The Magnolia Tree

Highland Park in NJ is a neat place. It has a variety of charming homes, a diverse cultural community, an active business community, and a small hometown feel.

And, it has this one magnolia tree that my client absolutely loved.

A few years ago, a repeat client of mine became the proud owner of Edison Pack and Ship in Edison, NJ near Highland Park. I was humbled that she had this wall that she wanted me to create art on.

“Marcine, I want you to paint a tree on that wall. I have the exact tree I want you to paint. It is a magnolia tree in Highland Park. The tree trunk is beautiful. It twists and turns and is itself a work of art. I will let you know when it begins to bloom and I want you to go see the tree in person for your inspiration.”

So, on a perfect spring Sunday morning in early April, I drove over to Highland Park to see the tree. My client was right: the trunk twisted and turned and it was just perfect. And on that day, the sky was this brilliant cerulean blue and the magnolia blossoms were various tints of alizarin crimson.

I painted a mural that honored the awe and beauty of nature, the perfection of that tree and of that beautiful morning. In doing so, the mural also honored the beautiful person that my client is.

This mural can be seen at Edison Pack and Ship on Route 27 in Edison, NJ

Are you a commercial business owner? Are you in search of that something that will help your brick and mortar location stand out? I can help you! Let’s chat, 908-599-2129 or please fill out this contact form I am based in NJ and have done work in eastern PA but I’m always looking for an opportunity to travel!

Just a little help

“Mom, I don’t want to sleep in my room! Can I stay with you, please???”

I’m sure you’ve heard this quote before. And, I’m sure you’ve heard the the parent say she (or he) was at wit’s end.

What to do?

Such was the case with one of my clients. Her son was just not a fan of staying in his room. That’s when I got a call to come over for a meeting of the minds. I told Mom to include her son in this meeting. I was going to have him make some decisions.

I was pleasantly surprised! At the meeting, my client’s son was very prepared. He knew what he wanted in the room (jungle) and the particular color family (jungle/grassy green) he was also thinking of. Of course, the parents provided guidelines (and I’m chuckling as I write this story because I remember how prepared this munchkin was!)

We went with a rainforest/jungle theme and my little project manager told me specifically what types of monkeys he wanted, snakes, etc. I fanned out my color deck and he lead Mom and I to a group of greens. I further discussed with Mom furniture placement, etc and by the end of our discussion, we had a general game plan.

From my notes, I drew sketches in various scenarios so my client’s son could choose. Once the plan was finalized, I came in to do the artwork on the walls. This little guy was very curious and asked questions, which, in my opinion was a great thing. That means he was totally committed to this project and becoming more and more excited about it. Every day he would ask his Mom when his room was going to be done. (That in itself told me we would have no problem having him transition into his big boy room.)

On the last day of my project after I cleaned up and was in the middle of packing up, I had a discussion with this sweetie. I told him he was in charge of his room, and I was leaving him the job of taking care of the animals. I reminded him to keep the animals company at night and to keep his room clean. He agreed to the job.

jungle mural by artworks by marcine in nj

That week, I got an email from Mom. Success!!!! He was sleeping in his room.

A little bit of empowerment goes a long way.

Pleasant dreams.

Want your space to STAND OUT with something unique? Call Artworks by Marcine at 908-599-2129 or click here to fill out my contact form.

Ending on a Happy Note

Last Fall, I had gotten a call from one of my clients. She was very upset. A few years ago, I helped transform a space in her home into her dream music room. Recently, she had a water leak and the space had gotten a decent amount of water damage on one wall. The mural was affected. Her insurance company suggested I stop by to take a look at the damage. Sure, the sheetrock had bubbled and the mural would have to be redone in that section. I felt so terrible for her but no one was hurt and things can be replaced. It was going to be okay.

Since I was going to put the same section back up on the wall, I photographed the damaged area. That photo would be my reference.

