Bluebird Sign Gets Repair

Shovel Packing Bird Miner

This sign is a shovel-packing bluebird with a large orange beak who is ready to find his own gold mine. Spending some time on the internet I tried to identify what type of bird he must be. Unfortunately, I was not able to find him. But, there are really interesting things about birds to check out if you are interested in amazing beaks on birds.

bluebird sign dryingThis bluebird sign is in need of quite a bit of repair since he has had a lot of traffic on the trails. The first thing we do is sand him on both sides, seal the back with a coat of white paint and let him dry.

Standing Mr. Orange beak bluebird up alongside the table edge shows me that he is still stable and intact on the bottom, even though there appears to be a lot of damage.

bluebird sign vertical

He got hits all over!

bluebird sign on table

After lifting him up onto the tabletop I begin to see the details of his damaged edges and surfaces. It is evident that his claw feet are simply worn away on the bottom edge. Along the right side, his shovel handle has become quite uneven with repeated ski pole pokes. I won’t worry about the rough edges for these though, as both claws and shovel handles can be uneven and no one will notice.

Face and Neck Repairs

bluebird sign close face

Now, our bluebird has damages that require some creative redesign and crafty  changes. Wear and tear shows on his neck, his left eye and the light bulb on his helmet. I believe I can remove his mining helmet and use that upper area for his blue head instead. This will allow me to move his face to the right enough to be able to give him his eye back. Artistic tweaking.

Bluebird Back and Tail

His body back and all his feathers got traffic but his lowest feather got the worst of it. The bluebird needs lots of paint.


bluebird sign close tail

Beginning with his bluebird tail feathers and the rest of his body, then proceeding to orange claw feet and beak.  Browns are next for the shovel handle and grays for the shovel. I put highlights on wings and body, purposely making them rougher looking to help disguise the damage and uneven surfaces.

Using black and white paint to repair his eyes and the space between him and his shovel, the last touches are complete. I hit any highlights or shadows that seem lacking in other areas at the same time .

bluebird sign dry with raccoon

The final adjustment is taking his beak right across his eye in the rear, which gives a better representation of 3D with it’s overlapping. Another last minute item was the addition of some orange eyebrows.bluebird sign finishedOur shovel-packing bluebird with a large orange beak is finished and sealed, ready to go back up on the hill and be discovered by those skiing the trails. Another of the fun animal character signs at the best family ski resort, 49 Degrees North  Ski Resort in Chewelah WA.

 

Gold Panning Bear Repairs

Damage Assessment

bear panning gold beforeThis gold panning bear is grinning happily because he has some gold nuggets in his pan. He has had a lot of interaction with the kids on the hill over the past ten years. Honestly, his gold pan is completely empty, so, it is logical to assume that gold nuggets are an  intense natural target area.

bear Gold Panning InitiallyInitially, we had placed him in the “trash” stack because his right leg was gone! But, I see minor damages on edges and scattered across his interior body, so he catches my attention again. 

Barely a Second Chance

bear panning gold face & hat

Looking at this poor gold panning bear dude a second time an idea comes to me. We could change his standing position to a kneeling one. This would require only minimal grinding and painting. Hopefully, this will work. If it does, there will be one more animal character returning to the kids trails up on the mountain

Gold Pan Bear Repairs

gold panning bearFirst, I seal this gold panning bear’s green hat and edges along with any random poke holes in this color area.
Second repair area, are the whites in his eyes and teeth and then switching to black doing the same.

Third, I get out the blues and work on his blue jeans figuring out the best shape to make him kneel. The trick being, to try and make the trimming at the base simple yet strong as possible.

