Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part III by Sybil Johnson

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part III

by Sybil Johnson

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last posted on my trompe l’oeil project! I meant to update you all much sooner, but life interrupted. I worked on it 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there and it’s finally done! Goes to show you that you don’t need to set aside huge blocks of time to work on a project. Like in writing, as long as you keep plugging away, eventually you’ll finish.

In case you missed my first two posts on this project, or you want to read them again, here they are:

Post 1: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/adventures-in-trompe-loeil-part-i/.

Post 2: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/adventures-in-trompe-loeil-part-ii-by-sybil-johnson/

All caught up? Great! Let’s continue.

When I left you last, I’d basecoated the pie, but hadn’t yet started shading the crust or the cherries. The latter were just areas of red with no definition. Here’s what the project looked like at the end of Part II.

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And here’s what I ended up with after shading the pie crust.

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The cherries were next. I pretty much winged it here, mixing various shades of red and using the finished photo in the instruction book as a guideline. Here’s a photo of some of the finished cherries and some not yet completed so you can see the difference.

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The final step before varnishing was strengthening the cast shadows and working on the fold in the cloth. This part was the hardest for me. Eventually, though, I finished it.

Once I’d convinced myself the painting portion was complete, I turned to the last step, varnishing. For most of the projects I do, the choice of varnish is not super critical. But, since this is a table I want to actually use, I wanted a finish that would stand up and protect the painting I’d worked so hard on.

Since I’d used MinWax Polyshades to stain the table, I also had to find a varnish that was compatible with it. My first thought was to use a clear polyurethane, but most of them dry with a slight amber tint that tends to makes any white areas look yellow. I wanted my whites to stay white, so I looked for another solution. I finally settled on Minwax Polycrylic Gloss, a water-based varnish that dries clear. To make absolute sure that it would look okay, I tested it out on a scrap piece of wood I stained with the Polyshades and painted with a design using some of the colors in my pie project. When that test was successful, I pulled up my big girl pants, took a deep breath and applied the Polycrylic to the finished project. After two coats, here’s what it looks like.

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I’m quite proud of this project. I think it turned out well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me on my trompe l’oeil adventure. I’d love to hear about any projects you’re working on. You can contact me through my website, http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com, or on my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/sybiljohnsonauthor.

 

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press. Learn more about her at http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com.

SRP Heroine Interview: Cass Donovan from Death at First Sight

death-at-first-sight-large-banner640Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, we have Cass stopping by to talk with us. Thank you for coming by.

death-at-first-sight1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Since I left my psychiatric practice in New York City to open up a psychic shop in my hometown on Bay Island, I’ve given my fair share of readings to conflicted customers. But what I see in Ellie Callahan’s future doesn’t bode well.

When Ellie’s mother, Marge, publicly confronts me about the reading, the embarrassment makes me want to curl up and die. And when I later stumbles across Marge’s body—and am a suspect in her murder—I’m suddenly the star of Bay Island’s rumor mill.

I’m determined to prove my innocence and save Ellie from meeting the fate in my unfortunate vision. But even with the help of my friends Bee and Stephanie, I will have to channel some serious sleuthing instincts to find the real killer…

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

I had no choice, really. The local sheriff seems determined to take the easy way out and pin this murder on me. The only way I can clear my name and, hopefully, save my reputation is to figure out who the real killer is.

3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never. I am not the type to get involved in anything like a murder investigation. To be completely honest, the whole thing gives me a terrible headache. If I could, I would definitely leave matters to the police.

4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

My friend Stephanie’s husband, Tank, is the least pleased. He’s very careful about keeping his wife safe, and for some reason, she keeps ending up in trouble when she hangs out with me. It’s not my fault—well not completely, anyway—but needless to say, he is not amused.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I am great at reading people. I can tell a lot about someone based on their mannerisms, gestures, telling tics, inflections. I’m usually adept enough to give them a fairly accurate reading based on information I gather just from studying them. As for a weakness, I have a few, but the biggest is not knowing when to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes there’s no filter between my brain and my mouth, and stuff just pops out before I can censor it.

6. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Trust your instincts, and do what your heart tells you.

7. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? 

It’s not really a plan, but I have a sneaking suspicion there’s more trouble headed my way.

 

Decorative Painting: Getting Started by Sybil Johnson

Decorative Painting: Getting Started

comepaintpost-sd-1Since my mystery series is set in the world of tole/decorative painting, I periodically get questions on what that is and how to get started. I’m not an expert, but I have been taking classes, attending conventions and working on projects for over two decades. Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two.

