Old Bones

My latest project got delivered last week, just in time for Halloween.  This guy was so much fun.


If you have been reading my blog you know I recently donated an art chair to a charity event.  If you haven’t been following you can catch up here.  This chair was a commission that came from the event.  It will be a gift for someone who LOVES Halloween.

The chair was another of my “storage stash”.  My client gave me complete freedom to come up with something Halloweeny.  I considered a Frankenstein or zombie, but when I pulled the chair out of my storage unit it just pretty much screamed “skeleton”.  Here is the chair before I went to work on it. white chair 1

It is a good thing that I work in solitude.  I’m sure people would be concerned about the crazy lady sitting and staring at a chair.  That is how it starts. I just sit and stare or walk around the chair conjuring up designs in my head.

I enjoy the fun of Halloween, but am not one to watch horror movies or read Stephen King novels.  Try as I may (and I don’t really try), there will not be gore in my work.  The zombie idea went out the window pretty quickly for that reason alone.  Finally I jumped in with a good coating of white chalk paint and then sketched out the skull and rib cage.

The black is done in enamel.  After everything was painted I had take some more sitting and staring time.  Did I leave it stark black and white or did it need a glaze?

Painting finished but unglazed.
Painting finished but unglazed.


I am a learn by doing person, so I decided to try a black glaze that I had never tried to do before.  The worst that could happen would be having to repaint a few areas if it was not looking good.  Jump in and swim!  I started with the legs where there were no details that would have to be repainted.  There were more moments of sitting and staring to determine if the look was going to be what I wanted.  Finally I glazed the seat and back.  If you try this, be prepared to get some exercise.  Work in a small area at a time, then rub off the glaze where you want the color to show through more.  I had to do lots of detail rubbing around the ribs, spine and teeth to get the effect I wanted.  I also sanded a few places lightly where the black was heavier than I wanted.  Finally I applied three light coats of spray clear polyurethane to protect it.

Detail of the legs unglazed and glazed
Detail of the legs unglazed and glazed

I was pleased with how Old Bones came out and had a great time designing it.  It was about a 12 hour project.  Much shorter than the 40+ hours the Doves & Daisies chair took.  Now I’m looking for my next chair project. I have a wingback chair in my stash that might get the treatment but I have to get through the holidays first.

Old Bones all finished and ready for his new home.
Old Bones all finished and ready for his new home.

Have a wonderful week.  Next week I will let you know how my horse skills are going.



Art Chair Auction results

Here is the final installment about my art chair.  If you are just finding this blog you can check out the beginning of this story here, here and here.   I left off where I had just delivered my chair to the business that was hosting the event.  I was worried that I the wax would cause more problems with the permanent marker I had used for the outlines. It would be several days before it would be on public display and I would be able to check on it.  My extra paint was safely stashed away in case I had to do emergency repairs.

What a relief to see that all was well with my chair.

A few days later the store contacted me to see if I would be willing to do an interview about the event, my chair and the process.  Yeah!  I had a chance to go see my baby and see how she was doing.  After a quick check, I was able to let out a sigh of relief that all was well.  No more bleeds.

Here are a couple of photos of my chair on display.  The chairs were divided among the downtown businesses for display for two weeks and people could see them and vote on their favorite.


This past Saturday (September 26th) was the auction.  I know several people involved with Next Step Ministries and they were concerned that enough tickets had not been sold.  Add to that, the monsoon that had settled in over our town and there was the concern few people would come out in the rain.

The fears were unfounded.  We had a crowd turn out and the Community House was packed.  Mine was the only upholstered chair submitted.  I couldn’t decide if that was good or bad.  It’s harder to drop an art chair of that size into just any space.  The right person needed to have the right room for it.

During the painting process I did not think to keep up with how much time it had taken me.  I was too caught up in the creative moment(s).  After I dropped off the chair I did a little math and estimate a minimum of 40 hours put in.  Yikes!  It never seemed like it took that long.  Once I got started on it two or three hours would fly by without me having any idea.  It’s that “flow” thing that happens when you are so involved in the concentration and process that time stands still.

My baby on display at the auction.
The other chairs on display.







Yes, I was nervous when the bidding began.  There was the fear that it would not do well.  All that time put in and I was so afraid it would only bring $30! After a few minutes of intense bidding (partially by a couple of friends running up the price) my Doves & Daisies chair sold for $260.  Whew!

and the bidding begins...
and the bidding begins…

I wish I had gotten a picture of the lovely lady who bought my chair.  She had not seen it until that night.  She was a friend of one of the other artists and did not even realize that each side of the chair was painted until they put it on the table for the bidding to begin.  She was still trying to decide where it was going to go in her house when I left her.

Next Step Ministries was thrilled with the results of the evening.  Since all thirty chairs and the food and drinks had been donated the total came in over $3000 funds raised for the shelter!  Not bad at all for a first time event.  I think there is the hope the event will become an annual occurrence now.

Will I do it again? Absolutely.  I enjoyed every minute of it (except maybe the retouching time).  I went into it just hoping to bring in some money for one of my favorite local charities and move a chair out of my life and storage unit.  I gained some new process knowledge and have now been contacted about painting a table and a chair for two other people.  I will let you know how those pan out.  Thus ends the “How To Paint a Chair” series.  Have a great week!

How to paint a chair…maybe Part 2

If you are just now dropping by, this is the second part of a tutorial of sorts.  I am working on an art chair that is to be auctioned off at a fundraising event for our local domestic violence shelter.  You can check out the beginning steps from last week’s post here.

