On Safari in Leesburg


If you’re ever visiting Leesburg Sterling Family Practice on Riverside Parkway, you can see this adorable safari-themed waiting room for kids.


The entire African landscape centers around a gigantic baobob tree and miles of grassy plains. A few staff members even contributed their personal photos for my inspiration.



One of the reasons we decided on this theme, as opposed to others, is the way the colors already complimented the earthtones throughout the medical center. And the carpet pattern is perfect!



Complete with elephants, zebras, giraffes and even a pesky warthog, this fun, engaging mural really brightens the space and I hope brings a smile to everyone waiting to see the doctor!




80’s Arcade Mural


When asked to paint a Pac-man themed mural for an arcade room, I jumped at the chance. Being a child of the 80’s myself, I’ve pumped my fair share of quarters into Pac-man machines growing up!


I started with my wall painted flat black. And because the Pac-man game board is square in shape, I had to do some scaling ( using math! ) to make the grid fit on the wall while keeping it as large as possible.


This design involved A LOT of measuring and leveling vertical and horizontal lines. The blue tape I used was instrumental in keeping everything evenly spaced.




The result was a fun throwback-themed arcade room!


Maryland Vineyard


This project proved the ole expression is still true- you DO learn something new every day. When this client approached me about painting scenery from his favorite wine-growing region in Hungary, I thought, “Hungary?… Who knew!” But I was definately up for the task.


The wine room was in the basement and the idea was to create a realistic view of the scene- as if one were sitting on a patio gazing out at the vista.


I figured the best way to make the setting believable was to paint a doorway looking out.


Once the scene was underway, the illusion of the door frame was painted to add to the dimensionality.


Lastly, a warm faux texture added the perfect amount of authenticity to the space. The final result was a basement wine cellar that quickly became the most popular room in the house!


From Pilot to Pirate


Aye Matey! There comes a day when every child decides their room is too ‘baby’ for them. And so is the story of this once ‘Baby Aviator’ themed nursery now turned sailor of the high seas! Inspired by the Pottery Barn bedding, this room really adds color and flare while making good use of the space available.


Like most projects, I don’t tend to spend much time drawing out the design. I think just slapping down color is the way to go! Covering the yellow with various shades of blue immediately gave the sense of an ocean and a horizon line.

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The last part of this scene by the bed was to add posts to make the bed seem like a boat tied up a the dock.

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The final result was fantastic!



… but wait- there’s more…

The client decided to go ahead and include the bathroom with the theme. But this time, I wanted to make it appear as though you were inside the ship, so I started in with dark browns to give the illusion of wooden planks that would have comprised on old pirate ship.


And yes, it was a bit nerve-racking taking a perfectly pristine white wall and adding the harsh dark tones!.. but the result was engaging and so much fun!



Lastly, the space opposite the toilet allowed just enough room to paint this barrel and treasure map. I mean, what’s pirate without a treasure map?!


Room with a View


What better way to celebrate Leap Day than with a blog post- I know, it only FEELS like I update my blog every four years… I’m trying to get better though, I promise!


This dining room project was for a brand new home. I love getting started in an empty house… the ultimate blank canvas!


A few photos for inspiration and a rough sketch was all I needed to get started.


And as usual, I don’t waste much time drawing out the details- I just like to start slappin’ on the paint!


The first day was spent mostly blocking in the water, sky, and rolling hills.


The sides were a little tricky- creating an ending point for the bridge while keeping the scene in the proper perspective. Greenery often helps achieve this easily enough.


Next I had to focus on the details of the bridge.


Greenery in the foreground added to the dimensions of the vista and really gave the scenery some pop.


Lastly I added some splashes of color with flowers and rounded out the composition with some tree branches to draw your eye toward the center.


After three days, the beautiful dining room was complete….anxiously awaiting the furniture.


Wild about Wolves


Perhaps it’s the onset of winter… or maybe the new Twilight saga coming to theatres… either way, I’m inspired to show this room.


As with every beginning, it started out as a few lines. The blue tape shows the area that will covered by the bed. The bed took up a sizeable space on the wall, so I had to be careful that the mural wouldn’t be covered up.


One of my favorite features about this design was the addition of the life-sized birch trees that seemed to grow out of the floor and right through the ceiling.


When painting with a more realistic slant, I often use pictures I find in books and online to help me paint more true-to-life.


What I especially love about this mural is how the scene conveyed this snowy wilderness habit, and yet, the overall color scheme for the room was very warm- with buttery yellows and rusty browns throughout.


