While planning a wine cellar mural, Dave McKay of Moraga lost his sister to a heart attack. “I had a picture of Ruth toasting, wine glass in hand,” said McKay. “For me, it (the photo) captured Ruth’s joy of life.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful, he said to Buchanan, if they could incorporate the image of his sister into the scene? Using that photo, the artist developed a life-size portrait. Today, McKay’s sister smiles out from the mural, inviting guests into the incredibly realistic European wine cave. The scene, he said, captures exactly what he had in mind, even including a wine bottle listing as the vintage the year of his sister’s birth. McKay says he now has a special place where he can spend a moment with his memories. Visitors marvel at the technique; faux wood pillars are actually drywall, “bronze” straps attached to the ‘’wood’ are made of rubber.
Buchanan said doing this work an honor. “I feel a connection with the client that goes beyond creating something pretty. I strive to create a visual environment where the best memory of a person can live on.”
A rather different commemorative mural adorns a cinderblock wall in front of a modest Vallejo home, that of a lively neighborhood baseball game. This scene honors homeowner Steve Pappas’ childhood buddy who was excited about getting his first hit - though it resulted in a triple play. The painting appeared so real that Pappas found a hammer to fix a loose board on the faux painted fence ‘attached’
Yvonne Jenkins, who was designing a niche above her entryway for her late husband’s naval memorabilia said, “I told Mernie I wanted to walk into a special place filled with sun and clouds. The mural was painted on the ceiling and she (Buchanan) put up a scaffold and lay on her back . . . quite a laborious effort.” Both Jenkins and McKay commented on Buchanan’s ability to not only capture a vision, but to complete projects affordably. Buchanan said that twenty years of painting theatrical stage sets and the development of a specialized acrylic technique enable her to work rapidly and achieve a sophisticated blended finish.
McKay, who has two other Buchanan murals, said about commissioning a mural in a recession, “If someone wants something special, even in a small area, for not much money, you can create a space of refuge.” Buchanan works on spaces as small as six inches, on canvas, or walls of an entire room.
Jenkins marked the ninth anniversary of her husband’s death in November, yet remains comforted by the mural. “One never gets over losing someone, but tears can turn to joy and laughter - with fewer tears.”
About Mernie Buchanan http://www.mernie.com
Mernie Buchanan accepts decorative painting and fine art commissions from clients throughout the Western United States. Her specialties include custom-designed murals, portraits, trompe l'oeil, and architectural renderings as well as fine art paintings in acrylic, water color and mixed media. Buchanan travels the United States and Europe sketching from masterpieces in great museums to create her collectible Faux Louvre series which she shows at festivals throughout California. She has painted professionally from her Benicia, California studio since 1987.
An artist since she was a child, Buchanan graduated with a degree in art from the University of Las Vegas in 1977 where she designed, carpets & decorative treatments for the Las Vegas Hilton, Tropicana & Four Queens hotels.
With thirty years of experience designing & estimating, she has mastered the ability to find a compromise between an extravagant idea and practical budget. Buchanan offers free one-hour consultations including day, evening and weekend appointments.
Mernie Buchanan Studio and Gallery
117 East D St
Benicia, CA 94510
Owner: Mernie Buchanan