Monday, October 17, 2016

QK Puppy Mural #11: Heartfelt Thanks

Thank you Jenny Broome Smith for giving me the opportunity to paint on your walls, giving me complete artistic freedom and having more faith in my abilities than I certainly had. Thank you Jenny and Jason Smith for your gracious hospitality in providing me, Len and the Poodie Girls, a wonderful place to stay as I painted. Many thanks to Jason for all the outstanding meals!

I thank my trusted friends and family with whom I could share my fragile preliminary sketches for input as well as many in-progress puppy images. I extend my most heartfelt thanks to Kathryn Barth, Kim Chappell, Marie McMahon, Linda Thompson, Len Wachel and Joanne Williams. Special thanks to Len, my beloved husband, who dealt with driving, packing and unpacking the car, hauling supplies and fixtures, setting up, taking care of the Poodie Girls, bringing me food, painting both the isolation and varnish coats on the final mural, and tolerating the house being over taken by puppy sketches, stencils, and canvases.


The wonderful classes that I have taken from Jane Davenport, Teesha Moore, and Carla Sonheim were key in giving me both the tools and the confidence to tackle such an ambitious project far, far, far out of my comfort zone! Thank you so very much!

QK Puppy Mural #10: Mission Accomplished


This was the final product. I achieved what I wanted to accomplish: frolicking, whimsical puppies who would put smiles on the faces of all who looked at them.

A Tour Around the Room




Puppy Groups






Sunday, October 16, 2016

QK Puppy Mural #9: Protecting the Work

Golden gave me specific advice on how to coat the puppy mural. It was important to put on an isolation coat followed by a varnish. I used glossy products for the isolation coat, but considered the satin varnish for the last coat. The last coat of varnish can be glossy, satin, or matte depending on your taste, but matte products have some solids in them and these may dull the painting. Golden recommended using satin, not matte, since the wall paint had some sheen and they said their matte was VERY matte, which proved to be true.  The satin is pretty “matte” and on my test samples I liked the result, but Jenny liked the glossy look better, so we used the glossy varnish as the final coat.

This is the formula for the coatings:

Isolation coat: 2 parts Golden medium soft glossy to 1 part distilled
water. Minimum of 2 coats - touch dry in between coats. Wait 3 days before applying the varnish.

Polymer Varnish: 3 parts varnish to 1 part distilled water. Minimum of 2 coats – touch dry between coats. We had problems with this mixture because it was very runny on the walls, so Len used the varnish almost straight out of the bottle which eliminated this problem.


All of this information is on the Golden site. I called them directly and their tech support was awesome and provided individual instructions specific for my project.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

QK Puppy Mural #8: How to Get “Un-Stuck”

I got stuck and frustrated during the process; perseverance is essential! For example, the glorious idea I could see in my mind’s eye was the see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil trio, dubbed "the evil trio" for short. This composition was very difficult and I almost gave up on it. It was difficult to get the puppies in the proper poses where they looked right. I made many sketches I didn’t like. I was about to give up and I step away from it. I was doodling in my journal while sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room and suddenly I was drawing a hear-no-evil puppy. It just came out of my pencil without even trying. That was the key. The result was the evil trio coming to life. 

The second difficulty with the "Evil Trio" was establishing the breeds and colors for the trio. Test canvases were essential as changes were made to establish the final configuration as illustrated by the following photos. It is interesting to note that these were the first puppies to be painted on the wall. I worked on the portion of the wall that could not be viewed through the kennel's viewing window. In hindsight I believe I needed to work up my confidence to create art "in public".

My original trio did not work. I determined that the brown poodle would look better as a black poodle. I used the black Lab test canvas to determine how the color palette would work before repainting.


The Springer Spaniel would not work: the white blended into the wall behind it. You can also observe how I changed the ears on the original speak-no-evil pup.

 Changing the Springer Spaniel to an Irish Setter brought the trio into balance as demonstrated by the test canvases.

The final "Evil Trio" wall painting. 


My other "problem child" was on the opposite side of the display window from the "Evil Trio". This "pile of puppies" was the last group to be created and painted. Getting the puppies to overlap properly and choosing the correct color palette were the biggest challenges.  Because they were in a darker area of the room, I needed to have good contrast between the pups or they would look like a big blob. I had problems with sizing and I needed to face them in the opposite direction to accommodate the way the door opened into the room. The stencils were lifesavers and I redid them several times. Another consideration was the need to coordinate the colors with the evil trio on the other side of the window. Photoshop, the stencils, and the test canvas were essential to making this work. My perseverance and willingness to make changes was also essential. The following photos illustrate part of the process. 

Original Sketch

Test canvas - working out color palette and positioning.

Final wall painting with changes prompted by test canvas & wall stencils.

Final redone test canvas (4 complete re-works).


It was very interesting how some of the pups were difficult and others easy. I did the south wall Golden Retriever pup on the first try without a test canvas; I mixed the colors on site. At times I thought I would never execute some of the other pup images in a successful way. I had lots of “make it work” moments.

Friday, October 14, 2016

QK Puppy Mural #7: It is all About the Prep Work

Prior to going on site to paint, I needed to be organized and do as much as I could beforehand. Physically, I could not paint for more than two days at a time, so I needed to maximize efforts as efficiently as possible. I found it best to mix the paint colors I needed beforehand, allowing that I might need to alter the colors once I got on site. I established a routine that worked well. I made material lists in my journals so I could transport what I needed efficiently.


Staging in the puppy room was also important. Sometimes I had puppies in the room with me and worked in an environment typical of a very busy kennel. Again, flexibility was key. In addition, lighting on site changed throughout the day and I needed to work with that situation, as well.