A Fine Art Mystery Series


 A Fine Art Mystery Series

from Award-Winning Author Paula Darnell


Artistic License to Kill - Book 1 in A Fine Art Mystery Series

Artist Amanda Trent, accompanied by her beloved golden retriever Laddie and her persnickety calico cat Mona Lisa, is determined to start a new life after her husband divorces her to marry a younger woman, but it isn't easy.

After a disastrous interview at the prestigious Roadrunner Gallery in Lonesome Valley, Arizona, far away from her previous home in Kansas City, Amanda's afraid that she'll fail at her new career. But her prospects begin to improve when she's accepted as the newest member of the cooperative gallery.

Then, on her very first day, she discovers Janice, the stern director, has been murdered right in the art gallery, and the Roadrunner's members, including Amanda herself, become suspects. Which gallery member murdered the unpopular director? Or was the killer an outsider with an ax to grind?


Click to Buy Artistic License to Kill at Your Favorite Retailer 


Vanished into Plein Air - Book 2 in A Fine Art Mystery Series

Who wouldn't want to make a living from her favorite pastime?

Although sometimes self-doubt creeps in along the way, artist Amanda Trent has been striving to do just that, ever since her ex-husband dumped her for a younger woman and she moved to Lonesome Valley, Arizona, to start a new life. So when her friends from the Roadrunner Gallery urge her to join them and world-renown artist Ulysses Durand in a plein air paint-out, she hesitates, fearing that she might not be able to complete a painting in the four-hour time limit.

But everything goes smoothly at the public open-air event—until Ulysses's wife goes missing and he asks Amanda for her help. Has his past come back to haunt the famous artist? With a little help from her nemesis, cranky Lieutenant Belmont, the support of her friends, and the companionship of her furry feline Mona Lisa and her lovable golden retriever Laddie, Amanda tracks a killer who's determined to strike again unless Amanda can save the day

Click to Buy Vanished into Plein Air at Your Favorite Retailer



Hemlock for the Holidays - Book 3 in A Fine Arts Mystery Series

As Lonesome Valley kicks off the holiday season with its annual parade, artist Amanda Trent embraces the Christmas spirit, happy that her family will be coming to town to celebrate the season with her and her loyal pets, Laddie, a friendly golden retriever, and Mona Lisa, an independent calico cat.

Amanda has just one nagging concern: her art sales have stalled, so her checking account is starting to look a bit puny. Her financial woes pale, though, in comparison to her concern when several people eat carrot bars laced with hemlock at the high school's arts and crafts fair, resulting in one unlucky man's death. Was the poisoning an accident, or did someone with evil intent deliberately spike the sweet baked goods?

Leads the police follow don't pan out until Amanda puts the puzzle together. But, sometimes, knowledge can be a dangerous thing. . . 

 Click to buy Hemlock for the Holidays at your favorite retailer 


Make a Spooky Spider Halloween Decoration

 Making a spooky spider Halloween decoration is a quick and easy DIY project that can be created with pipe cleaners. 

CAUTION: The ends of pipe cleaners are very sharp, so I don't recommend this project for children.

Here's our finished spider "crawling" up the wall.
And here it is creeping along a tabletop.

To make your own spider, you'll need several pipe cleaners, and you may also want to use a three-inch long cardboard template to get started. Although six pipe cleaners are pictured below, I used nine for my finished spider.

The first step is to wrap one pipe cleaner vertically around the cardboard as pictured below.
Next, slide the pipe cleaner off the cardboard. This pipe cleaner forms the base of the body. Now attach one pipe cleaner to the body at a 90-degree angle, centering it on the body and wrapping each side around the body one time.

Attach three more pipe cleaners along the body in the same manner.
Next, wrap two or three more pipe cleaners around the body and head to secure the legs and make the body thicker.
I made the head a little thicker and rounder than the body. 
Once you're satisfied with the way the body and head look, it's time to bend the legs into shape. Bend each leg up in the middle, and arrange the legs so that they will support the spider when it's sitting on a flat surface.

And there you have it. Make as many of the creepy crawlers as you need for Halloween decorations. 


Who's Your Detective Doppelganger? Take a Quiz to Find Out!

Are your deduction skills most like those of Mycroft Holmes, who's a perfect crime solver; Sherlock Holmes, who seldom makes a mistake; Inspector Lestrade, who often misses the mark; or Dr. Watson, who usually doesn't have a clue?

Review the following crime scene, and then take a short quiz to identify your detective doppelganger.

  • A dead woman lies on her back in front of her refrigerator.
  • Her face appears flushed.
  • The well-stocked fridge's door is wide open.
  • A pie sits on the open door of the oven.
  • The stove's gas is on, and its odor permeates the room.
  • There's a pan filled with water on one side of the kitchen sink.
  • On the other side of the sink, there are partially peeled potatoes.
  • There's a large window above the kitchen sink.
  • Folded tea towels are stacked on the counter.
  • On top of the tea towels lies a kitchen knife.
  • There are two doors in the old house's kitchen, both locked from the inside.
  • Both door frames are stuffed with newspaper.
  • On the kitchen counter next to the stove, there's a cutting board sprinkled with flour, a rolling pin, a large bowl with a wooden spoon in it, and a glass.

