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Decorative Artisan of the Month
Decorative Artist of the Month Archived
Mindy Everaert Decorative Finisher Mindy Everaert
Mark Tillman Decorative Finisher Mark Tillman
Donna Mock Decorative Finisher Donna Mock
Carmen Vergara Decorative Finisher Carmen Vergara
Lessandra Martins Melo Decorative Finisher Lessandra Martins Melo
Anita Yeh Decorative Finisher Anita Yeh
Sarah Hines and Mets Schilstra Decorative Finishers Sarah Hines and Mets Schilstra
Eulojio Ortega Decorative Finisher Eulojio Ortega
Alison Ubert Decorative Finisher Alison Ubert
Diane Kessler Decorative Finisher Diane Kessler
Donna Flecchia Finisher Donna Flecchia
Decorative Painting Finishing School Joanne Ledbetter
Decorative Painting Finishing School Rachel Sejas
Decorative Painting Finishing School Cheryl Phan
Decorative Painting Finishing School Carrie Chimenti
Decorative Painting Finishing School Ann Simpson
Decorative Painting Finishing School Natalie Gorden
Decorative Painting Finishing School Marlene Mancilla
Decorative Painting Finishing School Diane LaLonde Hasso
Decorative Painting Finishing School Kim Bouy
Decorative Painting Finishing School Kathy Anders
Decorative Painting Finishing School Alyse and Amy Leventhal
Decorative Painting Finishing School Laurie Schrader
Decorative Painting Finishing School Carey Seven
Decorative Painting Finishing School Bryan King
Decorative Painting Finishing School Patricia Presto
Decorative Painting Finishing School Kass Wilson
Decorative Painting Finishing School Heidi Cinker
Decorative Painting Finishing School Shari Fry
Decorative Painting Finishing School Leigh Jones
Decorative Painting Finishing School Diane Beard
Decorative Painting Finishing School Ruth Giovannetti
Decorative Painting Finishing School Collen Drew
Melissa Loutos Melissa Loutos
Nathalie Nielsen Nathalie Nielsen
Susan Giugliano Susan Giugliano
Sarah Beth Cohen Sarah Beth Cohen
Decorative Painting Finishing School Tracy Taylor
Decorative Painting Finishing School Janelle Tague
Decorative Painting Finishing School Kari Campbell
Decorative Painting Finishing School Ed Gonet
Decorative Painting Finishing School Bonnie Norling Wakeman
Decorative Painting Finishing School Kelly Weik
Decorative Painting Finishing School Janelle Tague
Decorative Painting Finishing School Gracie Reed
Decorative Painting Finishing School Allyce Lees
Decorative Painting Finishing School Terry Gavigan
Decorative Painting Finishing School Kate Perret
Decorative Painting Finishing School Jo-Marie Frigo
Decorative Painting Finishing School Deb Spertus
Decorative Painting Finishing School David Ryan
Decorative Painting Finishing School Clint Dunning
Decorative Painting Finishing School Roseann Bode
Decorative Painting Finishing School Wendy Digel
Decorative Painting Finishing School Lisa Butts
Decorative Painting Finishing School Catherine Coy
Decorative Painting Finishing School Pamela Coslet
Decorative Painting Finishing School Emily Quinn
Decorative Painting Finishing School Gary Riley
Decorative Painting Finishing School Bill Fisher
Decorative Painting Finishing School John Micheals
Decorative Painting Finishing School Faux Maison
Decorative Painting Finishing School Herb Shropshire
Decorative Painting Finishing School Gus Kyriakopoulos
Decorative Painting Finishing School Paul Minnihan
Decorative Painting Finishing School Jenna DeFalco
Decorative Painting Finishing School Sherri Grupe
Decorative Painting Finishing School Debbie Brown
Decorative Painting Finishing School Cynthia Davis
Decorative Artisan Dawn Bray
Decorative Faux Finisher Christine McIntyre-Hannon
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Anna and Scott Sadler
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Darryl Grant
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School B. Juliana Leo
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Leslie Nesbitt
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Signature Mural & Finish, Inc.
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Joanne Voll
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Barb Runyard
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Nathan Giffin
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Patty Henning
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Emma Wright
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Joseph Freer
Faux Finisher Faux Finishing School Dawn Rundle
August 2006 Simona Clinge
August 2006 Ron Bledsoe
August 2006 Sharon Taglienti
August 2006 Martin Riding
August 2006 Tomas Kyrgiakos /
Iowanna Azar
August 2006 Jenna DeFalco
August 2006 Alissa Murnane
August 2006 Rhonda Barber
August 2006 Laura Ross
August 2006 Nancy Schnell
August 2006 John Michaels
August 2006 Debi Vaninger
August 2006 Marsh Danner
August 2006 Beth Haynes
August 2006 Cassy Weddel
August 2006 Bruce Thalman
August 2006 Melanie & Stuart Kershner
August 2006 Lorie Wolff
Doug Diekman
Lori Tselikis
Joanne Voll
Linda Wetsch
Jennifer Rongaus
Natalie White
Dan Gangler
Sharon Damisch
Kay Reyes
Mary Johnson
Ed Hartfiel
Estelle Leptich
Laurie Ebert


