Painting the Thingamabob

It’s hard to believe, but five years ago this month I registered with Vernon County to be a sole proprietor, thus beginning my career as a professional artist! I am so grateful to each and every one of my customers who helped boost my confidence that first year, and every year since. I treasure all of you. I love painting murals!

I want to share some photos from one section of my biggest mural that first year. This mural involved painting the open area under a large staircase in a basement, as well as an enclosed, hidden area even further under the stairs. My customer wanted this to be a fun “clubhouse” for their grandchildren, with bright, bold primary colors throughout. I’ll start with some “before” photos, so you can see the transformation.

P.S. The door already had little cut out shapes that I could incorporate into the design!
P.P.S. I love this wall sconce! Three plates of colored glass! I had to be sure to include it in the design somehow!
P.P.P.S. I can’t think of anything clever to type right now!IMG_3260

Open the door and find the hidden room ~ with very low ceilings and a wooden bump-out that covers up basementy-type stuff. There is actually quite a bit of area in that little room off to the left, but today I will focus on this “bump-out” thingamabob. It was especially fun because I had to figure out what kid-friendly clubhouse design to paint on it, and it was just screaming for something trompe l’oeil. (Don’t know what trompe l’oeil is?? That’s okay, I never even heard the word until 2011. It is pronounced tromp-loy, and is french. It means “to fool the eye.” It traditionally refers to ornamentation like molding and trim, but many modern artists use it to mean artwork that is painted realistically with shadows in such a way that you can’t tell what is real and what isn’t.)IMG_3262


Here’s a view of the whatsit from inside the little room.

I primed the wood and then base coated everything. Then I painted the walls to look “club-housey.”


I started transforming the wooden doohickey into stacks of colorful boxes that were supposedly full of toys.IMG_3306


Here I’ve continued adding shadows and highlights to bring the boxes to life. The red box on top will have an open flap so you can “see” the toys inside.IMG_3320


Yup, that is chalkboard paint in the shape of a butterfly. It was a very time-consuming process as you need to roll on quite a few smooth layers. I was able to work on other parts of the mural while waiting for coats to dry. Hey, see the open sky in the ceiling? I thought the kids might want to lie on their backs and watch the clouds float by.IMG_3338


I had to make sure the chalkboard was attached to the boxes somehow, so I painted a string and a piece of tape. Now, would that work in real life? Probably not.  But you’re not the boss of me. Unless you are my customer. Then you are the boss of me. Anyway, back to the painting:IMG_3754


Now for the top of the thingamajig. I painted the flaps of the red box and then blocked in the shape of a teddy bear and rubber ducky.


A few well-placed shadows and highlights, and the teddy bear comes to life!teddy bear in box

Then I added some stenciled numbers and letters to complete the stack of boxes.IMG_3786

Here’s another view of the whatchamacallit before and after:

This trompe l'oeil mural appears to have bright, bold boxes stacked up with a butterfly shaped chalkboard for the kids to write on. Toys are painted on every wall, and a faux curtain is painted on the door.


In conclusion, if you have a thingamabob and aren’t quite sure what to do with it or what to call it exactly, contact me for a free consultation. We’ll work together to figure out a name for it (or just make up new names) and then I will help you figure out how to transform it!