Checkerboard Stained Floor in Boston

The work that I do goes by many different names – faux finishing, decorative painting, specialty painting, precision staining… OK, I just added that last one to most accurately describe the checkerboard floor I did in Boston!

I have done work on floors before, but this one taxed my math skills more than most.  Working with one of my interior design partners, the goal was to stain a diamond-shaped “checkerboard” pattern into the entryway floor of a condo that is being completely remodeled.  When we first met at the condo, the designer and I bounced around ideas using different sized diamonds and tried to roughly map things out to see what would look best.  Based on these conversations, we went with a 12” square diamond to get a full 3 shapes across the entry hall with enough room for a border on both sides.  To go with her design themes and create a bold impact with the floor, the designer chose to use a black stain.  As usual, my first step was to do a test board to show the designer and the client what the color would look like.

With the color approved, I began my thought process on how I was going to design this floor.  To do the loose planning step, I decided to cut a number of 12” square templates from poster board.  Anticipating the need for some problem-solving, I also made sure to have all of my measuring and cutting tools at the ready!

Once I was on-site to start the job, the first step was to start laying out my templates to collaborate with the designer.  We knew we wanted the main entry hall to have the pattern centered with 3 diamonds across – so that step was easy.  From there, I focused on the distance from the front door to the end of the hall – which amazingly fit perfectly with full diamond shapes from one end to the other!

Knowing this, we let the rest of the pattern fall in line with the entry pattern, which we knew would end up with the side halls having a less symmetrical look.  With these “big” decisions made, I was on to the specifics of how to make this all happen.  The first challenge was that the hallway was not square.  The floorboards were straight to the right wall, but the left wall angled in about ¾ of an inch from the door to the far corner.  Since the pattern needed to be aligned, we chose to use the floorboards as our guide. Aligning with the floorboards meant the left side border would get gradually smaller - so we decided to use a thin border that would abut the diamonds and leave between 2 and 2 3/4 inches between the wall and the border.

The next decision was how to handle the doorways, which were recessed from the walls.  To make the final design as clean as possible, we decided to treat these transitions as if the design was a rug – resulting in sharp, straight ends to the pattern.

Phew – now with all the decisions made, I was on to actually mapping it all out!  The fist step here was to draw everything out in pencil.  Below are some “before” pictures of the floor – but if you look closely, you can see my pencil lines.  To do this, I first measured the center line of the entry hall (again, using the floor boards to determine “center”) and drew out the middle row of diamonds from the front door to the back wall.  This then became my guide for everything else – as I measured and drew all other diamonds to create a consistent pattern out from this center row.

checker before 1.jpg
checker before 2.jpg
checker before 3.jpg

With the pattern drawn, I was on to taping everything off in order to create sharp lines with the stain.  While doing this, it was important to constantly recalibrate what was going to be black and what was going to be “white”!  The taping itself needed to be very sharp and precise, so I used some specialty blades and a LOT of patience.  You can see the tape mapped out here. 

checker during 1.jpg

Before I started staining, I also marked the “white” diamond with an additional tape line to make absolutely certain I didn’t put any stain in the wrong places! You can see that in this shot.

checker during 2.jpg

With this done, now I was on to the staining!  I am always very cautious to avoid any drips, but with black stain on a light floor, this was absolutely essential.  I put my stain can in a larger bucket and put all of it on a tripled-up drop cloth that I pulled right up to the edge of what I was staining.  I also made a conscious effort to stop before I stained each shape to make sure I was staining the right thing.  I am thrilled to report that not a single drop of stain was out of place!!

As I always do, I started my staining in the least conspicuous spot and pulled up the tape to make sure my prep all worked correctly before moving on.  Once I determined that the plan all worked (!), I was on to staining the rest of the 52 diamonds!!

The best part was when the designer and contractor came and were absolutely enthusiastic about the result.  Patience and math paid off.

Here are shote of the final result (before the floor is polyurethaned). Enjoy!

Jason

Looking in from the front door

Looking in from the front door

From the back wall looking back toward the front door

From the back wall looking back toward the front door

Looking in the one side hall through to the other side

Looking in the one side hall through to the other side

Corner detail at the edge of the entry hall to the side hall

Corner detail at the edge of the entry hall to the side hall

Bamboo Bathroom Mural

Sometimes my mural clients have a specific idea of what they would like me to paint – but other times coming up with the idea is all part of the mural creation process!

This was the case with my recent client Lauren in Providence.  She was re-doing her bathroom and she knew she wanted something special on the walls to give it a soothing, outdoors feel.  Lauren liked the very light (almost white), grayish/greenish color that was already on the walls and the ceiling, and she wanted my mural to go with this color as well as the light tile floors, the driftwood color on the vanity and the cool grey/green around the mirror.

Beyond this, I had a clean slate!  As we tossed around ideas, the first thing we pinned down was that the mural design should be relatively simple and clean, without too much detail or overwhelming color.  Lauren also has a green thumb and she had plants in the room, giving the space a warm, tropical, oasis-like feel.  Working with this, I suggested the bamboo forest idea – keeping the design simple and using just cool, soothing greens that tied in with the plants and the mirror.  Bringing the bamboo leaves up on to the ceiling would also help enhance the “outdoor” feeling.  Lauren liked the idea and I was on to the design stage!

