A few years back, I used to teach week long workshops at schools for those wanting to learn decorative painting. Subjects included painting murals, clouds, trompe l’oeil and perspective. I taught occasionally in Denver and Atlanta, but was most at home in Houston at Janie Ellis’s School of Decorative Painting at Anything But Plain. As I was scheduled there several times a year, I had the unique opportunity for me to get to know my students well. I followed their progress and got to know them well enough to appreciate some very distinct personalities. The most common problem most faced was expecting way too much of themselves during a short period of time. The mind says “Yes, I know I need to factor in years of practice” but the truth is the heart looks for perfection. Quickly, with frustration only a heartbeat away. I shared my own mantra of what to do when that happened. I tell myself to walk away from the wall. A few feet’s distance quickly puts things into perspective. An artist needs to learn when something is done.
Two projects this month had me muttering to walk away from the wall, indeed. A dining room designed by Dyane Prezioso (www.dyaneprezioso.com) called for a triptych on the focal wall.
Here is my original sketch
Dyane requested a mica-infused plaster as a background. The light reflecting plaster would add depth to the elegant and simple layout. Here’s how things looked with the plaster done and the design sketched in.
The urge to keep adding blossoms and leaves had to be kept in bay to keep the painting from becoming too heavy. I walked away from the wall more than once, but was glad I stopped when I did.
Here is the finished wall.
Here are the panels up close.
I was also asked by Bobbie Sue Smart (www.smartdesignct.com) for a very simple mural for a nursery she was designing. Simple in size and palette. She was using white furniture, and wanted the blue and grey palette to act as a backdrop. The result is dreamy, with the pops of color coming from the solar system mobile over the crib. The gaze of the youthful explorer with his telescope fills the room with wonder, perfect for baby!
I know several former students reading this will be smiling when they read this newsletter.
Walk away from the wall. It helps when painting. It serves me well in life.
A happy and peaceful Thanksgiving to each and every one of you.