So, what is tole/decorative painting? Basically, it’s decorating objects using paint, usually acrylic. DecoArt’s Come Paint With Us section of their website describes it as “…an easy-to-learn painting method where the painter traces a design outline onto a painting surface, then applies basic brushstrokes to give that surface decorative accents.”

You can paint on all kinds of surfaces. Wood is the most common, but I’ve painted on a myriad of surfaces including fabric, suede, window screening, paper, and tin. That last one is where “tole” comes from. The term tole painting is traditionally applied to the art of painting on tin but, when I started taking classes in the 90s, it was used in a broader sense to mean the decoration of objects on a variety of surfaces using painting strokes and techniques. These days the term decorative painting is more commonly used, though I tend to use them interchangeably.

So how do you get started?

I was lucky to know someone who knows the techniques of decorative painting well. She taught a group of us at work. We created all kinds of projects over the years. But, even if you can’t find a class nearby, you can still learn using online resources. The best introduction I’ve come across is DecoArt’s Come Paint With Us website section that I mentioned earlier. (http://decoart.com/comepaintwithus)

There you’ll find 3 beginning projects taught by Shara Reiner, Lynne Deptula and Judy Diephouse. You can download a pdf of the instructional booklet and view free videos of the three lessons. If you’re still not sure, you can always just watch the videos and see if it’s something you’d be interested in.

There are a lot of other painting resources on the web. I have a number of them on the links page of my website: http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com/links

I hope you found this useful. Power to the paintbrush!

 

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press. Learn more about her at http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com.

 

 

Christmas Craft Projects

It’s the time of the year when I plan out–and hopeful start –the Christmas gifts and decorations I want to make. So far, I have five on my list (four I’ll mention as one is gift that I think she reads my blog). I’m debating on a sixth but with a book in progress, tax training to complete, and wanting to spend time just enjoying the holiday season, I don’t want to become overwhelmed. I enjoy crafting and don’t want a long must-make-list to turn it into a chore.

ornament-for-christmas-project-postProject One: Christmas Ornaments for our ornament exchange party.

Last weekend, I attended a wonderful craft day and learned to make this ornament. It was a fun and simple process, and even better I have most of the supplies on hand. All I need are some plastic ornaments, but I couldn’t pass up this fabric ornament-materialwhen I went in search of supplies for Project Two. I think this design will make an awesome Christmas decoration. The only problem will be I’ll probably want to keep them instead of adding them to the ornament exchange.

 

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Project Two is one that was a request: Harry Potter Fleece tie blanket. I had made one as a birthday gift and my daughter requested I make another one as hers has been permanently borrowed by a very adorable little girl.

She hopes that gifting one to the borrower will mean she’ll get her blanket back. To make sure that happens, I bought the exact same fleece and will make it the same size. I’m a little concerned if I make it in a child size that  the little one will want to keep the larger blanket.

mermaid-tale-blanketAnd that isn’t the only blanket I’m making this year. For Project Three, I’m crocheting a Mermaid Tale Blanket. I have started it and am halfway done with the first section of the tail (the main body–the easy part). I’m hoping when I get to the fins, it goes as smoothly. I’ve only made basic blankets and I’m hoping I can decipher the pattern enough to have it look like a mermaid tale.

The final project on my list (that I’m going to talk about) are gift tags. I made some cute ones last year for a giveaway and am planning to do the same this year–and keep some for myself. I really enjoyed making them especially since I can use my Cameo and/or Cricut Explore Air 2 (which is on its way to me) to cut them out.

Guest Post by Anna Celeste Burke

gnarly-new-year-large-banner640Art romantic sea beach. Women's Glasses and Champagne cork on sa

In this short sketch, my characters from Gnarly New Year, Brien and Kim, talk about the night they decided to get married.

THE PROPOSAL

Kim: “Okay, Brien, we’re going to play a game of Truth or Dare only without the Dare part. More like Truth or Chore–I’m going to ask you questions, and you have to tell me the truth or do an extra chore, and I get to choose the one you do.”

Brien: “Uh, I guess that’s okay. Why?”

Kim: “A married couple should know things about each other, shouldn’t they?”

Brien: “Sure, but I know things about you already, or I wouldn’t have married you when you suggested it.”

Kim: “I suggested it? As I recall, you’re the one who said we shouldn’t keep driving back and forth from Palm Springs, where I live, to Indio where you lived.”

Brien: “Yes, but that’s when you said, ‘are you asking me to marry you or do you just want permission to move your surfboard onto my patio?’ I got the message behind the sarcasm, Gidget.”

