I have painted many a tile mural over a span of about 35 years, some I remember vividly because of the customer, some good and some bad. The main one I remember that was funny was this huge kitchen with tile murals everywhere. It was on the inter-coastal in Ft Lauderdale FL.
The kitchen island in the middle was so huge you could not reach to the center of it. I ask the owner what she planned to do to the middle since my painting was all the way around the edge of the island. She told me “Oh this kitchen is just for looks, I don’t cook! In fact, my husband suggested we put in a room filled with vending machines.”
Which brings to mind another job I did with the same story. This lady had me sculpt in porcelain 3-dimensional veggies and fruit on the tile. I said, "these will be very fragile." Her answer was “no problem, I don’t plan on cooking”.
The stories though that have the most meaning to me are the ones where God certainly had a hand in creating. I’ll tell you about two of them although there are probably more.
The first one is a mural that is 9 feet high and 26 feet long at a home in Ft Lauderdale, FL. The home was originally one of the motels that were built probably in the nineteen forties. The man who contacted me had turned it into a home. The living room, which had been the reception area of the motel was now the living room, it was solid glass with the eastern view overlooking the ocean and the western view was looking out over his swimming pool. On the other side of the pool was this blank wall that was the side of his garage, and on the other side of the garage was the intercostal waterway. He hired me to paint the intercostal on tile and install it on the wall. The man appeared to me to be a bachelor who enjoyed the good life; so I painted him on the front of a yacht going down the inter-coastal.
He had a beer in his hand and I painted this really sexy red head laying sunbathing and drinking a glass of wine as they enjoyed the lazy cruise down the inter-coastal.
Finally, I got the call that the tile was installed and I drove down to approve it. I stood there enjoying a job well done (although one piece of the water had been installed upside down). When the owner came out of his house and told me that he was really pleased. He continued, “I’m getting married on the patio in front of this mural on Saturday”. About that time this gorgeous redhead walked up to him and I could have dropped my false teeth. Standing before me was the lady I had painted on the yacht.
Thank you, God!
The second mural was painted after I moved to the Georgia Mountains in 1992.
A lady came to me and she had just purchased a second home and she wanted to bring the memory of her South Georgia plantation home up to the mountains. She brought me a photo of her back yard and a wedding photo of the family. She said her three boys just loved to fish. We decided on a mural for the game room to be a skillet waiting to fix the fish and fishing gear. There was a sink and the mural was going on the wall behind it. I divide the wall into two windows like casement windows with the skillet and spices under one window and the fishing gear under the other window. I then decided to paint one window looking out to the backyard with the swimming pool and pool house. I painted her and her husband by the pool.
The second window I painted the three sons. One was sitting on a rock reading a book with the fishing gear beside him. One was standing there trying to get the reader to get up and get going. I painted the other son down the trail with the fishing pole over his shoulder like he was whistling and having a great time. Then I thought every boy needs a dog to run beside him. So I painted in a black dog.
After we installed the mural I waited to hear from the couple. Several weeks past and I was beginning to get worried. Then the phone rang and this woman was crying in my ear. Oh, crap! It turns out her dog which she had had for many years had just passed away and I had painted him into the mural. When she calmed down she also told me that I had painted the boys’ personalities true to their nature.
Again, Thank You, GOD!
P.S. The first photo of the veggies has absolutely nothing to do with this story I just chose it because it fit across the top of the page very nicely. The only interesting thing about that mural is that lightning struck the home and knocked the plaster out between the tiles, but the tiles stayed in place. Go figure?