Not your grandma’s stencil

I’ve recently warmed up to the idea of using stencils. To me, they always felt like ‘cheating’ a bit in the custom painting world- but the fact remains- they look amazing! Stencils afford you the ability to create just about any intricate pattern in an endless array of color combinations. However- anyone trying to sell you a stencil kit will tell you ( and show you ) how easy it is… and the OTHER fact is- it’s not!

Sure, it’s faster than hand-painting this bad boy- but stenciling requires effort to perfectly align the design both horizontally and vertically. In addition, the right amount of paint must be applied and the stencils eventually fill with paint and must be cleaned. This particular one soaked for 45 minutes and then I carefully scraped off the soft paint with a credit card for another 45 minutes. You can see in this photo below that I had to individually stencil on each ‘loop’ of this ornate dining room design. The other difficult part is the corners- often I had to hand-paint the corners to get the pattern to line up perfectly.


This next nursery project kinda plays an optical illusion on you. If you didn’t see the blue on the other walls, you’d think the blue pattern was the stencil, when in fact, it’s the white paint that was applied over top. Either way it goes, it looks great!

I really like this next pattern- the marrakech trellis. I’ve done this several times by hand, but really liked how the stencil version of this turned out as well. I used metallic silvers on a light beige paint to create the desired effect.

And finally, I had a lot of fun creating this custom design on a stairwell using a medallion stencil. I used the same stencil to create 3 distinctly different medallions and alternated the paint colors for even more of a variation. The random layout makes this pattern super fun!



Cozy up with Burberry Plaid

One thing is for sure- a Burberry Plaid room- much like the iconic pattern itself- will never go out of style!…. I have to give it to my clients- they are some of the most creative people!… Always coming up with the coolest ideas for me to paint.

However, don’t be fooled- even us artistic painter types have to use MATH from time to time- particularly with this pattern. ‘Winging it’ is NOT an option!… So after carefully analyzing the pattern, I came up with my measurements for each line.

We opted to do this pattern extremely large- so that you’d get the essence of the iconic plaid in a bold statement- while not making the wall too busy with a smaller scale.

In order to create the look of feel fabric- I used tape to mask the lines, but then I cross-hatched the lines, rather than roll the color on flat. I think the effect would have been lost by using solid colors. After all, a plaid is NOT solid- rather a myriad of overlapping colors.

Once my ‘down lines’ were dry, it was time to start on the horizontals. Where the colors overlapped, I was sure to paint in those areas extra full. And in case you’re wondering about that crazy green tape- it’s Frog Tape- found in most paint stores. Love the stuff!!!… I should be a spokes model for them… but I’ll stick with my day job.

Next, it was time to add the white- so I had to block off the black lines with tape- unless, again, the white line overlapped with a black line. This really did feel like weaving with PAINT!

Lastly, the red lines went into place. We used a slightly more pinkish red to give the room a softer look. For that matter, the ‘black’ was really a dark grey.

Are you starting to see how much measuring, math and leveling was involved?!.. I didn’t mind it though, because I could see the end product- and it was fantastic!

The wall had a pitched ceiling- which is hard to see in the photos. But the added height of the room was complimented by this bold plaid pattern- a perfect fit!…

The final result- clean and classic!…

While we’re on the subject- side note- but my children’s book features a character named Mrs. Brrrberry. Get it?!… Love that scarf!

I am loving it.

I wish I could use the more casual expression of ‘I am loving it’ but McDonald’s has the trademark on that one!… Nevertheless, I AM loving this McDonald’s in historic Chatham Heights near Stafford and Fredericksburg, VA.


Because this particular McDonald’s was centrally located to so many local historic sites- including Chatham Manor, Fredericksburg and George Washington’s childhood home, it seemed the logical decor for this restaurant would highlight the region’s historical heritage.

Enjoy these great before, during, and after photos!


A tree seemed to be a great solution to hide the thermostat!



The lettering was the final touch- pulling the whole theme together.



The wall as you immediately came in showcased the scenic Rappahannock River nearby.




