The Downstairs Art


Kelly Walker and her art student, Linda, were here at the end of August to paint in my under-renovation downstairs and, as promised, now that the retreat is over, here’s the complete pictorial of the job. There’s still a bit of a mess downstairs. I just had a big retreat and a big party. I’m not all cleaned up yet. The downstairs is also not finished yet. As you can see, the sink is here! (Thank you, BuckeyeGirl!) It’s sort of hanging out where it will reside eventually between the stove and the dishwasher.

We’ve found someone who is tearing out a house, so think we can get free cabinets and countertops. Hopefully we’ll get those picked up soon. Then the sink and dishwasher can go in and the kitchen can reach a fully functioning state with running water.

I’ve decided to construct an island (on locking/unlocking casters, so it can be moved around if necessary to move in large pieces of furniture etc) rather than have a table. The island is going to be made using some of the free cabinets and some new, contrasting, countertop, and I’ll bring in bar stools. I think island/counter height will actually be better than table height for the type of work that will be going on in here for classes.

More and better lighting is needed, and will be added in several ways including a cool line of lights over the stove and sink area using Mason jars. Cabinets will mean more storage space, and I’m also planning to put in cabinets on the far wall near Ross’s room (not visible in these photos) with another counter there. Lots of work space! We just got the second banister up on the staircase after the party–it’s not even stained yet.

I’ve decided against adding a ceiling in the workshop/kitchen and sitting room area (the large open space downstairs). I like the juxtaposition of the artistic and the industrial. I’m not going for a look here that is English Cottage or Victorian B&B. I’m going for unique, funky, fun, and creatively inspiring. The art takes the space a giant leap toward that vision. (I do still plan to add ceilings in the two bedrooms and the bathroom.) There’s a lot of work to do yet before I can start holding farm stays, day workshops, and mini retreats in 2012, but hey, we just had a big party in there, so that’s a beginning. At past parties, I wouldn’t even let people go in there, much less show it off!

In the photos below, you can see (by request) how the art looks from a room-size view, along with close-ups and details of the vignettes in the mural. Going around the room:

1) The painting of my calico cat, Sugar, in the mailbox. This piece was painted by Kelly very late one night. I had brought her a framed photo that I had taken several years ago back when I still lived in the slanted little house. Sugar was only a kitten then. The mailbox was my cousin’s. It was a lucky shot, and the photo hangs in Morgan’s room. I had shown it to Kelly, not sure whether she’d use it, or have time, and she surprised me the next morning with her late-night creation. She had the idea to add Casper at the foot of the mailbox, looking up at Sugar, and might add him sometime in the future.

2) The shelf with herb bunches and the salt and pepper was done by Linda. I absolutely love it–the herbs are gorgeous–but one of my favorite parts about it is the girl with the umbrella on the salt! Notice how in so many of the pieces, they are painted right over lines or pipes, not just the block, incorporating every “ugly” element and transforming the unsightly into something beautiful.

3) The main mural was painted primarily by Kelly. (Linda helped in some places, such as painting in Poky and Spice.) The background went up fairly quickly, but the vignettes are masterpieces of detail. The rooster in the foreground is Mr. Hyde. At the hay bale is Glory Bee, with Dr. Pepper on top, Fanta at the back, and Mr. Pibb and some chickens at the front. On the spool tables are Clover–with a tiara!–and Sprite, with the Crooked Little Hen on the ground. Poky is in the foreground, with pasture vignettes including Annabelle and Minnie Belle, Crazy and Crazy Baby, Coco, and Nutmeg and her babies. The bird feeders in the goat yard are even in there. Coco’s position, by the way, is her guardian-at-work pose she takes on when she’s in the goat yard. She loves to sit at the fenceline and woof at the woods for hours on end.

4) Around to the far door, which leads out to BP-land, is Beulah Petunia herself, her head on one side, her bottom on the other, complete with udder and tail. Linda painted this one, and I am blown away every time I look at it because it makes me feel as if BP is in the room with me. Notice the bucket at her feet with a hen waiting to get into her food–and also that she’s wearing her flower!