Fourth, his gold pan needs new shadow and some bright highlights to be ready to discover some gold. We start with pan paint still wet and sprinkle in some glitter to give the pan some shine. Then blue dots are added to his red suspenders over where the holes are from getting poked. Nothing wrong with filling the dents in if I can.

bear gold pan glitter
Fifth, all of the brown fur area needs repainting to fill in pokes and accentuate the highlights and darks to bring them back alive. Then, we cut the bottom of the sign off even and paint in his blue jeans as if he is kneeling on a rock by a stream.

bear gold pan upper body

Foremost in my mind is a desire to direct the anticipated damage to a more durable area on the animal. The gold pan is low and centrally located and the gold pebbles were all taken that were glued there a decade ago. So, the logical solution is to make that gold pan a real attractive area, with shine and gold again.bear gold panning nuggets be4ar gold pan nuggets

Our happy gold panning bear is all done, ready to return to the trees on the hill! Would you like to learn a little about gold panning?

Pirate Birthday Cake

Jake the Pirate Birthday Cake

The request is for a birthday cake with “chocolate!!!” and Jake the Pirate from Disney. After looking up the kids animated series and found the cutest characters. I need to make a real quick sketch to verify if this is the correct series, then I do a pencil sketch for Henry to have of his own.

Jake the Pirate sketchJake the Pirate Drawing

Bake and Fill the Cake

First, I bake four layers of really rich chocolate birthday cake.

four chocolate cakes

Next, quickly whip up a special secret “flavored” cream cheese  filling for between the layers. Finally, I finish up by cooking a batch of real fudge frosting to ice it with.

Birthday Cake Fondant

Now, comes the hard part for me on this birthday cake. I have never made fondant before, so I looked up how-to on the internet and get to making it. I wanted to make the cartoon characters and his name out of this fondant instead of using frosting. You know, always trying something new.

fondant topping

The recipe made up a lot of fondant, actually it was too much, so I covered the top of the already frosted birthday cake and decided to paint a little scene on it.

 

More Than Just Sticky

I know the recipe said it was sticky but there should be a stronger word to describe how sticky fondant really is. Wow.

The next process for me was experimenting with my food coloring and cake decorating glitters to see what they would do on this fondant top coating. It is a very different glowing kind of coloring. It almost seems like a glaze after you coat it a few times. Hmmmm. Here is the background sand, water and skyline.

Pirate, 6, bird characters on cakePirate and number 6 on cake

The little characters took longer than expected due to the stickiness and getting the paints to work on them after cutting them out. This is Jake the pirate on the cake and the number six on the counter with the parrot with the paints. Whew! Frosting seems much easier all the time.

Henry's name on cake
Finishing up you can see that I have made Henry’s name in the same style that they use on the series. Which kind of looks like shipwrecked lumber nailed together. After getting it all assembled I went ahead and sprinkled some more shredded chocolate on the top.
finished birthday cake

Chocolate Birthday Cake 

I am really sure that this cake will not be mistaken for anything but chocolate.

 

Nervous Bear Ski Repair

Looking at the BearBear Skiing Sign 01

This animal character sign is a bear learning to ski. While his major damage is not very obvious, he does have poke holes in scattered places  the majority of them being the ski pole and claw area. Most importantly, he is missing half of his back ski. I wonder how many people will notice that the ski is half gone?

Bear Repair Process

Bear Skiing Sign 02

First, I paint the bear fur in browns using a red tint to bring some surfaces closer in appearance.

Colors Change

Bear Skiing Sign 03

This close shot shows how a warm red tint tends to draw his front leg closer to our eyes. In contrast, an addition of a cool blue makes shadow appear pushing his other leg back away from us. Isn’t it amazing to move areas with just a small addition of different colors? Certainly, art is cool.

Drying

Bear Skiing Sign 04

I paint the various blue accessories, including his small blue neck warmer, ski’s and pole and set him to dry. Not everything can be done on wet surfaces, and needing a completely dry surface to apply details, I set him down to dry.