Another thing I really like about this room is that it demonstrates how you can paint a scene in a room without re-painting an entire room. Rather than creating a literal division of sky and earth, the background and foreground simply emerge from the same color.


The final result is warm and wintry… and WILD….like something from a wilderness lodge!


And yes, all the wolves were given names.



Powder Room with Va Va Va Voom!


This powder room began with gorgeous marble floors and this incredible custom-built vanity. The client wanted an antiqued vanity similar to one she’d seen in a magazine.


A close up photo shows the intricate detail that went into building this lovely piece of furniture. I’ll admit- I didn’t think there was anything I could do to make this piece better- I loved it the way it was!…


But after applying the antique glazes, the sculpted detail REALLY began to come out. It just kept getting better looking!


Next, the bathroom was painted a lipstick red to pile on the drama!


But the vanity still had more transformation to go. I added a sculpting compound to give the wood a look of erosion and age.


Close up views of the doors show the erosion effect. The joke was that in 3 days, it went from being brand new to looking like something pulled out of the bottom of the ocean.


The final step was adding the elegant crystal knobs.



Proud as a Peacock


I’ve recently received a lot of comments about my peacock mural- a project I completed just before Thanksgiving 2010- so I thought I’d share the story of this incredible piece of art.


When I started working in this home, it was down to the bare drywall. Since before the floor tiles were put in place, a vision of a peacock at the top of the stairs had always been in the master plan.


And so the painting began!!…..



Once the blue fan of the peacock was blocked in, every feather had to be painted individually- a process that took several hours.


Next, a second peacock was added to the left.


The final step to the process was applying gold leaf, sequins and gemstones to EACH feather… this took DAYS to complete.


But all the work was worth it, as the creation SHIMMERED in the light of the chandelier.



Lastly, I wanted to show you the garden scene as you come up the stairs- it sets the tone for what lies ahead at the top.


This photo was taken at my first site visit- during the construction phase.


Now, a lovely palacial garden scene is just the beginning for what comes next.




Pet Portrait Helps Lend a Paw


Something I always wanted to try my hand at- dog portraits!.. A friend of mine very involved in her local Humane Society had asked me to donate a pet painting as a prize for one of their fundraisers. I was more than happy to help out. Although I had never painted a pet portrait before, the basic laws of color and composition applied just as they do for any work of art.


To begin with, I painted the canvas a medium brown color. That way I would ensure my portrait had the drama it needed to stand out and come to life. You can see the photograph I used as my reference- her name was Duchee.


Because animals are often very neutral in color- blacks, browns, greys and whites- it’s important to work in unexpected colors in your highlights and shadows. That’s what we call ‘artistic license’, but it’s also what distinguishes paintings from photographs. Yes, I want the painting to look like Duchess, but I also want the painting to be dramatic and beautiful. In this case, I used tones of orange, yellow and purple to give the painting dimension.


Lastly, just because I didn’t want the background to be too detailed, doesn’t mean it should be boring either. Shades of blue added texture and complimented the tones in the dog. The end result is a painting with soul.


All-American Tribute… for a limited time!


Ok, it is SO not like me to actually write a blog post the day after I complete a project!… However, I wanted to share with everyone my latest public work- on Halfstreet just outside of Nationals Park baseball stadium in southeast Washington DC. The mural is located just a half block away from the stadium’s main gate. You will pass it on your right if you’re walking from the Metro station.

Here’s a view from the mural looking toward the metro:

A shot out to the fine folks at Akridge Real Estate for giving local artists a chance to showcase their skill in front of literally thousands of people! They rotate through artists- giving many people a chance to display their art on that wall- so the work only stays up for a limited time.

When trying to figure out what to paint, I looked at what other artists had done and decided on a good ole fashioned patriotic-themed mural… something that I thought would resonate well with Nationals fans and the regular metro users. I based the design on the expression “As American as baseball and apple pie.” Fitting considering its proximity to a MLB park. I was actually a little surprised at how many folks hadn’t heard that saying before, so consider this the official comeback!

I began my work on Friday, July 23rd during the Dave Matthews Band / Zach Brown Band concert. A great crowd, but WAY TOO HOT! Here’s a look at the work after Day One:

I came back last night when the temperatures dropped below 100. Beautiful night! My sister gave me the idea to add glitter to the fireworks for that extra sparkle- and that’s just what I did. So it has a little extra pizazz in the evening light.


Lastly, I added a special written tribute, “God Bless ALL those who have served.” I wanted to credit not just our outstanding military and veterans, but our police, firemen, teachers. To anyone who serves the public….. my hat goes off to you!