This section of a mural sustained water damage

Essentially, the damage was far greater than originally thought. Water damage is rotten no matter how you look at it. Sheetrock and water are never a great combo. Add in flooring, the wires, etc., behind the wall and there could be potentially more issues. The pipes were fixed, sheetrock replaced, and flooring replaced. The space was primed and painted and ready for me.

With my notes from the original project, i.e. colors, etc. I got to work. Within one day, my client had her music room back and “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” was playing in full.

This story definitely ended on a good note ūüėČ

After repair

Interested in adding custom art to your residential or commercial space? Please give me a call at (908) 599-2129 or fill out the contact form here.

A Vanity Makeover

bathroom vanity, handpainted, renovation

Occasionally, I will get a call from someone who is not sure what to do with a piece of furniture that they have and because of the furniture’s purpose and/or locale, there is no reason to replace it.

This was such a call.

I spoke with the person on the phone and told her I’d be happy to stop by to take a look.¬† The piece of furniture was a bathroom vanity.¬† It was a beautiful piece and structurally, there was nothing wrong with it.¬† The vanity had been custom fitted to fit the plumbing under the sink and the basin was new.¬† Cosmetically, the vanity needed some tlc and an update.

hand-painted, furniture, renovation
Bathroom Vanity before transformation by Artworks by Marcine, LLC

I can do that!

The client was happy that she didn’t have to start over looking for a new vanity.¬† She was also happy that I would be able to do the vanity while she was on vacation.

My client has an antique chair that essentially, she wanted the vanity to resemble.¬† I did a mockup of the piece including the color change and a particular motif that she liked on my computer.¬† I find this so helpful for my clients.¬† The mockup helps clients see how the finished product will look and it is easier for me to make the changes digitally than on location, especially when she wouldn’t be there to check it out.

Furniture in any way shape or form is done in layers and requires patience, patience, patience.  In this regard, a piece of furniture takes time to do; every step has to dry before the next step begins.  I promised my client I would send her daily texts with photos so she could see the progress.

I made the necessary repairs such as fixing dings, scrapes, etc.  There was a lot of wood putty and sanding, washing, wiping.  The surface had to be dust free and clean from greasy residue so that the subsequent primer and paint layers would bond properly.  I also swapped out the plastic tarps so that any dust particles would not be an issue.

Using a bonding primer and¬† Benjamin Moore Advance , I began transforming the vanity.¬† Once the layers were dry, I used Modern Masters metallic paint to hand-paint the motifs.¬† Once that layer was dry, it was time to seal the piece.¬† The Benjamin Moore water-based paint is very durable on its own, but I’m always concerned about the amount of traffic and exposure to water, etc., so I’d rather take the time and seal up the piece with a commercial quality sealer.

This is the finished vanity.¬† It was truly a transformation that better fit the client’s space and best of all, nothing had to be installed or replaced.

bathroom vanity, handpainted, renovation
Bathroom Vanity-AFTER by Artworks by Marcine, LLC

hand-painted , renovation, diy
A closeup of the hand-painted details by Artworks by Marcine, LLC

What do you think of the transformation?

Do you need a transformation in your home or business?  I can help you!  Murals, wall finishes, etc.  Feel free to call me via phone, 908-599-2129 or fill out your contact information here.

When you ordered a desk online and it’s the WRONG color

rustic chic, artworks by marcine, nj

“Marcine, can you help me?”

I love that question.

I have a client that ordered a desk online for her business.¬† She had someone assemble it and the color was just wrong for the space.¬† It wasn’t what she had expected, through no fault of her own.¬† Sometimes what you see online and what you get in reality are different.¬† It happens.¬† Usually, the company will take items back but since this piece had already been assembled, sending the desk back was not an option.

This is the back of the desk in its original color.

Quite often I will get asked to make something visually fit into a space.  At first, the client wanted the desk to really have contrast.  I took photos and superimposed different colors on them using my computer.

The initial results were not on point.

The decorating style of this commercial¬† location is “farm-chic.”¬† The desk¬†had¬† had to be elegant, to stand out and yet fit in.

