On The Road Again!

Finally the deposit check is in the bank and its back on the road in the morning......back to Florida to do some work, two restaurants and some tweaks to the elevator murals at Frank McKinney's latest project.
Pretty sure most of you are familiar with the concept of 'daily painters', but for those who may not be here's a link. I keep this site bookmarked and return to it often to see the latest works. One of my favorite artists on this site is John K Harrell. Here are a few favorites from his gallery. Keep in mind these are very small paintings 6"x6" or 5"x7".
I feel very inspired to maybe try this, even if I can't be as good as these folks. It seems it would be a great exercise in discipline (painting every day), something I could use. I'm embarrassed to say that when I'm not getting paid to paint, I lose interest in my art quickly......thats terrible. I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but this year I want to be a better artist....that will be my focus.


What a loooong boring day!

I've been waiting here all day because I was told a deposit check was overnighted to me yesterday so that I could prepare to return to Florida to do some more work. It is now 3pm and no sign of a check.
One thing I DO NOT do well, is wait.
While waiting...tap, tap, tap, tap....I spent most of the day picking apart photos of some of my past mural projects. I'm considering adding children's growth charts to my list of services offered. I happened onto a site that offered them and as usual I found the designs pretty typical of whats offered to young children......everything turned into exaggerated cartoons of reality. So I started playing with little snippets of past work.
I thought these would look pretty cute trimmed with a border as growth charts. I was thinking of doing them all hand painted rather than prints, as a less expensive but still special alternative to hand painted murals (in this tightening economy). The average size seems to be about 10-12 inches wide by about 40 inches in height and what I'm assuming were prints on canvas were being priced at about $40-$50. So I'm thinking they would be relatively quick to make, but being hand painted could fetch a bit more money, but not break somebodies bank.
I'll work on an ad to place here and see how they do.


Happy Holidays Everyone

Happy Holidays Everyone!
I love this picture. My son took it last winter, I always thought it would make a great holiday card.



19! Last winter was my first winter back in Philly after 20yrs, but I'm sure it was a lot milder than this.....19 degrees is a little rough, especially just getting back from 80 degrees just a couple of weeks ago......brrrrrrr.
Anyway, what better to do with my time, cozy up to the computer with a hot cup of coffee and check out some videos.
I got an email this morning...a 'friend' invite from YouTube.....hello, Barbara.
I want to post a couple of her videos here for you aspiring faux artists. I use to spend a lot of time on art forums and she addresses a couple of things that seem to be a recurring concern for some artists. I particularly like the 'stair' one. The scaffold ones still make me nervous, I'd want something up there to fill in the space between the planks, but she does have a way of making you feel more comfortable about getting up there. I'd also like to add a bit of advice.... I like to drape drop cloths (or whatever) on the railings around the top (I always have railings) to give a sense of enclosure.... it blocks most of the view of the floor below and makes me feel a lot more secure.
Warning: Barbara's a bit ummm.......bubbly :-)

How to climb a scafolding without fear

How to climb a scafolding without fear

How to paint walls over a stairway.


Project Wonderful-Yes or No?

I like the idea of Project Wonderful, but question how helpful it really is. To those who don't know, it's a site where you can bid to have an ad you've created placed on someone else's website or blog, hopefully to gain more exposure and therefore business. The trick is to keep your bid the highest to keep you from getting bumped off the persons site. It can be very frustrating. Of course there's also the ability to place ad space on your own site so that you can host ads, earning some extra income. Some of you have probably noticed I've played with adding advertising space to my blog...small ads, larger ads, 0 cost ads, paid ads.......and over time I've earned something like $0.28. Trouble is I've denied most ads because they are totally irrelevant to my blog. I just don't think 'cartoonists' sites 'fit'. And it seems, after spending literally hours on the Project Wonderful site looking for relevant ads, 90% seem to be cartoonists, 5% how to make money, and the remainder some jewelry and craft artists (which are fine, but they don't seem to have much traffic going to their sites yet). Bidding on sites that don't get much traffic seems fruitless as far as gaining exposure. Sites that do have lots of traffic, I can't afford to bid on......sigh.
Maybe I'll just keep a small ad box on my site at 0 cost for now to help some of those creative folks get some more exposure, if one of them wants to up the ante by a penny or two, fine.
Anyway.......in the spirit of helping I thought I'd share a couple of the 'advertisers' whose sites I did like.
(I even placed an ad on this one :-) Also visit her etsy shop here.
I actually like visiting etsy shops, the prices always seem so reasonable (ie affordable :-).

As the name suggests, this is all about paper.

I love the creativity of this one. More than once I've been in a 'dollar' store and thought some of the things they carried were actually pretty cool. This is actually from the tutorial page.

* http://www.ni-cherndesigns.blogspot.com/
I love Nicoles sweet little purses.

Here's one thats just fun.
Let me know your experiences with online advertising.



