Adding a Bit of Family to an Outside Porch

I love my front porch. Over the years that I have lived in my house, my front porch has been a gathering place for neighbors to come and chat, a contained place for my boys to play with their monster trucks when they were younger, the location for many weird and wonderful Halloween decorations.

The summer of one particular year, 2012 as a matter of fact, was a tough summer. My Mom was battling cancer and my boys (ages 12 and 7 at the time) just needed a happy experience. I put my older son, in charge of getting the porch ready for the season. He selected the outdoor rug, he chose the flowers for the planters. But, we were missing something. There’s a little section of the porch that is just the vinyl siding. It needed some attention.

I brought my boys down to my studio and we sat on the floor one hot afternoon. I showed them the blank canvas and I had a closed set of colors that they could use . My older son already knew why we were using those colors: they matched the colors he had chosen for the rug and for the flowers. We brainstormed about things and places that make us happy. Once the boys had a loose plan, I gave them the brushes (of course I had to remind them to wash the brushes when changing colors) and within 15 or so minutes I had their collaborative art piece. They were so proud of their accomplishment!

kids art
This is the collaborative painting made by my sons.

Every spring season, that canvas comes out of the garage, gets wiped off, and hung up on the porch. I see my boys smile when I hang it up.

I smile too.

Artworks by Marcine creates custom murals and specialty wall finishes. Please call Marcine at (908) 599-2129 or fill out the contact form here with any inquiries you might have.

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.

Under the Carousel Top

Back in the day (I’m thinking it was 2002), I was asked to convert a room into a carousel for a nursery. When I meet with my clients for the first time, I like to get an idea of their decorating taste–likes/dislikes etc. With this meeting, there was no doubt Mom was about simple elegance.

This nursery was going to be a celebration of her third child and completion of her family. Mom wanted the room to be girly, but meant for a little one. We talked about her love of carousel horses and I immediately had an idea: we would convert the whole room into a carousel, complete with a carousel/circus tent ceiling. The room itself was going to be the artwork. There would be really no other decor, except perhaps a carousel horse (which Mom mentioned she was thinking about getting.) I was going to create wide stripes around the room and hand paint carousel horses on them. The colors were all in a pastel primary color scheme, with the addition of pale lavender, which was Mom’s favorite.

The ceiling of this room had a ceiling fan that could not be taken down. Time for plan B. I took precise measurements of each wall length and checked the measurements of the fan’s diameter where it met with the ceiling. My husband constructed a template to go around the ceiling fan base for me and told me how far apart to make the tick marks on the walls. (I’m definitely dating this project; laser levels weren’t part of my budget back then.)

This was definitely a case of proper planning yields results. I snapped the lines and had my ceiling. Each stripe was the same width. Once the ceiling was done, the atmosphere of the room changed. It truly felt like an environment, and a happy one at that!

Here’s how the ceiling turned out, thanks again to my Hubs.
Here’s a portion of the whole room.

Remember, the ceiling is your fifth wall; don’t be afraid to decorate it. Also keep in mind that having some type of plan saves time, reduces product waste, reduces stress, and ensures a more successful outcome.

Happy Decorating!

If you’d like to set up an appointment with me to discuss a project you had in mind, please call (908) 599-2129 or click on this link to my contact page. Thanks!

When you need a little bit of home…

Many years ago, I painted murals in a nursery for a couple who were transplants to New Jersey and were from Colorado. The Mom-to-be was naturally happy to be meeting her baby soon, but she was sad at the same time. She missed the landscape of Colorado and she missed her family. I can understand that. When you’re in a new place that is more busy and congested and it is nothing you are used to, it can be overwhelming.

Both she and her husband recounted to me with pride, some of their favorite places in Colorado and described them to me in depth. Thank goodness the internet existed back then and I was able to research the beautiful landscapes that make up Colorado, because I had never been there.

We brainstormed together and decided that an approach would be to paint various key destinations in Colorado that Mom and Dad had been to. One destination would flow into another.

White paneling, about five feet high, was going to be installed around the room. The scenery would encompass the upper portion of the walls. So that the room wouldn’t look to choppy, I recommended that I paint a sky with clouds on the ceiling.

Mom didn’t want dark colors; she wanted a very light happy feel. This room was going to remain a nursery as the couple planned on having more children, so the end result had to look gender neutral.

Based upon these specifications, I created a room for the family that would serve as a home away from home. So, when Mom or Dad missed their home state, all they had to do was step into this very special space.

Three cheers for weirdness

“You’re weird,”¬† my parents would often say.¬† I never got insulted, nor were my feelings hurt.

It was true.

I never wanted to be like everyone else; I just wanted to be me.¬† I wasn’t going to change.

My poor parents sent me to ballet class in hopes that I’d learn to be graceful.¬† I think that grace and delicateness thing backfired; I was the only little girl who couldn’t jump rope forwards, only backwards , which I’m sure provided entertainment to the audience during the recital.¬† I’d break things that normally shouldn’t break, like keys in locks, for example.

