to college. The hot air balloons will carry the names of 'contributors' to the school.....the height of the balloons will represent the amount of the contribution.

Tomorrow I begin the Lake Como Mural. I got this job, by the way, because I was registered on findamuralist.com. I confess I was a bit angry at them last week because they accidentally double billed me.......but it was an accident, and they are quick to help and correct things.

NO WONDERING WHERE MY WEEKEND WENT....

Can't believe I haven't posted since Thursday........but then again?...I can. The DVD situation I thought I had worked out?........I hadn't. I should have been focused on two jobs that I have this week, and instead I've spent 3 days totally engrossed and focus on getting the DVD's back up and running. I'm not crying uncle, I'm screaming it.......I have to let go.
Once again my apologies to those who received defective DVD's and I will be issuing full refunds over the next two weeks.

Tomorrow I have the volunteer job, its almost 11pm and I need to go get some things together for that before I can sleep.

Tuesday I begin the job at the spa. This is the sketch I did for them....
Its to be a mural of Lake Como. I confess I'd never heard of it.......its in Italy......never been there :-(
I did an image search and was blown away by the beauty of the place....I hope I do it justice. My main concern is that the room this will be in, and another area that will have a similar mural are both small and narrow, and doing a convincing trompe l'oeil scene is going to be challenging. Murals like this are meant to be viewed from a distance, not from three feet.......but I'm up for the challenge :-) Gotta go do stuff, its going to be a long night.

O HAPPY DAYS!

Ok everyone....DVD production is back up and running. After being advised by the Apple tech to simply reinstall my idvd program, it seems to have solved the problem. I burned a few and tested them at my friends house (I don't have a player separate from my computer, and they always play on that) and all was well.....yippee. So I will be burning dvd's this weekend and getting everyones out in the mail on Monday. Thank you so much for your patience.

Work is also looking up...today I had two very positive contacts and I'm excited about both of them. One in the spa that I mentioned before and the other a mural with a portrait of someones father in it. This would go in his old office which is now used by his son.........I think that is so sweet.

Next week I hope to post lots of photos of work in progress! I'm a happy girl again :-)

AUUUUGGH!!! I JUST WANT TO PAINT

Just a short post today.
The dvd situation is still not resolved, and I need to stay focused on it. I learned today from the tech support at Apple, that my burner seemed to be fine, so I was advised to reinstall the idvd program (the program I was originally burning in)......a time consuming process. I also learned that the program I had switched to, to burn dvds (called Toast) may have been the culprit for the latest batch being bad. Apparently it burns so quickly (way faster than idvd) that the burn is not as embedded for lack of a better term, making it harder for all dvd players to read the dvd. So where does that leave me.......I've reinstalled idvd so I can go back to burning in that program, but now I have to take another few days to convert all the videos back again to a format it will accept. Maybe I should look into having a third party burn them for me, this is very frustrating.
On a brighter note, with work starting to dribble in and my wonderful new landlord coming to the rescue by adding me to his team of maintenance workers (painting), I will be able to stay in my lovely little apartment, at least for now.

SOME NEW PROJECTS COMING UP

Got a couple of calls today about some new projects. One will be in a high school support center that I will probably begin the middle of next week, and another is a new spa opening soon, and if all goes well I'd love to get that started this weekend. Then I still have the volunteer job at the charter school to squeeze in there after putting them on hold twice now.
I'm going to use the high school project as another teaching tool and will post photos and videos of the project as it progresses, so I hope you'll check in often to follow that and if you have any questions you can leave them in the comments section so everyone can benefit.

A note here to anyone who has purchased my instructional dvd's in the past few weeks, there's just a few of you....I'm not sure why or how but a few weeks ago the quality of the dvd's took a sudden nose dive, viewing them became near impossible. I realized that because I make these myself just using a camera and my computer, that they would never have crystal clear clarity, and I do explain that on my website, but this was different, they suddenly became very fuzzy. I've been trying a different program to burn them and it seems to have made a world of difference as far as viewing, but for some reason even though I'm able to watch them on my computer (Mac) some of them will and some of them won't play on regular dvd players. So tomorrow my Mac is going in for a check up to make sure nothing is wrong with the dvd burner, even though is seems to be burning fine???
So, if anyone has purchased the dvd's in the past few weeks and is unable to view them (or even play them) please get in touch with me and as soon as I have this worked out, I will send you some new ones.