I figured making the desk look like it was created out of barnwood, but chic barnwood was the way to go.  I asked the client if I could use a metallic silver in the finish and she was excited.  My stipulation was that I had to keep it light.

Many layers of bonding primer, base paint, glaze. metallic paint, barrier coat, topcoats…


Farm Chic Desk


Problem solved.  The desk fits into the environment, continues the theme of the space, and the colors are just right.

Need help with your space?  I can help you!

Please call me at (908) 599-2129 or fill out the contact form and I will get back to you!

Choosing colors: keep it simple and stress-free!

Choosing colors for your room: it’s fun, trust me!

Many of my clients find this part of the process extremely stressful.

First of all, relax.

I always tell my clients to not look at the “whole picture ” in this case.¬† ¬†It is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out.¬† After all, did you ever see a color deck?¬† Many paint companies have more than one!


There are many ways to figure out a color scheme.  The method I use for a single room is the following:

Find a “source of inspiration.”¬† I know, you’re probably saying, “What does she mean?”¬† Basically, this is something you are visually drawn to.¬† It may be a work of art, a photograph, a rug,¬† a favorite sweater, a memento from a trip…anything!!!

Now, in that piece, what colors do you¬† really like?¬† That’s your starting off point.¬† Usually, folks pick 3: a main color and two supporting colors.

Yes, there are “color theory 101 rules.”¬† Primary color scheme, secondary, tertiary, analagous,¬† complementary, tints, shades, blah blah blah……

Guess what?¬† I don’t follow rules, at least , not in this case.¬† If there is one color I like in that inspiration piece, I go with that.¬† Then, I may look for additional colors in the color deck that go with that color nicely.¬† ¬†Going horizontally across a color deck usually insures success that the colors will go together.¬† But, you can bump up or go down¬† one color from the horizontal will also work.¬† See?¬† not so hard.

I will also pair up a trim color and a ceiling color.¬† How to do that?¬† Well, let’s talk about trim.¬† Put the color deck colors that you want to use for the trim up to the color you’ve selected for the wall.¬† You cannot just randomly pick a trim color.¬† Why?¬† Simply put: color changes depending on the colors they are next to and what we’re looking for is color compatibility.

Ceiling color.¬† ¬† The ceiling is your fifth wall.¬† Convention tells us to go lighter.¬† If you really like that one color that you picked out from your inspiration piece, why not choose a lighter tint of that color?¬† Or, If there’s another color in that piece but your comfort level¬† tells you it is too dark, you can use a tint of that color.¬† For a bolder move, go dark!¬† Why not?¬† My rule is that you should be happy in your space!

Lastly, invest in pint samples of the colors.¬† Paint¬† some pieces of posterboard but make the pieces a decent size, i.e. 9″ x 12″ Or, if the paint store sells “designer chips” get those.¬† They don’t cost that much and are the size of a piece of paper.

I always tell my clients to live with the colors for a little while.  Move the larger samples around the room.  See how the lighting affects the colors.  See how the colors will look against your furniture or kitchen cabinetry.

Small investments of time and the purchase of some samples will give you a stress free start to getting the job done right the first time.

Hope this info was helpful to you.¬† If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments,¬† ¬†If you’d like to schedule a color consult, or discuss a project, please contact me here .¬† ¬† I’m happy to help!

Finding The Right “Tool” For The Job

Recently, I visited a potential client who has  a tall wall in her entrance hallway.  This wall was narrow  but tall.  She was concerned about choosing a finish that would not only look great but was able to withstand the wear and tear of family traffic.

There are all kinds of products out there in the decorative painting world.¬† Want something to look like suede? Yes, we’ve got that.¬† Want something to look like metal? Yep, we’ve got that.¬† Want something to look like stone?¬† Yep, we’ve got that too.

The right “tool” for the job.