As always, I did a scale painting of the mural design and sent it to Lauren for approval.  She liked it exactly as I designed it – so I was on to painting the final piece!  I used Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath and Spa paint to make sure it would hold up to the moisture of the bathroom, in colors “Woodland Green” and “Herb Bouquet”.  See the final result below.

 Lauren is thrilled to have this special touch to her “oasis” bathroom!

Enjoy,

Jason

 

Bamboo bath final web.jpg

Painting a Mural of a Purple Pineapple

One of the things that is most enjoyable about mural painting is the diversity of things I get to create!   A great example of this is a recent mural I did of a purple pineapple on an oven backsplash for clients who are renovating their kitchen. 

Upping the difficulty level, the pineapple was replacing a previous mural and was painted on granite!  The up-side of granite is that paint does not stick well, so removing the old mural just required soapy water and a little bit of elbow grease.  The down-side, of course, is the fact that paint doesn’t stick well to granite – which also applied to my new mural!

The first step to address adhesion was to make sure I had the granite clean of all dirt and grease.  With this addressed, my next step was to paint a base coat in the shape of the pineapple using a special bonding primer (I like to use a product called Stix) that sticks to just about anything – thankfully including granite. 

The next challenge was doing the drawing on granite.  When I do murals, I create a concept drawing and/or painting in advance to make sure my design matches up with what my client wants.  Once I have approval on the concept, I photograph it and then project this image on the final surface so my mural exactly matches what the client wants and has approved.  In this case, though, I discovered that you can’t see an image projected on dark granite!!

My solution here was to tape up a large sheet of poster-board and project the image at the final size on to the board.  I could then map the outline of the pineapple on the board and cut out a template I could use as a stencil to lay down the primer.  This worked perfectly! Once I had the shape of the pineapple painted in primer, I could then draw in the details on the dried primer coat to get ready for the final painting. Below is a picture of the primer stage.

soutboro pineapple primer.jpg

With all of this done – I was on to the fun part of painting the pineapple!  Since the mural is just the pineapple, I decided to maximize the impact by doing a realistic and detailed painting using acrylic paints.

 And here is the purple pineapple on granite! 

Southboro pineapple blog size.jpg

Enjoy!

Jason

Faux Metal Finish Makes Fireplace go from Plain to Pop!

My recent clients Sara and Larry have just moved into a brand-new home and are now in the process of adding some of their own character to the space.  As part of this effort, they called me to transform their fireplace surround from plain painted drywall into a centerpiece that looks like it was hammered from one giant sheet of metal.

As always, I started the process by meeting at the house to look at the space and discuss Sara and Larry’s goals.The fireplace is a gas unit with a large surround and has the television mounted above it.Even with the fireplace and TV, there is still a good amount of surface to show off the metal finish! (see picture below). After meeting, Sara also sent me inspiration images of metal to give a good sense of the look they envisioned.

Before faux painting…

Before faux painting…

With this information in hand, I was on to painting a test board.  This is a standard part of my process – where I create the finish I am proposing on a 2’x2’ board to give my clients an opportunity to see it in their space before I start on the actual walls.  At first, the board appeared to be a fit for what they wanted, but after seeing it in many different lighting situations through the daytime and nighttime (lighting makes a huge difference in metallic finishes!!), we decided to make some revisions.  I addressed the additional input on a second board, which fit perfectly with what they were looking for.

Now that we had the perfect faux metal finish determined, I was on to creating the same look across the face and sides of fireplace surround.  To create the textured and slightly aged look, I used 3 different colors applied with translucency in some areas and opacity in others to get some variation. To build on this variation and accentuate the metal look, I also used a tool typically used for plaster application to get some areas that had a machined look.  While doing this, I paid special attention to vary any patterns I was creating and to make sure patterns continued from the sides to front to look like it was one piece of metal wrapped around to make the wall surfaces.

The final result was exactly what Sara and Larry had in mind, and definitely transformed the surround into the centerpiece they wanted!

The final result!

The final result!

Close-up to show texture and metallic reflections

Close-up to show texture and metallic reflections

Showing a bit more of the room…

Showing a bit more of the room…

Enjoy!

Jason

Painting a Restaurant Motto on Brick

Sometimes a high degree of difficulty can make my mural painting more fun – which was the case with a motto I recently painted on the brick wall of a Boston restaurant!

Given the different types of work I do, it might seem like painting a motto would not fall in the high difficulty category – particularly given the fact that I was supplied with the quote design, font, etc. that I just needed to match.  This would be true – except for the variable of the brick wall on which the motto was painted!  Think of trying to create many accurate, smooth lines on a wildly un-smooth surface.  First is the challenge of creating a consistent line from the relatively smooth surface of the bricks to the seams at the edge of the bricks to the very rough surface of the mortar in between the bricks.  Beyond this, however, was the challenge of the inconsistency of the bricks themselves.   This is an old Boston building, which means it is a very old brick wall – with all of the diviots, cracks, holes and chunks in the bricks that come along with the age. Some of the recesses were as much as an inch deep!

