For Ann Thomas, who has a house in Cincinnati and another at Rocky Fork Lake, the decision to put up a privacy fence wasn’t a big issue. But since her lake residence is only three houses from the main body of water and overlooks the marina, she wanted the enclosure to complement the surroundings of what she referred to as her future “retirement home.”
“Our view is looking out at the lake,” she said, “so when we put up this privacy fence, I got to thinking, ‘Let’s see if we can find someone who can do a mural on it and make a lake scene.’”
Thomas said she divides her time between her Cincinnati residence in the Hyde Park/Oakley area and her Rocky Fork Lake home on the weekends, when her job in the radiology department of Bethesda North Hospital in Montgomery allows it.
Conversations with local art galleries and art professors at area colleges failed to yield an artist to tackle the project, but she remembered a local artisan and Leesburg native named Jeanine Mullenix, the former owner of the Shabby Moose in Hillsboro.
Mullenix’s previous creative work so impressed Thomas that she arranged a meeting with the Hillsboro artist to share her plans for what she wanted a 56-foot long, 8- to 10-foot tall privacy fence to become.
She said the idea came to her after seeing what one of her neighbors in Cincinnati did with his garage, envisioning a mural that depicted a lake panorama with a pair of turtles and a blue heron “hanging out in the water” and a special tree that would honor some recent deaths in her family.
“My 31-year old nephew recently passed away,” she said. “So we decided in the mural, there would be a tree standing and we’d put those family members’ names on it, sort of like carving them into a tree.”
An accomplished artist in her own right, Mullenix admitted that she had never done anything on such a large scale before and though it was easy to sketch Thomas’ ideas into a working draft, transferring that onto a large medium like a privacy fence stretched her abilities as an artist for the better.
“To do something so large, you have to use big brushes, like the kind you would use to paint a house,” she said. “So instead of using the typical small artist brushes like you would use for a painting, now you’re using these gigantic brushes and trying to get them to do what you would use a small brush for.”
Normally, an artist works with a pallet the size of a dinner plate, she said, but for a project the size of a mural, she found herself mixing paint at home in order to get the proper hues. Then she transported it to Fisherman’s Wharf in six different Tupperware containers for on-site use, also having to haul the containers up and down a ladder.
To further complicate matters, Mullenix had to work during a recent three-week stretch of extremely hot weather, in addition to constantly having to check her “depth of field,” where she was forced into repeatedly having to step back 20 feet to regain her perspective of what she was creating.
Mullenix said the project took about four weeks to complete, with Thomas describing the mural as “quite the masterpiece” that she saw for the first time on Friday after work. She said people were stopping on the roadway to admire Mullenix’s creation.
With the mural now complete, Thomas said she has added ornamental grasses under it complete with display lighting that enhances the creation to such an extent that people are now stopping by at night asking permission to photograph it.
She said the only downfall since Mullenix finished the mural is that she had to work on her front yard to bring it into the same league as the finished fresco.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.