Last, the back corner of the dining area got a major makeover by removing an old light fixture and thus making my ‘canvas’ larger.






I really enjoyed my days working there- a shout out to Ashley and all the friendly staff. I will really miss my 3pm french fry breaks and all the McCafes!

School Spirit

I thought in honor of that Back-to-School time of year and the onset of fall- a SPECTACULAR season to live in Virginia…. I’d highlight some of my previous school mural projects.

Most recently, I completed this Success Pyramid for Lakeridge Middle School in Lakeridge, VA. What an inspiring wall for all these young athletes!

Gym-blank wall

Success Pyramid Mural

Success Pyramid close up of lettering


Next, is the cafeteria stage at Baldwin Elementary School in Manassas, VA.


This was painted during the summer, so needless to say there was a lot going on- it was difficult to get a good picture!


Here’s a close up of their logo:


For Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn, VA, I painted their Stingray mascot to label the various areas in the hallway.



The gymnasium mural at Sycolin Creek Elementary in Leesburg, VA proved a little more challenging due to the acoustic boards that surrounded the gym.





For Congressional Schools of Virginia, I keep adding to the mural in the reception area. Here’s a before and after of the front desk area- showing the outside of the Early Childhood Program building.




Lastly, I had the privilege of painting the Senior Cafe at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, VA. It was a gift from the class of 2012. You can see from the before and after pictures- this added some much-needed color and excitement to the Senior-only area… afterall, they worked hard to be there!





A Tale of Two Fish

Once upon a time there was an awesome sport fishing mural that was loved by all. Several years later, the family welcomed a home remodeling project to add more space to the youngster’s bedroom. Hooray!… But as the builders tore down drywall and smells of sawdust and fresh primer permeated the air, everyone thought- “What will become of this wonderful mural?!” The old half of the room looked great… while the new half looked…. well… empty.


Fortunately for these fishing fans, help was on the way!.. It was great to see my old friend from 2008 again- one of my favorite murals to date!… And so I began the task of re-creating what the seas- or rather, the new plaster- had worn away!


Once the initial colors of sea and sky were painted, the main objective was to re-center the mural as it once looked in the smaller room. The Pottery Barn Boat bed was in the other room just WAITING to be docked here once again!.. And so began the copycat-painting of my own work!


First I needed to recreate the boat on the left- making it slightly bigger than the first time… then moving on to the fish.


I like to call this one, “Sycronized Sailfish.”


Ahhh, but the fish’s friend wasn’t there for long… soon it was out with the old, in with the new!…


Lastly, I needed to move the boat on the right to re-center the room. Beep beep!..



Finally, because there was more space then the first time, I added some fun new touches- like the lighthouse. And under the window I added a marlin chasing yellowfin tuna.



In the end- this fish tale ended up just as it began- a mural as wonderful as it was the first time.

Looking back on 2014

In honor of the (Happy!) New Year, I thought it would be fun to show you a few of my favorite projects from the past year- in this case, some creative baby nurseries. It is always my hope that nursery murals inspire joy and wonder in the little ones that grow up looking at them. It is truly a humbling experience to be invited to take part in this very special time- especially as each one of these nurseries was for the first born!

First off, we have a favorite Peter Rabbit nursery- complete with verses from the story itself.



Next- inspired by a popular Etsy artist, this mommy-to-be wanted an ‘Elephants on Parade’ themed mural for her Capitol Hill residence. SO CUTE!…



Next, these two travel themed nurseries have the same concept behind them, but are distinctively different. Both represent places the couple had traveled to, just painted in very different styles. This first one is a subtle collage mural of famous landmarks that will go above the crib.


Here are some close-ups of the beautiful detail of the Eiffel Tower, and Big Ben in London. The other landmarks depicted include the Coliseum in Rome, one of the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx in Egypt and the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.



Lastly, this nursery takes the same idea of travel, but I created a whimsical mural that spans the world- from New York to Napa to London, Paris, South Africa, Jordan, Israel- finally finishing up in DC- where the new life will begin his or her journey.




