Surf’s Up! Featured pick, handpainted accent chair

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This is the chair that launched my whole beach theme.  It was the first one I painted for my last client, for a family of four siblings, plus a cousin (five boys, one girl; we’ll talk about Lulu later). It was also the first time I started playing with the idea that the unadorned wood tones represented the sand, an idea that I just loved–the bird tracks absolutely delighted me as a concept. From here I moved on to the Tommy, then the Will, and then back to the surfboard theme for Ben–and I’m thinking the beach theme probably has a few more versions to spawn before it plays out…like maybe a more girly version of the Jack, couldn’t you just see it with lipstick pink Hawaiian print? Obviously it would necessarily be named the Jill. Obviously.

And in the process of painting this one, I discovered who my most helpful and appreciative critic is, after my mother: my son. Mom and I, we go waaaaay back with the collaborative thing, so that was not news. My son however–who just turned 7–was the big surprise, even more so when I discovered I really value his input and insight. Case in point, I started to worry (self-doubt, my nemesis, hanging around again) about painting flowers on a chair for a 1st grade boy–would he think it was too girly, would it insult his manliness (boy-liness…)?

Enter Colin. He loves to see what I’ve been working on, and because he loves his Mommy and wants me to know he’s proud of my artistic ability and especially of being consulted, he really takes his time verbalizing what he sees. This means I get to hear exactly how one child, at least, responds to my ideas.

“Ohhhhh, I get it–” (this is always how he starts)–”those are the surfboards and they’re standing up on the sand! Ohhhh, and the palm tree is growing out of the sand, and that blue part is the sky! Oh, cool, look at the starfish! Niiiice.” This is high praise.

Then, being the devious Mommy that I am, I ask him about that orange stuff around the seat. Not even a pause.

“Oh, yeah, that’s the swim trunks.”

Self-doubt, eat your heart out, the seven year old has spoken. Simple as that.

Featured pick–Tommy’s Sunset, handpainted accent chair

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This one is really one my favorites–extremely vivid, more serious and less whimsical than some of my other designs, but it was such a process of growth for me (I’d never really tried to paint water before, let alone light on water), and the result just does something for my soul. Plus I just loved the idea of writing a name in the sand.

The whole idea was to treat the side supports & first slats of the chair back as the worn, jutting pilings of an old dock, so to  support the illusion there are barnacles crusting the supports in the back. The sun is setting over the water as a gentle wave washes up onto the beach where the name has been scratched in the sand with a stick, while a lanky red sea star wraps itself around the front chair leg.

It was quite challenging to try to convey the reflected sunset in three broken up sections instead of one uninterrupted expanse. I painted it once, then I sanded the whole thing off and started over before I was satisfied. Like I said, learning process!

I was painting this for a specific child, so I had him in mind while creating it–he’s sensitive, artistic, and a little more quiet than his siblings. This seemed, at least to me, such a good fit for him.

So here’s Tommy…see what you think.