There’s an extremely durable plaster that would fit the bill and, it can be painted.¬† As a matter of fact, this stuff is magic.¬† I can manipulate it into brick, I can make a cracked old wall–all kinds of things.¬† ¬†The fact that I can hand paint it to further customize the project is an added bonus.¬† The paints will be wall paints.¬† It can also be top-coated for further protection, but honestly, it will dry to a hard¬† colorful finish that will be washable with mild soap and water.

I provided three samples to the client, all with the same colors and the same materials.  They were just executed differently.

Plaster finish option 1

Plaster finish option 2

Plaster finish option 3

I’m curious to see which one she chooses!

Is there a space you’d like to change or turn into a focal point?¬† Contact me at or (908) 599-2129 today!

Don’t be afraid to show your sparkle!

sparkle, artworksbymarcine, glitter, metallic

A decorator friend of mine asked if I could help her out on a powder room project.  This particular project was located in a new upscale lashbar business here in New Jersey.

I love this decorator friend.  She gives me carte blanche to do whatever as long as I stay within budget and adheres to a theme.  (Debi, you ROCK!!!)

Gold, black, sparkle, glam.  Those were my parameters.

The powder room size was quite small, 4×6.¬† There was going to be a mirrored vanity and the toilet.¬† That’s it.¬† The walls were going to be the canvas.¬† I suggested a metallic paint for the walls and then a random placement of stencils using glitter and stones.

I showed Debi the ideas I had and she showed them to the client.¬† The client was excited.¬† It was going to be a spin on the retro 50’s glam.

I used Modern Master’s Metallic paint in a matte finish.¬† I did a matte so the walls wouldn’t overpower or fight with the glittery stencils I was going to install. I went for a champagne instead of a gold.¬† I wanted the space to really read elegance.¬† Metallic walls look best sprayed.¬† I don’t know how to use a sprayer–yet–so I used the traditional roller method.¬† For those of you planning to do a metallic finish, I would highly recommend that you base coat the walls in a color extremely close to the metallic.¬† Metallic paints are expensive and if you can avoid doing multiple coats, all the better.¬† i added Modern Master’s extender to the metallic paint so the paint wouldn’t set up and dry quickly, reducing the chances of lap lines.¬† I would up doing multiple coats because the paint is semi-opaque.¬† Make sure when you roll a section, you back roll the paint in the same direction ceiling to floor.¬† This will point all of the mica particles in one direction for a smoother looking finish.

Once the paint was done, it was time for the fun stuff!!!!¬† I added glitter in both black and champagne.¬† Despite all the sweeping and vacuum cleaning, there was still glitter on the floor. And yes, I used disposable tarps plus covered the vanity and the toilet.¬† Unfortunately, if you remember doing holiday crafts as a kid, I’m sure you have memories of Mom complaining about glitter being everywhere.

It does happen.

Once the glitter was dry, I found stones in my local Hobby Lobby store.  I asked Debi if I could use the clear prism stones in addition to the black and gold stones.  She loved the idea! Those clear prisms went well with the mirror vanity.  Gorilla Glue helped adhere the stones onto the walls.  Use the glue sparingly because adding too much will cause the glue to run out from underneath the stones and drip down the wall.

craft, stones, sparkly
Gold stones from Hobby Lobby

The drop ceiling was painted a flat black.  The result is simple glam and elegance.

sparkle, artworksbymarcine, glitter, metallic
Here is the finished result: Simple. Glamorous. Elegant.

Differently sized stencils with alternating champagne and black glitter.

Letting that sparkle shine!!!

Don’t be afraid to add materials like glitter or stones to your walls.¬† A little sparkle is a good thing!

Questions?  Feel free to reach me at (908) 599-2129 or


Budgets: necessary in a creative project?

faux, metallic, artworksbymarcine

It all boils down to money.¬† Not my favorite topic, but something that must be addressed.¬† Yeah, I know–insert eyeball roll.

