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.

 

 

Books · Craft · Excerpt · Uncategorized

National Craft Month: Fatal Brushstroke Excerpt

I hope everyone is enjoying National Craft Month as much as I am. Currently, I’m reading A Body in the Landscape by Larissa Reinhart, and this weekend I enjoyed three days of cropping at a local crop retreat sponsored by the Rotary Club. I was able to complete my daughter’s scrapbook album (a mix of pocket scrapbooking and traditional layouts) and also uploaded a bunch of pictures to Shutterfly and had them printed. I have two crops coming up in April and didn’t want to run out of photos to scrap at the events.

To continue with my monthly celebration of National Craft month is an brief excerpt from Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson.

fatal brushstrokeExcerpt: 

At home, too wired to sleep yet too tired to work, Rory pulled out the project Nora had given her and spread it out on the empty half of the kitchen table. Before painting on the final product, she wanted to practice the strokes spelling out Samantha’s name. She considered several styles of brush lettering, settling on one that was at the least elaborate end of the spectrum.

Rory drew guidelines on practice paper with a soft pencil, then loaded a flat brush with a fifty-fifty mixture of black acrylic paint and water. After painting the three strokes necessary to produce a capital S, she reviewed her work. She hadn’t lifted her brush quickly enough at the end of each stroke to produce the sharp edges she desired. She tried again, this time writing the full name several times, concentrating on correcting the strokes and keeping the spacing between the letters consistent. After covering two pages with the name, she gave up for the evening, still unhappy with the result. Her hands were too shaky from lack of sleep to produce the letters to her satisfaction.

Blurb:

A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…

Computer programmer and tole painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weeks before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?

Right now, Fatal Brushstroke is on sale for 99 cents, and I don’t know how long the sale will last.

 

 

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

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Aurora (Rory) Anderson from Paint the Town Dead

  1. paint the town deadPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I love attending decorative painting conventions, so I was excited when I learned the Ocean Painting Society would be holding its first convention right here in Vista Beach. I even put together the convention website so I got the scoop on everything early on. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out exactly as I expected. I was enjoying myself, shopping and working on the trade show floor and taking painting classes when my friend collapsed in class and, well, there’s no sugarcoating it—she died. The police looked into it, of course, but didn’t find any evidence of foul play so they closed the case. That didn’t seem right to me so I started my own investigation.

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

I couldn’t let the murderer get away with it! She was my friend. Someone had to stick up for her.

  1. 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 two investigations!

  1. 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 have to be Detective Green of the Vista Beach police department. He’s not thrilled when civilians get involved in police matters. I think 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.

  1. 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. But, sometimes I’m too concerned about what others think of me.

  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess 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.

  1. 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.

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

Never take friends for granted. You never know when they’ll no longer be there.

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

The Gloria Gaynor song, “I Will Survive.” Not that long ago, I learned my birth parents were serial arsonists who were responsible for numerous fires and a few deaths here in Vista Beach. That threw me for a loop, believe me. I didn’t know anything about this until I moved to Vista Beach with my parents almost two years ago now. Then there was that dead body in my garden…

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

I hope I never see another dead body in my life! But I have this uneasy feeling that there’s another one in my future.