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Miller Kitchen Cabinets

Emma and Win Miller built the house they’ve lived in for more than 50 years, including the kitchen. Every holiday, their kids beg them to update the kitchen, but Em is too sentimental to let go of the cabinets that Win made all those years ago. But they did agree to my painting a mural on the cabinets, once they saw a prototype I made and hanged for them.

The cabinets are painted in the style of the primitive painter known as the “Bears and Pears” artist. All the buildings and people are scenes from Em’s and Win’s family history, including the schoolhouse, barn and home in the Deserted Village ( Feltville, New Jersey) and the childhood lineup of all the cousins in Grandma Fanny’s backyard in Feltville.


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De Waal Kitchen Cabinets

These cabinets were commissioned by a couple with Dutch and Swedish heritage who had already done the kitchen walls in tiles they had picked out in Holland. The couple was concerned that the tiles did not complement the dark cabinets.

The existing cabinets were painted a light “putty” shade and the edges of the top cabinets were painted with a flower design inspired by the primary design on the Dutch tiles. The center of each panel shows a scene from the family’s life, including the Dutch village were Hans grew up, their son’s restaurant (Andre’s in Newton, New Jersey), their grandchildren’s births, and Karin’s niece and nephew in a Swedish garden. The cabinet drawers were adorned with paintings of fanciful flowers based on sketches from one of master gardener Karin’s favorite books.

These scenes were sketched after conversations with the couple about their family and using favorite photographs, books and family memorabilia.

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Nash Mural

When the Nashes inherited the family cottage on Canadarago Lake, Richfield Springs, New York, they began a makeover that resulted in a transformed structure with interior wood features, such as a fireplace made by carpenter Frank Hammer, and an enlarged, refreshed but still “cottage” exterior designed by DeWaal Engineering.

The only thing that remained hard on the eye was the 10’ by 50’ concrete retaining wall that the house sat on and that was very visible from the lake. The wall, constructed in 1950, had irreparable cracks. So we decided to incorporate the cracks into a mural design and created a “ruin” under the house with painted columns supporting and framing scenes from the lake. You can see the Nash family on their boat, going to church and enjoying a party on the deck. Their friends and neighbors enjoy lake activities too, fishing at the dam, kayaking around Dewango Island, and admiring the newly restored round barn.

The final challenge was an immoveable concrete block sitting on the beach. No one could determine the purpose of the block. We turned it into a showpiece by painting it as a giant urn with flowers, complemented in the summer by real flowers planted in pots.


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Sophie’s Toy Chest


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Karin's Flower Table

This small side table was painted to celebrate the favorite colors in the spring garden. It keeps the flowers nearby all year long.

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Red Squirrel Dresser

This dresser was from a bedroom furniture set that was new in the 1960’s but not good for a summer house.

The owner of the dresser talked about the fun of waking up each morning, peering out at the lake and watching the acrobatics of a red squirrel in the trees outside the window. So when it came time to transform the chest, it seemed appropriate to pay tribute to the squirrel, who one summer had simply stopped showing up. Now the squirrel has a permanent place at the lake.


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Anne’s Golf Table

Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown, New York is our favorite place to play golf. The side panels of this table show players at four different holes, and the table top shows the 18th green on the shore of Otsego Lake. The table is done in the style of the “Bears and Pears” primitive painter.

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The Twins’ Table

This children’s table was commissioned to celebrate the birth of twins, a niece and nephew. On the top, you’ll see children feeding “unusual” food to animals – specialties that kids like and want to share with their animal friends. There’s birthday cake, cotton candy, pizza and asparagus for the elephant.

As you work your way down to the kids’ point of view, you’ll also see creeping critters on the table top edge and underwater feeding on the four side panels. If you’re wondering about the source of the food, check out the table legs, which were turned into vegetables that kids can buy at the Cooperstown Farmer’s Market. And since kids spend time a lot of on the floor, look for the moon and stars under the table top.

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Copyright © Pat Wiley Folk Art- Tales Told in Paint
PO Box 31 - Richfield Springs NY 13439 - 908-598-7231