After drawing out the letters, I addressed this challenge by drawing the lines of the letters into all of the 3 dimensions of the cracks in a way that would look straight in 2 dimensions – which required a lot of standing back and scrutinizing.  With this done – I was on to painting, which I did in 2 coats to get good even coverage.  To address the roughness, I found that using my tiny, thin brushes worked best – painting every edge of each letter as if it was itself a smooth 1/16” thick line.  With the edges addressed, I then just needed to push my brushes into the crags to make sure that the black covered all of the area of the letters. Working with my client, we also chose a high-gloss paint to really make the lettering stand out.

In the end, everything came together – and the quote looks like it has always been on that wall! Following is a picture of the motto, plus a couple of close-ups to show detail of the craggy surface.

 Enjoy,

Jason

Sawtelle Bolocco motto Web.jpg
Boloco close up web.jpg
boloco close up 2 web.jpg

Master Bedroom Mural in Brookline

Of the (many) enjoyable parts of painting murals – one of my favorites is the “custom” part!  This was the case with my recent project of doing an 18-foot wide full-wall mural for a master bedroom in Brookline, MA.

 My clients Sheri and Michael liked the aesthetic of my mural work and wanted me to incorporate this with a winter landscape at sunset.  They wanted the color scheme to be a soothing palette of greys and blues to go with the light grey/blue they painted the walls – but they wanted a splash of color created by the sunset to give the piece some “pop” in the room.  They had some photographs they liked to give me a general feel – but they left it up to me to create the final design.

 With this in mind, I was off to create my concept painting.  I first used the base color – Benjamin Moore “Silvery Moon” to choose similar colors to create subtle, quiet transitions and blends for the background and foreground.  For the sunset, I wanted to create the “pop” my clients were looking for, but I also wanted to choose a color that was not too bright/saturated or dark to help it work with the rest of the composition. For this, I settled on”Del Ray Peach”.

For the design, I liked the idea of putting the viewer IN the scene as opposed to looking out at it, so I chose to bring the trees right up to the foreground in “into” the bedroom.As always, I did the concept painting to scale and used the actual paint I proposed to use for the mural to give an accurate look at what the final product would be.With this in hand, I met with Sheri and Michael who were happy with the design (photo below)– so I was on to the mural painting

8”x18” concept painting

8”x18” concept painting

Since this mural has so much blending of colors for soft transitions in the sky and the “fog” in the distant mountains and trees – I did all of this first.  Painting the background before I did the trees allowed me to focus on getting consistent, soft blends without worrying about the edges of the trees.  With the background done, I then drew the trees over the top of this and moved on to painting first the darker, more distant trees and then finally the birches up front.

The final result gave us the drama, but also the quiet beauty we were looking for!

Here are some shots of the progress – leading up to the final result.

Enjoy!

Jason

The blank wall before I started…

The blank wall before I started…

Step 1 - starting the background blends

Step 1 - starting the background blends

Step 2 - more background blends

Step 2 - more background blends

Step 3 - starting the trees

Step 3 - starting the trees

The final result!

The final result!

Finished mural from the other angle

Finished mural from the other angle

Close-up

Close-up

Faux Painting Color Match Challenge

As part of my specialty painting services, I often do paint “repairs” where I have to match everything from marble to wood to stone.  For these repairs, I also sometimes need to match existing faux finishes – which can be particularly tricky… Which was definitely the case with a recent project!

 A contractor partner called me to help with a project rehabbing a finished basement after repairs were done to fix water damage.  The challenge was that all of the basement was previously painted in a faux finish with mural vines painted over it. In this case, the walls were originally painted one solid base color, and then a glaze with a second color was applied in a pattern over the top of it. What makes matching a faux finish tricky is that you can’t actually see either of the colors that make up that finish because the glaze is semi-transparent.  This means that you can only see the base color through the translucency of the second color.

 Fortunately, in this case sections of the wall had to be removed due to the water damage – which meant that I was able to bring samples of the existing faux finish into my studio.  This was fantastic, because these colors were particularly challenging and required some trial and error to get a good match!  I did get a sample I was happy with though, and both the contractor and homeowner were happy with what I came up with.

 From there, I was on to the walls – but the challenge wasn’t over!  After priming, painting and glazing – I then had the pattern to deal with.  When applying a glaze, you can’t get it on the old section, because it will just make the overlap extremely dark.  This means I had to stop my pattern along a sharp line and then blend the new pattern into the old using a whole different set of colors that match the look of the translucent combination of the original 2 colors!

 After I got everything blended, I was on to the mural vines.  Here I figured out that the original vines were painted with fine art oil paints - so I did the same, matching the colors on-site.  For the vines, the color match was pretty straightforward, so I could concentrate on matching the style and patterning of the original vines to make it all seamless!

 In the end, it was all worth it when the client said of my match “I never even dreamed this would be possible!”

 Here are before and after shots of the different sections I needed to address:

Enjoy!

Hallway before

Hallway before

Hallway after!

Hallway after!

Soffit before

Soffit before

Soffit after

Soffit after

Ceiling before

Ceiling before

ceiling after.jpg

Faux Wood Painting Saves the Day

I recently was talking to a contractor friend about some of my projects and he said: “Sounds like you have to be really good at matching colors?!” I thought about this when I got a call from another contractor about painting a door and trim with faux wood grain to match the surrounding trim!

