I Know Exactly Where the Wild Things Are!

“There should be a place where only the things you want to happen, happen”
Maurice Sendak

We left our home of 18 years, on the beach near Galveston, several months ago to move nearer to our grandchildren. I said then, and I say now…the only things that I love more than beach life are those four little boys. So, we are back to a bit of suburbia and a different life than walking on the beach, collecting shells and floating in the surf. Now, we spend our days with the happy faces and more present relationships with those most important fellas. Time is fleeting and they will be grown before we know it.

Even in the midst of the craziest housing shortage in decades, we were able (finally!) to find a wonderful house that fits us just perfectly. With just three bedrooms, set on a crazy wooded creek lot with ivy and stone paths, I’m guessing that the house was still available, just waiting for the perfect, off-beat buyer. Papa and I both love the house. There were just enough updates needed to make us feel like we are customizing, but not enough to overwhelm. Well…that was the original thought. In this time in our area (and many others, I’ve heard) it’s so hard to get workmen out. Our carpenter had a 2 month waiting list:( But, we are soldiering through.

Anyhow, there is a fun suite upstairs (the only things upstairs, which is good for 60-somethings) that we have transformed into a special place for our four grand-boys – ages 11, 9, 9, and 7. When their dad suggested Where the Wild Things Are as a theme, I couldn’t have been more excited. I knew that I wanted to try my hand at a wall mural, and the Wild Things gave a fun and recognizable theme. So, off I went.

For the record, I did not freehand paint the Wild Things:). I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. A crafter…that’s what I am.

I have had a PowerPoint projector for several years – one that I used for teacher presentations back when I traveled the state (and sometimes beyond – like to Russia:) to teach teachers. I was pleased to find that it was still in good working condition, even after several years in storage. I spent many pleasant hours perusing Maurice Sendak’s inspired artwork in the book, matching up the space that I had in the boys’ room and finally picked the iconic pages, where the Wild Things are hanging from the trees in the jungle, along with Max.

I studied several “how to” videos on YouTube and began by repainting the walls that I would be using in a medium blue that I thought would work well as a background. Then, I did freehand the trees (after multiple tutorials and a little silent prayer). And….I was off.

My mural-mentors suggested that I get sample paints from the paint store, and that was a fabulous suggestion. They work so much better than the hobby paints in terms of coverage and vibrancy. And, they are not very expensive. I did end up using some craft paint for small areas of accent color, but the “real paint” samples were a very good thing (as Martha Stewart would say).

After getting my feet wet with my first big tree, I was ready to start on my first Wild Thing. Even at this point, I wasn’t sure that this was a good idea. “Ok, Melanie. It’s only paint. You can always paint over it, if you don’t like it.”

Whew. Yep. It’s only paint.

So, I got out my handy projector, cued up the photo page that I wanted to use, and put the projector as far away from the wall to be painted as I could and began to sketch the outline of the Thang with chalk. I chose chalk instead of pencil because I could just wipe it off with a damp cloth (which I did several times) if I messed up. I would be using three different walls, so it was important to decide on the distance to be projected so that my creatures would all be the right size. I ended up measuring each one before beginning to paint, just to make sure.

While the projector did not allow for details to be outlined, I was able to get the right proportions and sizes for each creature, then I was able to fill in the details myself.

The process took hours and hours and hours over the course of a month. A couple of people, after seeing the finished product, suggested that I might want to make it a business. Well…NO! That’s the kind of thing that one does only for love – there’s not enough money!

But, it was really fun. I listened to podcasts and sang along with Rod Stewart and John Denver while I painted and really lost myself in the process. Such fun.

We wanted bunk beds for the four boys and so I ordered some that I thought were really cute and matched the theme from Wayfair. They turned out great – but the process of putting them together (nine gazillion pieces) did take Papa’s Mechanical engineer’s degree. I ordered camo bedding and we were just about ready. (As an aside, those of you who already have bunk beds know this – but I had forgotten. Bunk beds are a beast to make up! I decided to go with only the fitted bottom sheet -put the top in my fabric stash for future projects – and a comforter, which I decided could have a “messy” look. The pillows and shams make it look a little neater, but let’s face it…it’s the best I can do.

This guy is my hero….The best Papa ever!

Placing some faux plants (half price from Hobby Lobby) in the room added dimension, along with some thrifted wooden (ancient) shutters that I repainted for the window and moon scene on one wall. I love a little 3-D.

A week or two before I finished the project, I visited my cousin in East Texas, and she had waiting for one of us – anybody who would take it – a HUGE gilded frame that held an ancient picture that had hung in my grandmother’s house all of the days of my childhood. She was just trying to get rid of it, but I jumped on it – I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

In the book, as Max is just starting his adventure with the Wild Things…

That very night in Max’s room a forest grew and grew and grew until his ceiling
hung with vines and the walls became the world all around…

I had that portion of the text printed on green foam board at Office Depot (about $10) and framed it in my grandmother’s old frame. We had the boys’ bathroom re-papered with birch trees and the framed words gave just the right pop of color and context to the story of the room design.

We made the large walk-in closet into a reading nook for the boys, as well as a little mini art gallery featuring the framed works painted by their dad and uncles in their childhood years. Additionally, I hung a well-loved watercolor done by my mother for our boys when they were little. I found an old bulletin board and hung that, hoping to add artwork from the grands when they get in the mood.
I love this room and I think the boys do too.

The best compliment was from the eldest who said, “When I heard you were painting on the walls, I though…hmmmm a nana painting. But, when I saw it….THE NANA PAINTING.”

Yep. That made it all worthwhile.

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