Thanks to a Small Art Grant from the Telluride Council for the Arts and Humanities, Norwood artist Julie Siegel was able to fulfill a two-years-old request from Wright Stuff Foundation Director Andrya Brantingham to paint a mural that would brighten up the childcare center’s entryway.
“I wanted a mural that the kids could interact with,” said Brantingham. “My initial idea was to have Julie create a large tree that kids could hang things from to correspond with the seasons.”
Siegel, whose business True Faux specializes in decorative painting and Venetian plaster, responded to Brantingham’s suggestions with a few ideas of her own. Influenced by Prime Time’s desire to incorporate an awareness of whole foods and horticulture into its curriculum, Siegel decided to create a mural that depicts a garden with vegetables, fruit and children. But perhaps the best, and most clever, part of the mural is the fact that it’s magnetic, allowing kids to move its parts around.
Before painting the scene, Siegel primed the wall with a base of magnetically receptive paint. In keeping with the Wright Stuff’s “green” mission, she then used low-VOC paint to create a garden of corn, pumpkins, peas, and carrots bordered by a fruit tree and bushes. Images of children playing beneath a smiling sun also set the scene, which is quaintly pastoral.
Siegel then cut out shapes from foam core and affixed magnets to them. Prime Time children then helped her paint the resulting vegetables, wheel barrow and a turtle.
“It was fun to see the interest of the kids as the mural progressed,” said Siegel. “One boy said, ‘Look dad, the corn is growing!’ And a little girl said to me, “How can you paint all that and not get tired.’ It was really cute.”
In all it took about two weeks to complete the mural, which is now used daily by kids attending Prime Time, as well as visitors to the facility. According to Brantingham, all that’s missing is a harvest basket to contain more vegetables – something she plans to incorporate into a creative project with the kids.
From Holograms to Decorative Finishes
An experienced mural painter – Siegel created the “old Italian village” scene at West End Pizzeria and a mural above the children’s play area at the Uncompahgre Medical Center – Siegel also specializes in decorative finishes. A recent project involved painting raw steel beams to look like hammered wrought iron in what would become a mining trestle that doubles as a hanging walkway in a client’s home. For another client, she painted animal scenes and Native American designs on a teepee and refinished a totem pole.
Siegel is able to do everything from Trompe-l’oeil (French for “trick the eye”) painting to Venetian plaster. Her plasterwork graces the entry of the Ah Haa School, as well as many homes in the region, along with her wood-grain finishes that hide electrical plates and speakers from view. She’s even done crackled finish repairs on antique furniture pieces as well as cabinet refinishing.
“I’ve been doing decorative finishes for ten years,” she said. Prior to that, Siegel, who has a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Mills College in Oakland, Calif., designed and manufactured holographic jewelry for Lasart, a company she and her husband operated for 11 years.
Siegel was eager to contribute to Prime Time because it is such a great resource for the community. The mural project was especially satisfying because she discovered it had more uses than what she had envisioned from the start.
It has become “a flexible educational tool that’s playful,” she said, noting that the turtle, “Tucker,” is already used by Prime Time as a social emotional development tool that helps them deal with their feelings.
The kids play with the mural all the time,” said Brantingham. “We love it. And we’re grateful to TCAH for funding the project.
For more information on the TCAH Small Grants program, go to telluridearts.org. Julie Siegel may be reached at 327-4701 or email@example.com.