Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vintage Inspiration

I recently had the opportunity to make two vintage inspired pieces -- both very different in style, but such a joy to paint them both!

The first piece was for a terrific Etsy customer who wanted a fun vintage piece for her little girl's room.  Here is what we came up with:

Harper's painting is 24" x 30" and is so girly, fun, and full of fabulous polka dots! We don't have a lot of "girly" around the Murray house, so it was really a treat to do this project. 

The second piece is a 24" x 36" replica of a beautiful 1950's vintage French poster...

I only dream of a waistline like that motorbike girl!  Maybe I should lay off the Valentine's Day treats that are already appearing in our house.

This project was very special for me for two reasons.  First, I was honored to paint this for one of my oldest friends that I haven't seen in a decade... we started Daisy Girl Scouts together when we were five!  She and her husband really loved this vintage poster, so she surprised him with a replica of it for Valentine's Day.  She also has an incredible talent for photography if you happen to live in the LA area! check out her stuff 

The other special factor with this project is that it reminded me of my grandpa.  Grandpa Maeder raised his family in Hollywood and was a sign painter there.  With today's graphic design technology, it is hard to imagine the "art" of old fashioned sign painting that was needed in the early/mid 1900's.   Signs like these were all painted by hand:

This lost art involved a super steady hand and years of practice painting straight lines, perfect circles, etc.  Let me tell you, it's tough! Technology obviously has made this more of a nostolgic practice than a profession these days, but I still remember in the early 1980's, when I was very small, seeing my grandpa painting signs in his garage for some faithful clients who chose to have their signs fabricated the old fashioned way.   The lettering on the original "Favor" poster was most likely done this way too.

My hand is not as steady as Grandpa's was... so I will tell you that I cheated just a bit.  I taped off the straight edges on the letters and used some different sized plates from my kitchen to trace the "O" in FAVOR.  Then I took a tiny brush and smoothed out the edges where my hand shook a bit.  Makes me never want to take for granted the privilege of "ctrl P" available at my finger tips for perfectly printed letters! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Perfect Polka Dots

Ok, so my polka dots really are not perfect, but it just wouldn't be a clever alliteration if I titled it, "Fairly Decent Polka Dots," now would it?

In the world of children's art, I encounter the polka dot often. I love polka dots, but armed with just a paint brush and a canvas, these little circles can be a challenge! I thought I would share some of my favorite polka dotting tools. I am sure there is some fabulously expensive polka dot stencil/ tool thing out there that I am missing out on, but the things I use are very low-tech and you probably have them around the house.

The first item I can't live without is painters tape. I use this when polka dotting to tape off even rows and columns for the dots. Then I break out the "fancy" tools...

For tiny dots like these I just use the tip of a paint brush... not too exciting.

For dots that are a little larger like these... the best tool I have found is this:

Just a plain old #2 pencil. A new eraser is a perfect circle, and is super easy to clean. After I tape off some even rows, the pencil eraser is a quick polka dotter.

For a BIG job like this one that was several square feet of polka dots:

My favorite thing to use are those round circle stickers that you can buy for your garage sale.  You know the stickers... pink = $0.10, Green = $0.50 or whatever (you can actually buy them with the dollar value on them).

I paint the whole area that will be polka dotted in one color (the color that I want the dots to be).  Then I measure even rows and columns with tape and stick these garage sale stickers where I want the dots to end up.   I then paint over the top with a second color that will be the background for the dots.  Once this has dried pretty well, I peel off the stickers and have my polka dots!

"Polka Dot"  is a funny word.  Being the nerdy nerd that I am I looked it up to see what "polka" has to do with "dots"?  The answer... just about nothing.  In the 1840's the Polka dance was so popular that manufacturers started naming all sorts of random things after it.  No joke. There was Polka gauze, polka hats, polka curtain bands, etc.  I guess only the "polka dot" survived the ages.  I wonder what the equivalent of that would be today? 

Well, should you feel the need to polka dot, hopefully now you are fully prepared for the fun. Happy polka dotting!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Great Send Off

Today I was doing a little painting and thinking about all the pieces of art that I shipped in the month of January. January was a great month!  I was able to work with some really kind Etsy folks and even made something for one of my oldest friends.  

I started thinking about all the canvases that came through my art/ guest/ work out room (yes, it is about 8' x 10' and used for all three purposes). Sometimes I get attached to my little art pieces.  Nerdy, I know! I see them grow and change for weeks, look at them hanging on the wall, take pictures, carefully wrap them up, and then say good bye and send them off to their new home. 

Sometimes I wonder about my little ones as they travel across the country...Did that UPS driver take seriously the giant word "FRAGILE" that I wrote with a huge, black sharpie?  Did they put a big heavy box on top of it?  Did I pack it tight enough?  Was half a roll of packing tape enough?  Do they have their lunch, coat, and homework? Oh wait, these aren't my kids :)

Oh boy...just think of the issues I will have in four years when I drop my actual child off at kindergarten. 

More than anything, I am thrilled to send my art to new homes.  I feel joy when I think about a little kid getting excited about the trucks or monkeys hanging on his wall...or a surprise gift that someone has purchased for family.

Right now I have 12 unfinished pieces upstairs in the guest/ work out/ art room, so I'm thinking I should probably stop blogging and go take care of my little art pieces so they can go meet their new families.