The contractor had installed a new sliding glass door - which looked great – but unfortunately when they stained it, it turned out too dark.  All of the trim in the house was a light, slightly orange/yellow wood tone- but the new door and trim turned a darkish brown.  The challenge of course is that once wood is stained, you can’t re-stain it to make it any lighter!

Paint is really the only way to make dark wood light again… BUT, the client still wanted it to look like the surrounding wood trim. To solve this problem I painted the door in a 2-step process and created a faux wood grain that ended up looking like it had been stained the same color as all the other trim all along!

Before I started on-sight, I got a shelf from the house that was the color I needed to match.  With this in hand, I worked in my studio to figure out how to mix colors to look just like this sample.  The first color I needed to figure out was the lightest color you see when looking at the wood (in this case a yellowy tan)– which becomes the base color.  This I was able to match by mixing just 2 colors.  Then I needed to figure out colors for the wood grain, which is slightly darker and in this case more orange/brown.  This I was able to mix with 3 colors.  I then did a test board painting it first with the base color and then creating the wood grain with a glaze of the second color.  I showed this test to the contractor, who was happy with the match – so I was on to the live project!

Once at the client’s home, I needed to prep and prime the door to cover the dark brown, and then I was on to painting everything with my mixed base color.  At this point, all of the door trim was just a plain, flat yellowy tan color.  With this complete, I was then on to the “magic” of the process – creating faux wood grain with the second color.  I had just finished one side of the door when the client came home and was thrilled with the match!

After completing the other side of the door and letting everything dry, I finished all of the new wood finish off with a water-based polyurethane to protect my faux wood paint and to make sure the sheen of my work also matched all of the surrounding trim.

Usually, I work on things to make them stand out - but this project brought new meaning to the phrase ‘blending in with the woodwork’!!

Below are some before and after pictures showing this:

The door before, with darker brown stain

The door before, with darker brown stain

The door after!

The door after!

Close-up of the before

Close-up of the before

Close-up of the door after faux painting!

Close-up of the door after faux painting!

Day Care Center Mural in Medfield

I have definitely established in past blog posts how much I love painting murals.  The only thing that makes mural painting even better is painting them in public places for many people to enjoy – which was absolutely the case with a recent project I did for a day care center in Medfield! 

 The Medfield Children’s Center (MCC) has been around since 1982 (and was attended by my now 13 year-old son!) and has been operated out of a church – until now! MCC is almost done building a state-of-the-art facility just a short distance away from their old home.  As part of this new start, the director, Robin, pulled me in to help set the right tone in the entryway.

 A staple in the old facility was the “kindness tree” – a leafless construction paper tree on which leaves with kid’s pictures were taped to acknowledge acts of kindness.  To continue but update this tradition, Robin wanted my mural to include a new kindness tree inscribed with the statement “kindness grows here”. She also wanted a mural with the following quote: “Some kids are smarter than you.  Some kids have cooler clothes than you.  Some kids are better at sports than you.  It doesn’t matter!  You have your thing too.  Be the kid who can get along.  Be the kid who is happy for other people.  Be the kid who does the right thing.  Be the nice kid.”  This speaks volumes about Robin’s focus on kindness and is a perfect way to get the message out to students and parents as soon as they enter the building.

 After looking at floor plans for available space for murals – I suggested we put these 2 together in one big mural – which Robin was immediately on board with.  To round out the scene, Robin asked that I include a cardinal and a dragonfly – both of which have significance for her and her family.  With this information in hand – I was off to do my design concept.  Below is the design I presented – and Robin loved it! In designing the tree, I wanted to keep the branches low enough that the staff could reach all the branches with any kind of step stool, with several branches at child height.  The choice of purple for the dragonfly was to balance the colors already in the mural and make it stand out against the green grass – but as it turns out, purple is also Robin’s favorite color!

MCC kindness wall mural design.jpg

Now that I had approval on the design, it was just a matter of waiting for the space to be completed to the point that I could get in and paint the mural.  Once on-site, the wall that best suited the mural was actually a little longer than we had planned – BUT, this worked out great in terms of making the quote a little less crowded with the tree.

Below are pictures of the progress of the mural – leading up to the finished result.

The wall before i started

The wall before i started

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3

The final result!

The final result!

Close-up of the cardinal

Close-up of the cardinal

Close-up of the dragonfly

Close-up of the dragonfly

The kindness tree!

The kindness tree!

The quote

The quote

Enjoy!

Jason

Girl's Room mural Painting in Brookline

OK, I probably should not pick favorites, but I think the projects I most enjoy are murals where I get to create a scene from scratch – which was confirmed by how much fun I had on my recent job of painting this 2-wall mural for a 7 year-old girl’s room in Brookline!

 When I met with her parents to talk about their thoughts for the mural, I got fantastic input – but I had a pretty open slate to work with!  The over-arching concept was a garden – very loosely based on the book “The Secret Garden”.  From there, we just brainstormed on the different elements they wanted in the scene – with input like including a gate or arch, giving it a slightly Japanese or eastern feel, making it look like a garden but also like it is wild, including a path to a different section of the scene, including a few birds and animals, including a rope swing and including specific flora like a cherry tree, irises, daffodils and lupine.  From there, it was up to me!

