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Home as a canvas

Art: Murals, decorative paint and faux finishes can turn boring into beautiful

Posted: September 10, 2010 10:28 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.

This large mural by Every Home’s a Canvas features Half Dome at Yosemite National Park.

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Let’s face it, the modern home is not a work of art, at least in the beginning. Even the most elegant new home is, basically, a blank canvas, waiting for you to add curtains and decorations, wallpaper and paint. It’s these touches that turn harsh into homey or austere into arty. And most of us can imagine all the usual suspects when it comes to gussying things up. If not, a quick look at a home decorating magazine will bring great ideas to mind.

However, there is one form of home “decoration” that doesn’t normally come to mind – or appear in those magazines.
That is the mural. And, as you can see from the photos on these pages, murals and related artistic touches can make an amazing improvement in any lifeless living area. (For more incredible photos, visit www.everywall.com.)

“A mural in a room can transform the space. It creates depth and illusions that can take you to another place,” said Heli Sterner, artist/owner of Every Wall’s a Canvas, based in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Sterner has been painting murals in folks’ homes for 10 years and can do everything from interior to exterior, small to huge, nature scenes to children’s designs, and faux finishes on walls, bricks and stone. Just this past July she painted a 40-foot-by-7-foot beach mural on a wall at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, “right by the first aid station and food court.”

Sterner said she has a bachelor’s degree in fine art (painting and sculpture) and used to sell her art on canvasses. But then, “I did a freebee (a mural) in a beauty salon (Pacific Hair Design in Saugus) and my phone rang off the hook,” she said.

And when the mural business took over, her company was born, with the name Every Wall’s a Canvas. “I wanted the name to be a complete thought about what I do,” Sterner said.

Sterner’s mural business continues to be very active, with “word of mouth” being the primary form of advertisement. When visitors see her work in someone’s home, they want murals as well.

Murals and prices
If you click on the Murals category at Sterner’s website, you will quickly realize nearly anything goes. There are wall-sized nature scenes, faux windows and doorways, and smaller murals that might take the place of framed paintings. Even in photos, these works of art are breathtaking.

“One of my favorite murals is to create that faux window,” Sterner said. And through that window can appear “any landscape or even a fairy tale castle for a child’s room.”

Sterner said “the sky is the limit” with her murals, which can include, literally, sky, or foliage or water or a single element, such as a tree on the wall and ceiling.

“Any foliage can be painted indoors to bring an outdoor element inside,” she said.

Sterner said that the price of her art is related to the amount of detail in it and based on how long the work will take. Her experience tells her approximately how long any job will require, and many of her works are murals she has done many times.

Sterner said she loves to do new things from customer ideas, and for these she will create a “study” first. This is a drawing, a poster-sized example of what she will do on the wall. That way the customer will know exactly what the mural will look like. (She has these for her previous works as well.)

A “basic room,” such as a children’s room, runs $300 to $500. “I’ve gotten pretty fast after all these years,” she said.

A typical mural, covering one sizeable wall in a bedroom, might take two days or a week, depending on detail. “I typically work six to eight hours a day, but I want my eyes to be fresh,” Sterner said. “That’s why I don’t charge by the hour — so I can stop when I’m tired and come back with fresh decisions for maximum creativity.”

Trompe L’oeil
Trompe L’oeil is a French term relating to tricking the eye, Sterner said. Hers are murals that give something a three-dimensional look on a flat wall. They can be pillars around a doorway or a wine bottle and glass on a shelf or a window looking out on a dreamy setting. “They can be fun, like a barn window with shutters, opening up on a horse looking in,” she said.

Children’s rooms
“If people can’t envision a grownup mural, lots of the time kids rooms are where they start,” Sterner said. “Cartoons, animals, ocean horizons — I can make a wall from a well-illustrated children’s book. If I see it, I can paint it.”

She said with childrens’ rooms she always tries to use her own, realistic sensibilities so the mural will still be appealing to the child up into his or her teens.

Decorative paint
Smaller artistic accents might include flowers or garlands over a window, or chandelier medallions. The latter are circular accessories placed on the ceiling above a chandelier. Over a basic white filler, Sterner can paint such things as Renaissance, Italian-style angels.

Textures and finishes
Sterner can “treat” any wall with textures and accents to transform it, including linen finishes and rolling. “You can create an old world look, tile, granite or other stone — all types of textures on a wall,” she said. “I can also do scrollwork, filigree or wrought iron. I’m always excited to try something new,” she said.

Exteriors
The exterior of your home is not immune to Sterner’s art either. Here she can also paint murals, textures and faux finishes. But imagination can really come into play here, with such things as lion heads painted on fountains, or turning bare concrete into “terra-cotta.”

In one photo on the Every Wall’s a Canvas website, you can see the breathtaking change, before and after, when Sterner turned bare white concrete into “marble.”

As Sterner said, “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to murals, and almost any home could benefit from this type of artistic upgrade. Whether you want your guests and family to be transported to a quiet cottage, farm, jungle, seascape, Tuscan vineyard or fairy tale, a mural might be what you are looking for.

For information call Heli Sterner at Every Wall’s a Canvas at (661) 255-1454, e-mail her at heli@everywall.com or visit www.everywall.com

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