Peaceful Nursery Mural: Painting & Process

You've already seen the glittering and beautiful "After" photos of this nursery.  I love them so much that I couldn't withhold them - they had to be the first post!  But this is an artist's website… I'm not a photographer.  Let's talk about that mural!  Who, what, when, where, why, how...

I can't believe I've been sitting on these images for so long.  This was a BIG project for me over the summer.  It became much more complicated and time-consuming than expected, and I had a moving deadline, so I was working at least 12-hour days at my client's home.  (They must have thought I was such a weirdo.)  Since I often wrapped up at night, a lot of my photos have strange lighting, and color was hard to capture… so please forgive the poor photography.

Well, now that I've got you REALLY excited… may I present the makeover of this very special nursery!

My client was starting from a real mess… dark wood paneled walls, little light, and a temporary storage space for family hand-me-downs/clutter.

Luckily, they had a vision.  They began by clearing the room - no small feat!

They'd seen a beautiful nursery on and loved the wallpaper… to an extent.  My client wanted a neutral nursery - no pink.  We tried to research the wallpaper in the blog post, but it wasn't cited, and we couldn't find it anywhere else.  So, we decided that I would just paint it myself from scratch!

My client and I pored over paint swatches and selected a nice neutral to cover the room.  Since the walls were originally wood paneling, they would have made a horrible surface for a detailed mural…

Enter Steven Blanchard: he painted the room in our soft neutral color and filled in the cracks on one wall to make a nice, smooth surface for me.  He also painted the baseboard and crown moulding a bright, clean white.  (He was fantastic to work with - I highly recommend him to anyone in the Louisville area!)

Next, I tested lots and lots of paint samples to find the perfect neutral metallic for the room.  As you can imagine, metallics are tricky, and look different in different spaces, at different times of day, etc.  Here you can see just one test, where I was diluting some gold with the brown I was using in the branches.  I ended up using champagne instead of gold but you get the idea!

After testing my paint and creating the perfect shades, I started by free handing the dark brown branches.

I had planned to freehand the entire mural because I freehanded the pink floral mural, which was totally awesome.  However, I didn't account for the fact that this new mural had a much more precise style.  I finished half of one brown branch in one day.

!!!  I'll repeat… I finished half of one brown branch in one day.

There are five brown branches, four and two halves of the metallic branches, and then blossoms.  So that meant I was… 1/22 done? And I had allotted myself four days for this?  Nuh-uh.  Something had to change.  So I finagled a pattern for myself:

This was messy and complicated but it got the job done.  With pencil lines in place, I was able to bust through the brown branches much faster:

Then I came in between with metallic branches.  These are meant to be very subtle - you only notice them when the light catches them just right.

Finally, I added little white and tan blossoms to the brown branches.  So sweet!


Love that soft metallic sheen:

Here's the future grandma holding up the new bedding against the mural-in-progress:

We were getting so excited!!

Here is the nursery as I left it that summer:

Along with a little purse-sized sample board with her paint colors on it, so she could take it to stores and match it to any new baby things she might need to buy.  :)

And a fun little before-and-after to remind us of how far we've come!

Peaceful Nursery Mural: Bringing Home Baby

What better way to kick off blog posts in 2015 than with one of my all-time favorite projects from last year?

I'm doing this a little backwards, because I can't hold back on these new pictures...

I painted this custom nursery mural in the late summer of 2014.  It's embarrassing that I haven't posted the pictures from that yet!  I was waiting until I could snap a few photos with some furniture, and maybe some family members.  Boy, am I glad that I waited...

It was such a joy to see this mama and her baby girl enjoying the nursery together!  I love the way the metallic details catch the light ever-so-subtly… I wonder if a baby's vision can appreciate that, too?

The entire room is full of soft, cozy, neutrals, just like my client envisioned.  

They have a beautiful home with stunning architectural details, but this room underwent a MAJOR transformation… it started out pretty rough.  Fear not: the most challenging projects end up being the ones we're most proud of!  Check back tomorrow to see the before and after!

P.S. Does this mama look familiar to you?  

She's the eldest daughter in the "Towheaded Trio" portrait from last summer!  

I have to tell you, it gave me goosebumps to work on a portrait of Toddler Annie while planning her own daughter's future nursery.  (Cue the "Circle of Life" theme music…)  I'm so grateful to have been able to work on both projects… so VERY different, but I absolutely adore them both!  

Thanks for sharing your nursery with us, Annie, and congratulations on your newest addition!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I had the pleasure of completing a number of pen-and-ink home drawings this Christmas.  As I worked on them, I kept picturing them in a little neighborhood together...

Welcome to the 2014 Home & Garden tour of AJC Estates!

AJC estates.jpg

(Apparently my imaginary neighborhood is gated, with topiaries.  Go figure!)

All of the above are 11x14" ink drawings.

More than half of these were commissioned by BWS Landscaping in Richmond, Virginia.  The company gave them as gifts to some of their residential clients.  I can tell you, hands-down, that if I lived in the Richmond area, I'd call Brad ASAP to hire BWS as my landscaping company.  How many landscapers do you know that give Christmas gifts - especially one-of-a-kind, custom, original artwork?  

For BWS' clients, I got to work with some fun gift wrap!  Not sure if you can see the glossy crocodile pattern on the paper, but it's pretty awesome.  


With that, I must conclude blogging for 2014.  Can't wait to show you some more things I've been hiding for a while, and continue to post new works in progress!  There's some fun ones coming down the line!

Wishing a very Happy New Year to you and yours.  Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Moody Blues (or at least, Stubborn Cerulean)

Have you ever had just one color of paint refuse to dry?

I'm convinced that something is wrong with my cerulean blue oil paint… I used a pretty concentrated cerulean in the sky part of a landscape, and now that one part of the painting won't dry.

It's the same brand, same tube that I always use.  It usually dries to the touch within a few days.  The other parts of the painting have dried.  Only the blue sky is wet.  It's not the most recently painted section… in fact, I painted it first!  

Here's a video (it's boring, sorry, and I have no idea how to edit videos… is that a great pitch to watch it or what?):

I was hesitant to share this conundrum on my blog, but who am I kidding... painting is an ever-evolving skill and artists are always honing their craft.  I'm grateful for all the lessons I've learned so far, but I know it's nowhere near the level of knowledge I'll have in 5, 15, or 50 years!  I like to keep this blog pretty casual and very honest… so… there it is, for all the world to see: a hiccup.  I'd like to learn from it.  But what caused it?

Can y'all think of any reason why this would happen?  I am baffled.  Help!