Below is a picture of the walls I had to work with before I started the mural:

Karis before.jpg

Because this project had so many elements involved, I wanted to start the collaboration with a pencil sketch and I sent this first take below:

Karis room design 1.jpg

With this design, I used the hedge on either side of the gate to act as a wall between the foreground and the background.  This helps create a sense of depth - but also  plays with the idea of something hidden/to be discovered on the other side of the gate. In the foreground, I wanted to hint at the hand of a gardener in a planned space - but also make it look a bit more wild and magical - like a mysterious abandoned yet beautiful space begging to be explored. To get the Japanese/eastern flare, I used a Japanese style gate as well as tiered and manicured trees I found in pictures of Japanese gardens pictures.

Everyone loved the concept, so I was on to creating my paint sketch.  To do this, I create a scale version of the mural using the exact paints I plan to use on the final mural.  Following are these concept paintings for the 2 walls:

Karis wall 1.jpg
Karis wall 2.jpg

I met to review these with my clients, and they were happy with everything exactly as I had planned it!  With the concept approved, I was on to painting on the walls!.  Following are shots of the various phases of painting the final mural:

Phase 1

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 2

Phase 3 … getting close!

Phase 3 … getting close!

The final mural!

The final mural!

Shot including the second wall

Shot including the second wall

Iris detail

Iris detail

Hidden key detail

Hidden key detail

Daffodils, butterfly and bunny details

Daffodils, butterfly and bunny details

The cardinal

The cardinal

And one more of the bunny!

And one more of the bunny!

Enjoy!

Jason

Specialty Paint Finishes on Cabinets

When it comes to decorative painting, a lot of what I do is focused on making a bespoke centerpiece out of something that otherwise can look “standard” and blend in with the background.  This was definitely the case with two recent projects that made cabinetry the hero of the room!

 The first example is a small wet-bar nook in a beautifully renovated kitchen in Dover, MA.  Most of the kitchen is light and airy, and the designer wanted the cabinets of the wet bar to stand apart - playing the role of a custom piece of furniture.  To create a contrast with the clean design of the rest of the space, we wanted more drama and texture for this piece and settled on using black with a hand-rubbed look. 

 The cabinets were custom-made, so I had the benefit of working with unfinished wood.  To create this finish, I used watered-down black chalk paint that acts like a stain by sinking into the wood, but still has more opacity than a stain to give variation in the amount of grain that shows through the finish. After the paint dried, I lightly sanded the surface to accentuate the hand-rubbed look and to keep the finish smooth.  With this complete, I was on to the top coat.  To make sure my finish was durable but not too shiny, I opted for 3 coats of a matte-finish polyurethane, which topped off the look beautifully!  In describing the end result, my client exclaimed: “it looks like it came straight out of an old English manor!”

wet bar.jpg

The second example is the vanity in a renovated bathroom in Brookline.  Similar to the kitchen in Dover, the bathroom has a very clean, modern look – this time with white tiles on the walls and gray octagonal tiles on the floor.  To add “pop” to the room, the designer wanted the vanity to be the jewel of the room, planning it in a saturated teal color with a specialty finish. 

 For the finish, the goal was to create a subtle variation to look like an aged patina.  We wanted to give the piece some depth and interest – but avoid making it look too busy or fussy.  To accomplish this look, I started by painting the piece in the base teal color using cabinet paint to insure durability.  After 2 coats of the paint, I then buffed the finish with fine steel wool to make it was a little less shiny and to create more of a deep luster.  With this done, I then applied a darker color of watered-down teal cabinet paint with a foam brush to allow the water to create variation without obvious brush strokes.  When this was dry, I then re-applied a second coat - this time with more water -  creating more subtlety and depth in the “patina”.  In the end, we accomplished out goal – as the homeowner sees the vanity as the highlight of her new space!

vaity 1.jpg

Enjoy,

Jason

A Giant Ombre finish for a Dome Ceiling

When it comes to specialty paint finishes, starting with a fun idea can make all the difference!  This was definitely the case with my recent project of painting an ombre finish in a large dome ceiling.

The dome is about 30 feet high and 25 feet wide, and features small “star” lights set up in constellations.   The existing color was a light sky blue – but to up the drama and impact, my client wanted the dome painted with a fade of colors to look like a twilight sky (definitely more appropriate for the stars!).

The first step was to choose the colors. To make sure the room ended up with a cohesive look, we started by considering the colors of the furniture in the room and then compared these to different color families that would create the feel of an evening sky.  To accomplish this goal, we focused on hues that had a little blue, a little purple and a little gray.  We also wanted a good range to cover the deep night sky at the top – but varying all the way to a light-ish tone for the color that happens at the horizon just after the sun sets. 

We ended up using Benjamin Moore colors “evening sky” (appropriately named!), “blue heron”, “Stratford blue” and “harlequin blue”.  I also added a fifth color to the blend by doing a mix of the darkest two.  To show what this would look like, I did a sample board to review with my client.  They loved it – and I was off to the races!