On a more personal note, tomorrow I'm going to look at an apartment. As much as I've liked living in this lovely little town of Narberth, I'd really like to have a home that I can more easily afford. The apartment looks very cute in the ad and I'm excited about seeing it. It would be nice to focus my energy back on my work and not on worrying about the rent. Cross your fingers :-)

ON A MORE POSITIVE NOTE....

Ok, so now that I got that out of my system, and hopefully left an impression by sharing my experiences, you now better understand that its important in this business to:
  • have financial back up for the lean times (there will be some)
  • learn about marketing techniques that work
  • learn about contracts and proposals and when to use them
  • study to be the best at what you do so your chances of staying busy are increased
  • have a back up plan..... if you're a muralist, take some classes in faux finishing or be willing to do some straight painting to fill in those periods between mural work
  • And don't put things off til tomorrow when they need to be dealt with yesterday
There's more, but that'll do for now :-) Visit forums like fauxforum.com to get a lot of helpful information.

I've been looking at some videos on the subject of murals on youtube. And of course hours later.....here's some put together by Chris aka 'langblank' on some of my favorite mural artists. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

UNCLE! Time to talk about the downside of this business

I created this blog to try and give help and support to the beginning mural artist, and it just wouldn't be fair to not talk about the downside of this business, and believe me I speak from experience. I've attempted to do this before, but ended up deleting the post, mostly because friends have suggested that potential clients should see me as strong, with a thriving business. I've never been good at putting on fronts, and frankly, if there are any potential clients who come across this post, I'd rather they see and know that I do wonderful work, just not enough of it, and to please contact me! I'm not embarrassed to have people know I need work.
So here is how life has been for me since moving to Philadelphia one year ago. And please...this is NOT to whine...its to educate. This is to encourage you to prepare yourself before going into this business, especially if you are on your own (like I am), with no financial backup support. First, see this book? Go buy it!
To begin, I was very fortunate to have a friend to stay with for the first couple of months after moving to Philly, so I didn't have to worry about expenses right away. A good thing because my truck broke down during the move and left me with little money by the time I arrived.
I spent those first couple of months creating brochures and posters to send to potential clients along with my business card. I emailed contractors and designers with letters of introduction and a link to my website. I posted fliers and left business cards in area businesses, and became a regular on craigslist and other free listing sites, posting as often as allowed. I did get a couple of small jobs from those efforts, but the only offers of substantial work I received were from old contacts in Florida, so I actually made two trips back there to do work....ironic.
When I returned from the second trip I was starting to feel a little nervous....had I made the right decision to move here, was the denser, less transient population of Philadelphia going to provide more clients as I'd hoped.
I had left Florida because work had become so scarce (for me) that I was falling seriously behind in bills and rent while trying to hold onto my business. Summers there were always (and predictably) slow because of the snowbird migration every spring, but that last year was slower than ever. After 12 yrs of supporting myself as a mural artist, suddenly I could not. Its one reason a lot of mural artist also school themselves in the art of faux finishing (highly advised!).....I however, had not.
I filed for bankruptcy.
Soon after, I decide to register with an online directory of mural artists. That very afternoon I was contacted by The Hospital at The University of Pennsylvania, they saw the listing. I was so excited I couldn't stand it. My first job there took about 4-5 weeks to do.
I was able to afford to move into an apartment. I really felt like this was finally the big break I needed. The people there were/are wonderful, I couldn't have been happier. Dozens and dozens of people asked for my business card, my head was swelled by compliments, and I was so looking forward to the future.