So far so good.  Step one I painted the entire chair with the off white flat paint.  It took two coats to give it a reasonably solid color.  The original fabric has some texture so it is not going to look completely smooth. step 1

Step two – The hardest part.  Trying to decide what to actually paint on the chair.  I was struggling with this.  Did I want something bright, cheerful and funky?  A local landscape? Something simple and geometric?  A blank canvas is a daunting thing!  I have six buttons on the back of the chair and two on the inside of each arm.  There was no good way to disguise the buttons so they had to be incorporated into the design.  That was my only guideline.  Then I remembered that if the chair is not sold it comes back home with me.  So, guideline #2, I better make something I really like!

Many times it just comes down to jumping in and getting it done.  With no real idea of what I was going to do, I just took my pencil and started drawing daisies around the buttons.  Daisies are my favorite flower. With the rough texture I knew any painting I did would have to be loose so I just decided that this would have to be a whimsical drawing and more like a doodle.

step 2

Step three – Adding color.  I don’t work in a orderly fashion.  After drawing a few shapes on the back and side buttons I liked the loose look that was happening.  It reminded me of the Zentangle drawings, so I whipped out a Sharpie marker.  Nothing like jumping in with a permanent marker to get the adrenaline flowing! IMG_2346

I moved on to some paisley shapes on the arm and tassels on the skirt.  At this point I needed to see some color so I started adding the pale yellow paint in places.  It is very subtle but enough difference to still show up.  As I added the paint the rest of the design began to form in my brain. I wanted the chair to be a place of peacefulness and safety.

IMG_2341   IMG_2345

Peace and tranquility often show up in my work.  My art is my safe place.  I can retreat from all the violence and turmoil that surrounds us in the media.  I have no desire to make in-your-face political statements or dark, disturbing images.  There is often private symbolism in what I do, but I much prefer to offer someone an image they can enjoy than to confront them with something the media will happily throw at them every evening.

Doves began to find their way onto the chair.  A symbol of peace and just beautiful birds, they seemed fitting.  This is one of three doves on the chair. Once again, I did not want to get fussy with details because of the rough texture of the chair.  I want them to be loose and ethereal. IMG_2339

I am keeping the color palette soft and limited to the off-white background, pale yellow, green and blue.  I have a possible surprise element, but I will wait until the painting is done to see if it will work.

Here is a little of where I am so far. IMG_2343 The doves are on each side and the back. It looks like this will turn into a three part series since I need to finish the painting then wax everything before the big reveal.  Check back next week and see if I am finished.  September 10th is my deadline to turn in the chair and the auction is on September 26th. I’m feeling the deadline pressure now.

How to paint a chair…maybe. Part 1

This is my first attempt at a tutorial.  Back on this post I announced my plans to do an art chair for a fundraising event for our local domestic violence shelter, Next Step Ministries.  The chairs are to be auctioned off (hopefully someone will want mine) on September 26th, 2015.

Old ChairThis is the chair I am working on.  As I explained in the earlier post, I had already attempted to paint this chair.  I followed (sort of) directions I found on a few websites where they had successfully painted upholstery on old seen-better-days chairs.  After this attempt I had my doubts about just how successful those chairs turned out.  Mine was stiff and rough after drying.  I had used bottle after bottle of fabric medium mixed with watered down latex paint, applied it in layers, letting the paint dry between layers as instructed.

You can see here what the upholstery originally looked like. original 1 This chair was a hand-me-down chair circa 1970’s is my guess.  I owned absolutely nothing that coordinated with it in all the 25 years I have hauled it from house to house.  It’s a solid chair except for this little problem.  IMG_2311I decided to leave it.  It gives it some human history.  I will share the story in the second part of this tutorial.

So, with nothing to lose except maybe the chair, I am attempting to turn this mess into something cool, or beautiful, funky, or a complete new mess.  I do not have a solid plan at the moment.  This is going to be spontaneous art. My only guide is that I have to like it in case it comes back to live with me again!

IMG_2309My tools – one can of off-white flat latex commercial grade paint I found for $9 on the reject shelf, two sample jars of a golden yellow and soft green paint for $3.50 each, one tub of chalk paint clear wax for a whopping $16 (this is supposed to be the savior of the project and for that price it better be) and various colors of acrylic paints as needed.

Step 1 – give the whole chair one or two (I hope just one) coating of the off white paint to get a solid background.

Check back for Part 2 and see how this all turns out.

Summer crazy

Isn’t summer supposed to be when life slows down a little? If so, I need to rethink my scheduling. I have a commissioned piece going (I can’t show you that one until after Christmas), my two everyday jobs, a donation piece in the works (more about that below), a HUGE pile of stuff I want to finish and get on my Etsy shop before the holiday shopping season starts and I’m trying to visit my kids one more time before their schools start up again. I’m running out of time!!

August garden

Top off that list with all the garden harvest that has to be canned (all those peas have to be shelled first) and I’m wondering when I will sleep in the next couple of weeks. I DO NOT look forward to winter, but am looking forward to eating all this food instead of growing it, hoeing it, picking and canning it.

Now, more about this…

Old Chair
Lovely isn’t it? Well, it probably was 35-40 years ago, but it has seen some life since then. I wish I had a photo of it before I painted it. Yes, I painted it. It was frayed and didn’t match anything I owned. It was a hand-me-down piece to begin with. It is solid and sturdy. In my mind, too good to get rid of but I didn’t have it in the budget to upholster it or even slip cover it. If only I had had my new sewing machine back then I might not have taken a paint brush to it.

So, why am I showing you my pitiful chair? Because now I am going to turn it into a beautiful art chair (I hope) to be auctioned off at a fundraiser for our local women’s shelter. I will keep you updated. Wish me luck!