Deb SpertusArtisan of the Month
Deb Spertus

Deb Spertus is the artist-owner of Signature Mural and Finish (SMF).  Deb began her training at the University of Texas at Austin, then Paris (France, not Texas), L’Ecole du Louvre and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.  After receiving her Master’s Degree in Paris, she continued her studies of Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Evanston Art Center, and in the private studios of practicing artists.  Deb began a career as a studio artist focused primarily on realism.  In 2002, she was an artist-in-residence at the Chicago Cliff Dwellers Club.

Because of her unusual expertise, Deb was asked to paint a mural at her children’s school, Lincolnwood Elementary School in Evanston.  Other bookings soon followed and the transition from canvases to wall murals was effortless.

Since then, Deb has expanded her repertoire of techniques with advanced instruction in professional Decorative & Faux Painting.  She now has a passion for recreating other materials, such as marble, wood and linen, especially wood.  Deb has also expanded the traditional faux palette into new materials and textures; from old-world textures to contemporary metallic plaster.

Deb’s endless creative combinations range from a basic color wash to complicated textured surfaces, to realistic trompe l’oeil.  Deb often tries out new ideas and techniques on her own walls.  She has two daughters who put up with a house that seems to change its character like something out of Alice and Wonderland.  Leaving their “wood panel” living room for school, they might return to find a “marble” frieze or a verdant “jungle.”  They just shrug their shoulders and do their homework.

In January 2006, Deb founded Signature Mural and Finish.  Less than a year later, Deb met Paula Clayton, and acquired the company she worked for.  Not only did she get Paula, but a collection of supplies including a compressor and two levels scaffold.  The two women work very well in partnership.  They play off each others strengths, pushing and encouraging each other.  Paula recently returned temporarily to New Zealand for family reasons, and hopes to return to Chicago in the near future.  When Deb started out she thought she would prefer to work alone, but now thrives on the dynamics of working with other people.  In Paula’s absence, Deb has started building collaborations with other decorative artists and muralists.
Living in Evanston, Illinois she typically limits her work to about an hour away from her home.  She has two daughters, aged 12 and 16.  While she does not want them to grow up too quickly, she is looking forward to the day when she can more easily travel for work.

When asked about some of her favorite jobs, Deb talks about a new wine bar on the North side of Chicago that she has just begun work on.  The theme is “Decayed Decadence,” as if the bar was “the height of fashion in Paris, 150 years ago and has not been maintained.”  Deb explains.  The look is “aged, distressed and faded.”  When you walk in you will have the sense of distant romantic feeling of days gone by.  An eerie atmosphere with the dark glazed wood trim, built up paint peeling off resulting in a feeling of stepping into the past.  This is a bar that has so many ambiances, make sure to watch for the opening day!

Another wonderful client that Deb has worked for has a beautiful home in Wilmette.  The first job began with a small powder room that would eventually lead to further work.  Her client showed Deb some beautiful masks they had brought back from Venice that they wanted to showcase in their bathroom.  Deb did a gorgeous glaze of teal, purple and blue to highlight the colors in the masks.  About 6 months later they called and asked for a mural on their dining room ceiling.  Deb created the architectural illusion of a ceiling with a hole cut out, opening up to a blue sky. From there she created a greenhouse of flowers cascading down the edges.   Her clients were so pleased to have their innermost creativity and desire brought forth and expressed in their home.