Of course, before I could go too far, I had to consider how to paint a 360-degree fade while 30 feet in the air. After renting some scaffolding – I was then truly off to the races!!  I started at the top, painting 2 coats per color to get good coverage.  Once the coats were dry, I then went back in with a third pass re-painting a strip of about 2 feet for both colors where they met.  Moving quickly, I then worked the two wet colors together to create the fade.  Our goal was to get a transition that was not too harsh from one color to the other – but also to keep some of the variation to keep it looking hand-crafted. 

The end result hit the nail on the head and the feeling in the room is truly special!

 Below is the before and after --

 Enjoy,

Jason

The “before” color with scaffolding in place and ready to go

The “before” color with scaffolding in place and ready to go

The final result!

The final result!

Full-Room Church Classroom Mural

I absolutely love doing mural work, and my full-room mural at St. Andrew’s church in Wellesley was no exception!

The room I was asked to help transform is a classroom for 5th graders, and the process began in this room collaborating with the St. Andrew’s team spearheading the project. As we looked at the off-white walls, it was exciting to imagine where we could take it!

The high-level vision was to create the feel of a middle-eastern desert.  The idea was to depict a scene that could come from the bible, but was not necessarily a strict illustration of any one story.  We wanted to leave the experience open to the creativity and interpretation of the children and teachers in the room.  Rounding out this experience, the St. Andrew’s team plans to add touches like lighting, a rug and pillows that would look at home in the scene!

As we discussed more specific ideas for the space, we bounced around possible elements like camels, covered litters, buildings, a caravan, and a nativity star. The goal was to create a bright, inviting space that would help create a fun and engaging education experience.

The more we talked through the goals, the more we were able to narrow down our collective vision.  One outcome was the decision to keep the feeling of the mural on the “quiet” side – giving just enough imagery to capture kids’ imagination without too much clutter.  Another discussion we had was to make the image inclusive and leave the story open to interpretation.  Along these lines, we wanted any representation of people to be something that would be relatable to boys and girls of any race.

With all of this information in hand, I was off to the design process!  As usual, I started with a scale painting – in this case for the “feature” wall of the mural (below).

Concept sketch for “wall1”

Concept sketch for “wall1”

Including the nativity star was important, but as we discussed, we didn’t want it to be specifically about the three wise men.  I wanted it to feel like anyone could be the leader of the caravan, or could join on the journey. One of the St. Andrew’s team commented about how appropriate it was to have it be just one person – as ultimately everyone has to follow their own spiritual journey.  I also wanted to use enough color (particularly with the distant dunes in blues and purples) to keep it bright and interesting while still reading as a desert.

The team loved the concept and I was on to designing the rest of the room!  In designing the dunes, I wanted to create the feeling with depth within each wall, but also the feeling of a vast continuous space as the mural wrapped around all of the walls.

To round out the feel of the desert and add some visual interest, I included a palm tree and a cactus.  Here, I did some research to make sure my scene was somewhat accurate and I found out that the prickly pear cactus is what one would see in the middle east!

I also wanted to add things to discover and delight.  Adding animals helps support the desert theme, but also adds to the fun and hopefully helps with the stories that can be created!  Again, I did some research and found a desert hedgehog, a pin-tailed sandgrouse and a Sinai agama lizard that would be native to this area.  Of course, adding these elements also made it more fun to paint!!

The St. Andrew’s team is thrilled with the final result, and I can’t wait to hear how the 5th graders feel about their new space!!

The focal point of the mural

The focal point of the mural

“Wall 1”

“Wall 1”

Camel detail

Camel detail

“Wall 2”

“Wall 2”

Palm tree detail

Palm tree detail

Pin-tailed sandgrouse detail

Pin-tailed sandgrouse detail

Desert hedgehog detail

Desert hedgehog detail

Mural wrapping around corners

Mural wrapping around corners

Long shot of back wall

Long shot of back wall

Back wall

Back wall

Prickly pear cactus detail

Prickly pear cactus detail

Pin-tailed sandgrouse #2 detail

Pin-tailed sandgrouse #2 detail

Sinai Agam lizard detail

Sinai Agam lizard detail

Pencil Drawing Portrait

Most of the work I do- whether a mural, decorative finish or commissioned portrait tends to be done with paint – so it was fun to do this recent project in pencil!

I met my client John while on another job doing a specialty paint finish on some cabinets.  When John learned that I did portraits, he instantly got the idea to have me create a gift for his wife. 

John’s wife had a special relationship with her grandparents, but there unfortunately were not enough pictures of them for her to have one.  Knowing this, and knowing that his wife loves pencil drawings – John asked me to do a pencil drawing of the grandparents as a special gift for his wife. 

To make this happen, John was able to covertly get me a photo to work from.  With this in hand, I was on to doing the drawing.  Below is the photograph I worked from:

Hauptman parents cropped.jpg

John was thrilled when I delivered the drawing (below), and is excited to give it to his wife!

Hauptman drawing lores.jpg

Enjoy!

Jason

A Full Room Mural!

I don’t know if creative projects are like kids – where you are not supposed to pick favorites – but I have to say that this full-room mural is my favorite to date!

 As the Wellesley Free Library was planning the renovation of their Fells Branch Library, I was fortunate to get a call to join the process.  The Fells Library is a smaller facility, and they wanted to focus on the primary audience of young children (ages 0-6) in their design.  The library team began their process with architects Johnson Roberts Associates, and settled on a theme that incorporated scenes from the town of Wellesley.  The plan called for the tops of the bookshelves to be built out to look like buildings in the town and for the walls to be painted as a nature scene backdrop.