My interests in things as a little kid were kind of “out there.”¬† I remember being fascinated with the macabre and reading magazines about people being attacked by sharks and in awe of them as they showed their huge bite marks.¬† At the age of 10 I was going through Stephen King books like no one’s business.¬† I’d often go to the library and¬† research things I had seen on “In Search of,” (Gosh, I loved that show; Stonehenge is one of my bucket list places to visit.)¬† I loved walking through old graveyards in NYC.¬† ( although I have to admit, the cemetary¬† I visited in Salem Massachusetts was pretty cool too)¬† I badgered my Father to take me to¬† the Ancient Egyptian wing at the MET when I was seven.¬† My Mom then questioned why I decided to mummify all my dolls in toilet paper and then decorate empty boxes as sarcophagi.

All I can say is, “My poor parents.”¬† And the art thing: I couldn’t get enough of it.¬† In the 70’s my Dad took me to the MoMA.¬† I think I was about 8 or so.¬† Minimalism, conceptual art, feminist art were at their heights.¬† Dad saw a pile of debris and a door on the floor in one of the exhibit galleries.¬† “You call that art?” he asked.¬† I’ll never forget that.¬† And, the color field paintings of¬† Mark Rothko and readymade sculptures of Marcel Duchamp- I think– blew his mind.¬† Thank goodness my¬† parents were open minded like that.¬† Quite often, they’d just shake their heads and say, “Marci, you are weird.”¬† To which I replied, “Thank you!”

I think by the time I graduated Penn State with my BFA, they embraced and supported my weirdness.¬† Dad would come with me to the museums and we’d walk about NYC looking for out-of-the-ordinary things.¬† He’d appease me and come with me to my favorite art store, Pearl Paint, where “the people with green hair worked.”¬† Little by little I was finding my tribe.¬† When it was time to have my MFA show, Dad was my assistant all the way.¬† He schlepped all of my pieces into NYC and helped me¬† install.¬† ¬†He was weird too, but in a geeky sciencey technology sort of way.

We just kind of understood each other.

Funny how that weirdness thing works.


Today’s Thoughts About Yesterday’s Work Ethic

Today I was preparing for a ceiling mural project I’m about to begin and I reached for the carpenter’s square so I could make a template.¬† But this wasn’t any carpenter’s square.¬† It was my Grandfather’s.¬† I’m sure it was one of many.¬† “Pop” as we affectionately called him was a Union carpenter.¬† He, along, with tons of other men, worked on the construction of the Verrazano Bridge in the early 1960’s.¬† He showed me the medal he had gotten as being part of the construction crew.¬† This was a man, hard around the edges, who took pride in what he did and worked hard every day.¬† He was a man with a strong work ethic, resiliency and integrity, who persevered through many a hard time in the 20th Century such as The Great Depression, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam.


Pop was all about doing things the “right” way.¬† ¬†Sometimes his way was the hardest way, but he felt that’s when things were done right.¬† Everything else, in his opinion, was a “Snow Job.”¬† I used to chuckle about that phrase as a little girl.¬† Sometimes I still do.¬† But, that work ethic was ingrained in my head.¬† The driveway had to be topcoated with a brush, the railing needed to be stripped of paint before a new coat could be painted.¬† The chain link fence had to be painted by hand with a brush.¬† Those are just a few examples.¬† Even when he retired from working, he would be involved in making things.¬† I think I was the only little girl who had a square ice skating rink in my back yard.¬† Yep, he built it for me.¬† ¬†When he built something, it would last FOREVER.¬† And, you never knew any construction took place.¬† He was that neat.

His basement was a carpenter’s candyland.¬† I remember seeing a planer machine, all kinds of cross cut saws with their decoratively carved handles hanging from nails, sanding belts, recycled baby food jars that held neatly organized wood screws, nails, bolts, nuts.¬† Each jar had differently sized items and the lids were attached to a plank of wood screwed into the basement ceiling beams so that the jars hung overhead.¬† There were¬† labeled storage cabinets with even more tools and gadgets but they were off limits to us grandkids.¬† He knew where everything was at all times.

Because I was a girl, I really wasn’t shown how to make things but I watched and listened. (My Dad, being a dad to all girls (yes, he should have been canonized) taught me how to build things and fix things myself.)¬† ¬†My cousins–all boys–were part of Pop’s construction crew whether they wanted to be or not.¬† Two of them went on to continue Pop’s legacy of¬† creating, building, repairing.¬† I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of working with one of them on many a painting project early in my career.¬† All of them have that work ethic, perseverance, integrity .¬† And all of them are about keeping the job area clean.¬† “Marcine,” my cousin would often say, “Keep the space cleaner after than it was before.”

Work ethic–¬† call me old fashioned, but yes:

-Things have to be done the right way; no “Snow Jobs.”

-The job has to be done.

-Say what you’re going to do and do it.

-And, the space has to be cleaner than it was before.

Thanks, Pop.

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!