Because I am a self taught artist, books were (and still are) an invaluable resource for me, and I'd like to share some of them here. Most of them I have purchased but you can find a lot of them at your local library as well. These I've linked the titles to Amazon.com. PAINTING MURALS by Patricia Seligman
is full of helpful tips and techniques, my favorite is a page with diagrams of how to create different style arches...very helpful.
are just wonderful to look at. In the Painted Ceiling he shares some putti (cherubs) designs with us along with lots of other helpful information. I've talked about ANIMALS by Jim Harter
before, and its worth mentioning again. Its full of images of mammels, birds, fish, insects, etc that are all copyright free so you can use them to your hearts content. Another good book for the beginning mural artist is Trompe L'oeil by Roberta Gordon-Smith. Its a good starting point with basic techniques.
I'm not really sure what the difference is between 'realism' and 'trompe l'oeil' painting.....is there any? When you're ready to take your trompe l'oeil work to the next level or paint in a more realistic way, check out John Agnew's PAINTING THE SECRET WORLD OF NATURE, its my new favorite book.
Another great trompe l'oeil book is SKY AND SEA by Ursula E. and Martin Benad. They actually have a few books so look into that.
PERSPECTIVE by J.M. Parramon I've also mentioned before, its an excellent book on perspective. Try to find a copy. Perspective is so important in mural work and when you try to avoid it, it shows in your work.
Also look for books on color theory and composition, two other important ingredients for creating better than average work....nobody wants to be average, and in this business you can't afford to be.
New books come on the market all the time. Visit your local bookstore often and just browse the shelves in both the 'art' section and the 'decorating' section. A lot of the mural books are found in the 'decorating' section. And don't forget Amazon.com or ebay for finding bargain prices on used books.



Aside from my mural work at The Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania (I love working there), other mural work has been slow in coming...its hard being the new kid on the block. So during this slightly stressful time when the bills are due, but the pockets are empty, I've decided it may be time to resurrect some of my old skills and see if I can't make them work for me......go back to my roots so to speak, at least during the more quiet times between mural jobs.
When I started painting it was on used pieces of furniture....its actually how I taught myself to paint.
Its how I learned the art of Trompe L'oeil. This table went to one of those restaurants that also sell anything thats in it, including the furniture. The owner told me it would frustrate some of the folks with 'older' eyesight.....they would inadvertently try to pick something up.And how I learned about the impressionist painters...love, love, love Degas.
Its also how I got hooked on power tools. Sometimes the pieces I would find needed some TLC, so I got pretty skilled at using tools and even taught myself to make simple pieces of furniture.
I've turned old beds into benches....everything on the seat of this bench is painted......love the trowel. I made this for a charity auction.
I've made simple little bookends. I had found a set like this in a thrift shop, took it apart and used it as a template to make more.
I've made folding screens using bi-fold door panels hinged together like this one,
but I also taught myself to make the simpler frame and cloth panel ones too, and in several different styles.
I've painted on window screens......
and I've painted on scraps of wood (actual size4'x5').
So maybe tomorrow there should be a trip to the local thrift shops, always fun.......or maybe Home Depot, nice things to look at there ;-). Anyone know of a cool local shop that would love to have some hand painted items to sell?


A few of my little models

As you can imagine I was approached by many proud parents while working on this project who wondered if I needed some inspiration......it was difficult to say no. It was also difficult to explain that doing likenesses of a person is a time consuming and tedious process(at least for me)......but I gave it a shot :-)
This young lady proved to be the most challenging, mostly I think because of the low quality of the photo I was given to work with, as well as my limited time. I'm pretty certain the mom did not see the the link between this photo and the final result.....I confessed to have aged her a bit..perhaps in a few years .....?
Next....its also difficult when I'm given a picture and the subject is not in a position that works for what I'm trying to do.....so I end up having to 'create' a new body....not easy for me. I think I could do with a class on anatomy :-)
Here's the result..
Baby three...how could you say no to that face.
And finally
There are actually two models in this section, but I do not have the before shot of our lovely little lady in pink.



As anticipated I completed this section of hallway yesterday. I'll take a few days while the painters do their thing to the other area I'm to mural and hopefully squeeze another job or two in before that section is ready. I was contacted by a couple of people about possible work, I'm just hoping for follow through.
This is the final section completed, and I've put a little slide show of all the sections in the sidebar.



Here's a long view of the wall.
Its impossible to take good photos in a situation like this. Today I decided I didn't like this boys face (its ok it was a made up face :-), so I gave him a mask....it was more fun than trying to re-work the face.
And I got the treasure chest in.
And I got started on that last bit of wall.
Still think I may be able to finish this area tomorrow. Once all the main elements are in there are still some finishing touches that need doing on the entire mural, but still.............I think tomorrow :-)

I may be running down to Florida in a couple of weeks to work on a restaurant that I had painted a couple of years ago....they've expanded into the building next door, so the walls need to be matched.
This was for a new franchise.... Hurricane Grill & Wings (or is it the other way around? I never can remember). I did their first six restaurants.....then they decided to go with wallpaper murals as the business expanded :-~ yuck.
This is some of the work.....
It was fun while it lasted.


Went in and did a bit more work today....nothing exciting, a couple more kids and I'm going to be putting a treasure chest in this area so you can see I started adding some of the spilled treasure.
I'll probably go in tomorrow too......its nice on the weekends, not as hectic and there's plenty of parking spaces :-)
I'm pretty sure I'll finish this hallway on Monday, then I wait for the painters to apply the base coat to the second hallway thats to be done.



Well, I again forgot to take a photo of the days work yesterday. I was a bit distracted by the fact that my only phone came up missing yesterday, so today is a day off to do damage control and replace my phone.
I did however take a photo of my last section of wall to do in this area. I'm trying to decide if I should ignore it (as I did with the fire extinguisher)
or try to incorporate it. I'm thinking.........can I turn this into a submarine? hmmmm?



Day 17. I probably need about three more days to finish this part of the work. There is actually another section of hallway that leads to the office of this department that will also be muraled.


Day 16.



Here's that final picture of the mermaid wall.
Did a bit more work on the other side of the hallway.



What a gorgeous day! No mural picture today but I do have this one:
I've been trying to remember to carry my camera everywhere I go, and I just loved this scene with the sun streaming through the treetops. Having spent 20 years living in Florida and now back here in Philly, I feel like I'm seeing things for the first time (or perhaps I am).
I think I've mentioned that a friend had hip surgery not to long ago and all her friends have been volunteering some of their time to help her out. Part of my contribution has been to take her dog Gus to the park for his exercise....there's Gus in the lower left corner in the above pic, and below....a nine year old Westie who thinks he's two. Gus loves to play in the stream at the park.
I love these perfect little balls of flowers just growing wild in the park...
When I came upon this tree my first thought was...help, I've fallen and I can't get up! It just looked like it was reaching up for help.
And this little trees crowning glory, no doubt there will be plenty more like him next season.
Tomorrow I will be back at the hospital working on the mural...I'm thinking I will be finishing it up by the end of the week.