Early Bird Efforts

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Mr. Grackle in snow –  Picture by: Lausanne Davis Carpenter

The best remedy for surviving a twelve-hour day in cubicle-land is to spend my early mornings on my own goals. I have posted on LDavisCarpenter about the challenges of writing historical fiction and am starting a Flash Memoir side-project while chipping away at my novel.
 

I am reasonably confident in my non-fiction abilities but creative writing is – whew. I know how long it takes to develop any new skill so I want to use my life experiences as material for word-crafting practice – before I am faced with final edits of my long fiction. Flash Memoir seems like a good choice for distilling memories into words that transport a reader to another’s time, place, thoughts and senses. I also think it will be fun to capture snippets of my own crazy life in this form.

 

Meanwhile, you can see last summer’s mural on the Marsh Hawk Studio blog. I still plan to do a process post showing the steps to creating it but those pictures are on my other laptop which an Office update recently corrupted and can no longer access the internet. (Yes, thank you very much.) I will soon update the Long Ago & Far Away blog with notes on Conn Iggulden’s Genghis Khan series.

 

If I can ever get my blogs up to date AND have a day off – I’ll be back to writing my novel.



***About Mr. Grackle – just a fellow at my feeder on a snowy morning back in VA. Those eyes look like I feel most mornings before tea.

Studio 3.0 – Mural Commission

Messy Studio

Messy Studio/Warehouse

In the midst of my personal madness, I got an email requesting a small-ish mural. As it happens, I think I can actually squeeze one in between the time I get the parents physically deposited here in Florida and when I will make myself available for adjusting work again. There is going to be a phase of getting the folks settled – finding doctors, learning the roads, etc. when I don’t want to be in a 12hrs x 7days work gig.

A mural could be just the right diversion.

However, in the last 18 months, my studio has turned into a warehouse. So, the first task was to clear it out and sweep up the leaves that blow under the door.

All Better

All better – the black splodge on the floor is a permanent spill of some mystery substance from before my time.

Client meeting went well. Proposal completed and passed. Next step is a detailed drawing.

Meanwhile, I drive to Virginia tomorrow to start the final phase of loading the folks’ furniture in containers, deep cleaning the house in preparation for the market and getting them and Sally-dog into the car.

Of course, it’s going to be in the 100s in Florida and the 90s in Virginia this week. All good fun.

I think that’s enough for now.

A Little Faux of My Own

I’m south again and was hoping to start painting my parents’ new interior, but the drywallers aren’t finished yet. So, faced with a glorious day, I decided to complete a little project of my own.

My husband built this storage barn last summer. For security reasons, we didn’t want windows, but we also didn’t want to be looking at bare-faced siding. So we planned some faux windows. Hubster framed them with Hardie board; my job was to complete the illusion.Faux Windows - BeforeFaux Windows - in progress

Start to finish took about two hours – including clean-up and a fresh coat of paint on my back steps. Mind you, it could still do with a bit of shadowing and the paint bled under the tape because of the surface texture. But it does the trick “at 40 feet on a galloping horse” as we used to say in the theatre.

Faux Windows - After

It was good to be on a ladder with a paintbrush in my hand again. Been too long. But I’ve got a whole house to deal with once that drywall is in and straight painting isn’t my favorite. The decorative stuff is much more fun.

I think I should paint the door the same color as the siding. What do you think?

 

Lemon Tree – Mural Process

Just posted this on Marsh Hawk Studio site:

Main Wall Completed
Main Wall Completed
DSC_0034 - adjusted smaller
View from Entrance

There were many challenges to this design. The first was how to have lemon trees reaching up into a night sky? I didn’t want the trees directly against a deep blue. My clients were also concerned that the room not become too dark.

I suggested we transition lighter walls up through dusk and into a night sky. I had in mind the beautiful medieval Book of Hours, Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry which beautifully moves from day to night in one image.

Medieval Book of Hours
Medieval Book of Hours

This meant taking an ombré effect from night to dusk on the ceiling and into the walls.

Adding to the challenge – as I designed the walls, I knew I did not want a horizon line cutting across the imagery. That meant obscuring the horizon by taking the ombré right down to the base of the image – the chair rail.

Here’s a shot of one wall’s design elevation in progress:

Lemon Tree elevation
Lemon Tree elevation

In order to visualize the overlap of corner trees on the ceiling, I built a rough, white model and attached the wall and ceiling elevations to it. The resulting model was taped and pinned together for easy disassembly and transport. Presenting this to the clients helped them visualize their future dining room.

Model view of entry arch and colums
Model view of entry arch and columns

Watch the slideshow and see further explanation below:

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Of course, I began with the background. The ceiling and walls were textured, which added to the challenge of the gradation.

