Niche Market




A mural doesn’t necessarily have to be the center of attention. Nor does it have to occupy the entire room. Sometimes a mural can be a small touch of interest or merely a supporting backdrop to something else. The tromp l’oeil niche has been a popular request over the years and is always an interesting talking point. It’s a great way to utilize an awkward corner and can be personalized however you want.



The trompe l’oeil niche can be filled with anything you like! The image above shows a niche painted on a curved wall. The decorative paneling below the niche is also painted. The following examples show a few delicate examples.


niched nicheg

nicheh jug

Of course, flowers are always a popular theme for such pieces, especially when you don’t have to water them.

nichee  nichei

In the piece below, this difficult wall section is painted to look like stone block with a handy cubby beneath the stairs for urns, logs, herbs and garlic!




Or perhaps a model ship?



If all else fails, hit the bottle!

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If you already have a niche you can paint that too. Art niches do better with some context.



And some niches aren’t niches at all. This tromp l’oeil curio cabinet houses an array of personal memorabilia.


As does this rather more involved tromp l’oeil book-case designed to match the real ones adjacent to them. This is what the wall looked like before the mural was painted.


And after.


This elaborate mural was recently completed and was filled with items which had personal significance to the home owner.

So have fun with your awkward corners. There’s always room for a niche somewhere.

It’s Show Time!

Well, it’s that time of year again. Show season. This week we have a booth at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show for the first time. We have attended the show as visitors before and have marveled at the amazing landscapes  created inside the Washington State Convention Center. With so many exterior murals last year, it seemed like a great opportunity to showcase this side of the business at this much loved and anticipated event.

We have a special booth design for this show, with a mural painted on aluminum set into the back of the booth. This is a material I have used frequently in the past for exterior work as it’s a great alternative to painting directly onto an exterior surface if that surface is unsuitable for some reason.

And just in time for the show we won the 2013 Angies List Super Service award!

To see a collection of the exterior work from last year just scroll down a few posts or visit

Following on the heels of the Flower and Garden Show is the Seattle Home Show which runs February 15th – 23rd. This will be our 12th year as exhibitors. It’s amazing to think it’s been that long. We were reminiscing about our first year when my son was just a baby and as recent arrivals to  Seattle, we were renting a place by the arboretum . We had the apartment full of mural panels for the show and no idea what to expect. Work from that first show kept us busy for 6 months!  Good luck to all my fellow exhibitors and let’s hope we see similar results this year!

If you haven’t attended the Northwest Flower and Garden Show before I can thoroughly recommend it. Such beautiful landscape creations which are sure to inspire.

As I’m in the show I’ll be missing out on another wonderful event, the annual Cole Gallery Anniversary Show, this Saturday evening. There is a fabulous collection of new work by gallery artists and it’s always a fun packed and mesmerizing event. Drop by and spend a little time in the warmth of beautiful art. Enjoy!

flower show

Our booth at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show is 963. Hope to see you there! (bring coffee!)

Home Theater Theatrics

I spent the last couple of weeks indulging myself in Bierstadt!

Albert Bierstadt is one of my favorite artists, his dramatic interpretations of the American West of the 19th century are truly breathtaking. So when the opportunity arose to incorporate some of his paintings into a room of murals I could not resist.

Over the last few years Bob and Kim have allowed me to embellish several rooms of their home in Kent. Bob is a country music singer and local businessman and has brought the country theme into the home through some of my mural work.

It began with a northwest landscape and a sepia mountain scene.



After the home was expanded, I was called back to customize the bar room  with a western theme, complete with saloon, alley of stores and sunrise landscape.


b3 b4

I was delighted when he called me back to discuss his new theater room. Several ideas were proposed, including a reproduction of the birdcage theater in Tombstone Arizona, and a gallery design which included several Bierstadt paintings. In the end it was decided that the Bierstadt work should be the sole attraction and that it should cover all the wall spaces and ceiling. We settled on three paintings and the result can be seen below.


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Thanks to Bob and Kim for giving me the opportunity to do this project. It was an absolute pleasure and I wish you years of enjoyment in your new theater room!

A fitting mural for fall.

Last week I had the pleasure of revisiting the Orting Valley. If you haven’t made it down that way I recommend it, especially this time of year as the colors begin to change and the clouds seem to get a little lower. It’s a beautiful part of the area with views of Rainier and barns and meadows scattering the misty valley floor.

I was painting a mural in a stairwell it a lovely home overlooking the valley. The home is filled with rich dark wood moldings and warm fall-like colors. The broad staircase doubles back on itself and is nicely framed with dark wood above and below, making the perfect frame for art.

The design for the mural drew on the existing colors of the space and stayed within the rich golden tans and browns. The image depicts the valley floor below complete with a windswept sky which occupies the majority of the scene. From certain viewpoints, the sky is all you see and it takes on rather a dramatic abstract appearance, while when climbing up from below, you cast your eyes skywards at the racing clouds.

