Moose “A” Beauty Makeover

Moose “A”

Witness the changes as we give Mr. Moose “A” his beauty makeover. This miner is looking for gold in the hills of Chewelah WA. Initially, he appears sporting a pair of patched blue jeans with red suspenders with his yellow miner hat. Miner Moose is a little large, okay VERY large, and extending well beyond the edges of our table. I have to pay attention to drop cloth placement for this guy today. Doesn’t he seem like he is worried, as he lays on the table waiting for a “new look” after all his repairs?

moose A 02 ready for paint

First, his moose antlers are created with a light gray background that is shaped by working darks and lights into the wet paint for the different rounded horn surfaces.


moose A 03 fur moose A 04 fur

Similarly, the next step is to cover his fur with a basic brown.  I pull out 3D shapes in his body and face, by using combinations of red, blue, and yellow in the wet paint. Mustn’t forget his hind legs showing at the base of his pants.

Blue Jeans

moose A 05 blue jeans

Next, I apply blue to the jeans followed by their highlights in white. If, while I am working, I have a color on my brush and notice an area that needs it, I simply apply it right then. You will notice that I like to use blue to make surfaces show more in the distance or shadow. With that goal in mind, blue applied to the eyes, leg backs, nose, and around his ear.

Green Burlap Bag

moose A 07 damage gone moose A 08 damage less

The addition of a significant change as I add a small green burlap bag to hold gold treasures along his beltline, which eliminated the suspenders. This should draw attention to his middle body region instead of his legs. Just maybe, if the majority of the pokes are on his body center, it is possible that his spindly legs will stand a better chance at survival.

Moose Face

moose A 09bag moose A 08 faceHis eye and face are re-created here along with his little yellow “miner” hat, which is put in without the light.

moose A 08 damage lessmoose A 07 damage gone

Stepping back, I examine “A’s” makeover progress. While I can still see some of the screw holes from the repairs from a few angles. Honestly they are not all that noticeable when you step back. It is amazing what a good coat of paint does, isn’t it?

Gold Treasures

moose A 11 gold ready to gluemoose A 12 gold pebbles

Now it is time for the finishing touch in our Moose “A” makeover! The gold treasures are placed in his bag, and he is ready for his final sealing coat. He is all new and ready to go back home to his place up on the hill.

moose A & B done

There is a series of animal sign characters that were repaired for the ski hill up at 49 Degrees North in Chewelah WA.

Nervous Bear Skiing

Animal Character SignBear Skiing Sign 01

This nervous bear is learning to ski and he needs repair. His major damage is not very obvious, he does have poke holes in scattered places the with the majority of them being the ski pole and claw area. But, he is missing half of his back ski. I wonder how many people notice that half of that ski is gone?

Bear Repair Process

Bear Skiing Sign 02

First, I paint the bear fur in browns using a red tint to bring some surfaces closer.

Colors Change

Bear Skiing Sign 03

This close shot shows how a warm red tint tends to draw his front leg closer to our eyes. In contrast, an addition of a cool blue makes a shadow appear pushing his other leg back away from us. Isn’t it amazing to move areas with just a small addition of different colors? Art is cool.


Bear Skiing Sign 04

Various blue accessories are painted, including his small blue neck warmer, ski’s and pole and then he is set to dry. Not everything can be done on wet surfaces. I am needing a completely dry surface to apply details.


Bear Skiing Sign 05

Working on camouflaging the bear’s missing ski problem I use his ski pole to diffuse attention as we visually separate the skis. The ski pole basket is deliberately located right at the intersection point of the two skis. Hopefully, this will cause a distraction resulting in effectively blurring the area between the two ski surfaces. The best-case scenario is a redirection of the viewer’s attention away from the bear’s back paw being located too far back on the ski. With an ounce of distraction, the artist becomes a magician. Bet you didn’t know that.

Bear Skiing Sign 06

Continuing, with black outline details that exaggerate his wide-open expression I add shadows above and below the eyes and his face transforms.

Bear Skiing Sign 07Likewise, his mouth line makes-ready for later additions of his tongue and sweat. Why? Because I plan to make him have a really nervous expression as learns to ski. A similar expression to the little people that will be poking at him later on the beginner ski trails.


Bear Skiing Sign 08
Now, he is drying on the table. Even though he is a nervous wreck as he learns to ski he will be ready to go play with the other kids learning. Having fun on the trails up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA.

Snowshoe Rabbit

This poor snowshoe rabbit holds a pickax on his way to look for gold in, “them-there-hills”. In the past decade,  he has received a lot of damage. The majority of the hits are on his paw holding the pick and the paw below. Similarly, the cheeks, mouth, ear, nose, and eyes have gotten their fair share. Repairing this character is a real art challenge, but hang in there, because his transformation will amaze you.