Details

Bear Skiing Sign 05

Working on camouflaging the bear’s missing ski problem I use his ski pole to diffuse attention as we visually separate the skis. The ski pole basket is deliberately located right at the intersection point of the two skis. Hopefully, this will cause a distraction resulting in effectively blurring the area between the two ski surfaces. Best case scenario result is, a redirection of the viewer’s attention away from the bear back paw being located way to far back on the ski. With an ounce of distraction the artist becomes a magician. Bet you didn’t know that about being an artist.

Bear Skiing Sign 06

Continuing, with black outline details that exaggerate his wide-open expression and adds shadows above and below the eyes his face transforms.

Bear Skiing Sign 07Likewise, his mouth line makes-ready for later additions of his tongue and sweat. Why? Because, I plan to make him have a really nervous expression as learns to ski. A similar expression to the little people that will be poking at him later on the beginner ski trails.

Finishing

Bear Skiing Sign 08
Now, the nervous skiing bear repair is complete and he is drying on the table. Even though he is a nervous wreck as he learns to ski he will be ready to go play with the other kids learning on the trails up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA.

Snowshoe Rabbit Fix

Ouch

Rabbit Sign
rabbit after sanding

This poor snowshoe rabbit holds a pick ax on his way to look for gold in, “them there hills”. As a result of the traffic in the past decade,  a lot of damage evident. It looks like the majority of the hits are on his paw holding the pick and the paw below. Similarly, the cheeks, mouth, ear, nose, and eyes have gotten their fair share of damage. Repairing this character is a real art challenge, but hang in there, because his transformation will amaze you.

Animal Tracks

This critter is one of the types making those footprints that you see in the snow when you are going up the lifts on chairs 1 & 4 because you get close enough to the ground to see them there. It is kind of amazing how far they can jump, even in deep snow. Do you wonder what bunny tracks look like in the snow? Check them out here

Backgrounds

rabbit sign 02
It is obvious that this fluffy furry guy is mostly whites with a few facial, ears, and tool shapes scattered here & there. I will use methods that I employ when painting snow landscapes in the fine art world. Most importantly, this means that I can not use much white straight out of the can. With a limited pallet, I give you clues by tinting the whites differently to show varying depths of field.
rabbit sign 04
On this area, I add a touch of blue and gray to the white as I coat his body below his chin.  I need to trick you into thinking he is a real live rabbit standing in front of you. Certainly, a limited white and grey  pallet are not making this easy to accomplish on a flat piece of wood. Um Huh!

What is Next?

rabbit sign 05
Painting over our rabbit’s other features and you may notice a slight yellow tint in his whites on the ears, cheeks and eye area. Because, those surfaces need to appear closer being lighter and warmer. Additionally, I move his right hand location away from the most severely damaged area. This gives a new target to aim for, that has not had any damage yet. I apply a coat of white and light pink to toes, ears, and nose and thankfully, I can still see where the eyes and teeth are underneath. I put a watered down coat of purple brown on the ax handle so I can see where to paint paw hands.

Rabbit Values

Darkening the chin under the rabbit teeth, nose and between the eyes makes his features begin to pop. I darken the chest and belly and you can start to see that 3D thing mentioned before. The uneven values and layers are beginning to hide the majority of the damages that were so evident before.

See how much white it takes to really cover?

rabbit sign 06
It drives my husband crazy when he sees me dip my brush into paint cans without washing it first, because he used to work in a hardware store mixing paint for people. Ha Ha. You can see my fancy artist palette upfront on the table. I use a paint can lid turned over with drizzled spots of the paints that I anticipate mixing. Truthfully, I hardly ever use a plain clean color while painting murals or signs. The only place I feel it is necessary to keep paint clean and pure is when I have to paint the walls of a room or a house exterior, otherwise “the sky is the limit” when rendering, right?
rabbit sign 07
A closer shot shows the blue grays working to distance his chest and make his teeth show up front. His hands are placed on the ax handle and more grays areas are put on his ears and cheeks.