This was a huge amount of fun to paint and I appreciate the opportunity to do it. I love painting in monotone and to combine it with a cloudscape is a double pleasure. 





Thanks Jacque! Have a wonderful fall everyone.

Wine Rooms.

 Most of us have an unused corner in the house, whether It’s the basement or a closet or just an alcove stuffed with suitcases and boxes of forgotten stuff. One fun way to deal with such a space to turn it into your own wine cabinet, wine tasting room or cigar lounge. Often these spaces are very small indeed and are filled with junk. Once cleared out however, they begin to pop with possibilities. But even with the wine racks, the tables and the mood lighting the room is often still just a cramped corner and needs a little embellishment.

Here are a few ideas which proved effective at increasing the sense of space and interest where once was the unused, carpeted cat tree and the 8 boxes of tax receipts from the 1970′s.


In the above picture, the texture of a concrete basement wall helps the patina of a painted, Parisian wine poster. The client has an Eifel Tower made from wine corks which will sit in front of the left hand portion of the mural. This space cannot be accessed from inside the house and involves a treck around the green and wooded exterior, only enhancing the magical sense of discovery of the hidden wine cave.

From just beyond the lamp on the left this room is an illusion. With a ceiling height of only 7’6″ this room felt very confined before the mural was painted.

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Above you can see the square, vaulted ceiling of a basement wine room. The vaulting was achieved by using steel mesh and plaster and the beautifully smooth result helps with the sense of height, created by the sunlit sky. 

Once a shooting gallery in the basement of this client’s home, this room was about 4 feet wide and 50 feet long. With a perspective like that why not add another 150!

trompe l'oeil wine cellar 8x7.5 2012

This room ends halfway through the wine cabinets. The acid stained floor visually flows into the wall greatly expanding the sense of space. This room is about 8′ wide and 7’6″ tall.

A scenic addition to a serving counter.

On a much larger scale, this mural in a restaurant in CT is about 12′ high. Everything you see, including all of the brick and the light fixtures is painted. Below are some close up details of the mural.


And at the other end of the spectrum. This alcove became a tastefully outfitted wine storage space complete with mood lighting and paintings of the client’s favorite wines.

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Take a look around your own place. I’m sure there’s a spot full of bags and boxes you could be having much more fun with!

To see more examples of rooms like this and other murals please visit my website

Edmonds Art Studio Tour

It’s that time of year again! Stop by the studio for a visit next weekend, September 21st and 22nd from 10-4, and enjoy Edmonds Art Studio Tour. I’ll have a studio full of paintings, some work on the go and a sale on some older pieces, plus coffee and snacks. All current work is 10% off from now until the end of the tour, both in the studio and at Cole Gallery. You can see all the available work at

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

Settling in Birch Bay small 96x36, oil on canvas

What a summer! (For painting murals :)

 This has been one of the best summers I can remember. Perfect temperatures, glorious sunshine and weekends away with family and friends. It’s been a great summer for painting too. This has been the most active year for exterior mural painting that we’ve ever had, and it’s been great!

Here are this years exteriors so far. I am planning one more in late September and will post about that as we get a little closer.

The good weather started early and I was lucky to be able to complete the first exterior in April! With temperatures in the 70′s for most of the two weeks on site I could not believe how fortunate this was. The below images show the before shot and the finished result for H2O condominiums in Queen Anne, Seattle.

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A small exterior residential project followed which required a little trompe l’oeil trickery and the creation of an illusionary window looking through the house to the view beyond.


The City of Shoreline and the Echo Lake Neighborhood Association commissioned a replacement mural for the wall at 205th and 1st Ave in Shoreline, and work commenced in July to prep the wall. The weather was glorious for most of the duration of the project which was completed at the end of July.

echo final

A second mural project followed in Shoreline for Drager’s Classics at 185th and Aurora. The concept called for a historic backdrop to photograph the beautifully restored classic cars of business owner Jeri Drager. The basis for the mural was downtown Edmonds in the 1940s but a little artistic license was used on signage and some of the buildings.


In mid August I worked with two students from Holy Rosary School on a mural outside the science room. The view from the room was the side a storage shed so we painted a mountain landscape to make the view a little more interesting. This was a lot of fun and Helen and Grace worked extremely hard to bring the mural together. Well done!

school copy

Later in August, I got the chance to paint a third mural for The Edmonds Mural Society. The wall is off 4th Avenue N., just north of Main St. The concept for this mural was looking back in time. As the scene progresses down main St, the viewer is taken further back in time until we reach the late 19th century at the ferry dock and beyond. The mural becomes more up to date by about 25 years per block and is also reflected in the vehicles; from the steam boat at the dock, to the horse drawn buggy cresting Main St, to the 60′s Impala and finally the new Nissan leaf right in the foreground.


As always this was a lot of fun to do and it was great to see so many friends and neighbors out enjoying this extraordinary summer weather.

Happy Labor Day everyone! I hope you all had a great summer. On to 7th Grade!