Many of Deb’s clients end up calling for repeat work or referring her to friends or colleagues.  Last year Deb did some work for a client in her home, this she called and wanted a henna/mendhi style border and mural for her Yoga Studio.  The studio, Pulling Down the Moon, which specializes in yoga for fertility, was recently featured in the New York Times.  Glimpses of the mural can be seen in the photo.

One Lake Forest family got tired of ripping out carpet after their basement flooded; once through a broken pipe, another time through a window, so it shouldn’t happen again.  They had decided they wanted the floor painted as a garden path.  This was a project that was cheerful and fun.  The wife asked for a laundry fairy to be painted in the laundry room.  The husband asked, “What is a garden fairy?”  “I am!” was his wife’s response.  She was joined with an adorable middle aged work fairy with bifocals perched daintily on her nose and a cell phone in her hand above the desk.  Above the painted zinc sink hangs a tiny clothes line with painted fairy clothes.  What a magical room with out the feeling of a basement!

garden path

Recently Deb started doing cabinetry refinishing and furniture.  A bit reluctant at first, it is now like a drug that she seeks out whenever possible. Last month, another repeat client (cloud on the ceiling above her indoor pool & illusionist red velvet curtains in her home theater), asked if Deb refinished furniture.  Fortunately she had recently taken a class at Kathy’s studio, and said “Yes!” She had a just bought a beautiful buffet online, but the color did not match her dining room set.  Deb was able to create an American Walnut finish with Burl wood drawer fronts.

“Each job is so different. You have to pull out the personality of each person.  As an artist I want each thing to be special.  That is my blessing and my curse.  There is tremendous satisfaction when you figure out exactly what the person wants.”  Deb is able to find that special creativity inside each of her clients and create it for them in such depth and beauty that is absolutely astounding.  Often the starting point is more a mood or a feel. There is a depth and wonder in her artistry that transports your mind into the paintings, it is truly breathtaking.  

It is clear that Deb has passion for what she creates.  She is a part of IDAL and finds the support of the chapter to be invaluable.  “It is important to me to be a part of a community, and the Heartland group is an incredible community to be a part of.”  She also believes that it is important to continue her education.  Not only does she feel that classes are an integral part of her education but product education is as well.  “The technology is constantly changing.  There are a lot new products out there that are environmentally friendly.  Many of the colors are clearer and textures are luscious. I reassure my clients I use the safest products that I can.  For them, it would only be one nasty week or so in their house, but for me, I breathe and work with the stuff every day!  I’m not going to risk my health.  I buy a lot of products from Kathy Carroll and have taken her classes.  Kathy is always on the forefront of finding the best, what products are out there, whether classic (i.e. lime plasters) or cutting edge.” 

Debby found Kathy through the internet and took a class in the studio.  She was delighted to find that it was more than a class.  “She offers incredible support.  She genuinely wants all of us to be successful.  She stands behind her products and is available for technical support and advice.  I spend enough time at the studio to see her behind the scenes as well.  She is a warm, genuine person without artifice.”  When asked about some of her favorite products that she purchases from Kathy, Deb said, “I love the Proceed by Golden line; I love everything they do.  Modern Masters Metallics is another favorite, as well as the foils that Kathy has.”  Kathy also trained her in Jewel Stone, another favorite that is surprising easy to work with.

With the many wonderful projects Debby has immersed herself in, what she has planned in the future?  “SMF has recently been featured in a book Perspectives on Design Chicago, by Panache Publication, LLC that is now available at Barnes and Noble.”  Debby’s next venture is partnering with Chicago Wainscot by Intrig.  She will be the “go to person for the company if a specialty job is needed.” They just had their first collaborative booth at The Design Summit at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.  Deb plans to continue to expand Signature Mural & Finish.  She wants to spend about fifty percent of her time “on the wall,” and spend the rest networking, marketing and indulging in more classes.  To this end, she is expanding the group of part time finishers she works with on an as needed basis.  Signature Mural & Finishing, Inc will continue to be a full service Decorative Painting company that can handle large jobs as well as small, and bring her clients the high quality and phenomenal artistic design that she is known for.

For more information about Debby Spertus please visit www.sigmufi.com or contact her at 847.477.1853





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