I finally heard from the restaurant in Florida (Hurricane Grill & Wings) that is expanding and needs me to mural the new walls to match work I had done there a few years ago. I'll be heading down there in a few days.
Hope I've got my pictures straight (I did six of their restaurants altogether), I think this is part of one of the walls that is being removed in order to expand into the property next door.
These are just a couple of shots from around the rest of the room....notice in the picture with the flags the hurricane brewing in the distance. Thats real bamboo wainscot below the mural. The tromp l'oeil wood posts now have light sconces hanging on them.
I really had fun working on these restaurants even though sometimes the working conditions were a bit challenging. Typical construction site conditions..no running water which meant (as she blushes) no plumbing of any kind, some with no electricity, which meant of course no AC, not to mention having to work in unlit rooms. This one lit only by the light coming from the front window.
ANNNNDD.........part of the time it (the window) got covered up because of a hurricane threat!
But still I enjoyed it..... well (sigh).......... all the way up until they told me they decided to switch to every mural artists nightmare......... wallpaper murals for the rest of their franchises! It broke my heart.

Also while I'm in Florida I'll be doing a bit of work for the new owner of another restaurant I had done work in a couple of years ago. At the time it was called Tackey Joe's, the new name eludes me, but they're switching to a Hawaiian theme so some tweaking needs to be done.
Not a very good picture, it was taken before I learned more about taking and saving photographs.

And finally..........I received a call from Frank McKinney's office letting me know that some adjustments need to be made to the main elevator mural I recently finished for them (or so I thought).
It seems the height of the elevator shaft was not measured correctly. Lesson: always insist on taking your own measurements. The canvas is too long, so I need to redo some of the artwork in the sky.....bring the moon and constellations down lower so they'll be visible.
I'll also be able to take a final picture of the service elevator mural. That is after I correct an error that I made......one of the panels shrunk in width by about an inch and a half.....another mural artists nightmare. Lesson 2: always add a couple of inches all around to your work to allow for such things. I thought I'd added enough extra, but........not. Fortunately the paper hanger filled in the area with some extra canvas, and I will just need to paint it in to match. There are benefits to painting on canvas, but there are also some pitfalls....be careful.
I can't wait to see all three panels installed, I really like this mural.


Cold Rainy Day, Perfect For Reorganizing

Along with everyone else I'm looking for ways to economize,
so I've decided to eliminate my website to save some money. I've realized that I can show everything here that I do there, but this is free :-) saving is a good thing, and this is also more personal, which I like. I'm not a real formal kind of girl, very easy going, and of course being an artist well......., we're always happy to find ways to save $. So I'm spending today trying to organize things...move more photos of my work here that will display all the time (via the slide shows)....notify folks of my email change to karenhetzer@gmail.com etc.
Here's a fun interesting read for you young at heart folks who still have a sense of adventure.


Seasonal Lull

Once again I sit in total silence hearing the imagined sounds of crickets. It's the expected, predictable, seasonal lull.......everyone's focus on the holidays, mine included.
Right along with any prospective clients that might be out there, I have little interest in painting right now, choosing instead to concentrate more on family oriented projects like baking our traditional Christmas treat.....Snappy Turtle Cookies. I'm not sure how they were chosen to be the holiday favorite, I just know I looked forward to mom baking them every year.
I did an image search online for the above photo (much prettier than mine :-) and I don't use the nuts). I also found an article about the creator of the Snappy Turtle Cookie, along with the recipe (click to enlarge).
I don't often eat sweets, but make an exception for these delicious little morsels every year, they're like little cakes with chocolate frosting. Make sure you have a tall glass of cold milk handy.


New Discoveries

Its one of the cool things about being an artist, your work is always new to someone. Today by shear chance I was introduced to a fine art photographer's work.....RA Friedman...
I was mesmerized....I love seeing new (to me) work that evokes a sense of wonder and invites you in to imagine.
You can see more of his work here
And learn a bit more about him here.
Prints are available. He also does portrait sittings.
To Contact: rafriedman@gmail.com


So Where Is Panel Three?

Have you ever been so excited to complete a project that you forgot to photograph it before delivering it (or leaving the site)?
Well, thats what happened here.... a duh moment.
I was so anxious to deliver it so I could focus on returning home that I completely forgot to take a picture of it.
Speaking of returning home......I have :-).....after six+ weeks and all this work.....the 'main' elevator 5.5'x 25' that attaches to the shaft wall (the elevator cab is glass) and the three panels for the interior walls of the service elevator cab, approximately 50"x 63" with bamboo wainscot below (minus panel three not shown here of course).
You can see where these murals will be hung here.
There was also taking time off from these projects to help produce these two works in collaboration with faux painter/artist Randy Keller.
A LOT of work squeezed into six weeks.
I'll be returning to Florida in a couple of weeks to work on another project and while I'm there I will be visiting the site where the elevator murals will be hung to make some final adjustments. I had painted the ceiling of the service elevator cab on site and was not pleased with the finished outcome. Rather than try and make corrections then, I decided it was wiser to return after the mural was in place. The client requested the ceiling be made to look like the sky, and I know that I made the clouds way too fussy, I over worked them, and I'm certain they/it will not match up with the sky of the mural pieces. You'd think working on a small project like the elevator cab ceiling would be done in a flash......at least that's what I thought.......I was there for about five hours when I finally realized I needed the mural in place in order to match everything properly!
Anyway..........once I return to complete the project I will take photos. Personally?.....I can't wait to see both projects hung.