Darkening the lower belly and lightening the leg upper thighs starts to show the separation between the knees and hand paws up front. Progressing, the highlights are added to toes with a touch of light on his shoulders to keep the body connected to his face and neck. Seems like his rabbit character is coming to life.

rabbit sign 08

Finishing

rabbit sign 09
drying

Coming into the home stretch now, you will notice details around his eyes, ears, nose and whiskers being quickly added. His teeth are now casting a shadow and his arms holding the ax are outlined to separate along with his kneecap and ear intersection.
Our fluffy snowshoe Rabbit, is drying on the dining table ready to greet the kids on the hill again at 49 Degrees North this winter.

Animal Character Signs

Mystery and Adventure

animal sign repairs
Peter repairing animal character signs.

The animal character signs tucked in and around the trees are one of my favorite things at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort (Chewelah WA). We are lucky to have really talented people in the ski school (Rick) and childcare center (Allison). Great things happen when experts teach our youth to love a sport, because they think of these kinds of tools in their program, a mystery scavenger hunt through the trees. First of all, Eric’s sister (sorry I don’t know her name) started it all. She is an artist who designed some great cartoon animal characters in a miner’s theme. She painted them on the walls in the kids club area and on plywood signs… hence, starting this whole thing way back when.

These animal signs are strategically placed in the trees on the bunny hill trails for the kids to find. Most of the time, the kids touch or poke the animal as they ski past. Everyone tries to be the first to find all of them, as a result, learning to ski is a lot more fun.

Sign Maintenance

About ten years ago (2008) when I painted the children’s nursery, it seems like only a couple years ago to me, anyhow, I repaired and painted some of the old ones and made some new animal signs. Well, these animal characters get a lot of traffic and they consequently, need some tender loving care. Pete and I repaired the damage this week getting them ready for this season. There is a total of 12 animal figures that we loaded up and brought home. All in all, we were able to resuscitate 10 of them so far.

Before

Bear on Ski's SignBear on Skis

Blue Bird With Shovel SignBlue Bird with Shovel

Fox SignFox

Frog SignFrog

Moose A SignMoose A

Moose B SignMoose B

Rabbit SignRabbit
Raccoon SignRacoon

Red Bird on Cart SignRed Bird on Cart

Snake SignSnake

Both Moose are still being painted but all the rest are done and we will show you progress pictures on following posts. We are waiting to find out if the hill management wants the two other guys redone or redesigned or used for fire starter. They got missing limbs.

Broken Miner SignBroken Miner Sign

Broken Bear Panning for Gold SignBroken Bear Panning for Gold Sign

Come check out the slopes

up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort, maybe we will see you up there. Kids are happy up there, so are the adults.

Finishing Details on Mural

1_49MuralDetail

Adding finishing details and final touches to this winter scene interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. My scaffold gets packed up and I use the ladders to work on the last parts of this project. With my smallest brushes, I paint, then backup to see how the whole wall looks to me. This little step-back-and-look habit, always really helps me to change my perspective making it possible to see things I do not notice when I am close to the wall. After repositioning myself, I usually see missing items better.

02_49MuralDetail

Watch Out

Mountaintops in the winter can easily become an addictive thing. This whole project is quite an enjoyable one for me as I am painting from my own memories on the hill. There is absolutely nothing like spending the day speeding down a powdery hill feeling the cold wind kissing your face. Your eyes take in some of the best views on the planet as your heart races similar to being on a rollercoaster. If you have not tried skiing yet, don’t miss out on this wonderful experience in your life. You may find that winter will become your favorite time of year! Really!

I tell you the truth, skiing is just about as much fun as you can have without breaking any laws.

01_49MuralDetail

Finishing Touches

I carefully add scattered groups of detail in larch and birch between the evergreens bringing a little realism into the whole impressionistic view. Stepping back, lets me notice that I am missing majestic tamarack trees both in the background and up front. Next some shrubbery is added at the tree bases using a rigger brush with dark browns and then adding snow on some of them. Some of the closest snow mounds receive a stroke of white to finish them up.