From my point of view,  the conversation is not only about dollars.  It is more about communication and education.  The client needs to tell me what he or she wants and then ideally, a budget is discussed.  (   What if the client is unsure of what he/she wants?  The artist can show a variety of samples from his/her portfolio as ideas.)  Then, I can see if there is a product that will accomplish the task using a reasonable amount of labor.

In other words, is the project doable for a certain price???

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the scenario.¬† I do, quite often, ask the clients if there is a budget in mind.¬† Sometimes I’m given a ballpark and sometimes not.¬† I’m not really one to engage in a numbers game.¬† ¬†Remember the communication and education thing I mentioned before?¬† I, as an artist, want to keep the communication lines open.¬† I need the client to tell me yes or no on a finish,¬† and how much they are willing to spend.¬† This way we aren’t wasting each other’s time.¬† ¬†For example, there are some metallic paint products out there that cost over $100 per gallon.¬† This is just the materials!¬† If the products are imported from overseas, there’s a good chance they are going to cost more money.¬† In terms of labor, my labor price is pretty average.¬† This is where I need to educate the client: it’s the labor involved with a particular process.¬† Some finishes require 5-7 passes, meaning that there are 5-7 times I’m applying products¬† around the room.¬† ¬†In terms of mural work,¬†¬†if you are looking for something much more intricate and hyper-real, you can expect to be charged more. Why?¬† You are paying for someone’s time.¬† Everyone’s time is valuable, isn’t it?¬† Lastly, let’s not forget the artist’s “artistic vision, i.e. ability to see things creatively or creative problem solving, come into play .¬† All of these things hold value.¬† That value will be reflected in the final project result.

My advice is that as a client, be up front with the artist.¬† If there’s a strict budget, make that known.¬† Ask questions about products.¬† Ask if there are alternative products that can be used.¬† If you’re requesting a mural ask the artist if he/she can do what you’re asking within a monetary framework.¬† If you don’t ask, how will you know?¬† Communicate these concerns to someone you may hire to create a vision for you.¬† That person will in turn, appreciate the teamwork effort and will do his or her best to educate you on the most appropriate way to achieve your goals.

Have questions? Give me a call at 908-599-2129 or send an email to:


Restaurant reno: quick and easy

A designer friend of mine contacted me a few weeks ago.¬† She was helping a restaurant owner do a low budget renovation in one area of his restaurant.¬† The reno didn’t involve tearing down anything or relocating booths.¬† ¬†This was strictly a cosmetic update.¬† The booths were a red orange in color and they were permanent.¬† So, how was I going to integrate that color into the new visual overhaul?

Being that this restaurant is Italian, we were going for an Italian appearance in the takeout area.  The designer chose a  Benjamin Moore warm honey wall color for the background in a matte finish.  She was also adding a few decorative hanging pieces that I had to work around.  Plus, I was to pick up the dark red and dark green colors from the dining room  So, I had red -orange booths, a warm honey background, some additional sculptural elements and dark red and dark green to incorporate into the final outcome.

After showing the restaurant owner my portfolio, he liked brick breakaways¬† (where walls look like they are cracking and revealing bricks) and grapes.¬† This would be the subject matter of my handpainted art.¬† The designer showed me where the sculptural elements were going to be installed.¬† I like when project elements like this create a matrix.¬† It’s a matter of fitting all the additional pieces into place to make the puzzle complete.

I drew grape vines and grapes on the upper portion  of the walls and had them cascade over strategically placed breakaways.  I measured where the sculptural elements were going to be installed and made sure the design fit accordingly.  I was going to incorporate the reddish orange and dark green  into the grape leaves and make the grapes dark red.  The designer wanted light bricks.  I chose neutral colors from Benjamin Moore that would work with everything else.

The interior of the takeout area of this Italian restaurant was given a new look with paint.

A closeup of the updated look by Artworks by Marcine

another view of the visual update by Artworks by Marcine

Voila!  It all fit into place, just like the pieces of a puzzle.  The result was a warm inviting space on a low budget.