Ornamental Fence with Poppies

I walk past this garden and fence several times a week; it is a familiar feature in our neighbourhood. I often take photos of the flowers; its always well tended with perennials blooming from spring to fall.

From left to right and in order,
the photo I worked from, showing the fence masked with low-tack tape; painting the background over the mask; the mask removed, then the development of the shadows and highlights of the cast iron.
"... a grape vine pattern in a rinceau motif. Examples of this fence design are found in front of several Second Empire homes in Spruce Hill.

By the 1840's the abundant amount of anthracite coal from the fields of Northeastern Pennsylvania flowing to Philadelphia down Pennsylvania's river and canal systems provided an ample source of fuel for the industrial cast iron foundries. Cast iron, an alloy high in carbon, is more brittle than wrought iron but also more weather resistant. In addition, it pours readily, making mass production of ornamental iron possible. "

quote from the University City Historical Society


Alice's Garden Painting at Home

The garden in winter. (click images to see larger)

We travelled out to Delaware County yesterday with the painting. I helped install it, used Z clips, my favorite, since the art will stay level, and its so easy to just lift it in place, and set on the clips.

To celebrate, my client took us for a fantastic meal at Umbria in Mt.Airy. I have to say it was one of the best restaurant experiences I've had in years. 

© kim senior 2008


Garden Portrait in Oils, done.

Completed garden portrait. click image to see larger. Earlier stages here. Got our first little snowfall today, had to wait till the flakes stopped to take the painting outside to photograph.


Garden Portrait in Oils

Almost finished, the final details are yet to be done. This is a commission to memorialize a  wonderful gardener. The perennials are her favorites, not a literal depiction. Shown at their peak, oakleaf hydrangea, hydrangea macrophylla, crepe myrtle, rhododendron, peonies, astilbe, rubrum lilies, mary todd lilies, and beech trees at the rear.


de Forest Brush Indian Paintings

The White Swan
Russell and Michelle Ball Collection
Oil on Panel

We have had a book called George de Forest Brush:; Recollections of a Joyous Painter, on our bookshelf for 25 years. I hadn't looked at it for quite a while, the illustrations are in black and white.
de Forest Brush (1854/1855–1941) was an American artist who trained with Gérôme in Paris, and travelled extensively in the American West.

I hope to get down to DC to see the just opened exhibit at the National Gallery of his Indian Paintings. In the meantime there is a great online slideshow of images from the exhibit. So wonderful to compare the color images with the b & w ones in our book.

The Revenge (The Escape)
Made in United States
Oil on canvas
16 x 19 1/2 inches (40.6 x 49.5 cm)

George de Forest Brush;: Recollections of a joyous painter by Nancy Douglas Bowditch
Noone House 1970 , ISBN-13: 978-0872330085

Bob always writes interesting reflections and reviews on shows, catalogues and books.


Storm approaches at Jersey Shore

Clouds and interesting light,  North Wildwood  NJ. The bottom two photos are stitched panoramas, handheld.


Son of Coal Miner Mural continued

Kim working on final detailing on scarf and lamp.

Lausanne painting the mine structure.

The completed mural. 

The coal mine depicted is a now *retired* Belgian coal  mine called le Bois du Cazier, and the miner's portrait is that of the client's father. The mural is a testament to his fortitude and sacrifice for his family. 

The miners of that time wore their safety lamps hung onto their scarves. Their helmets were made of leather. The hill behind him was created by a cart on a track which would trundle up and dump the tailings; the nearby residents, including my client when he was a boy, would climb the hill and pick through the tailings for scrap bits of coal, to sell or take home. The miners were called les gueules noires,  derogatory slang translating loosely as black faces.

  © kimsenior.com 2008 all rights reserved

Son of Coal Miner Mural

Astounding space, under construction.

Showing Lausanne transferring the drawing though to the wall, similar to using carbon paper.

Progress midway.
Worked on this latest mural on location at a private residence near Lynchburg Virginia.

More than ably assisting me, was Lausanne Davis Carpenter, a fine decorative painter (and scenic designer)from Mathews VA.

We blazed through the project in a little over a week (not including preparations I did in Philly) The mural measures 20 feet by 12.5 feet. In studio, I made large drawings to final scale of the mine head (the structure on the left, and the miner's bust. Once taped in place on location, we transferred the outlines of the drawing quickly onto the wall. 

