Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Rory Anderson from Ghosts of Painting Past

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Let’s give a big Self-Rescue Princess welcome to Rory Anderson. She’s joining us at the start of this holiday season to share a little bit about herself.

GHOSTS OF PAINTING PASTPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love attending the events around Vista Beach where I live like the pier lighting ceremony and school concert. This year my BFF, Liz Dexter, and I had a booth at the local craft fair so we worked on painting ornaments to sell at it for months beforehand. I also helped my parents out with the annual sand-snowman contest. But Christmas didn’t turn out to be as fun as I expected. When developers tore down the house across the street from mine, they found a decades old skeleton. A skeleton! It didn’t take long for the police to identify it as someone my father knew in high school. When he was implicated in the crime, I just had to prove that he was innocent.

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

Concern for my dad. I know he’d never kill anyone, but everything seemed to point to him as the culprit. I just had to get involved and prove he was innocent before it completely ruined his career and his life.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to have anything to do with murder and now I’ve been involved in five investigations!

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

That would be my boyfriend, Martin Green. He’s a detective in the Vista Beach police department. He’s not thrilled when I investigate on my own. He’s afraid I’ll get hurt. No, detective work isn’t my normal career. I’m a freelance computer programmer. I write apps, put together websites, that sort of thing.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My willingness to drop everything and help out friends and family. I’m persistent and a good problem solver. I’m also a bit analytical, which I think helps in investigations. But, sometimes I’m too concerned about what others think of me.

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

A strong, confident woman tries to solve her own problems. At the same time, she knows she can’t always do everything by herself so she knows when it’s time to ask for help.

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

Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Persistence pays off.

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

Life can take surprising turns but, no matter what happens, I know I’ll get through it with the help of my family and friends.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

The Gloria Gaynor song, “I Will Survive.” I’ve been involved in quite a few murder investigations now and have even been suspected myself. I’ve survived it all.

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

I’ve said before that I hope I never see another dead body in my life. But I keep on being drawn into investigations. I have the uneasy feeling that it’s going to happen to me again, and soon.

Craft · How To · Uncategorized

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.

 

 

Craft · How To

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.

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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:

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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.

Craft · How To

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part I

Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, I’m having a guest blogger introduce you to the art of  in Trompe l’oeil.

by Sybil Johnson

The next book in my Aurora Anderson Mystery Series, A PALETTE FOR MURDER, features a trompe l’oeil (pronounced “Tromp Loy”) class. That means “trick the eye” or “fool the eye”. It’s any painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object.  Those clouds on ceilings in Vegas casinos and faux finishes such as marble and bricks fall into this category. To get a feel for what else can be done, here are some masterful 3-D illusions using chalk on pavement by various artists: ://www.boredphttpanda.com/5-most-talented-3d-sidewalk-chalk-artists/

Go ahead, check them out. I’ll wait.

Good, you’re back. Amazing, right? My favorite is Ice Age.

While working on PALETTE, I was reminded that I’d bought a pattern book and wood for a much simpler project, a cherry pie on a stool, years ago. Yep, years ago. I decided now was the time to work on this project. I thought I’d take you along on my journey into trompe l’oeil.

Here’s what I started with, a pattern/instruction book by Peggy Decker and an unpainted wood side table:

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I started by staining the wood. The instructions said to use Minwax Polyshades, Gloss Finish, in Pecan. It’s a polyurethane varnish with the stain in the product. I’d never used the product or even stained anything before, so I approached it with some trepidation. I pulled on my big girl pants and worked away. It took me all of 30 minutes to screw it up. Okay, it was a little longer than that, but not by much.

When the table dried, the top was a mess, not smooth at all. I thought I’d read the instructions carefully, but turns out I didn’t really. Luckily, wood is fairly forgiving so I stripped the top using Citristrip, sanded it a bit and I was good to go again. This time, I made sure I read and reread the instructions.

The next step was applying the pattern using graphite and basecoating with DecoArt White acrylic paint. I was a little worried about the acrylic painting adhering to the Polyshades, but it worked out okay. In between coats of white, I used a bit of paper torn from a brown paper bag to “sand”. Yep, a good old paper bag from the grocery store. It’s rough enough to smooth the paint a bit, but not so rough that it takes the paint off.

Here it is after this step:

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Next came a coating of light gray followed by the stripes on the cloth, painted in FolkArt Rose Chiffon. Liner work is not my favorite thing to do. I’ve seen brushes at conventions that have two brushes on one handle, that produce two parallel lines. I don’t have one of those, but I decided it wouldn’t be hard to make my own. I taped together two 10/0 liner brushes and voila! I have my own double brush.

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This is where I am so far on the project.

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Doesn’t look terribly exciting yet, I know. Projects never do at the beginning. Next time I’ll be working on the pie at the center of the design. Stay tuned.

 

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.

Craft · How To

Decorative Painting with Sybil Johnson

What is decorative painting? I get that question a lot. You may be more familiar with the term tole painting. Traditionally, tole painting is applied to the art of painting on tin but, when I started taking classes, it was used in a broader sense to mean the decoration of objects using various painting strokes and techniques using acrylic paints. These days the term decorative painting is more commonly used though some people still use the two terms interchangeably. Wood is the most common surface to paint on, but tin, fabric and other surfaces are also available.

I started my decorative painting journey in the early 90s when a group of us at work gathered in a conference room at lunchtime and worked on all kinds of projects. The experienced painter in the group taught us newbies the basics. We learned how to read a pattern, prep various types of surfaces from wood to tin to fabric, transfer the design using a stylus and graphite paper, basecoat and paint the project and, finally, varnish the finished piece. Over several years, we painted ornaments, cookie jar lids, sweatshirts, and a host of other projects.

Now I largely paint by myself, but every year I attend the Creative Painting convention in Las Vegas. I recently returned from what is around my 15th year at the convention (I lost track after about ten) where I took some classes and prowled the trade show floor looking for new patterns and supplies to buy.

I thought I’d share some pictures of a typical class so you could get an idea what one is like. Classes are held in hotel ballrooms. The size of the room depends on the number of students. Some special events have as many as 100. The fabric painting class I’ll be showing you was on the smaller end with about 20. Here’s our classroom.

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Here’s my little area of the room. Brushes, water basin, palette paper and other supplies waiting for class to begin. Johnson2

 

Each of the students was given a pattern packet designed by the instructor, Mary Ribet. Inside was a photo of the finished project (always good to see what you’re shooting for, right?), a line drawing of the pattern, and written instructions for each step. Johnson3 (1)

We had the choice of painting on a t-shirt or tote bag. I chose the t-shirt. We used So Soft paints by DecoArt, which are specifically designed for painting on fabric. Here’s the piece with the pattern on the fabric and the bird partly done.

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The instructor went through each step, giving advice as we went along. The final step involved using a stencil to make leaves. Here’s my finished piece.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief tour of a class. Decorative painting is great fun. There are so many interesting pattern books and packets out there to paint and conventions to attend.

When I decided to write mysteries, I chose to write a cozy set in the world of decorative painting. First, because I love reading cozies, but also because no one had chosen to write a series involving the craft I love. There are ones that feature crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, etc., but none in the decorative painting field. Two books in the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series have been published so far by Henery Press—Fatal Brushstroke and Paint the Town Dead. The latter is set at a fictional painting convention similar to the one I recently attended. Right now, I’m busy working on the third book in the series.

Visit me at my website, www.authorsybiljohnson.com www.authorsybiljohnson.com, to learn more about me and my books. I also have a number of links to decorative painting related sites including conventions, tutorials on getting started, and places to buy supplies.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sybiljohnsonauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/sybiljohnson19