Sacramento Bee, California Life, June 15, 2002
A BACKYARD VISIT TO ‘WONDERLAND’
By Gwen Schoen
Patty Wohl had been studying her fence for weeks, waiting for inspiration.
She wanted to give it a face-lift without tearing the whole thing down and
starting over. Oddly enough, it was a high school homecoming celebration
that provided the solution.
"I ran into an old classmate, Paul Stewart, at the homecoming game," says
Wohl. "Paul and I started chatting and he told me about the artwork he
had been perfecting since high school."
Stewart is an artist who specializes in faux painting. He makes things look
like something they aren't. For example, he might paint concrete to look
like bricks, a plaster wall to look like marble or the side of a building to
look like a street scene from the 1940s. Once he painted a giant killer
whale on the bottom of a swimming pool.
Both Stewart and Wohl, a deputy director in the marketing division of the
California Integrated Waste Management Board, graduated from Encina
High School in the mid '70s.
After the homecoming game, Wohl asked Stewart if he'd take a look at the
fence at her Arden Manor home. What she had in mind was something
like Alice stepping through the looking glass into Wonderland -- a faux
"Patty had collected a lot of garden pictures from magazines," says
Stewart. "She really likes impressionism, such as Monet. In one of the
pictures was a garden with a long, brick walkway flanked by flowers that
seemed to go on forever. That was the effect she wanted.
To compensate for the small yard, Wohl wanted "something that would
give her the feeling of gazing out, something whimsical with a feeling of
fantasy," Stewart says.
Stewart went to work. He painted a "Wonderland" mural on a separate
piece of wood, which was sealed to protect it from the weather. It was then
attached to the fence with screws so it can be removed if the fence needs work.
Once the mural was in place, Wohl placed bricks in front to look like an
extension of the brick path in the painting. Then she planted flowers and
vines to further confuse the eye.
"I love the effect," says Wohl. "I am so happy with the way it looks. I'm
now starting to look at the rest of the fence and wonder about other