While the concept was decided upon before I was involved, the process of realizing the plan was extremely collaborative (and fun!). From choices of colors to details in the buildings to the content of my murals, there was input from the library team, the architect, the carpenter (Sean Reidy of Charles River Custom Carpentry), the painter and me.

After the planning stage, my first involvement was working with Sean (who happens to be my brother-in-law!) on the fantastic 3-D trees that jut into the space.  Johnson Roberts called for this in their plans, so Sean’s first step was to block out the positioning of the trees with rectangular plywood that delineated how far out and low down the branches could go and be within code.  I then got on my ladder to draw out the trees so Sean could follow my drawings for the final cutouts.

While Sean then went to work on the buildings and the painter painted and prepped the walls, I was on to designing my murals.  The direction I was given was pretty loose – leaving most of the decisions up to me.  I knew we wanted nature scenes to back up the town buildings, and one wall needed to incorporate a lamppost (to go with the lamp sconce light) as well as a representation of the “Entering Wellesley” sign.  To make sure my scenes were tied to the town, I asked for recognizable places and then went out hiking with my camera.  A few of the places that made it into my final paintings were Boulder Brook path, Morses Pond and the town green near the Post Office.  For the birds and animals, my goal was to make sure that I used native animals that the kids could see in their backyards.  The only specific request I had was to include a goose near the town hall building (where there is a constant presence of geese!).

Another decision I needed to make was the look/style of how this would all be painted.  While the audience is small children, I wanted the murals to be timeless – in terms of both the relevance ten years (and more!) from now, but also the ability of my murals to appeal to people of all ages. While I wanted the overall look to be clean and bright, I also did not want it to be cartoony at all – instead choosing to do just enough detail to make it realistic while keeping it simple enough to appeal to kids.  When it was complete, one of my favorite comments I heard was that it was “child-friendly without being childish”.

With all of this in mind, I started doing my designs – which are scale paintings done in the actual paints that would be used on the walls to give an accurate representation of what the final product would look like.  I submitted these to the library team and they loved them – just saying “go!”.  Here are pictures of a few of my designs.

Fells back wall section 1.jpg
Fells back wall section 2.jpg
Fells front wall.jpg

With the design direction approved, I was on to painting the walls.  I started on the side with no buildings, focusing more on nature – including the Boulder Brook Path shown here:

heron fox.jpg
fox.jpg
heron.jpg

On this side of the room, I also had the 3-D trees I painted to look like bark and incorporated them into my mural:

trees 2.jpg

 Also on this side of the room is where I represented Morses pond.  I wanted to get a sense of the distant shore and reflections in the water higher in the mural, but also wanted to get the beaver right down at small child height:

pond 2.jpg
Beaver 2.jpg

As a transition to the “town” side of the room, I did the town green with the lamppost and sign.  Of course, the sign is not actually in this location, but I needed to take some creative liberty to include both elements in this section of wall:

lamppost.jpg

 As the theme transitioned to buildings, my focus shifted more to being the background with trees and birds – but I still found a couple of opportunities for other animals – including a mouse that is also right at child height:

mouse.jpg

 

As I was painting this, several tours came through and I had the opportunity to hear people’s reactions.  Some of my favorites were how the space was “magical” and “inviting” – but I think my favorite was “I want to live here!”

 After 5 weeks on-site, I was done with my largest mural project yet!  I enjoyed every step of the way – and I was even a little sad to leave on the last day of painting…

 Below are some more pictures of the space – Enjoy!!

entry view.jpg
mallard.jpg
lot wall.jpg
butterfly.jpg
robin.jpg
cardinal heron.jpg
rte 9 wall.jpg
finches.jpg
bluejay.jpg
goose.jpg
Weston Rd wall.jpg
squirrel.jpg
owl.jpg

Enjoy!

Jason

Painting of a Family Crest as a Special Gift

One of my favorite compliments I have received was from a client who, when looking through my website, said “wow, so you can paint anything ?!”  While this is a bit of an overstatement on my skills, I do enjoy the challenge of painting many different subjects – including a new first with my latest project.

 About a year ago, my client David travelled to Eastern Europe with his family, where they discovered their family crest painted on a shield.  To bring their discovery home with them, they took a number of snapshots – but David had bigger ideas.  Fast-forward to this holiday season, and David put his plan into action by reaching out to me to do an 18”x24” oil painting of this crest.  The main reason for the painting was to create a special gift for his sister, but David loved the idea of having a painting as well – so he had me to 2 identical 18”x24” paintings! Below are the pictures I had to work from:

 

Boronkay crest.jpg
Boronkay Crest 2.jpg

Working from David’s snapshots, I set to work.  My first step was to do a drawing to show David what I planned on painting – essentially the same as the photos, but editing the text to just their last name and making the rendering of certain details like the hands more accurate (I couldn’t resist!).  Below is the drawing:

David crest drawing.jpg

With David’s approval of the drawing – I was on to the canvases with paint!  To make sure the 2 paintings were nearly identical, I worked on both canvases at the same time and switched back and forth.  For example, when I had the background colors mixed, I painted on background and then painted the other with the same paint to make sure all of the colors were exact from one canvas to the other.