Kim: “Oh, Moondoggie, it was romantic when you got down on one knee in the moonlight, with the palm trees swaying, and the Ventures playing in the background.”

Brien: “Yeah, just like a scene from one of those old beach movies you love. Except for the part about the beach since we were in your backyard in the desert instead of on the beach.”

Kim: “I know what you mean, Brien. You don’t always have to explain yourself to me.”

Brien: “A lot of the time I do.”

Kim: “Ah, that’s part of your charm and only one reason I love you. You’re one of the first people I ever met who cared as much as you do that I understand you. I was surprised when you pulled out that ring! How did you know I was going to bring up marriage that night?”

Brien: “Uh, okay so here’s the truth—no extra chore. I had been carrying that ring around for a month. Ever since Peter went with me and helped me pick it out. I just couldn’t work up the courage to ask you right away. A couple of times I came close, but I wimped out on you.”

Kim: “Geez, am I that scary? Truth or Chore, remember?”

Brien: “You can be scary. Not so much anymore because I get that it’s a mechanical defense. You get snarky when you’re scared.”

Kim: “I could be wrong, but I think you mean defense mechanism, don’t you?”

Brien: “Could be, but see? That’s what I’m saying. I got too close to the truth, and it scared you. Are you sure you want to play this game?”

Kim: “Yes. My turn to tell the truth. The way I said that it did sound snarky, didn’t it? I do use sarcasm even when I don’t mean to do it. It’s a reflex. And scary? Yeah, I get that. Sarcasm is a shield I put up and sometimes it comes across more like a sword than a shield.”

Brien: “You don’t need shields or swords around me. I won’t ever hurt you.”

Kim: “I want to believe you. But old habits are hard to kick.”

Brien: “That’s why the say ‘old habits die old,’ Kim.”

Kim: “They don’t actually say that, but I get it. So, am I the only one who didn’t know you had bought that ring a month before we got engaged?”

Brien: “The truth, again—yes. I wanted to make sure you’d like it, so I checked it out to make sure it was cool enough for you. Remember when Bernadette baked those Mexican Wedding cookies?”

Kim: “No way! She said she was testing them out for Tommy’s wedding. I’m going to have to play Truth or Chore with her, now, too.”

Brien: “Uh, you might not want to do that. She’s had lots of practice making people do chores. She was my boss when I was the pool guy, remember? Bernadette could give you some bogus ones. Jessica could too.”

Kim: “I figured Jessica was in on it. She went around for a couple of weeks with that ‘I-know-something-you-don’t-know’ look on her face. When we showed up, and I was wearing that ring, her expression suddenly made sense. So no one was surprised by our announcement? They seemed surprised.”

Brien: “When I first told him my plans, Peter was speechless. He hardly said one word the entire time it took us to drive to the jewelry store to pick out the ring. Bernadette, not so much. You know how she is with her special powers. Betsy’s like that, too. When Peter told her the news, she just smiled and nodded. Spooky. Tommy and Laura almost hit the floor, though. That night when we gave them the scoop, they were surprised, alright.”

Kim: “Why?”

Brien: “Because an awesome babe like you said yes to an ordinary dude like me. You know?”

Kim: “You want the truth, Brien?”

Brien: “Of course. You know what Bernadette says, ‘Even the worst truth is better than the best lie.’ Let me have it.”

Kim: “Brien Williams, there is nothing ordinary about you in any way. You are the sweetest, hunkiest dude I have ever met in my entire life. When you flashed that ring, I was totally stoked, as you like to say. You’ve changed my life forever, Moondoggie. You’re right that love is the most excellent adventure of all.”