Animal Tracks

This critter is one of the types making those footprints that you see in the snow when you are going up the lifts on chairs 1 & 4 because you get close enough to the ground to see them there. It is kind of amazing how far they can jump, even in deep snow. Do you wonder what bunny tracks look like in the snow? Check them out here.

rabbit sign 02
It is obvious that this fluffy furry guy is mostly whites with a few facial, ears, and tool shapes scattered here & there. I can not use white straight out of the can. So, I’ll give you clues about tinting whites differently to show varying depths of field.
rabbit sign 04
Add a touch of blue and gray to the white to coat his body below his chin.  I need to trick you into thinking he is a real live rabbit standing in front of you. Next?

rabbit sign 05
As our rabbit’s other features are painted you may notice a slight yellow tint in the whites on the ears, cheeks, and eye area. For those surfaces to appear closer, they need to be warmer. I move his right hand away from the most severely damaged area. This gives them a new target for the kids to aim for.

A coat of white and light pink is applied to the toes, ears, and nose. Thankfully, I can still see where the eyes and teeth are underneath, so I put a watered-down coat of purple-brown on the ax handle so I can see where to paint paw hands.


Darkening the chin under the rabbit teeth, nose, and between the eyes makes his features begin to pop. Darken the chest and belly and you start to see in 3D. The uneven values and layers are beginning to hide the majority of the damages that were so evident in the beginning.

It takes more than one coat of  white to really cover.

rabbit sign 06
You can see my fancy artist palette upfront on the table. I use a paint can lid turned over with drizzled spots of the paints that I anticipate mixing. It drives my husband crazy when he sees me dip my brush into paint cans without washing it first. He used to work in a hardware store mixing paint for people.

I hardly ever use clean colors while painting murals or signs. The only place I feel it is necessary to keep paint clean and pure is when I have to match paint on the walls of a room or house exterior.
rabbit sign 07
A closer shot shows the blue-grays working to distance his chest and make his teeth show upfront. His hands are placed on the ax handle and more gray areas are put on his ears and cheeks.

Darkening the lower belly and lightening the legs starts to show the separation between the knees and hand paws upfront. Highlights are added to his toes with a touch of light on his shoulders to keep the body connected to his face and neck. His rabbit character is coming to life.

rabbit sign 08


rabbit sign 09

Notice details around his eyes, ears, nose, and whiskers. His teeth are casting a shadow and his arms holding the ax are outlined to separate along with his kneecap and ear intersection.
Our fluffy snowshoe rabbit dries on the dining table ready to go back on the hill to greet the kids at 49 Degrees North .

Animal Character Signs

Mystery & Adventure

animal sign repairs
Peter repairing animal character signs.

The animal character signs tucked in and around the trees are one of my favorite things at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort (Chewelah WA). We are lucky to have really talented people in the ski school (Rick) and childcare center (Allison). Great things happen when experts teach our youth to love a sport because they think of these kinds of tools in their program, a mystery scavenger hunt through the trees.

Eric’s sister (sorry I don’t know her name) started it all. She is an artist who designed some great cartoon animal characters in a miner’s theme. She painted them on the walls in the kids club area and on plywood signs, starting this whole thing way back when.

These animal signs are strategically placed in the trees on the bunny hill trails for the kids to find. Most of the time, the kids touch or poke the animal as they ski past. Everyone tries to be the first to find all of them, as a result, learning to ski is a lot more fun.


Years ago (2008) I painted the children’s nursery. I repaired and painted some of the old ones and made some new animal signs as well. These animal characters get a lot of traffic on the trails and they consequently, need some tender loving care. Pete and I repaired the damage this week getting them ready. There is a total of 12 animal figures that we loaded up and brought home. All in all, we were able to resuscitate 10 of them so far.


Bear on Ski's SignBear on Skis

Blue Bird With Shovel SignBlue Bird with Shovel

Fox SignFox

Frog SignFrog

Moose A SignMoose A

Moose B SignMoose B

Rabbit SignRabbit
Raccoon SignRacoon

Red Bird on Cart SignRed Bird on Cart

Snake SignSnake

Both Moose are still being painted but all the rest are done and we will show you progress pictures in the following posts. We are waiting to find out if the hill management wants the two other guys redone or used for firestarter. They got missing limbs.

Broken Miner SignBroken Miner Sign

Broken Bear Panning for Gold SignBroken Bear Panning for Gold Sign

Come check out the slopes up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort, maybe we will see you up there. Kids are happy up there, and so are the adults.