Second Panel

The second panel is finished.......pretty much.
You can see in the second picture that I made a couple of changes to the first panel.....changed the background mountain to island foliage. I taped the first panel to the second so that I can swing it out and see how things will actually look when its installed in the elevator. For example, when I bring the panel out at an angle to the 2nd panel you see the boat in its proper position, actually pointing in the same direction as the two boats in panel 2. (not shown here)


Started the new elevator mural today.....not quite finished yet, but this is one of three panels to do.


Finally finished the 5.5'x 25' elevator mural and delivered it yesterday...my client Frank McKinney, seemed very pleased.....I'm a happy girl. Now my attention goes to another project for him, a service elevator mural. This however is small in comparison, rather than lining the inside of the elevator shaft, it will be for the cabs interior.....the two sides 50"x 63" and the center panel 54"x 63". It will also be a tone on tone mural rather than full color. Following the theme of the home being built it will have an Asian feel to it. The story he wants told is of a working fisherman's day. I found a few pictures online that I will use as inspiration. I love this old photograph of a fishing hut.

I've cut my canvas pieces for the project and will begin the work tomorrow.....its still the weekend and the boys are occupying the room I work in.......back to school tomorrow :-)
When this project is finished (hoping for the end of the week) I will be heading home to Philadelphia(Narberth actually). I'm looking forward to getting home to my own space.
I'll be returning to Florida sometime around the Xmas holiday to do work at the Stuart, Fl. Hurricane Grill and Wings restaurant. Its a restaurant I had done work in about two years ago and they are expanding to the building next door so they need the theme carried through. We were hoping they'd be ready for me while I was here, but if you're familiar with construction/renovations you know things never really go as planned.
I'm sure after a few weeks of cold weather I'll be looking forward to my return to Florida :-)


Here's the best I could do to get the whole thing in one shot. It looks much better in person (if I do say so myself :-)
Still want to work on the sky a bit more, but I'm going to go ahead and put a coat of poly on to protect whats been done.


Don't forget to add some dead/dying leaves when working on foliage, it adds a lot of realism to the work.


Have to quit early today...will unroll the canvas and begin the constellations tomorrow. I'm also not lovin the bamboo on the right....too skimpy, will work it up tomorrow.


Overly optimistic. I got a late start today, it takes a lot of juggling to work around a family, so not as much done as I had hoped.
Theres another foot or so of sky done above what you see here, with another 3-4 feet that will be done above that....and the sky that you do see here is actually darker than its showing....theres a lamp shining on it causing a glare. Look to the left to see how dark it really is.
The bamboo is started, but still not finished......tomorrow.Above the palm tree is the beginning of the really dark sky that will hold planets, stars and galaxies. Some stars will actually start lower, adjacent to the palm tree.


Finally ready to move up to the sky. Made some subtle changes....added a few things.....a weeping willow to the right, I darkened the leaves on the bamboo remembering it wasn't bright enough (outside) for the leaves to be as pale/bright as they were......added some bamboo in the foreground on the right, changed the color of the mountains (I wasn't loving all the purple so I toned it down with a deep green).
Filling in the rest of the sky should be a simple task, then I'll top off the bamboo and palm tree and finally work on the constellations.


I'm finally beginning to feel like I'm getting this done. I'm thinking I may be done by the end of the week. (The colors here aren't showing as bright as they really are.)

I'm finally done with the lilies and lotus flowers and I'm concentrating now on the bamboo as well as the rest of the landscape which includes the bamboo on both sides, some foliage and the palm tree......that should be finished tomorrow, and then I only have the sky/clouds and constellations to do. Wait till you see the constellations.....I'm so excited. I love having a large project like this to get lost in......just focus on the art.....the day goes by in fifteen minutes I swear.


Wasn't sure I wanted to post this picture, so much is going to change. Most artists don't like to show unfinished work and I'm no exception :-), but its a way to learn from whats done right as well as from mistakes.
I was still working on the sky this morning when I decided to lay out some of the foreground scenery so I'd know exactly how much of the sky was actually going to need my attention......sunsets/sunrises are not easy to do. You can see I started laying in the bamboo that the client requested....its actually a blue bamboo (not what you see here yet, this is just a quick layout).....and you can see the trunk of a palm tree peeking through the bamboo. I'll also be adding similar foliage on the other side but set back further with a smaller scale to help with the depth perception.I also still have to finish the lilies/lotus, I want to put a couple of seed pods from the lotus in too.
The sky will start to darken soon and I'll be using some deeper pinks, turning to purples and deep blues as I go up, which will then turn into a midnight sky with constellations.

Here's the finished mural I was working on last week.... in place. Professional Faux Finisher (and muralist in training) Randy Keller did the installation and the faux stone work around the mural.