When I read a quote that I really like, it often ends up in my artwork. Most people do this in other ways - usually by jotting down a saying and taping it onto the refrigerator or near a desk to inspire them every day.
But there's an even more dramatic way of reinforcing favorite thoughts in your daily life: Put them right on the wall in your home to form a ceiling border, where you can't miss them. Marcy Spanogle, a friend and art director at the Mary Engelbreit Studios, is the unchallenged master of this technique. Here she shares her tips for painting on gloss or semigloss walls:
1. Look through typography or lettering books - either from the art supply or bookstore - to find a typeface you'd like to emulate.
2. Get out your ruler, and after figuring out how far from the ceiling you want the type to be (completely up to you, but 20 inches is average), draw a series of dots with a pencil; connect with the ruler, making a baseline.
3. Decide how high you want the lowercase letters to be and subtract that amount from the distance from the ceiling. Place another line of dots at that height. Repeat for the capitals, doubling the height of the lowercase letters. For instance, if your baseline is at 20 inches and the lowercase letters are 4 inches high, then your second line is 16 inches from the ceiling. Your third line, for the capitals, would be at 12 inches from the ceiling. You'll end up with a giant version of elementary-school lined paper.
4. Sketch in an outline of the letters with soft pencil.
5. Get out your acrylic paint, which is glossy and durable. Thin it with a little water, so it's easy to apply with a small, soft sable paintbrush - a No. 3 or 4. Provided you are working on gloss or semigloss walls, you can wipe off mistakes with a wet paper towel.
6. After the paint dries, erase the pencil lines with a white gummy eraser. (They're practically invisible anyway, so leave them if you like.)
You could also add quotes to mantels, chair backs, headboards, or encircling the woodwork of a doorway. And you needn't paint freehand. Crafts stores abound with alphabet and number stencils, complete with punctuation.
To find the quotes, look for books of quotations and proverbs at rummage and library sales. If you need some help getting started, consider these:
Living room: "Where there is room in the heart, there is room in the house." - Danish proverb (good excuse for antiquing)
Bedroom: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Kitchen: "Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like." - Mark Twain
Library/study: "You can never learn less; you can only learn more." - R. Buckminster Fuller
As Sophocles said, "A short saying often contains much wisdom." And lots of decorating potential.