Brien: “I like this game. Your turn.”

~~~~~

Thanks for reading this post! You’ll find much more of Brien and Kim in the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery Series. Their adventures as newlywed sleuths start with Cowabunga Christmas and continue in Gnarly New Year.  A spin-off from the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series, that’s where Brien and Kim first make an appearance. There are good reasons for their friends in that series to be surprised that these two lovebirds became a couple. I hope you’ll join them on all their adventures. Coming next: Epic Easter, Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery #3.

SRP Heroine Interview: Bridget Sway from Beyond Dead

beyond dead   large banner 640A huge thank you to Bridget for stopping by today to chat with us.

BEYOND DEAD COVERPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

Well, I’ve just died so that’s kind of a big deal for me. I also have a new job that I don’t get paid for, a considerably unflattering mauve jumpsuit for a uniform, a parole officer and a Ghostly Acclimatisation meeting to attend every night to help me adjust to my new (after)life. Sounds pretty bad, right? Like, can’t-get-any-worse bad? I thought so too. And then I found a dead guy in my locker on my very first day at work.

Since the idiot police are trying to pin his murder on me my new best friend, Sabrina, thought it’d be a great idea to solve the murder ourselves and clear my name. Personally, I’m a little hesitant about getting involved as I don’t know the first thing about solving murders (I was an event planner in life) and I don’t really want to catch the murderer’s eye and be the next dead body shoved in my locker.

Yeah, so that’s what happening with me right now.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

 Nooooooo. I’m not really a fan of group activities or the type of person who gets involved in these types of ridiculous situations. I mean, what type of rational person tries to solve a murder?

Whilst it’s true in my alive job I did have to deal with some exceedingly unpleasant predicaments I mainly planned weddings so murder was never really something I came across. Theft? Sure. The odd slap fight? Absolutely! But no one ever murdered anyone. Like I said, I mainly planned weddings so those types of threats were made all the time but no one ever followed through on them. At least not at my events.

And to be fair, I don’t really fight crime, pre se. It just sort of happens around me and then Sabrina convinces me that it’s important we get involved. 

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

No, detective work is absolutely not my only career. I’m unhappily unemployed as a facilitator of pre- and post-life affairs which basically means I spend all day moving stuff around without alive people knowing. For example, if you could swear you put your lip balm on your desk but you find it in the bathroom then, yep, a facilitator probably moved it. Or you’re just really forgetful.

As for who is least pleased with my sleuthing I’d say it’s pretty much a draw between everyone, including myself. Except Sabrina. Sabrina used to be a private investigator in life – in the afterlife she’s relegated to a career as a filing clerk – so she’s super happy that dead people keep falling out at me. I think it makes her feel like her afterlife has some purpose.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I would say my strengths are my confidence and my comebacks. Although dying has dulled the awesomeness of them somewhat but I’m working on it! Probably my biggest weakness or fault is that I can be a little self-involved and dismissive of other people sometimes but in the afterlife so many people are deeply stupid so …

That said, I’m finding the longer I’m dead the more important other people are becoming to me. It’s odd how dying changes your perspective on things. 

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

It means being who you are, unashamedly so, and not worryingly about whether other people will like you. Whether that’s regarding your opinions, how you dress or anything and everything in between. The only person you have to be concerned about liking you is you. 

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

To not let the negativity of others infect your positivity. In life there are people who will support you and invest in your dreams and those that will try to tear you down. You only have a finite number of Friday nights/Tuesday mornings/Thursday afternoons in your life – don’t waste time on those who don’t enrich your life in some way.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

That I couldn’t identify a murderer at twenty paces! That’s probably the biggest thing. And I used to think I was good at reading people. 

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?  

I had no plans to dabble in this initial bout of sleuthing so I have absolutely no intentions for further sleuthing. At all. Unless someone shoves another dead ghost into my locker and Sabrina finds out about it.  But come on, what’s the likelihood of that?

 

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part II by Sybil Johnson

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part II

by Sybil Johnson

Here I am again, reporting on my trompe l’oeil adventure. It’s been a couple weeks and I’ve made some progress though not as much as I’d like.

Here’s a pointer to my first post, in case you missed it: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/adventures-in-trompe-loeil-part-i/. Go ahead, check it out, then come back. I’ll wait.

All caught up? Great! Let’s continue.

When I left you last, I was working on a table with a cherry pie painted on it. I’d gotten as far as staining the wood and painting the cloth underneath the pie. I was about to start on the pie.

JohnsonPt2Image1

And this is where I was stalled for a short while. When I do a project, I like to use the colors suggested by the designer or, at least, something similar. That means I need to know approximately what a color looks like. Unfortunately, acrylic paint colors come and go so, when a design is several years old, some of the colors may have been discontinued. That’s the problem I ran into this time. This is where being a hoarder of paint color brochures comes in handy. I was able to figure out what the discontinued colors looked like and come up with substitutes based on color equivalency charts I’d picked up years ago.

Once that was straightened out, I turned to painting the cherry pie. Unfortunately, the instructions are not as detailed as I would like. That’s something to look for when you buy a pattern book or packet: check out the instructions to see if they are detailed enough for your skill level. Some designers assume more experience than others. Here is where the photos of the finished piece have come in handy. Studying them has helped me figure out the approach I should take.

Here’s where I am now:

JohnsonPt2Image2

I still have a long way to go. I need to work on shading on the pie itself and I need to strengthen the shadows on the cloth. I’m getting there, though. Right now I’m off to work on final edits to A PALETTE FOR MURDER, then I’ll get back to work on that pie. Until next time…

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press. Learn more about her at http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com.