It was a fun project to paint, as well as a fun one to deliver!  David was thrilled with the results and is looking forward to presenting his sister with this special gift!

fullsizeoutput_f78.jpeg

Enjoy,

Jason

A Whitewashed Fireplace to Update the Entire Room!

My client Julia recently moved into a new home and has been in the process of updating the look of the interior.  The result of her upgrades created a bright, clean open area in which the kitchen, dining area and living room flow together in one space.  Julia’s color choices nicely compliment the openness of the space, with neutral grey walls, warmer and lighter grey accents, white trim and dark brown wood.

While all of this works beautifully, the dated, dark and soiled bricks of her fireplace looked out of place and immediately drew attention.

To address this, Julia and her designer came up with the idea of whitewashing the brick using a light, warm grey to tie it in with the rest of the room.  Doing a wash instead of painting the fireplace helps maintain some of the character and color variance of the brick to keep the look interesting while still helping it to blend with the space.

With this decided – I was on to making it happen!

Since the fireplace is no longer active, I was able to address the firebox as well as the hearth for a consistent look to the entire fireplace.  After looking at different examples with Julia, we decided on a more opaque approach to cover up the bricks more than letting them show through – but still keeping it transparent enough to show the variation of the brick.  To make this happen, I experimented with different paint-to-water ratios until I got it just right for the desired effect.

With the project done, the fireplace now blends perfectly with the room while still maintaining some of the character and interest of the brick.  Most importantly, Julia “love love loves” it!!

Below is a before and after -

Enjoy,

Jason

The fireplace before…

The fireplace before…

and after!

and after!

 

Painting of a House for a Realtor's Gift

I love being a part of my client’s plans to do something special for someone else! This was the case recently when I was contacted by a Realtor who was interested in having me do a painting of her client’s home that she could give as a special thank-you gift.  When we first spoke, my client Maryann knew that her client would love a painting of their home, but she wasn’t sure what medium or size would be best.  She knew she didn’t want something as formal as an oil painting, but wasn’t sure that a watercolor fit the bill either.  Maryann mentioned perhaps doing a pen-and-ink drawing, but asked for my thoughts.

When I asked about the pen-and-ink idea, Maryann said she liked the “clean” look of this – so that gave me great direction.  To help make sure the final piece represented the house, I recommended using black and white watercolor along with the pen and ink to help define the contrast of the black shutters and surrounding trees without creating too “busy” a look with the cross-hatching I would otherwise need to define areas with more value.  Maryann loved this idea, so we just needed to figure out the size and the image I would use.

For the size, Maryann wanted something large enough to be able to see details of the house, but also small enough to make it easy to find a place to hang it.  Using standard sizes (which makes it easy to find a frame!), I recommended either 9”x12” or 11”x14” to address these goals – and we decided 11x14 would work perfectly.  For the picture, since Maryann is the Realtor for the house, I had plenty of great shots to choose from!  I ultimately selected the image below because it shows that major features of the house while also having some interest and mood with the slight angle, great sunlight/shadows and the beautiful scenery of the surrounding trees and rock wall.

Maryann house.jpg

With all of this decided, I was off to drawing!  The biggest challenge in drawing a house is to get all of the proportions correct, which was my initial focus.  With my pencil drawing laid out, I then wanted to create a simple, clean look with the watercolor and ink that would represent the house but not look too much like a technical rendering.

Below is the final drawing – which I am happy to report Maryann was thrilled with! 

 Enjoy,

Jason

fullsizeoutput_f52.jpeg

Decorative Painting to add Flair to remodeled Bathrooms

When I first met with my recent client Rose, she wasn’t completely certain what kind of paint finish she wanted in her recently remodeled bathrooms, but she knew she wanted something distinctive to add flair to the relatively small spaces.

 Both bathrooms were previously faux painted with a ragged technique, but the colors no longer worked with Rose’s new tile and vanities and the style looked a little outdated next to the more contemporary choices she made for the cabinetry, counter and sink.  To address this, she knew she wanted an updated decorative painting finish using gray as the main color.

 Working with Rose, we looked at multiple grays and a selection of faux finishes.  After looking at some of my previous work and the new tile in the bathrooms, Rose decided she wanted something that picked up on the texture of the tile and liked some of the “concrete-look” finishes I had done.

 To make sure we had everything dialed in just right, my next step was to do some test boards showing this finish in some of the color options Rose liked.  After looking through the options, Rose made her selection and I was ready to move forward with the project!

Since the rooms were small, it only took me a couple of days to make the transformation complete – and Rose was thrilled with the result!  Below are pictures showing the bathroom before and after this decorative painting project.

 Enjoy,

Jason

Bathroom 1 before

Bathroom 1 before

Bathroom 1 after

Bathroom 1 after

Bathroom 1 before

Bathroom 1 before

Bathroom 1 after

Bathroom 1 after

Bathroom 2 before

Bathroom 2 before

Bathroom 2 after

Bathroom 2 after

Bathroom 2 before

Bathroom 2 before

Bathroom 2 after

Bathroom 2 after