Behind the Scenes: Lieutenant Promotion

One of the highlights of my job is that I get to help my customers create that one-of-a-kind gift for special occasions. I’ve done pieces for birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day, and new houses, but now I can say I’ve done a piece for a promotion!

Almost a year ago, my friend Cheryl contacted me about doing a drawing for her husband who was expecting a promotion to lieutenant in the police force. We talked about various options for the drawing’s layout, and hoped to have it ready for Christmas as long as the promotion came through. The promotion ended up being delayed, so we aimed for his birthday in January. When that deadline came and went, we put the project on the backburner.

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: Lieutenant Promotion”

Behind the Scenes: The Hollands Theater Mural

***This post originally published November 25th, 2014***

Here’s the latest mural completed!

Size: Approximately 4 square feet

Medium: Acrylic paint

Time to complete: 4 hours! It’s unusual for me to complete any piece of art in an afternoon, especially a mural!

History behind the piece: My friend Cheryl and her family are finishing up a spare room and turning it into a home theater room. Once the walls in the room were up, there was this strip of wall right when you entered the room that Cheryl thought would be perfect for a sign. As we’ve been designing another mural to go in that room, I was asked to design a theater mural sign as well.

Thought process: While discussing the project, Cheryl mentioned the possibility of a marquee sign, which I thought was brilliant! I ended up doing four different designs, but the marquee one was by far my favorite. That was the final choice for them as well, with only one minor change: change the color of the lettering. Easy!

Problems with the piece: This one was actually fairly simple, but I had to change how I went about painting it. Originally I was going to go over for an hour and paint in the red border and then  go back after a couple days, put down tape on the border, and then roll paint the gray background in, giving me nice crisp lines. However, because we live in western New York and had all that snow, we had to keep postponing my painting sessions. I didn’t want to leave them with a partially painted mural for a really long time, so I hand painted everything in. It’s not as crisp, but it’s not too bad 🙂

Another thing that was difficult is this mural is like 10 feet off the ground, so I had to be on a ladder the whole time. As I told my husband, this was my conquering fear as I hate being close to the ceiling as it makes me feel claustrophobic. However, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and when I went back to put the sealer on the mural, I wasn’t nervous at all!

Favorite part: Everything! I think it turned out great. I really do like the lights, though. It really makes the whole thing pop!

Least favorite part: The ‘L’s in Hollands. I think the vertical parts should be thicker to balance with the other letters.

Fun facts:

– Not only is Cheryl the mother of my daughter’s best friend, she also graduated high school with my husband! What a small world 🙂

– The letters were yellow in the original design. Cheryl’s husband asked for them to be changed to black, and I thought he was crazy. I thought they’d be too dark and it would look awkward, but as soon as I started putting them in, I fell in love with them. I think it lets the other areas of the mural have their part and the letters aren’t as over powering when they’re black. Great choice, Dan!

Once the room is finished, I’ll be able to get in and do the second mural. Look for progress updates on my Facebook page and then the final reveal here on the blog!

Hollands Vault Mural Reveal!

This project has just been amazing. All the planning, designing, tweaking, more planning and designing, and waiting has all paid off, and I think all the work and wait was definitely worth it!


Time to complete: Approximately 32 hours over 8 working days in exactly one month’s time, but that’s just for me doing the actual mural. I think we started planning this about a year ago!

Primed, end of Day 1

Problems with this piece: Getting Jiminy Cricket’s face just right was hard! Also I’m not familiar at all with Eilonwy, so I really struggled with trying to get her likeness.

Favorite part: Seriously, I don’t know. I love how it looks now that it’s sealed; the characters just pop and all the colors are more vibrant. I love how both Merida and the Up house balloons turned out; both of those were two things I was most concerned about. Oh, and how excited the Hollands family was about each stage in the process!

Least favorite part: Finishing it. It was so much fun, and I’m sorry to see it done (even though it’s really exciting seeing about a year’s worth of designing and planning pay off!). But as for the actual mural, I think that there are parts I’m not as satisfied with, but I really think it turned out well.

Fun tidbits:

– There was no green paint actually used on this mural. I’m sure I just confused everyone! But I was silly and when I was buying supplies, there was no big thing of green paint. By the time I went to look at smaller green paints, I had forgotten all about my need for green. I had to hand mix all the greens!

– Mike Wazowski is the only character that did not change his pose or placement on the mural. Cheryl wanted him on the mural, and thought it’d be fun to cover him up, just like he’s always covered up on a commercial or magazine cover in Monsters, Inc. 

– Merida and Lightning McQueen are the two characters which inspired me to make a scene for the mural instead of having the characters just float around. The Flying Carpet with Alice and Eilonwy having a picnic using Mrs. Potts and Chip idea sealed the deal 🙂

– Getting this mural started was tricky; as with the other mural I did for their theater room, the first couple days I tried to get over to work had to be cancelled due to a snow storm!

– This may not be the last you see of this mural! There’s still some space for future Disney characters to get featured 🙂

– I totally cheated when doing the “Disney Vault 264” sign on the mural! I made a template, traced it, and then filled in the background color. To get the inside shapes, I just cut them out of the template and used it as a stencil!

– This was the biggest project Cheryl and I have worked together on. I’ve done various little projects for her, and then the two murals for the family. She is one of the most creative people I know, and I just get to come along and make her dreams a reality!

Characters included, with their movies:

Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio

The house with balloons from Up

Rapunzel and Pascal from Tangled

The Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty

Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University

Woody and Bullseye from the Toy Story movies

Merida from Brave

Lightning McQueen from the Cars movies

Alice from Alice in Wonderland

Eilonwy and Gurgi from The Black Cauldron

Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast

The Flying Carpet from Aladdin

Pongo and Perdita from 101 Dalmations

And finally, the big reveal….

Missed an update post? Click here to see them all!

What is your favorite part of the mural? Which Disney characters would you have included?

Hollands Vault Mural, Part 5

The mural is finished!

I spent about 6 hours working on it today; most of the work had me crouched down pretty low or even laying on the floor 🙂 I will be heading back next week to finish erasing pencil marks and then seal it. I think my youngest will miss this project; he loves getting to watch movies in their theater room!

Before doing the final reveal, here are some more progress images. Today I…

painted a rock wall while laying on the floor…

added a couple cute doggies…

blocked in a couple pretty ladies…

finished a Wonderful girl (I’m sorry the pic is blurry)…


and a princess…


and a cowboy…


and added some fun details that I’ll share in the full reveal next week!

 To see the other progress updates, click here.

I can’t wait to reveal the entire mural next week! What is your favorite part so far?

Hollands Vault Mural, Part 4

I really really really don’t want to write this blog post. Because if I write this blog post, I’m admitting I’m getting close to being finished with this mural, and I don’t want to finish.
Yes, I’m being dramatic.
I’m having too much fun working on this project. The Hollands family is so enthusiastic and just super great people to hang out with, and hey, painting Disney characters on a gun cabinet? That’s like a once in a lifetime kind of project!
On Sunday I put in about four hours of painting, and man, did I get a lot done! The entire top half of the mural is done, and here is what else I was able to accomplish:
I added a house…
Started a cowboy…
Painted three fairies…
Finished a race car…
Added a shadow…
And finished a princess and her companion!
I still have seven more characters to put in (including two princess, a mother and son duo, and a couple four legged creatures), but it’s in the final stretch now. I’m back working on it on Friday, and may even finish it then if things go smoothly.
What is your favorite character so far? Who are you hoping is still yet to come?