Toward the bottom of the gallery, you’ll find some in-progress photos of Kelly and Linda at work, and the last photo is from the Party on the Farm when everyone who came passed by to gaze upon it all in wonder.

I see it all every day and still gaze upon it in wonder. I’m just in love with it, and so grateful and amazed that they would travel here to do it. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Kelly and Linda! They were also a total hoot to have in the house. They did nothing but laugh and dance and sing all day long while they painted. They created the work from their minds (and hearts) and some of my photos, and some of theirs. If they needed something and couldn’t find a photo on my site that gave them the right perspective, Kelly would just step outside and start taking pictures. You’ll see in some of the in-progress photos how she’d tape a photo near where she was working, then sketch it out and paint it in. It was amazing to watch it happen. (There’s also a photo in there with me teaching them to make mozzarella. We also did homemade candles, lip balm, and lotion. I didn’t give half back to them for what they did for me, though–they were too busy painting!)

Enjoy! (I’ve discovered galleries! I promise not to use them that often, but these past few posts have involved a ton of photos. I would never put 30 or 40 photos in a post, so the gallery option allows me to show you more pictures than I normally could do.)

Click each photo to enlarge:

Visit Kelly Walker here.


  1. KellyWalkerStudios says:

    We had a great time painting it,Suzanne. Thanks for having us there and putting up with our crazy singing, dancing, and painting from early morning till late night. Many thanks to Linda for coming with me. She was a huge help and we could have never gotten so much done without her. And we loved learning to make cheese, lotion, lip balm, candles, and, did I mention cheese!!! Thanks for everything. And now that I see the photos I see several things we should add. I see another trip coming soon. :wave:

  2. BuckeyeGirl says:

    It looks like Buttercup is sizing up the sink to see how comfortable it will be to nap in!

  3. MaryMooCow says:

    WOW!! So much talent all together in one room! Can she come do my bedroom now??



  4. moorege says:

    Stunning, what wonderful work!
    Just a thought about the galleries, there is a WordPress plugin, NextGen Gallery, that allows you to put together a picture ‘story book’. This makes it possible for us, the readers, to view larger photos and scroll through them without having to go back to the original site to click on the next photo. Here is an example of how it was used, and works, on a different blog Just a thought as you’re continue to learn and explore various forms of blog enhancement.

  5. Glenda says:

    The art work just makes the room! I loved it.

  6. farmgrammy says:

    It feels like I was there at the party! Great success in all ways, Suzanne.

  7. emeraldsunshine says:

    Love the mural! We had one done in the playroom (as I mentioned awhile back) and it also has all these “easter eggs” in it. Murals are great.

  8. MousE says:

    Suzanne, it looks fantastic, all the work you’ve done, and the mural work is just great. I love how you are working with the space and making it all come together into a unique workspace.

    I like your idea of an open ceiling, but I wonder if you might consider putting a dropped firestop drywall ceiling over the cooking area, just for some safety? Just thinking out loud.

    I bet you can’t wait for it to be done to the way you envision it!! Thank you for taking us with you. :sheep:

  9. Runningtrails says:

    It’s beautiful! I love it! They did a great job! and doesn’t it make the room feel bigger and a lot more open?

  10. MousE says:

    PS it”s just a lovely room, and please disregard my comment about fire safety, it sounds patronizing, and I am positive you know how best to keep home and hearth safe! Apologies. I’m wincing with embarrassment.

    I wish she’d come to Canada and do my half wall! :happyflower:

  11. Suzanne McMinn says:

    MousE, please don’t worry about your comment! If there is a safety issue, I will do something about it. I actually do have someone coming in a few weeks to inspect some issues I have questions about, so I really don’t even know the answer to that yet. I’m pursuing a permit for the kitchen, so it will be inspected by minds better than my own, LOL.

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