Months go by. If I could put a sound effect in here right now, it would be the sound of crickets chirping. All those cards given out by request, and not one call.
So now I'm borrowing money to pay rent and bills, and of course having that now to pay back when a mural job does come to fruition.
I revert back to the marketing methods mentioned above, and get a couple of small jobs.
Then another contact from the hospital with interest in doing another big project. I did have to wait through a few of our meetings being postponed because of scheduling conflicts with all who wanted to attend, but finally four months later work begins.
During those four months though I did do three waiting rooms for them, so at this point I'm still getting by albeit barely.
So the big project finally starts and I'm once again filled with hope and anticipation. I'm once again handing out business cards left and right, and had even received full payment for the job (a real treat!), even before I have finished it (still more to do). At this point I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel. I can catch up on my bills, have rent in the bank, even begin to pay off some older debts that I had that bankruptcy doesn't cover......the main one being some back taxes I still owed. I was anxious to set up a payment plan and finally have a clear conscience and be basically debt free.
Can you guess what happens next? Yep, thats right.......the same time I was thinking of the IRS, they were thinking of me :-)
They however were a little more anxious to settle things than I was......they took the money from my bank account, no payment plan......all of it, rent money, everything. Talk about timing.
Still I'm not whining, it was my fault for not staying in touch with them. And......there is a bright side...I may be on the verge of being homeless, but I no longer owe any taxes for 06 :-) Anyone else ready for a change ;-)
So here I am......back at square one......no rent money...still have a couple of weeks of work left on my current job at the hospital but with no more pay. Have I mentioned how important it is to be able to balance depression with a sense of humor?

I did meet with someone last week about yet another project at the hospital that I had given a quote on, but left the meeting with half of the proposed work being put on hold, a reduced quote obviously, no start date for the rest of it, and most importantly no deposit check that I was counting on to save me this month.
This morning I woke up to find a pending payment listed in my checking account to a company I had paid a month ago. An honest mistake on their part I'm certain, but this froze what little money I had in there until its straightened out. This has left me unable to begin a volunteer mural project for a school that was scheduled to begin on Monday.......no available funds to purchase the materials I need for the project.

I have gotten a couple of outside contacts this time from giving out my card, no real commitments yet, but have met with one family, so I'm still hopeful.
I've given private mural lessons to a couple of very promising new muralists.
And before leaving Florida (and continuing when I arrived here) I started creating instructional dvds to sell via my website
....all to try and fill in the gaps between jobs, it still hasn't been enough.
Most people have tried to encourage me to take a part time job and continue to do artwork, but if I had, I would not have been able to do all the work at the hospital, and its an opportunity I am so proud to have gotten.
Obviously I have some decisions to make. The thought of moving again and continuing to live with the stress of a sporadic income is just not on.....I'm totally worn out. But..... can I really give this up for the promise of a steady paycheck? Not sure yet.......I really love what I do (when I get to do it :-).

CLEANING HOUSE

I was going through my looooong list of bookmarked websites and had to scratch my head over some of the selections....wondering why did I save that??? Some, yes I know why.. http://www.classicalworkshop.com/
Others? Not so much..
http://sendables.jibjab.com/sendables/252/hula#/teaser/252
http://www.wittycomics.com/make-comic.php
Here's a good one for animal pictures, the site is intended for folks interested in photography, but its a great resource for inspiration for the artist.
I know why I saved this one too, beautiful work Jeff Hayes
Here's a collection of art demonstrations put together by
Jeff Fuchs....a wealth of information here.
Here's one I saved when I wanted to start learning about creating flash moving images.
I guess I saved this one because I thought the printing for posters was pretty reasonable....not that I've made any??
For people who remember me from posting on artists forums and remember my adventures (albeit limited) with Gladys, my 21' rv that I wanted to travel the states in, hoping to paint my way across the country
I had such fun redoing her interior, it was like a can of dusty rose pink paint had exploded inside of her.....before
And after
But I digress........... I discovered this man's website Tioga George. An older man, who after a bout with cancer decided to hit the road. I wish I had that kind of pluck and courage.
And here's a clever one..this artist turns children's artwork into jewelry.
Another good site for some painting demonstrations.
You can see my interests are quite varied. Being an artist and on my own, I usually find myself living in very modest.....ok.....cheap tiny apartments, and I'm always interested in finding ways to make it more bearable. I've always loved the idea of murphy beds for tiny spaces, but the prices are way too high for the struggling artist........till I found this.....very clever.
Well, this should be enough to keep you busy. Do check out the artist demonstration links........never stop learning.

NEED MORE INSPIRATION?

When I suggest to the beginning mural artist that you don't want to be average, that you want to strive to be the best, these are a few examples of what I mean by the best. These are a few artists whose work I admire, click on the names to visit their websites....
Ron Francis
William Cochran
Pascal Amblard
Pascal also offers classes and DVD instruction. And here's a link to some 'how to' lessons that he's shared on FauxForum.com
another great resource for mural artists.
Carol Pascale..........well, that should be enough to make my point.
Enjoy!