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Finish of the Month About Kathy Contact Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes

Artisan of the Month
AOTM Archived
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

Dawn Rundle - Creative Murals and Faux

When asked about the origins of her artistic passion, Dawn Rundle speaks fondly of  her childhood and the creative influences of her family. Growing up on a farm in Derby, Kansas Dawn’s mother was a sculptor/painter and frequently drew pictures of Dawn and her older brother when they were young – a favorite childhood memory.

Her brother was a talented, aspiring architect, already highly regarded in the field while he was a college student majoring in architecture. Tragically, he was killed in a car accident when Dawn was just 15 years old.

“During that difficult time, I started questioning what I wanted to do with my life and how I could live out my brother’s dream in my own way,” Dawn explained.

That led her to paint her first mural at the age of 16 for her high school. It turned out so well that she was commissioned to complete three additional murals and change the school’s mascot. From that experience, Dawn knew she had found her calling.

While completing her bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Kansas State University, Dawn continued to work on murals in her hometown during the summers. After college, she moved to Chicago and started her own business in 1992, then known as Creative Murals. Because her focus was on hand-painted murals at the time, she ended up referring business to faux finishers she knew in the area.

But in 1996, she decided to add faux finishing to her skills and enrolled in a course at The Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes, where she first came into contact with Kathy Carroll. Most recently, she completed a professional update class with Kathy earlier this year.

“Kathy’s class was the very first faux finish training that I had,” Dawn acknowledged. “She’s so down-to-earth and I’ve been going back to her ever since. What I like most about Kathy’s school is that living in Arizona, I get a totally different perspective by taking a course in Chicago and being able to apply the techniques in this market.”

Since then, Dawn has changed the name of her business to Creative Murals and Faux and has been recognized in several nationally known magazines, including Decorate with Paint and the POST PHX. Due to these accolades, Dawn has had the opportunity to travel throughout the country to work on projects in Chicago, Phoenix, Kansas City, Dallas, Denver, California, and North Carolina.

Working in both commercial and residential settings, her faux finishing techniques include Aged Wall, Old World color washes, and marbling. Her other textures range from her unique “Tuscan Stone” to metallic walls, Venetian plaster, custom handmade paper, striping, and glazed finishes.

Dawn’s murals are expertly rendered and range from the Tuscan Expressionistic style depicting vineyards and landscapes to whimsical themes for children’s rooms. Best known for her work in trompe l’oeil, the French term for “trick the eye,” she is able to bring murals to life on clients’ walls with a three-dimensional effect.

“When people walk into a room, they are amazed at how realistic these murals look,” she noted. “They actually walk up and touch the wall to see that they’re not real.”  

Dawn also works occasionally on commissioned artwork on canvas as well as some freelance graphic design projects in her spare time – which is in limited supply with her three kids and bustling business.

In addition, she volunteers her artistic talents for community service projects. In 2001, she donated more than 30 hours of work toward painting four sculptures for four different sponsors in the “Baby Giraffe Walk.” This outdoor art project included more than 50 fiberglass giraffes that were painted by various local artists and displayed throughout downtown Naperville, IL to benefit the United Way.

After building a successful business in the Chicago area, Dawn and her family decided to move nearly three years ago to Anthem, Arizonia, on the north side of Phoenix. Dawn enthuses that it has been an exciting transition for both her family and business. By working on a lot of model homes of high-end builders, she has been able to put her artistic flair on display and build a strong client base in the Phoenix area.

From painting a real-looking window in a kitchen to a sports ball breaking through a wall in a child’s room, Dawn’s favorite part of any project is witnessing a client’s reaction to the finished work.

“I love transforming a plain room to a personalized, unique space – taking it from blah to wow,” Dawn explained. “Whether you’re working on faux or murals, clients only see a small sample and can’t imagine what a whole room will look like. It’s so gratifying when I hear from clients that the end result is so much better than they had expected.”

She especially enjoys working on children’s rooms and nurseries, particularly for first-time parents because they are so “emotionally invested” in the space. She remembers one particular couple that had been trying to adopt for years and was finally bringing home a baby. Dawn was able to create a magical nursery for the child that they had been dreaming of for so long.

One of her most challenging projects was a 12’-by-12’ trompe l’oeil mural for clients who just returned from Italy. Dawn recalls the husband being very particular about making it look “old and worn.” When she completed the project in just five days, the clients were awed by how closely she was able to replicate a photo of a Tuscan building from their trip.

Currently, she is working on an extensive commercial job for a dental group that has recently opened six offices in the Phoenix area. Each location has a different mural theme for the pediatric area – ranging from dragons and pirates to princesses and castles – as well as trompe l’oeil curtains in the orthodontics section.

Although Dawn enjoys using the Adicolor product line, Modern Masters glaze with a color paint, and Glacis glaze, she says the key to succeeding in the faux finishing business is to work with a wide variety of products to come up with your own techniques.

“For newcomers to the business, I recommend going to school to learn the basics. After that, don’t be afraid to experiment on your own. That is how you set yourself apart from everyone else. If you just keep repeating the same techniques you learned in school, you’ll get stuck in a rut. Play with the products and see what you can come up with. You have to keep pushing yourself.”

And Dawn has every intention of continuing to push herself and her business forward.

For more information on Dawn Rundle and Creative Murals and Faux, contact her by phone at 623-330-0003, e-mail at dawn_rundle@yahoo.com, or visit her website at www.creativemuralsandfaux.com

Faux by Kathy ©2003-2008
All Rights Reserved.