© kimsenior.com 2008 all rights reserved


Painted Panoramas

click image to see large, and again, to see original 4100 x 2050 pixels.
link to flickr page, with comments

A highlight of my visit to the Hague a couple years ago, was seeing the wonderful Mesdag Panorama.

From the website, its " a cylindrical painting, more than 14 meters high and 120 meters in circumference. The vista of the sea, the dunes and Scheveningen village was painted by one of the most famous painters of the Hague School, Hendrik Willem Mesdag. It is the oldest 19th century panorama in the world in its original site, and a unique cultural heritage."

You enter the giant cylinder through a passageway to stand in the center, in a special viewing platform, which controls your 360 degree view of the huge scene. I was not permitted to take photos, but have found a great image (above) on flickr by Aldo. which is a great shot *outside* of the illusion.

I was reminded of this, by seeing this morning's Times piece on the Gettysburg panorama, lots of great photos, and will be on my must visit list when it reopens this September. Paul Philippoteaux was the creator of this amazing work.

New York Times Article link

Bernard Comment, Panorama. Reaktion Books 1999 ISBN:1861891237 link to it on Google books; some photos and excerpts. Excellent, thanks Pascal for reminding me of it

Stephan Oettermann, The panorama: history of a mass medium. New York: Zone Books, 1997. Trans. by Deborah Lucas Schneider . ISBN 0-942299-83-3 review
Excellent web article about history of painted panoramas with links http://www.acmi.net.au/AIC/PANORAMA.html

Aldo's blog link


Mural Topped

Tom and Chris attaching the cleats.
Top panel is resting on its cleat, needs to be nudged into alignment.
© Kim Senior Murals 2008


Lots of Muscle

Installation of my mural in the atrium of the Independent Hotel, Philadelphia.

Some pics of the construction team of Tom, Chris and Alex in all kinds of baroque poses as they struggle to hoist the awkward canvases by hand UP the scaffold, in a tight space.

©Kim Senior Murals 2008


Chic Upscale Boutique Hotel Opens

press release excerpt .......... "The Independent's design reflects a charming sophistication that is consistent with the building's architecture and the local area of Midtown Village. Interior Designer, Robert Moskowitz of Rittenhouse Interior Design Group, has redefined the four-story building's interior, bringing a chic- refined aesthetic to the warm and inviting hotel. The hotel's lobby is accented by a crystal chandelier and features a 30-foot by 8-foot, hand-painted work of art created by local muralist, Kim Senior. Senior is an accomplished Philadelphia artist whose mural and screen paintings can be seen around the city in both classical and contemporary styles. For The Independent, she has created a vibrant image of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, which spans three stories, rising from the hotel's lobby. Moskowitz's design paired with Senior's vivid piece de resistance offers guests a tailored, soothing feel amidst a rich color palette."

Independent Mural Painted Sideways

Its a 40 foot tall wall starting from the reception area on the 2nd floor, and looking up to the skylight windows. The elongated, stylized and gilded design of the tower of Independence Hall, using a vivid color palette, will be a focal point.
above; a digitally composed *sketch* to show how the mural will look when installed in the lobby.
The computer was indispensable for painting sideways. I gridded the sketch and canvas, and drew the image freehand... referring to a landscape or sideways view of the sketch on my laptop, taped to the top of a ladder.As I progressed with the painting, I took photographs of the work in progress, and was then able to flip them right side up on the computer to see how it would look.

Independent, 13th and Locust

I have been so busy painting lately, no time to blog properly. I just finished a 3 section 30 x 8 foot mural for a new boutique hotel called the Independent.
Its in a historic center city neighborhood recently renamed midcity village, more popularly known at the gayborhood. The immediate area was pretty seedy when I first saw it in the early 80s; a now deceased notorious speculator had purchase many of the buildings, and left them to unmaintained. That changed when he passed away; lots of condos and small businesses have revitalized and refreshed this area, and the Independent is part of that. The Independent is owned and operated by Hersha Hospitality Trust.
Mural across the street from the hotel, called Philadelphia Muses, by artist Meg Saligman, and some lovely details on bulidings nearby.