03_49MuralDetail

Standing back to get a better look, another missing ingredient comes to mind. I can’t forget to add little clumps of snow resting on the branches of the trees. If you knew our family, you’d know why that snow is important! Especially Patrick, who is known for sharing those clumps of snow with unsuspecting fellows on the slope. Okay, remember now that payback is patient dude!

Wall “A” is a twenty foot long space and all details are complete now.

Finished 49 Mural Wall A first half Finished 49 Mural Wall A second half

Wall “B” is a forty-foot wide wall in three sections, having 2 columns and a doorway in it. It also has a rather large storage cabinet built into the corner behind the cash register. It was kind of tricky to figure out where to put the finishing details and not cause confusion or competition with the door or columns, and use of the benches. People tend to hang out and examine the details in a mural, so I try not to interfere with the business by drawing attention with the placement of details to areas away from traffic patterns if possible.

finished 49 Mural Wall B1 Finished 49 Mural Wall B2 Finished 49 Mural Wall B3

Wall “C” is now finished as the shortest twelve foot wall that divides the nursery from the children’s club. The cash register counter is on the right where parents check-in with their children dropping them off for lessons on the hill.

49MuralWallC

“All Pau!” with this winter mural.

When you are all finished with something, then you are “all pau” with it in Hawaii. Which is simply a scrap of trivia information for those of you who enjoy collecting those little bits of information. I can’t wait to start skiing this season! Hope you can come up to 49 Degrees North to see the mural and let me know what you think. Time to pray for snow everyone!

Finish a Mural

One Step at a Time to Finish

Finishing involves painting, cleaning up and changing colors to do it again. Persistence pays off in this line of work, and so does good planning. Remember, taking time to plan for less cleanup makes the process of painting a large mural much easier. I paint the entire length of the surface over and over until I’m done. Simple tools are what I use, like a handy “paint can lid” pallet with large pools of the color on it. It is easy to hold in one hand as I use it to mix paints on my brush. Most importantly, if I run low on a  color, it is easy to go back and dip in the bucket to quickly refill and continue. I grab my brushes and paint anything I run across on the wall using that group of colors. 

“B” is the longest wall being 40 feet long (400 sf), and Wall “C” is 12 feet (120 sf).

wall B treelineWhen I put the frosty trees in, I also put in more of the white on the mountain tops at the same time. Catching all the things using whatever color I am working with.

wall B treeline 3I see a real good separation after the green and gray treelines on the horizon are rendered.

wall B treeline 4Adding the trunks with dark shadows on the closest evergreens to give a deeper feel to their shadows.

Day is Finished

max 1

When I am wanting to get a mural finished, I get kind of lost in my painting and loose track of time. The jobsite supervisor is telling me it is time to get home as he sings me a howling song. It is real good for me to have this kind of buddy around because he makes me take breaks and walk around with him. He never lets me eat lunch alone. If I get lost in my work Max will bring me back down to reality. Dogs are some of the best people! If you would like to see more of this fantastic dude check out this link.

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Foggy or Not on the Mountain

Allisons Idea for the mural
Allisons Idea for the mural

Now it is time to add fog on a mountain top. Ever wondered what fog is?

The under painting is done. Here is a refresher peek at the sample provided. To me this appears like a foggy day of snowing on the mountain. Toning down all the colors by applying a layer of gray and then rapidly wiping with sponges to remove layers.

Before the Fog on the Mountain

wall A Before FogHere is a picture of wall A before the fog layer is applied to the mountain scene. You can see the bright trees and slopes very clearly.
After the fog layer application here is how it appeared.

After the Fogwall A after fogwall A after Fog with BThe difference is really noticeable when you look around the corner at wall B without the fog. Hmmmmm.