Now I just want to pack my bags and go on an adventure!… but lucky for you, I’m here with paintbrush in hand waiting to do the next great project!…. Wishing you all a happy, healthy 2015!

Wild about Stripes!


Why do I love painting stripes SO much?!… simple explanation: they always look incredible. And ANY room in your home can benefit from their clean, classic appeal- from dining rooms to nurseries to bathrooms. Stripes always, always, always look fantastic!


Sure, most of the time the stripes are verticle, but they can be horizontal too!


Painting stripes takes patience: Measure, level, line, tape, paint, peel, repeat. But I always find it funny when my clients seem to be apologizing for what they consider an agonizing, monotonous task. When the simple truth is- I love it. It is relaxing in its simple repetition and finite like a math problem- there is only 1 correct answer! I don’t have to stand back and ask myself “do I need to paint a tree in this corner? Will adding this building throw off my composition?” No way!


AND… unlike wallpaper- where you are limited to what’s out there- with stripes there is an infinate combination of colors, textures, and variations of widths to choose from. No two projects will ever look exaclty the same!



Gray- or GREY ( I can never get them straight! ) is a really hot color right now. Stripes are a great solution to using this edgy color while still infusing some brightness into the room. I just recently finished these pin stripes, ‘Classy’ said the young man. I couldn’t agree with you more!


So now that you know how much I love stripes, pick a room that you want to dress up a little and give me a call!


Model Train Room


A model train room enthusiast from Herndon, Virginia contacted me to begin transforming his garage into a model train room. Something I’d never done before, so I jumped at the opportunity!


In the beginning, the area along the walls were fairly open- making it easy to paint. Once the mural was completed, the giant stage-like platform would become the base for the town and all the railroad tracks. But at the time, it just made a great table for laying out all my paint colors!


The overall look and feel for this mural was Pennsylvania in autumn- showing farms, rolling hills, a little white chapel and a lot of beautiful fall colors in the trees.


If you know anyone that is into model trains, you know that they are IN to them!.. It is a hobby that requires dedication, attention to small details… and a fair amount of expendable income. So it takes time to get everything just the way the want it.


Needless to say, I was thrilled to receive these pictures showing the finished product!



From Barn Door to Shoji Screen

I do a lot of tranformations in this line of work, but this recent painting project turned out SUPER! But unfortunately, I cannot take the credit for the idea itself- it was a concept my client in Laurel, Maryland had for her upstairs hallway. She wanted to replace the standard doors opening into her hallway bath and laundry room with barn doors in order to maximize space. She already had an extensive collection of Japanese artwork, so the idea of painting the doors to look like a Japanese shoji screen just came naturally.


The first task was to draw the lines in even segments. I decided is was a good idea to make use of the blank wall space in between the two doors since it was similar in size to the doors.


I reinforced the lines with a little dark paint so they wouldn’t get lost when I started adding the background colors. Nothing drastic- just subtle gold and cream tones to give the impression there was light behind the screens.



Next, I painted a shadow of a tree- to break up the stoic pattern but to also add softness and interest to the overall look and feel of real shoji screens.


Finally, I needed to make the lines of the screens really pop- making them clean and precise, so that part was done last. Some blue painter’s tape helped keep everything tidy and looking good. The contrast of light and dark tones is really what is needed to make this design work!


The result was truly incredible- a perfect compliment to the kimono hanging in the foyer and the perfect tones for the lightly colored hallway.


Below you can see the door opening up the the bathroom.


As one final touch, the inside of the hallway bathroom was painted with this koi pond scene.


Broadway Dreams


When Showcase Dance studio in Manassas approached me about doing a Broadway-themed mural for one of their dance studios, I was thrilled!


The space was truly a ‘blank canvas’- a large wall about 9 ft high and 20 ft long. In order to get a good grasp on the concept, I printed out pictures of New York City and Broadway to help inspire my sketch.


In order to give the mural a nightime feel with glowing lights, I started by painting the entire wall a midnight blue. Then, as I added the bright colors, it was like painting with flourescent lights!




The final result was eye-popping and colorful- hopefully a great reminder to the aspiring dancers of where they can go!