The Wildcat Way
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Dawn Rundle

Dawn RundleThe art of giving: Phoenix mural artist makes schools her philanthropic canvas

Dawn Rundle specializes in murals that trick the eye, but her success is no illusion. The Kansas State University graduate is renowned for her larger-than-life murals, as well as for her charity work for children in the Phoenix area.

Rundle owns Creative Murals and Faux, a custom painting business specializing in Trompe L'oeil — French for "trick the eye" — murals, as well as faux-finish walls. Her murals are known for their 3-D-like imagery.

"In two days, I can take a 12-by-12 wall and make it look like a window to the outside," Rundle said. "My faux walls can make an ordinary wall look like leather or whatever the client desires."

Rundle started drawing as a young girl in Derby, Kan., motivated by her mother's own passion for art. She began taking art classes, and soon after was asked to paint a mural on her high school's wall, which is still in place today.

She earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts from Kansas State University in 1992, and said her art classes pushed her in ways she'd never been challenged before as an artist.

"K-State helped me develop my passion into a career," Rundle said. "I'm able to be successful today because of my natural skill as well as my K-State background."

After working as a graphic designer in Chicago for several years, a friend asked Rundle to paint a mural in her baby's nursery.

"After that, it moved like wildfire," Rundle said. "I quit my job and never looked back."

Rundle started Creative Murals and Faux while living in Chicago, and continued to develop her business after moving to Phoenix eight years ago. She said she gets the most satisfaction from painting murals for children's rooms.

Children are close to Rundle's heart for many reasons, namely because she has three of her own. Rundle frequently paints murals for public schools in the Phoenix area, charging only for material costs.

"It's great to do something that is just for these kids," said Rundle. "The first time I painted a mural in a school, each class came out and thanked me, as well as the parents and teachers. I've never felt so appreciated as an artist."

When she lived in Chicago, Rundle's philanthropic efforts extended to the United Way. For several years, she painted sculptures that were displayed and later sold to benefit the charity. Rundle received requests from major organizations — including the Chicago Bulls and Morgan Stanley — to paint their sculptures.

Rundle said she and her family moved to Phoenix to escape the brutal Chicago winters, but there's one thing she's never ran from — her purple pride.

"My time at K-State brought me out of my shell," Rundle said. "My years at K-State were some of the best of my life."

Making a difference, one brush stroke at a time. That's the Wildcat Way.