SInce I don't have a 30 foot tall (or long) wall in my studio, and because the renovations at the hotel would prevent me painting directly on the wall, we decided on painting it in 3 sections on canvas, in my studio. It meant I would again be painting sideways.
applying comp gold leaf to the mural

© Kim Senior Murals 2008


Wisteria After the Bus Drove Through the Stop

One of those days; a morning spent in a dentist's chair, then a longish walk carrying art supplies and groceries, and the Septa bus drove right by without stopping; the killer was it was not rush hour and not full of passengers.

Walking several blocks to blow off steam, I spied these wisteria, and was mollified. Another lesson to always have my camera. Taken near the one of the #57 bus stops in Society Hill.


After Tiepolo

click images to view larger
A quick study of a detail taken from the Banquet of Cleopatra by G.B. Tiepolo for fun.
the original is a fresco, mine is acrylics on canvas. measures about 12 x 16 inches.
champagne and pearls, perhaps she is about enjoy some oysters


Before and After

Before and after photos are the most powerful way to present a potential mural project. I have many examples in my portfolio.

I came across an intriguing blog article called "Before and After Gardens of Humphry"; about Repton's *Red Books*.
"Long before cable TV popularized instant makeovers of houses, gardens, wardrobes, bodies and souls, Humphrey Repton knew the power of the 'before' and 'after'. His famous Red Books were presentation sketches for his potential clients; lovingly detailed watercolors with flaps that lifted or swept to the side to show in turn the existing landscape and how he proposed to improve it."
The University of Wisconsin has a marvelous digital library of decorative arts materials, and you can see the entire Repton sketchbook online.

Jane Austen mentions Repton in Mansfield Park; she and Repton were contemporaries, though she was 24 years younger, they died a year apart.

“I wish you could see Compton,” said he; “it is the most complete thing! I never saw a place so altered in my life. I told Smith I did not know where I was. The approach now, is one of the finest things in the country: you see the house in the most surprising manner. I declare, when I got back to Sotherton yesterday, it looked like a prison— quite a dismal old prison.”

“Oh, for shame!” cried Mrs. Norris. “A prison indeed? Sotherton Court is the noblest old place in the world.”

“It wants improvement, ma’am, beyond anything. I never saw a place that wanted so much improvement in my life; and it is so forlorn that I do not know what can be done with it.”

“No wonder that Mr. Rushworth should think so at present,” said Mrs. Grant to Mrs. Norris, with a smile; “but depend upon it, Sotherton will have _every_ improvement in time which his heart can desire.”

“I must try to do something with it,” said Mr. Rushworth, “but I do not know what. I hope I shall have some good friend to help me.”

“Your best friend upon such an occasion,” said Miss Bertram calmly, “would be Mr. Repton, I imagine

That is what I was thinking of. As he has done so well by Smith, I think I had better have him at once. His terms are five guineas a day.”*

*comparing todays currency to 1815, a factor of about 60 is appropriate; so Mr. Repton's terms would be £300 a day. A guinea was the same as a pound; "You paid tradesmen, such as a carpenter, in pounds but gentlemen, such as an artist, in guineas. It was a tradition in the legal profession that a barrister was paid in guineas but kept only the pounds, giving his clerk the shillings (they were all men then)."
link to book review "Jane Austen and the English Landscape" by Mavis Batey

link to article on Repton, landscape plans forHanslope Park; illustrations.

link to Independant article by Anna Pavord "Landscapes of Scents and Sensibility"

link to what is a guinea?


Buddhist Mural Process

Some pics of the stages of the work of the Buddhist Garden Mural.
As the design calls for soft, flowing areas of paint, using acrylics rather than oils involves practice to avoid ugly *lap-lines* where the paint starts to dry before blending is finished.
Once I begin painting an area, taking into account the dryness of the air, I plan how much I can cover before the paint will become unworkable. Once it reaches this stage, I need to stop working it, let it dry before painting another layer.
The bamboo was to be painted as it would be hit by sprackly uneven light; I *oil in* ( using an acrylic glaze medium) a slippery layer over stalks that I have laid in with a base color; then I work quickly to soften the patches of different colors into it. Once this dries, I paint the more linear shadows and highlights with the aid of a mahl stick.
mural by Kim Senior
bottom three photos by Eileen Eckstein
©kimsenior.com 2008