I worked a textured underlayer beneath the final grassy foreground to give it some movement, then worked over it to lighten the final effect. It took me about a week of tones and half-tones and half-half-tones to get the transitions smooth.

Referencing my renderings, I chalked in the trees, then based and added minimal highlight and shade. I did not want overly dimensional trunks, knowing my leaves would be stylized. I also didn’t want the trunks to dominate the composition. My natural bent is for high contrast so I had to restrain myself from fully developing their form.

I ordered a variety of lemon leaf stencils from Cutting Edge Stencils. These were excellent shapes but I was a little concerned about scale. Would they be too small? So, before starting the project, I cut a bunch of additional leaf stencils in larger sizes. In the end, I used all of them. Layering the slightly different sizes provided a better sense of depth.

The stencils were applied randomly, layered and with mottled tones.

Once an area had the beginnings of leaves, I stopped and added the lemons. I wanted to be sure I had leaves both behind and in front of the fruit. I stenciled the lemons with a base color and then added lights for simple form. When the lemons were dry I continued with the leaves allowing them to overlap the lemons.

My client had been enchanted by the lemon blossoms at their Sorrento restaurant so I scattered blossom shapes throughout. I had pre-cut little stencils of 7 or 8 blossom shapes.

While I was working on the trees, I chipped away at the starry sky. I used a combination of Swarovski flat-backed crystals and silver mica-powder mixed with clear glaze.

The mural’s other special features are a peace dove, a sandhill crane and a a triple merhorse fountain. This unique feature was inspired by my client’s trip to Italy. There is a large, elaborate fountain in Taormina, Sicily, that has these adorable merhorses placed along its outer edge as you can see in my prior post here. My clients requested I include only the merhorses so I created a composition that would provided the best sense of all three.

A word about color:  It is coincidental that my mural colors appear so similar to the Book of Hours image. I did not actually reference that work during the design process – it was simply in my memory as an example of a prior artist transitioning from day to night in a single image.

The colors of my mural were based on the existing colors in the home. Every color used in the mural was coordinated with the near-violet blue of the large niche or the warm ochre-tan base color and of the surrounding spaces. Nearly every color in the mural has one or the other or both of these two reference colors in their makeup.

Lemon Trees with Night Sky Mural

Here’s a new post from my Marsh Hawk Studio LLC:

I recently completed this project in Ponte Vedra, Florida. There are few experiences so thrilling as seeing your once-imagined world realized – whether on stage or in a dining room.

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My clients wanted to recreate the feeling they experienced while eating lunch at the Ristorante ‘o Parruchiano la Favorita in Sorrento, Italy.

They explained that the town of Sorrento is all about lemons and this restaurant’s patio diningroom was surrounded by fruit-laden lemon trees – blossoms drifting down all around.

They also wished to reference the enchanting merhorse fountains which flank the larger baroque fountain in Taormina, Northern Sicily.

Client's Photo of Baroque Fountain
Client’s Photo of Baroque Fountain with Merhorses

In searching for a muralist they stumbled over a prior project of mine – a night sky with crystal stars. This expanded their vision.

They got in touch and we got to work.

In my next post I will walk you through the design and painting process.

I hope you enjoy the world we created!

Studio Re-Do!

The sudden surge in painting projects forced me to accelerate plans to turn the third, small garage bay into studio space. It needs a total rebuild but no time for that right now.

So, on a recent Friday night, James got in from work and wanted to start on the revamp right away.

Here’s what the space looked like when we started:

What a Mess!

What a Mess!

Ninety minutes later, the space looked like this:

Whew, that's better!

Whew, that’s better!

A trench and grass to divert or absorb water; nasty old shelving removed and the beginnings of a Tyvec enclosure.

By mid-afternoon Saturday:

James covered the ceiling and three walls in Tyvec to give me a lighter space and separate me from the nasty framing. I confess, there are areas where there is only Tyvek between me and the great outdoors.

Ready to Go!

I also confess, the space doesn’t look nearly that tidy one week on. It’s already chock-o-block with projects and supplies.

Just the way we like it.

I don’t think my studio will ever make the pages of the “Where Women Work” publication but it works for me.

What’s your creative space like?

Architectural Detail

Nat_cath_cap_1

The scenic artist in me can’t resist architectural detail. I painted this capital in September as an exercise in tonality.

 

The reference is a photograph I took several years ago at the National
Cathedral in Washington, DC.

 

Although I don’t anticipate making a series of detail images, I will always
have an eye to interesting architecture and you will see evidence of such in
the near future.