I took a few more comparison looks from the second wall and the fogged wall and my gut reaction was YUCK! So before I did any more of the walls, I walked up to the ski resort offices and asked the big cheese to come on down and take a peek before I proceed. He walked in immediately noticing wall B located straight in front of him, which had not been fogged, and said he liked it. Then he turned to his left and saw wall A with the fog layer and just blurted out, “I hate it!” He much preferred the other walls and so did I. Yay.

Error

That meant I had to remove as much of the layer of paint making up the fog as soon as possible. I spent the next half hour scrubbing with sponges and towels and was able to lift off about half the gray. Repainting the dulled areas I changed some of the color scheme as I proceeded. The most noticeable color changes were to add more green tints to the faraway tree line on the horizon. It was a couple hours of fine-tuning to get the vibrancy back so all three walls were friends again. Here is how wall A looks after the re-do was done.

wall A redo

These kinds of things happen, but I am getting better at trusting my instincts and questioning whenever I get a feeling things are not right. I never assume that I know better than my customer, making an effort to always listen to what they want. At least I didn’t go ahead with what I thought they wanted and do the whole project and have to do it all over after they let me know. Re-do’s aren’t much fun so if I can limit it to a lesser quantity I am a lot happier.

Trees, Trees, Trees

Painting winter trees for an interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. These trees in a winter landscapes do not come naturally for me, I had to teach myself. I did not grow up knowing what the trees look like here or even knowing what winter looks like. At 30-years-old I moved from the tropics to Washington State and fell head-over-heals in love with winter and skiing. My eyes have seen a lot of these views over the years. Which was helpful in teaching myself about the four seasons, flora and fauna up here in the northwest.

One of the things that used to throw me for a loop, “What is the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees? ”

Painting Winter Trees

After figuring out the type and style of the trees in this mountain top mural, it becomes easier to proceed. I notice that I am painting 4 different color schemes of trees on the mountains. Painting one type of tree at a time throughout the whole 52 feet before changing color pallets, saves me time and energy. It also proves that doing all of one task before starting another is a good idea. My color pallet is usually a paint can lid with pools of 3-5 different colors that I mix as I paint.

I’m sure a thesis or two have been written about this phenomenon  being discovered. Words come to mind like productivity and work efficiency, you know, all those “foreign terms” to an artist’s soul. 

Winter Trees in the Distance

Wall C Horizon treesFaded and short rows of trees rendered in the distance. Grabbing very light blue, green, grays and white colors and I quickly add a horizon row of faded distant trees. Starting on wall “C” I put a line of light gray with a touch of teal small trees on a distant ridge just below the mountains.

Mid Range Frosty White Trees

Wall B Mid Range Grays

Frosty whites painted in the medium distance area overlapping the trees in the distant horizon. Cleaning the brushes, I place random frosty white trees by first under painting a gray base. By the time I finish the last base the first one is tacky enough to add white layers on top.

Gray and Green Trees Mid Range

Wall B Mid Range Trees

Grayed greens overlapping the horizon line and mixed in the middle with the frosty whites. Cleaning the brushes again I grab grays with my primaries and begin mixing by dipping the brush in different colors and mixing on the wall as I paint.

Large Up-Front Green Trees

wall B & C trees

Lastly, are the large forest green trees that are close-up in the foreground. I begin to render these only occasionally in the image.

As I finish all the trees on wall “B” & “C” I look back at the first wall “A”. I see an error. It becomes obvious that I have put way too many trees in the foreground on that wall. There is a good reason to not have the trees come right down to the base of the wall where the bench and cubbies underneath are for the kids. Keeping the lower wall area clear allows the kids to be able to lean back without worrying against the wall. Furthermore, with too many trees coming right down to the bench makes the sight becomes distractive and busy, instead of comforting and inviting. I make a mental note to myself to change the first wall to have less up front and personal trees to remedy this.

Wall A Grays and White Trees

You can see how changing the trees to gray and green along with the frosty whites and leaving only a couple green guys up front totally changed it into a more distant and approachable view.