Now that you've had a chance to review the scene, take the quiz to find out how you fared.


Vintage Hanky Wall Art

What to do with the numerous vintage hankies I've acquired over the years, mostly from estate sales? Of course, I could just frame them and admire the pretty designs, but I decided to turn a few of them into wall art, instead.

This project starts with a 10-inch-square canvas that has a depth of about 5/8 inch. These types of canvases, which are readily available at any art or crafts store, are handy because they can be hung on the ridge created by the stretcher bars, so they don't need to be framed although they can be. 

I painted the lavender background with acrylic paint, using a natural sponge to dab on the paint. I created the flower with a circular layer of lace, made by a simple running stitch at the bottom of a length of lace and pulled the thread to form a circle.

I also used two yellow hankies with floral designs, another much smaller layer of lace, and glass pearls in the center. This particular design requires two vintage hankies because the corners are used to form the petals of the flower.

 I hand stitched the flower and stitched the pearls to it before centering and gluing the flower to the canvas with craft glue.

Flowers will have a three-dimensional effect, rather than a two-dimensional look that a vintage hanky framed flat would have.

Visit my PaulaDSewing Patterns site on Etsy to see more examples.


More Alcohol Ink Art

In a previous post, I showcased some photos of alcohol ink art projects that I made. One was a cuff bracelet, and the others were ceramic tiles.

I'm still experimenting with alcohol ink, and I'm sure there are a lot more possibilities for using it in jewelry, accessories, or home decorations.

Here are my most recent projects:

Copper Pendant Necklace

I used alcohol ink to make the abstract design on the copper pendant, then sealed it with several layers of various clear coatings. I made the bail and clasp from copper wire, adding a turquoise bead on the back loop. I braided dark purple leather to make the cord for the necklace. Alcohol ink colors seem to pop on copper!


Cotton Scarf Dyed with Alcohol Ink

I used purple alcohol ink on a cotton scarf and thinned some of it with 99% isopropol alcohol to make the tie-dyed pattern.

Here's the original cotton scarf before dyeing. It's handmade in Indonesia on the island of Java, and the loose weave makes the scarf more distinctive, especially when dyed.

A close-up view of the dyed scarf shows detail.







Decorative Ceramic Tile

Abstract designs are easier to create than more realistic ones when using alcohol ink because it can be difficult to control. It flows easily, more like regular ink, and it does not have the consistency of paint. 

I titled this piece on ceramic tile "Mother and Child."









Tissue Box with Decorative Ceramic Tile

Alcohol ink art on ceramic tiles can be framed, used as a coaster (sealed with resin), or in home dec projects such as the tissue box pictured below with a ceramic tile front.

Creating the design on this tile involved laying down an initial layer of blue and green alcohol ink, removing some of it when it was dry (for the tree trunks), and adding leaves with a cotton swab. I made the details on the birch trunks with a silver Sharpie.

A view from the side. The wooden box fits over a square tissue box to hide it. This is a specially made box with a recessed front so that the ceramic tile can be fitted into the front of the box and glued in place. I used jeweler's cement for the bond.

Learn more about Artistic License to Kill and read a short excerpt from Chapter 1.

Order Artistic License to Kill from your preferred retailer at the special introductory price of just 99 cents!  
Email me at pauladarnellauthor@gmail.com with ORDER in the subject line and include a screen shot or receipt of your purchase or request (or just note the particulars), and I'll send you your link good for a free download (mobi or ePub) of Death by Association.
Click your link to grab your free copy of Death by Association.

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

 Cozy Mysteries with a Library Theme

Book lovers tend to love libraries, so what could be more natural than a library setting, especially for a cozy mystery? Here are eight cozy mystery series featuring librarians and libraries.

Witch Way Librarian Cozy Mysteries Series

Author - Angela M. Sanders

“Zippy and fun, with just enough ambiance to satisfy readers seeking spooks and humor.”
Kirkus Reviews



Blue Ridge Library Mystery Series

Author - Victoria Gilbert

“Nicely framed by details of library work and research.”




Bookmobile Cat Mystery Series

Author - Laurie Cass

"The bookmobile cat, Eddie, is an utter joy."Robert Warr, Amazon reviewer




Cat in the Stacks Mystery Series

Author - Miranda James

“[A] pleasing blend of crime and charm.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch




Haunted Library Mystery Series

Author - Allison Brook

"A spirited cozy series with two plucky and engaging protagonists and a well-drawn, small town library setting."Library Journal



Library Lover's Mystery Series

Author - Jenn McKinlay

"McKinlay has been a librarian, and her snappy story line, fun characters, and young library director with backbone make for a winning formula.” —Library Journal



Lighthouse Library Mystery Series

Author - Eva Gates

“[A] charming, entertaining, and smart series."Library Journal





Village Library Mystery Series

Author - Elizabeth Spann Craig

"Love this series, light-hearted, fun and intriguing mysteries with robust characters."Amazon Reviewer